I loved drawing and painting as a child but abandoned my hobby in mid adulthood, feeling that I had gone as far as I could in terms of ability. However, recently - decades later! - I was encouraged to attend a local art class with a friend, and this inspired me to leave my comfort zone and try a wide variety of media and techniques, embracing art as a learning process and a lifelong journey rather than worrying too much about the 'result'. When I tried out a box of soft pastels a few years ago I immediately fell in love with their vibrant pigments, buttery texture, immediacy and relatively forgiving nature. I began with 'painting' animals as I've always loved them, and found that pastel was a wonderfully expressive medium for representing the texture of feathers and fur. Pastel paper, which I still use, was my preferred ground at first, as pastel can be removed fairly easily from the surface. More recently I tried velour and loved the velvety texture, particularly for describing fur. I do have to be very relaxed and feel rather brave with the initial sketch, though, as pastel is very difficult to remove from velour! At the moment animals are my favourite subject as I love the challenge of capturing their eyes and expression (I've also done a number of pet portrait commissions), but in time and with experience will explore other subjects, including portraits of people. I love seeing the work of other artists and hope in due course to incorporate some of their techniques into my work.