Meet Ellie B. The 16-year-old used to be terrified of dogs. Now the A Level Art student has started her own little business doing pet portraits. And they are really rather good!
Ever since I can remember I’ve enjoyed creating art. From drawing in my grandparents’ shed with chalks when I was small, to spending hours filling sketchbooks every evening, art has always been a key part of my life. Doing art GCSE and now starting my A Level, however, made me realise how much I loved it and certainly made me look at a potential future as an artist.
I turned 16 at the start of lockdown and that was definitely a strange experience. Being sung to over FaceTime and having doorstep chats with a few friends was not what I pictured my 16th to look like but all in all it was the best it could have been at the time. I didn’t get to take my GCSEs and to be honest I wasn’t that mad about not getting to do them. I was quite lucky with my predicted grades so just had to deal with the stress of not knowing what was going to come next.
Lockdown has been quite a varied experience for me and my family. We live on the Suffolk/Essex border and I think we were very lucky in having the countryside around us so it meant we could quite easily while away the time going walking or going on runs for the brief ‘getting fit’ phase of lockdown. Once we got used to not going out it got slightly easier to find things to do around the house. The hardest part was definitely not being able to see family and friends; you could never predict that you’ve hugged them for the last time or wouldn’t be face to face with them for months. It’s definitely taught me to appreciate the little things a lot more.
This year, I’ve probably spent around two hundred hours drawing, painting and doing other art related things for both my art business and random pieces for fun. I’ll probably never get this amount of free time to do art for years, so I’m glad I made the most of it while I could. Art has helped me pass a lot of time during quarantine and gave me a good routine, a purpose every day and definitely stopped me from getting bored.
The idea of starting my own commission business all began when I did two watercolour pieces for my aunt’s birthday and she posted them on her Facebook. That encouraged me to set up Art by Ellie B, my own Instagram and Facebook page. Gradually I started getting messages about doing custom work and my list started getting longer and longer for dog portraits, until I decided that advertising myself as an animal portrait artist was the best way forward. Seeing people’s reactions to their artwork has been the most rewarding part of the whole experience and it’s crazy to think that people actually want to buy my work. I still can’t get my head round it.
Funnily enough I used to have a dog phobia when I was younger. I was absolutely terrified. Over the years, after spending many Sundays with my best friend and her dog on the way to our football matches, that fear transformed into love and now they are one of my favourite animals. As for my own pets, we had four guinea pigs and even though they are evidently not as exciting as dogs, I loved them just as much. I hope that in the future I will have a few dogs of my own, but for now it’s been so nice to meet all the animals I have had the pleasure of drawing.
I’m hoping university will be my next step after A Level, but that’s as far as I’ve planned. Do I want to go and get a science related degree and pursue a career in medicine? Or should I study fine art and travel the world while selling my own work? I really have no idea. I’m hoping soon it will all fall into place. However this year has definitely made me realise that over anything I need to do what I enjoy and really all that matters is that I’m surrounded by people I love.