Compelling contemporary wildlife portraiture

Valerie Simms creates mesmerising pastel wildlife portraiture with an authenticity and accuracy that takes this classic genre to a whole new level. Each animal she portrays is possessed of an inner stillness which suggests they are poised for action, and we are privileged to look into their eyes just minutes before they spring into life, taking flight or pouncing on their unsuspecting prey.

Valerie always had a love of portraiture and has been fascinated by facial features, whether human or animal. She is particularly drawn to the eyes and starts the majority of her portraits there, using them as an anchor point or foundation on which the rest of the image is built. Every detail of fleece, fur and feather is so perfect as to seem almost tangible, and to achieve this she has built up a portfolio of close up animal photography with the highest possible degree of clarity to use as the basis for each individual composition.

Born in Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1965, Valerie decided to study art, design and illustration as a mature student and graduated in 1997. Working from a studio in her Oxfordshire home, she builds each composition in pastels which she likes for their softness and smoothness and the way in which they can be worked onto the paper to imitate the beautifully balanced blending of surfaces in nature.

“My love of portraiture draws me to a realistic style in pastels. I immerse myself in my artwork and it gives me a great sense of achievement to complete a portrait and all the more fulfilling is the emotional response that my clients experience when it’s personal to them. Aspects of my personality come through in my choice of subject matter and technique. The most important thing to me as an artist is to improve and build on the knowledge and experience I gain from each new piece of work I create. I like to push myself out of my comfort zone and take on new and exciting challenges.”

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