I originally set up my pet sitting business, Peak Pet Services in 2014, after leaving behind my previous life as an Accountant, which never quite resonated with me, and eventually left me unfulfilled and physically burnt out, because I didn't ever quite fit into a corporate world.
My business had become successful, caring for my customers' pets, whilst they were at work or on holiday. When Covid arrived in March 2020, it hit my business hard, and I had to diversify to survive.
I couldn’t draw at all, but always yearned to do so. In May 2020, I took some online art lessons. I’m on the Autistic Spectrum, diagnosed as an adult in 2018. It is a wonderfully liberating experience and it helped me to understand many things, least of all why I couldn’t tap into this skill earlier in life, with the lack of understanding of Autistic traits in women, as a female child growing up in the 1980’s education system.
I quickly realised that illustration was my “thing”. Using my quirky, expressive imagination, to conjure up whimsical, joyful drawings, with animals as the main subject. Having my cats and dogs, who are my favourite people of all, meant it was easy to combine my lifelong love of animals, with my new passion for illustration.
Having tentatively started to sell my work late in 2020, I decided over that Christmas, to put on my brave pants and set up my new business. In January 2021, I launched The Quaint and Quirky. The name came from who I am and where I live. A quirky, Autistic animal obsessive, living in a quaint cottage, high in the hills of the Peak District near to Buxton, on the Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire border, with my husband and my menagerie.
I had been experimenting with different styles of artwork, and it wasn’t until June 2021, that I created my best selling illustration: “Summer in the Bath” This led to me becoming a Wraptious Artist finalist later that year, in their biannual competition, out of almost 6000 entries.
Ironically, it was my Maine Coon cat Herman, who I yearned to draw initially, but it was Summer, my Bedlington Terrier who became the focus of my illustrations, being such a character who couldn’t be ignored!
Summer came to live with us under the most tragic of circumstances after both of my parents died at the same time in 2018, a few months before I found out I was Autistic. They were her parents too.
It was a very difficult time, after already losing my sister by suicide some years before. Once I discovered my love of drawing, I was able to lose myself in the creative process, which is a wonderfully calming experience.
My Art Studio was built in early 2021, which was created with Herman, my beautiful Maine Coon in mind, making sure he had his cat tree and a suitable amount of beds for both dogs and cats alike!! Sadly Herman’s life was also tragically cut short, after enjoying the spotlight as a Cats Protection Finalist, in the “Most Caring Cat” Category, and I was as proud as any Mum could be when he was shortlisted.
With this in mind, my art swings from joy and whimsy, to more serious contemplative pieces, which is why I also offer Ashes Memorial Keepsakes for both pets and humans. As painful as loss is, we cannot have life without loss, and just like Herman, who lived his very best life, right up until his heart stopped beating at 5 years old, this is something which speaks to my soul.
It is important to me that I capture the joy in the small moments with my artwork, because life is a collection of small moments, which are the memories we carry close to us in times of great loss.
Connecting with the yin and yang of life, love and loss, is what it’s all about. My Whimsical Art from the Heart.