In a world where we have thousands of selfies stored on our phones and can buy photo gifts at the click of a button, sometimes images can lose their meaning.
Yet one artist is giving pictures a whole new twist, bringing animals to life with her innate talent for sketching them with precision while reflecting their majestic beauty.
Charlotte Williams was still at primary school when she fell in love with drawing before an adventure to the other side of the world hooked her in to the animal kingdom.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Charlotte told us about how she now connects these two joys and why wildlife continues to capture her heart and be the driving force behind her artwork.
Charlotte said: “My career as an artist has been life-long as I started drawing as far back as I can remember, and being self-taught, it has been a life’s worth of practice that brings me here today.
“Though I drew my first ‘official’ animal portrait at nine-years-old, it wasn’t until my late teens, when my travels took me to Africa and I lived on a game reserve spending thousands of hours observing and sketching to my heart’s content, that my desire to draw wildlife became deeply-rooted and developed into what is now a passion.”
On her return from Africa in the mid-1990s, Charlotte dabbled with various styles and displayed work in many exhibitions, but then marriage and family took precedence for a while.
However, after a few years out, the desire to get back to her art was overwhelming and so a decade later, she picked up her pencils and started drawing again.
She continued: “Fairly rapidly things spiralled, and I found I was inundated with requests to draw people’s pets and other animals. Yet my heart was still in Africa and the wild animals were calling.
“My first big commission came when Cecil the lion was senselessly killed, and I was asked to draw a portrait of him to help raise funds for VFAPU [Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit].
“Cecil remains one of my favourite pieces of work to date and holds a special place in my heart. It was from drawing him that I received all the wonderful feedback from around the world, which in turn gave me the confidence to continue and believe in my talent which does not come naturally!”
The death of Cecil at the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe sent shockwaves around the word in 2015, when it sparked furious debate over the hunting of animals. He had been wounded with an arrow by Walter Palmer, an American recreational big-game hunter, before being tracked and killed the following morning around 12 hours after the first injury.
Reflecting on the death, Charlotte believes it was bittersweet in that it became a turning point for her in realising how powerful her artwork could be for others.
She explained: “It opened my eyes to the possibility of using my art to give back. Our natural world is in a critical condition, and I for one cannot stand by and do nothing.
“There are so many causes that need funding, but for me, the looming threat of mass extinction and the ever-increasing loss of biodiversity is terrifying.
“So, I have pledged to use the best of me, as an artist, to help fund the boots on the ground, and a percentage of every piece of work that I do, whether it be an original work, limited edition print or card, is donated to myriad environmental causes.”
Charlotte added: “I want to do more on an endlessly escalating scale. I am always eager to learn and hear of new ways in which to help and I see this as the path I was meant to tread.
“It is my aim to bring the beauty of the natural world into people’s home. I want to inspire them to connect with it, feel it and love it as I do.”
For more info, click here: Charlotte Williams.