My name is Margaret Orchard. I am writing this having just learnt that I have won the LAC Competition for 2013. I am absolutely thrilled to have won and would like to congratulate Alexandra for her delightful depiction of her cat “Boris” which was awarded runner-up. Looking at this year’s entries, the standard was amazingly high. It astonishes me that there is so much artistic talent about.

I thought you might be interested to learn a little more about me and the inspiration behind my entry entitled “Purple Moment”.
Most of my art is self taught. I love reading magazines about art and read factual art books like novels. I have now accumulated quite a library! My love of art comes from watching my mother produce the most beautiful pictures when I was young. When I was ill she would sit on my bed and draw to keep me amused. Hers was an exceptional talent and I have inherited her love of art.

At school I studied art at A-level gaining an A-Grade for work in Life Drawing, Still Life and Composition. I also studied art as a main subject at Teacher Training College but here my skills were more useful in helping me design posters, worksheets and games for teaching purposes rather than individual pictures. Once my two children arrived I had little time to draw so it wasn’t until about five years ago that my love of art was rekindled, when I was given a set of paints as a present at Christmas. I joined a local art group, which meets every week in my village hall and since then I have not looked back. I love to learn new techniques and try them out myself. This is when I discovered the London Art College. I am a reluctant driver so attending day courses any distance away was out of the question but the London Art College, with its superb selection of distance learning courses, has provided me with expert tuition from the comfort of my own home. My first course was on Pet Portraits with Melanie Phillips. I had previously shied away from pictures of animals but my daughter became involved in working with animals and bought an adorable rescue boxer dog and I found myself wanting to draw him whenever possible. It was during working for one of the assignments for this course that I had to do one using coloured pencil. I really had no idea how versatile coloured pencil had become. Realising that my work was lacking in techniques I enrolled on the coloured pencil course with Julie Douglas and now at long last I am able to add colour to my graphite drawing which is the medium I love the most. I had not used coloured pencil since my school days and marvel at all the different techniques you can use with them whether dry or wet.

If I had to choose my favourite subject it would be anything botanical. Whilst visiting an Open Garden last year I was able to photograph one of my favourite flowers – the Iris. I always carry a camera with me and take as many shots as possible from different angles. Then I put them on the computer and crop them until I have the angle and size I want. I usually have one copy in black & white, enlarge areas where it is difficult to see all the detail and make a copy of the picture in pixels to give me a better idea of the colour ranges. When I have all this information to hand I go about doing a thumbnail sketch of the design. I have no idea exactly how long each piece takes but it could run in to weeks of work. Because I enjoy what I am doing so much time is irrelevant.

Well done to all those who entered the 2013 competition. I have thoroughly enjoyed browsing through the vast array of wonderful pictures. Well done to Alexandra for her lovely picture of “Boris”. Thank you to the London Art College for your guidance and inspiration and thank you to all of those who voted my picture as the winning entry. I am delighted!


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