Susannah Kelly

Introducing Susannah Kelly, featured artist from Collection Dogs 2020 (11).

Dogs entered Susannah's life when working from home while being a care provider to her disabled mother. Being an artist and a dog lover, Susannah received commissions for digital murals, prints and portraits, culminating in three editions of the Art of Dog colouring books which combine her love of design, pattern and detail. Evolving from the idea of dogs in unlikely settings into full blown fantasy, these pictures blossomed from the eventual passing of Susannah's mother in dedication to her life.

How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I have been illustrating for over 40 years. I cannot recall any specific start time as I always seemed to be drawing. It is second nature, like breathing.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I currently get my inspiration from the dogs I board. And anything funny. I love nature, especially gardens and forests. I love anything bizarre or inventive that challenges the mundane.The wilder the concept or presentation; the better.Examples are: Monty Python Flying Circus, Cirque du Soleil, TED talks.

Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
At my table or in my very comfortable chair at home while any one of the following things are on in the background: A favourite podcast on crime or history, my public radio station, an audiobook, a soundtrack of crickets or a running brook, cable news, a movie. All of this preferably with a dog or two sleeping on the nearby couch.Add to these ideal working conditions, the sound of my brother who lives with me, upstairs composing his music.

What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
If it’s colouring pencils: Prismacolor and Prang brand pencils.A blending stick.A single edge razor blade or electric sharpener. If it’s digital, every tool that’s available that simulates the colour pencil effect.And after colouring in through the app,I send the image over to a second app where I can cut, paste, collage and erase for further effects.

What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
When I was in my 20’s and a free lance commercial illustrator, I was hired to do an illustration for Esquire Magazine. It was a full page colour illustration for a short story about a summer love affair and fruit. I drew a giant plum with the shadow of the lovers projected onto it. The plum was sitting, by itself, on the beach. I remember the satisfaction I experienced in blending the purple and shading to the point that the plum looked very tactile. I took great pleasure in the repeated layering of colour; kind of like polishing something into perfection.And creating an illusion of volume on a piece of paper.

Artist's tip

Think and draw outside the lines.Don’t be afraid to bring in something completely nonsensical, absurd or unconventional to your project. My greatest teacher was my mother, an artist in her own right, who encouraged me by example, to mix and blend unexpected mediums. I learned from her to invent something new and to not play it safe.

See more from Susannah Kelly

We use cookies to give you a better experience on By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it