Jacqueline Gaylard’s paintings have a rare and intangible quality many artists spend their entire lives trying to achieve: they move people. In capturing the soul of her animal subjects, Jacqueline brings them to life before the viewer’s very eyes; so much so that one may feel the emotion rise in remembrance of a beloved pet, or smile in recognition of a mischievous look they see every day. But no matter her subject, Jacqueline’s paintings share the majesty of animals, and the joy their companionship can bring.
Jacqueline grew up amid the enticing sights and aromas of her mother’s art supplies. By delving into baskets of charcoal sticks and rummaging through fantastically named paints, Jacqueline was encouraged to bring her early creations to life, fuelling what would be her lifelong passion for painting. “Thankfully I still feel the same excitement when I produce a painting; the smell and texture of the medium with the anticipation of what is to come, is as thrilling as the first painting I produced at the age of four.”
At the age of thirteen, Jacqueline’s life changed forever. She underwent major spinal surgery, which left her incapacitated for many months. During this time, she sought comfort in her art and began to keenly observe the animals around her. Jacqueline specifically recalls a pair of Herring Gulls would often come to rest on her windowsill. “Having just come off the sea, they would press their plumage against the window and spray seawater from their nostrils, onto the clear glass. They were so close that I had a fabulous view of all those perfectly formed white and grey feathers and would practice sketching them as quickly as possible…I think it is commonly understood that animals have tremendous therapeutic qualities; they, combined with my love of art, have certainly helped me through the years.”
But it was Jacqueline’s fascination with the complexities and elegance of the feline form, both wild and domestic, that ultimately saw her join the Society of Feline Artists (S.O.F.A) in 1997. Today, she now sits on the Selection Committee for the society (elected in 1999), and also enjoys her position as a Main Committee member, a role she has held since 2011. “Both roles are demanding but thoroughly enjoyable as it provides me with the opportunity to meet fellow artists and be actively involved with the running of a very exciting and inspirational art society.”
Such is the exquisite detail of Jacqueline’s work, it is not uncommon for people to gasp when they realise that Jacqueline’s work is a painting, rather than a photograph. The mistake is often and easily made, for every tuft of plush fur and every silvery whisker of her animal sitters is masterfully realised and illuminated. “Training for four years to become a Graphic Designer enlightened me to detail and a level of accuracy that I still find extremely fulfilling.”
|Progression of 'A Coat of Red'|
With not a single brushstroke out of place, Jacqueline’s pristine masterpieces have gained her a loyal following. One memorable response to her work came after she was commissioned to paint a couples’ beloved pet cat. “I nervously drove into London to deliver the work—I had my usual butterflies that the painting might not meet the client's expectations. But I need not have worried, for when the painting was revealed to them, they were so delighted they burst into tears of joy. It's moments like this that really make all the long hours and tired eyes a distant memory.”
In addition to domestic animals, Jacqueline also enjoys painting wildlife. As an active member of The Wildlife Art Society International (TWASI), Jacqueline has particularly been drawn to the conservation side of wildlife art. “The conservation of wildlife greatly interests me and so I hope that by depicting these fabulous creatures in my paintings, it may help to raise awareness of the plight of some of the world's most endangered species.” Indeed, her magnificent renderings of brown bears roaming the glades of North American or Bengal tigers reclining in their jungle home are poignant reminders of the spectacular animals in need of protection.
Jacqueline takes immense inspiration from her surroundings. Situated beside the stunning and “distracting” beauty of the Exe Estuary, Jacqueline’s studio opens out onto all the glories of nature. “In summer I often like to sit and paint with the patio doors open and listen to the sound of feeding birds on the mudflats. It's a wonder I get any work done!” In the winter, Jacqueline is partial to wrapping up in thick layers and venturing into the salt marshes to observe the birds close at hand; but on days spent inside, Jacqueline’s two British Shorthair Blue Cream cats, Chintz and Cyan, are always willing sitters.
No matter her subject, Jacqueline brings the soul of the animal to the forefront of her work. Beyond her astoundingly accomplished technique, there is an aura about her paintings that stops people in their tracks. Emotive and beautifully perfected, Jacqueline’s work has captured the hearts of animal lovers the world over and continues to excite galleries and collectors alike.
You can read more about Jacqueline and see her available work here.