Kay Davidson is an Australian pastel and charcoal artist with a keen eye for animal portraits. An animal lover at heart, Kay has completed over 250 artworks since starting her business four years ago, which include portraits of Australian cutting stud IMA Smooth Blue Cat and pony dressage Champion, Nilton Zizou.
Kay’s passion for animals has led her to sell her artwork as a way to support worthy charities. “I select charities that relate to my lifestyle and inspire me with their enthusiasm to help others,” says Kay, who alongside her partner and young son, run a crop and sheep operation. Her biggest achievement so far was the successful online auction of the “Hay Runner Ram” portrait for the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners which raised $3750 for drought relief. The Burrumbuttock Hay Runners organization takes donated hay to drought affected farms on a regular basis. Other charities that Kay has helped raise money for include the Aussie Helpers, which helps Aussie farmers in many different industries with equipment, food and emotional support during tough times, as well as givelove.org which provides “skills training in ecological sanitation and composting for high need and water scarce areas.”
Kay’s most current project is a stunning artwork of three Holstein cows which will be auctioned off online in the coming months to raise money for Aussie Helpers, who will in turn help struggling Australian dairy farmers. Kay says, “the intense colours and quirky faces of the cows really give the artwork a unique but intense vie against the dark, cloudy background.” Kay credits Bec Middleton of White Gold Multimedia for the photo that inspired this artwork. Kay will have replica prints available for purchase after the sale of the original picture via her Facebook page: Kay Davidson’s Forever Pet Portraits. Details about the auction can be found there as well.
Q & A with Kay Davidson
What is your process like? Do you always paint from pictures or can you be found out in a field doing rough sketches of animals first?
“My process is working from a reference, I rough out a proportional sketch with white pastel pencil and then I shade the areas of light. This isn’t a common practice which as most go dark to light, I work light to dark. After that I gradually build up layers of pencil one area at a time working left to right to avoid smudging.”
Roughly how many hours does it take to complete a painting?
“As I’m a stay home mum on a sheep and cropping property, it’s hard for me to know exactly how many hours goes into a single piece as I’m constantly interrupted by my son, partner and workers that are invited in for coffee or lunch! Also the artworks vary in size and amount of subjects so they can range from 3/4 hours for basic a4 sketch or many hours over months for the larger ones with a lot of small details.”
How long have you been painting? Is this your full-time job?
“Apart from studying art in a public school, which didn’t teach me much, I am self-taught, I have been taking commissions and creating originals since 2013 when my son was born. I was able to make a little bit of money while doing motherly duties and building a skill set and eventually resulted in a successful little hobby business.”
How did you get started with the charity work portion in relation to your work?
“My first artwork created for charity was for a cause called givelove.org. They travel to places effected by poverty and natural disaster and help with sanitation by building toilets and teaching about fertilisers created by their own waste. They find it a bit harder to gain donations because it’s not easy to promote, which attracted me to the cause. Although I only sold one original, it was my first exciting experience with charity work through my art.”
Which piece are you most proud of so far?
“The artwork I’m most proud of would have to be the hay runner ram which raised $3750 towards the drought relief through the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners. After a slow start trying to find a safe but easy auction platform, I was able to run the auction online with no assistance.”
To view Kay’s work or contact her, please join her Facebook group: Kay Davidson’s Forever Pet Portraits
By Amanda Poelman, Cowsmo