Georgia Fiennes is an artist, specialising in larger-than-life paintings of animals in glamorous settings. An oil of your dog wearing the family jewels? No commission is too extravagant for the London-based artist. We chat to Georgia about the life of an artist and her own pets, an African Pygmy dormouse called Margarita and a black lab called Flora.
What gave you the idea for Very Fine Animals?
I started illustrating Edward Lear poems when I was at university. He often put animals in alternative scenarios. One lady saw a painting I had done of sardines in a handbag and asked if I would paint a pig in heels for her. The ideas have continued to spiral from there. The name came about when I first started going out with my husband. His (and now my) surname is Fiennes and my maiden name was Verey. We used to discuss how if we ever went into business together (doing what I’m not sure as he works in property and I’m an artist) we could have a company called ‘Very Fine’ but it turns out there is a smoothie company in America with that name so I added the Animals on the end and decided to use it when I set up my new website a few years ago.
What are your most memorable commissions so far?
I once did a life size pony wearing Paul Smith wellies. The man who commissioned it used to take his little girl riding at the Four Seasons in Hampshire every weekend. She loved the pony so much that he asked if he could buy it for her – they said no as apparently everyone loved the pony, so he commissioned a painting of it for her instead! I am currently working on a series of animals and birds in coffee cups and cocktail glasses for a new boutique hotel in London which I am pretty excited about.
What are your favourite animals to paint?
I am painting a lot of birds at the moment, especially Indian Runner Ducks, Pelicans and Flamingos. I have always loved painting cows and pigs though.
Describe your average working day.
I work three days a week, it used to be five but I’ve had to cut down while I have young children. This is difficult as I am still trying to fit in 5 days worth of work into 3. I have breakfast with my daughter at about 8am followed by her feeding blueberries and cheerios to Margarita the mouse (a very important part of the morning!) I used to have a studio near my house but in order to cut out faffing time I now work from home which has helped increase productivity. By the time I’ve dispatched my daughter I am usually in my studio (spare room!) by 9am. Due to fairly limited working hours I have to be very diligent and I have managed to develop a method of painting which allows me to usually complete a painting in one or two days. I work largely on commission so I will often spend up to an hour sifting through ideas to help create the perfect composition. I trawl the internet for different animals and birds that I can suggest to clients (or use for inspiration in new paintings) and then I try to find ways of seeing these creatures first hand, so I go on quite a few field trips! I then paint for the best part of the day and return to Mummy duty at 5.30!
Do Margarita and Flora get along?
Margarita and Flora have only met once as Margarita lives with me and Flora lives with my mother. When I went on holiday a few years ago my mother took charge of Margarita and Flora was less than impressed. She spent most of the fortnight sniffing around the mouse cage desperate for a bit of mouse pie!
What is on your PetsPyjamas wishlist for Flora and Margarita?
I think Flora would rather fancy herself in an Aztec Pet collar. I fear that Margarita may be too small for any kind of accessory. She is also rather bitey so I fear anything we put on her wouldn’t stay on for long!
See Georgia’s work at www.veryfineanimals.com