My name is Hana Fitzsimmons and I'm a wildlife and pet portrait artist working mainly in coloured pencils and sometimes in pastels. I am originally from the Czech Republic but I now live in England.
How did you become the artist you are today?
I have always loved drawing animals and I loved being around them just as much. When I was 18 years old, I left home and moved to UK to learn English. In 2004 I moved to New York where I worked as an au pair. In order to extend my visa, I enrolled into college to study Visual Arts. I explored charcoal drawing, 2D and 3D design, sculpture, print making, dark room photography, jewellery making and oil painting. Oil painting became my medium of choice, but I stopped painting and making art when I had my first child in 2010.
I came across coloured pencil artist on Instagram in 2016 and decided it might be the best medium for me. I love the detail that can be achieved with coloured pencils and the fact I can pick up and draw for 10 mins here and there, fitting it around my busy family life. Although I have been using and drawing with coloured pencils since 2016, my progress has been very slow. I still consider myself a hobby or part time artist as my 3 boys take up a lot of time.
How do you support wildlife conservation and why do you choose to do so? I am still early on my path to supporting wildlife conservation with my work. I realised the effect of global warming on my trip to Alaska in 2007. I was also expecting to see a lot of wildlife, but the reality was very different. I don't want animals to disappear from the planet. I started creating my environmental/conservational series last year. They all carry a very strong but very sad message. My hope is that they make people stop and think about the problem highlighted in the piece.
I mostly support the David Shepard Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) through my work.
What has been your biggest learning curve as an artist? My biggest learning curve was to be brave and patient. Not everyone will like my art and that is fine. I have to be patient and trust the progress. My series had been in my head for 2 years before I was brave enough to draw the first one. I was scared to share it as I wasn't sure if people would understand it, but the response I had was incredible.
What is your favourite/ most enjoyable part of being a wildlife artist? My favorite part of being a wildlife artist is simply the process. The whole part of creating the piece and when it gets great response it sure is great. And if you can help some animal charity or in case of pets to bring comfort to people there is nothing more rewarding.
Coloured Pencils and Pan Pastels on Pastelmat
My favorite artwork must be "Melting Away" as it is the first one from my series and it introduced me to the world of conservation and #wildlifeartivism (thanks Mart Aveling for that amazing hashtag) that I had no idea existed. The message in this piece is pretty clear. Polar bear on a small cube of melting ice trapped in a plastic bag. Global warming, plastic pollution and endangered species in one drawing.
I love the originality of this work and its ability to simply provoke so much emotion in people.
Which species are you most involved or interested in supporting through conservation projects?
I would love to support as many animals as possible. From small bees to huge elephants. They all matter equally and they are all so important for the health of this planet.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why? If I were an animal, I'd probably be a lion. My untamed hair very closely resembles lion's mane and my star sign is a Leo.
What is the best piece of advice you could give an aspiring wildlife artist? My advice to another artist would be to follow what you are passionate about. Create what you enjoy and show it to the world. You might not get it right on the first go so be patient and brave. Trust the process.