Angela French Graphite Artist

Artist's Statement

Angela at work

Angela French is rapidly gaining recognition for her atmospheric portrayals of birds and mammals. Working in graphite on watercolour paper, her artworks are detailed portrayals that reach beyond the more usual 'cut to white' approach, her recent works being suffused with an increased sense of drama and mood, setting her work apart and suggestive of narrative and character.

Although referenced as 'drawings', her approach to her art is more akin to that of the sculptor chipping away to reveal the form within, sculpting with graphite on paper rather than stone. Inspiration for her work comes from the form of a living creature combined with tonal contrast, creating a sense of drama through the interplay of light and dark. Angela believes that the beauty of graphite lays in its range of tone, right through from barely there to almost black, an approach that gives the resultant works a sense of depth not often seen in graphite work.

Angela's artistic endeavours are more than just a process of depicting form through line; she creates through positive and negative space and depth of tone. Subject and background become merged each in the other, often giving a sense of the subject depicted as coming out of the dark towards the viewer.

Angela believes that familiarity with a subject is relative to the success of the resultant works, preferring to depict that which she observes closely on a regular basis. Of late her artistic attention has been drawn to birds as well as the mammals of past interest and focus, inspired by the variety of form and feather and the endless diversity. Living in the countryside with a large organic garden and orchard populated and visited by a vast number of native species and periodic migrants provides endless inspiration, time being the only constraint to productivity as her works are a labour of love with no sacrifice to satisfactory outcome permitted. Working from light paper to a dark end often necessitates putting detail in that the piece later demands you then take out in order to make it work; hard but necessary and time-consuming decisions if one wishes to create something both pleasing and ultimately successful.

As an artist whose subject is living and, hence, mobile, and one who appreciates detail, quality reference to back up and bring to life artistic inspiration is all important. It would be all too simple, however, to settle for the ease presented by the use of the camera and the advances of digital photography in terms of providing the look for a finished piece. Angela maintains that it is as much what an artist leaves out as puts in to a piece that creates an art work and is something that differentiates the artist from the technician. Finished works therefore, often bare only a superficial resemblance on completion to the reference from which they originated, being only the start of the creative process rather than something to be slavishly adhered to. Angela would say she interprets tone via subject, the subject has almost become incidental.

Angela has recently embarked on a series of lino prints in addition to her works in graphite. She has long admired and been influenced by the etchings of Arthur Rackham and the woodblock prints of Japanese artists of renown such as Hiroshige and Hokusai. The lino printing process is something she has greatly enjoyed in the past and to which she has now returned to allow her to pay homage to such masters after her own fashion and bring colour back into her portfolio.


Angela grew up and was educated on the south coast where an early interest in nature and art was helped along by time spent working behind the scenes with her keeper friends at Marwell Zoological Park (now Marwell Wildlife) in Hampshire. Her combined interests led to an art degree with an illustration pathway.

Angela has travelled in Europe and to America in search of inspiration, preferring to experience animals and birds in their natural environment. She enjoys exploring the living world of her own country, travelling throughout England, Wales and up to the Scottish Highlands to experience native nature in all its extremes and encounter new species in their own element. In recent years close observation of the many birds that visit the woods, fields and waterways of her rural home have provided much of her inspiration.

Angela exhibits throughout England, most notably with the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society for whom she is magazine editor. She lives and works in a small yet productive patch of rural Berkshire with her husband, a beautiful and delinquent cat, and a rapidly expanding family of bantams.