Julia Malcolm - pet portrait and wildlife artist

Pencil portraits by Julia Malcolm

Portrait of a horse in pencil (graphite)

Cross Country

One of my earliest portraits was in pencil (graphite). I enjoy working in this medium. Graphite portraits are in essence like black and white photographs, they consist of an animal drawn in shades of grey. Just like the black and white photograph, graphite captures more of the form and function of the animal as there is no colour to keep our eyes busy. It can be a very romantic medium and suits both long and short haired animals alike. As the graphite pencils used have narrow tips, the entire portrait is made from individual strokes to capture each hair on the animal.

Portrait of two cheetahs in pencil (graphite)


Graphite suits portraits which are tying in many different themes such as different coloured animals, or when there is a lot of interesting detail in the texture and expression of the animal coat and face for example. It works well with both black and white animals as well as coloured animals. If you are unsure, think about how you would describe your animal to someone. If your answer is "a stunning red coat" then perhaps coloured portrait is better, it is a shame to loose this beautiful colour. If your answer is "a silky long coat and full tail", then this is a candidate for graphite.

Portrait of a two dogs in pencil (graphite)

Willow and Belle

There is no hard and fast rule for black and white versus colour portraits. It depends on what suits your tastes, your home and your budget. I use artist grade acid free white paper which has a maximum size of 65x50cm. Other paper colours are available if you prefer graphite on a colour other than white. If working on a full body portrait I will shade under the animal to give the appearance that he/she is lying, sitting or standing on a surface. I can add different surfaces such as cloth, grass, silk, a box or anything else you would like.

Portrait of a dog in pencil (graphite)