max temp: 7°C

min temp: 6°C


We’d all like to be able to paint like Frances, wouldn’t we?

PUBLISHED: 16:03 05 December 2017

Winter Visitors by Frances Sullivan

Winter Visitors by Frances Sullivan

Equestrian artist Frances Sullivan is celebrating her 25th anniversary as a professional painter

Ploughing a Straight Furrow by Frances Sullivan Ploughing a Straight Furrow by Frances Sullivan

“You know how sculptors say there is an image within a block of stone?” asks painter Frances Sullivan. “I like to create an animal on the canvas or board I’m working on. And I like it to be realistic. I watch horses and wildlife – their body language and how they react with each other and with us. I try to incorporate all that. So when you get the finished piece, that connection hopefully comes across and you feel you’re there with the animal – or the animal is there with you – and you’ve got that connection.

“I love to create beautiful animal paintings, where their life and character shines through.”

Art, and the animal kingdom, have been integral parts of Frances’s life ever since she can remember. “Like most girls I had a fascination for horses, and liked to draw them all the time. Horses and birds were my fascination.”

She grew up in a small town in Worcestershire. Her mother was a keen artist, though her forte was flowers. Animals were more Frances’s cup of tea.

She didn’t just observe and admire them. In her 20s she got her own pony and rode him.

Red Poll by Frances Sullivan Red Poll by Frances Sullivan

It was marriage that transported Frances across England to the Norfolk/Suffolk borderlands – to the Thetford area – her husband being a local man.

Frances was painting, and doing commissioned work, before she left Worcestershire. That continued in East Anglia, and 25 years ago it was a natural step to become a professional. “When I had my children, it enabled me to stay at home and work around their needs.” Today, as a fine artist, she specialises in Suffolk Horses (aka Suffolk Punches), rare, native-breed and farm animals, and other wildlife (even guinea-pigs!). Frances usually works with acrylic paint on canvas or board, believing deep canvases give an extra dimension. Sometimes she uses coloured pencil for a softer effect.

She’s got a passion and affinity for the Suffolk Horse.

“I started painting them about 15 years ago. Banham Zoo ran a heavy horse painting workshop, which I went to. It’s how I discovered the Suffolk Horse. Shortly after that, they had a heavy horse exhibition at the zoo, which I took part in.

“When you see a group of Suffolk Horses they look wonderful, as they glow in the sun, but all look quite similar, as the only colour for the breed is chesnut. I enjoy the challenge of making each horse, many of which I know by name, an individual − observing and capturing not only the seven shades of chesnut (and others in between) but also the often very subtle differences in conformation, shape, markings and demeanour, and that all-important glow.

Handsome Suffolk by Frances Sullivan Handsome Suffolk by Frances Sullivan

“I was quite surprised, when I started to paint them and got involved with the Suffolk Horse Society, that they’re critically endangered: 73 registered breeding Suffolk females in the UK in 2017 and 10 pedigree female registrations in 2016. The Rare Breed Survival Trust predicts that by 2027 Suffolk Horses could be extinct.” On a happier note, Frances provided the image for the Suffolk Horse Society Christmas card last year and for the Suffolk Punch Trust this year.

Recently, she has begun painting more livestock and farm animals. “I do find, actually, that sheep and goats are fascinating, and interesting to paint. It’s getting the spiral on the horns. And they’ve got such lovely eyes as well!” She does seem to have something of an empathy with animals – though, to be fair, for a complete change and new challenge she will also tackle steam engines and tractors.

Frances does work from photographs, but really wants to see an animal with her own eyes “and get a proper feel of what they’re doing” before she puts paint to canvas or board. “Only when I’ve seen them in person can I use the photographs and ‘put the life’ into the painting.

“I try to make that connection between the animal and the viewer, so that in their own way they speak to you. My paintings, when they’re up on somebody’s wall, they’re very ‘homely’. They’re something you can live with and admire every day!”

Norfolk Horn by Frances Sullivan Norfolk Horn by Frances Sullivan

Online shop selling cards, prints and gifts: www.frances-sullivan.co.uk – or call her on 07880 958 609.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

A hair-raising ride which has proved a big hit at the Suffolk Show is back on the dirt track.

Declan Donnelly has announced that he will present without his TV partner Ant when Saturday Night Takeaway returns at Easter. But how hard will it be for two to become one on live TV?

There are other places than Swansea Tubbs, no matter what Edward says - and you’ll get to see them when The League of Gentlemen Live Again comes to the Ipswich Ipswich Regent.

Quiz show QI is leaving the studio for the first time ever for an exclusive Latitude Festival edition.

Dan Needham from North Norfolk had two strokes in the space of a week and has navigated a difficult path to recovery. He’s the stand-out star in an episode of BBC2’s The Secret Helpers where he enlists the support of strangers to help him cope with his wedding day to sweetheart Suzanne.

An Ipswich bottled beer shop has gained a tool which produces beer that stays fresh for up to a month.

Dan Needham’s life was turned upside-down by two sneezes which tore an artery in his neck and led to two strokes and a long road to recovery. Now he’s facing a new challenge on a BBC show which offers people facing difficulties a host of secret advice.

Youthful rebellion is nothing new, Teddy, a new high energy musical from Snapdragon Productions and Watermill Theatre, explodes onto the New Wolsey stage telling the story of Josie and Teddy and the social forces which shaped the teenage revolution and post-war Britain.

Check out our top spots in East Anglia to indulge in fresh waffles.

Whether appearing in front of or behind the camera, filmmaker and stuntman Nash Edgerton has long established himself as a formidable talent within the film industry.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24