Animal justice

Alexander Bell, a young artist based in Norwich, UK, has always been passionate about depicting animals in his work. But in recent years, this passion has taken on even more meaning.

“With fewer wild animals than ever and many animals become endangered,” Alexander says, “I feel art is one way to make people aware of the value of these creatures.” He says that he sees in each animal he paints “a natural type of beauty”, and he believes that if he can capture that “then it does justice to that animal”.

Alexander enjoyed being creative from a young age, and always thought drawing was rad, so the progression to study art at university was a no-brainer. “Once I was happy with the type of work I was creating,” he says, “I started putting together a collection to approach galleries and various places to exhibit.”

Still, it wasn’t a straightforward path from school to his current success. Even though he had a lot of natural ability, it took many years of painting for Alexander to find a style that he felt was uniquely his own.

When he sets out to do a new picture, Alexander usually starts by “using an HB pencil to sketch out the image, so I get a sense of composition and a general feel for the piece”. Only then does he begin using his paints. He also says that he carefully researches his materials and tries to work with the best paints he can get his hands on. “I also enjoy working with charcoal and graphite, as they give a great variety of shades and mark making.”

I ask Alexander what advice he has for young people who want to pursue their interest in drawing into a career as an artist. “Always look at your experiments and be your own critic,” he recommends. “This way your work will develop naturally and a lot quicker.” He also tells me: “I think as an artist or someone who’s creative you will always have an element of doubt which comes with new challenges. Every time I look at a blank canvas, I think to myself ‘where do I start?’. But each time you create something, you will become more confident.”

Alexander also says that getting in touch with your subject is super important for the feeling of your work. “I think it’s so important to be in tune with nature and your surrounding – and with yourself, too.” For him, the woods have always given strong feelings of connection and inspiration. “I’ve always been fascinated by forests,” he says, “as they offer so much beauty and can have such variety of animals which you rarely see in your day to day lives.”

Finally, Alexander also suggests using social media platforms like Instagram as a tool for research and for sharing your work – but he also says to be careful about letting what you see or read influence you: “Don’t follow trends,” he says. “Set them!”

You can check out more of Alexander’s art at alexbellartwork.com or on Instagram @alexbell08

Words: Jason Childs

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