Meet the Artist: Fiona Purves

Beautiful, gentle and forever-improving her magnificent illustration skills - here is a real creative fairy Fiona Purves. Fantastic pet portrait artist with a keen eye for all forms of life. Her prints A-Z of Creatures are among our bestselling and most-loved artworks. Here we ask Fiona a few questions about her creative process so you can get to know her a little bit better. She is one of the Curious Crew members so you might have seen her in the Bruntsfield shop.


Jeffers dog sitting on a chair

1. How did you start your adventure with art?
I was always drawing and creating things from a young age. I used to draw 'nature pictures' for other kids at school! Drawing and painting was something I always felt happy doing, and I was very at home in the art department at high school. I had my heart set on going to art school since I was about 12! At 17 I started my degree at Edinburgh College of Art, with high hopes of studying jewellery. By chance I found my way to illustration instead, and have never looked back! 
Fiona Purves' studio
2. Tell us more about your technique.
I work primarily with gouache paint and graphite pencils. Once I find something I like, I tend to just stick with it! I love the simplicity of a graphite pencil, and the diversity of marks you can make with them. Gouache paint is my favourite medium to work with - it's essentially a thick watercolour. It can be used fairly thick so it's nice and opaque, or watered down it's lighter and behaves more like watercolour. You can layer it up really well which is why I love it, along with the really wide range of marks and effects you can create with it. I like to balance really fine details (using a tiny, tiny brush) with looser, more expressive marks, with larger brushes. I work in layers until I'm happy with the level of detail and texture I've achieved.  
3. What brings you most joy in the creative process?
 Seeing something come together on the paper is really satisfying! There's always a stage where a painting will look really messy and not really resembling what it is supposed to... but you keep working at it, and it just comes together as if by magic. I also love to work with traditional materials, instead of working digitally like a lot of illustrators and artists do these days (which can look amazing!). The tactile nature of the materials is really important to me in my artwork - the feeling and the sound of the brush or the pencil on the paper, the way you move your hands to get just the right shapes, the textures, swishing paint in the palette to make the perfect colour, and the more spontaneous, unplanned marks that are often the best ones. I just love it all! 
Fiona Purves
4. How do you come up with new ideas?

I think about what I like and what fascinates me, instead of following trends, or doing what other people tell me to! I always aim to have some sort of personal connection to something in my artwork; I feel like it has more integrity that way. Generally, inspiration comes from my day-to-day surroundings, memories from my childhood, the natural world, and things I think are funny or interesting. I'm also inspired by film and TV (my husband is a director so we watch a lot!); I love studying the colour palettes, compositions and production design. I keep a board on Pinterest with various things that inspire me, which includes film stills and photography, as well as lots of art and illustration. Looking at this will often help to spark ideas when I need them!
a-z of wild animals print in creamore hanger
5. What brought you to specialise in pet portraits?

When I was doing my final year in my illustration degree, I made a children's book featuring my family dog, Max the labrador. I loved painting him, and so began my love for painting dogs! A few years later I'd done the odd commission for family and friends, and in 2016 I decided to make pet portraits more of a focus. I've had a steady stream of commissions for them ever since! I'm still learning something new with each one I paint. 
pet portrait
6. What is your connection with Curiouser?

I work in the Bruntsfield branch on Fridays and Saturdays! I've worked for Curiouser for about 6 years, and it's lovely to be part of such a great team of creative people. You know you've got a good thing going when you can call your employer your friend as well as your boss! 
My prints are also stocked in both shops - it's always nice to see them in the browsers, and even better when someone chooses to buy one! I love to hear about where they are going to end up. 
Fiona in Bruntsfield
7. If you could be an animal what would you become?

A dog! It'd be lovely live a life of snoozing, eating and going for walks. Not so sure about having to go to the toilet outside though...
buildings and balloons print by Fiona
Buildings and Balloons print by Fiona Purves
A-Z of birds print
A-Z of Birds print
2022 calendar with dogs by Fiona Purves
Dogs 2022 Calendar by Fiona
All of Fiona's prints are available to view here. Have a browse!
A z of creaturesAnimal printsCurious crewCuriouser & curiouserFiona purvesMeet the artistPet portraits