Lisa Ann Watkins, the artist behind Animal Art by LAW is well known in the world of coloured pencils as a multi-award winning artist, art tutor, and animal rescue advocate. Though she studied art and graduated college with a degree in Fashion and Textile Design, Lisa’s love for creating artwork with coloured pencils didn’t begin until twenty years post graduation. It came as the result of a decades-long creative block, after a counselor suggested that she get back in touch with her creative side. She purchased her first set of coloured pencils in 2012 and has never looked back. By Christmas that same year, she began taking on private commission work and entering global art challenges, winning twice. By January the following year, she traded the security of a well paid job for a full-time career as an artist.
“I will never forget that feeling of seeing my art in print in a magazine for the first time. And then to have a piece on the front cover. It is like a 'pinch myself' moment again and again. The highlights are still coming to fruition as my first range of products made by a leading art supplies brand is about to be released - seeing my name on my very own signature kit with them is amazing. And I have also just signed my first major book deal. In all honesty though, these may be personal highlights or perceptions of success as seen by others but the true reward for me comes in helping people embrace their own creativity through teaching and sharing my knowledge.”
Soon after diving full speed to her art career, Watkins found herself booked with orders for months at a time, her social media presence and popularity in the coloured pencil world growing rapidly. Her followers on social media started asking for more information about her creative techniques and she responded by putting together digital tutorials and hands-on workshops, which to her amazement would sell out within the first few hours. Watkins started with workshops in the UK, went on to teach a sold-out workshop tour of America, and now creates in-depth videos and written tutorials for students worldwide on her Patreon. In addition to teaching art techniques, she incorporates BeFunky into her curriculum, as it has become such a large part of her own creative process.
“BeFunky is my easy access, guaranteed results, go-to tool. I am so busy with my work that I don't always have time to search for a video teaching me how to do something that I need to take 10 steps to achieve. BeFunky has saved me so many times.”
Watkins’ creative process, which she teaches to her workshop students, usually begins with a photograph taken of a subject. In most cases, the subjects are rescue animals and other wildlife. After uploading a photo into BeFunky’s Photo Editor, she uses the Black & White Effects and Beautify tools to help bring out the tonal values and colors, then uses the edited image as a reference photo for drawing in coloured pencil. These reference photos are supplied to students in her workshops in addition to using them as the starting point for her own brilliant works of art.
After creating the final coloured pencil drawings, Watkins scans each finished work back onto her computer and uploads each image into BeFunky’s Photo Editor to create social media imagery, add watermarks, and design marketing materials for her workshops. She has found it particularly useful for creating email graphics for her newsletters, which have helped her sell out workshops within just a few hours of sending. From creating reference photos to designing Facebook Cover Photos, posters, and advertisements, BeFunky has become an all-encompassing part of Watkins’ workflow.
“The Photo Editor is great for quick crops, enhancements, alignments, and resizing. I also love it for adding layers and watermarks to my works in progress so that I can get them straight out onto social media. I have my logo and watermark saved in the app, as well as custom templates for creating social media posts, which allows me to save time and be consistent with my branding.”
In addition to the Photo Editor, Watkins uses BeFunky’s Collage Maker as a tool for both teaching and showing progress photos of her own artwork. By using the Grid templates, she is able to show side-by-side comparisons of reference photos vs. the finished works of art. These make great posts for her social media, as well as valuable teaching tools for workshops whether online, in-person, or live-streamed.
“The Collage Maker is a great tool for comparing reference photos with works in progress pics and I use it in my online video mentoring with students all over the world. I created a transparent grid which can be dropped onto a piece so that students can self critique their proportions. I love teaching others how to utilize BeFunky for their own work as artists.”
From the time Lisa Ann Watkins decided to quit her day job and opt for a career as an artist to now, the journey has taken her into an exciting world with endless opportunities. She not only shares her knowledge with hundreds of students worldwide, she is also able to create art that’s driven by her passion for helping animals. By creating coloured pencil portraits of rescue animals, she is able to lend them a voice, raise funds for rescue programs, and raise awareness about their needs. Her advice to other aspiring artists:
“Try not to be too rigid with your business plan. Opportunities will often reveal themselves without warning and you need to be in a position to be able to say yes. You also need to learn when to say no and manage your time. Have good, trustworthy, and honest artist friends around you. Support them as they support you. Hard work can pay off and you can make a very good living from being an artist, but remember to be you and not imitate someone else's success as people are buying into a little bit of you.”
When it comes to creating art with tons of heart behind it all, we think Lisa Ann Watkins is one of the best artists around. You can learn more about her animal artistry and workshops on her website. And if you're inspired to follow in the footsteps of Lisa Ann Watkins and start creating with BeFunky's Photo Editor, click the link below: