3 June 2024

Riverina Made: Australian animals and furry friends the inspirations for Jen's pencil portraits

| Vanessa Hayden
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woman drawing animals

Jen Mulholland creates lasting memories of much-loved pets in her beautiful portraits hand-drawn in pencil. Photos: Supplied.

Who are you and what is your business? I am Jen Mulholland; I do realistic animal drawings in pencil. I live in the Albury/Wodonga area. I love drawing pet portraits for commissions, but I also love to draw Australian animals. These I produce into small items with the images of my art on them.

Where did you first begin/what was the inspiration? I started drawing in high school some 30 years ago. I left school and did not take up drawing again until my first child came along. I drew small pencil drawings of what my children could colour in. I stopped for a while after they hit about 10. I have always had animals in my life. My dog Charlie was getting old and I did not have a photo in a frame of him, so I decided to draw him. He passed away not long after and I am glad I did draw him. He now has a permanent spot on the wall.

What do you produce? I love to draw Australian animals for myself, as I can only draw my family dogs so many times. With so many Australian unique animals, I have always got inspiration.

I had drawn more than 15 Australian animals. I decided to do a small calendar last year. I asked my friends if anyone wanted one and I ordered 20. They sold out and I did another order; they also sold out. This was about when I decided that maybe I could sell small things with my drawings on them. Now I have key rings, magnets, small prints and greeting cards.

What do you sell that makes a great gift? A commission for a pet memorial. I do quite a few pet portraits of animals that are still living with their families, but I do love how I can give someone something of their beloved animal to have and remind them of their family member. Living here in rural Australia, I have had animals that have passed away from snake bites. When I started drawing commissions, I did not think this would be something I would do. The reaction of the owners when they get their portrait is worth the hours it takes to draw them, there’s lots of tears.

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What is your favourite thing to make? Pet portraits, not for me but for the owners. They love their pets, and to have their pet drawn instead of a photo on their phone, that then takes pride of place in their home.

pet photo and pet portrait

Capture a special moment in your pet’s life and create a lasting memory with one of Jen’s animal portraits. Photo: Supplied.

What would you make if you could do anything? (Dream big!) Draw full time. I work as an office manager and work with numbers for my day-to-day job. I would love to sustain myself enough to not work every day.

Where can we buy your products? I have my products in the Self-Made Market store in Lavington, NSW, and Howlong lotto shop. I also have my own website, www.jemsart.com.au.

How would you promote the Riverina to someone thinking about visiting? The Riverina has the most consistent weather and even in winter the sun does shine. Great walking tracks near the river and beautiful parkland for us to see the real Australian animals.

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What is the coolest local/handcrafted thing you’ve ever bought? I love going into the Gateway Gallery on the Lincon Causeway in Wodonga. It is filled with local artists’ work for sale. I have purchased other artists’ greeting cards from here.

Where’s your favourite place for a cuppa? Dellie Bean in Wodonga and Mr.Benedicts in Albury. Both have a unique atmosphere and great coffee.

Where’s your favourite place/tourism attraction to go or take visitors to (in the Albury-Riverina area)?

The art gallery is good, but I also love taking visitors from out of the area to the weir/Hume Dam. The wall is interesting but there are multiple walking tracks that I have walked on where the old train line used to run and now is a walking track called High Country Rail Trail, great for spotting native birds nesting and eating. It’s sealed, so no muddy shoes, and great if you are a pushbike rider.

Who is another local producer you admire? I wear earrings and I cannot go past Blue Chai – there are so many different designs. Corrie, the owner, does a great job at making just what I need.

For more info, visit Jem’s Animal Art.

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