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grace©Sonia Cudd

Being made redundant was the best thing to happen to Art Group Wanstead member Sonia Cudd, who soon went on to combine her passions for art and dogs (particularly greyhounds)

I love art and over the years have attended many evening classes, mainly life drawing and painting, at some of London’s leading art schools. My art has been a way to relax after my stressful accountancy day job.

Having been made redundant in April 2021, I decided to apply myself to my art full-time, and I opened an Etsy shop to see if I’d be able to sell what I was producing. It was a good way to combine my business mind and creativity. I opted to produce something that would be easy to dispatch by post, which is how I got back into lino printing.

What I love about doing lino cuts is that it brings drawing, painting and sculpture together. I enjoy the process of carving into the lino and the anticipation of seeing my work come to life as I lift the paper from the inked lino to reveal the finished piece. It can be quite exciting!

It’s always best to choose a subject you are passionate about. Luckily for me, I had adopted a greyhound supermodel in 2013. Grace the greyhound was the most beautiful, elegant and yet goofy creature. She was alarmingly tall and a rare blue fawn colour. She was quite a celebrity among the retired greyhound community and a great ambassador for her breed. I named my business after her, Grace Cuddle Art. 

Greyhounds are quite a misunderstood breed and it is only once you meet one of the lucky dogs who have been adopted after retiring from racing that you get to see what wonderful pets they make. As well as being the sixth fastest land animal (for pub quizzers, the few land animals faster than a greyhound are a cheetah, pronghorn, springbok, blackbuck and lion).

Greyhounds are gentle, loving and lazy dogs. They also make wonderful muses with their doe eyes, big noses and powerful muscular form.

I have since diversified into depicting other dog breeds, the occasional fox and my most challenging subject: a human grandchild! I have done commissions using pastels, coloured pencils and paint, and I am thinking of introducing small ceramic art to my range this year.

A friend encouraged me to exhibit at the Local Makers Market in Wanstead and I absolutely loved meeting people and seeing their positive reactions to my work. I now regularly exhibit at a few other artisan markets. 

People do say that when you face a life challenge – in my case, being made redundant in my 50s – something better is around the corner and I can definitely say it was the best thing that could have happened to me, as it has enabled me to live my dream of being a professional artist.

Follow Sonia on Instagram or Facebook @gracecuddleart, or to view her Etsy shop, visit wnstd.com/cuddle