Meet the Artist: Annabel Pearl

Mar 25, 2024

Meet the Artist: Annabel Pearl

Artist and illustrator Annabel Pearl creates beautiful cat breed prints, original paintings and bespoke pet portraits for Cheshire & Wain.

We caught up with Annabel about her work, inspiration and cat family.  

C&W: Hi Annabel! Could you please kick things off by telling us what makes you tick creatively?

AP: Hello! Of course. For the cat portraits I love looking at the individual cat and what it is that makes them unique: the way their tail looks striped in the sun or the markings on their face, and then I think about the materials that would best depict these. 

Bengal cat print by Annabel Pearl

Silver Tabby cat print by Annabel Pearl

C&W: What inspires your style and colours? 

AP: For the cat paintings I like making things joyful and fun, so mostly bright and vibrant. I use Dr P H Martins liquid watercolour inks which are similar to the ones Andy Warhol used for his illustrations

Annabel's workspace 

C&W: How would you describe your artwork?

AP: I studied Fine Art at university and for Cheshire & Wain my work is more illustrative and I use my illustration name ‘Annabel Pearl’ (my married name). I have found it really freeing having two distinct personae (Annabel Dover for Fine Art). It’s fun exploring different ways of working. 

My artwork for Cheshire & Wain is very much guided by the individual client and I will show them the paintings I’ve made already and we will talk about colours, interiors or details they’d like included. 

Annabel in her studio

C&W: Which artists do you admire?

AP: There are so many that I’ll stick to artists who depict cats!

Louis Wain
Gwen John
Paul Becker
Donna Wilson
Elizabeth Blackadder
Gerald Rose
Richard Scarry
Kathleen Hale
Nicola Bailey
Beatrix Potter
Lisa Jones Studio 

'Maria' by Lisa Jones Studio 

The writer Rhiannon Lucy Coslett, author of The Year of the Cat (2023) writes about adopting her cat Mackerel during lockdown and the unexpected impact it had on her life. 

Mackerel paintings by Annabel Pearl

Rhiannon also has a lovely instagram account dedicated to beautiful cat paintings called:

C&W: Could you describe your process when creating a bespoke painting of a cat?

AP: It’s a lovely job getting to know each cat that I paint. Sometimes, a cat portrait is commissioned to mark a special date, like a birthday or adoption anniversary, and other times, it is to commemorate a fabulous feline who is no longer with us. 

The world has so many horrible sad things in but I don’t feel this negates our deep connection to animals and our connections to them. 

When someone’s pet dies I know it’s devastating to lose a beloved creature companion, and I'm sure the communication we have with animals is real. I try to celebrate this with the portraits and to capture the special connection each person has with their cat. 

Bespoke pet portrait by Annabel Pearl

C&W: You’ve done some really exciting collaborations with Lulu Guinness and illustrations for Maison Lauderée and Hermès to name a few. What have you got coming up in the pipeline?

AP: I’ve been so lucky. Working with a creative woman like Lulu Guinness is exciting because she’s always thinking of new ideas and never stops. I’ve just done some more for Lulu Guinness including an illustration of an installation she’s making which will be on show in Blenheim Palace. I’ve just illustrated a Joan Aiken book for the publisher Manderley Press who make beautiful editions of classic books. And I’m really excited to be working with the curator Kath Wood for Art at Home, responding to work in historic collections. 

C&W: Could you tell us a bit about your book, Florilegia? 

AP: Yes! I did a Fine Art PhD at Chelsea College of Art  and it focused on the Victorian photographer Anna Atkins. 

Florilegia is a sort of scrapbook narrative that follows both historic and imaginary characters' stories woven together: Henry James 'drowns' the clothes of a friend post-suicide; Joe Orton's cleaning lady considers the collaged wall in his bedsit; and Anna Atkins makes the seaweed prints that will then appear in the first photographic book to be published. 

C&W: Have you always written alongside being an artist? 

AP: Little bits and pieces especially for Cathy Lomax’s magazine ‘Garageland’. 

C&W: You work in a range of mediums such as watercolour, sculpture and cyanotype. Do you have a favourite? 

AP: I think they work well to communicate different ideas. I love the immediacy of watercolour. 

C&W: Who is your cat muse? 

AP: Each new cat I draw and paint because I get to know them. Each cat is unique and interacts with their human in a different way. I love hearing about them. 

Russian Blue on Napoleonic Chaise Longue Original Painting by Annabel Pearl

C&W: Please could you tell us a bit more about your cat family? 

AP: Cats have always been a big part of my life and each has had a very distinct personality. 

The first cat I remember was Isadora, she was gentle and fluffy and black and white. She was named after Isadora Duncan and she had a tabby sister called Cherry who ran away. She was the family cat before I was born and I was so sad when she died. I used to imagine I saw her running around in the house. 

I very briefly had a beautiful black cat called Martha who was half Siamese and very clever, my father kept her and her panther-like brother when my parents divorced. 

Next was a big Ginger Tom who ran away and then my beloved Pig. Pig was a Bengal and she was alert and responsive and bright. She was my companion for eight years and I adored her. 

Since then I’ve had King Farouk, a rambunctious British Blue with a huge personality who used to jump on my husband’s shoulder. 

At the moment I have the lovely Margiepuss who is a seal point Burmese, she’s beautiful and charming and she taps my leg for attention and sits on her hind legs like a dancing bear. I also have her beautiful son Silkypaws whose father was a rag doll, he’s floppy and soft and gentle, and they lie in the catnip with our next door neighbours cat Lulu who is a beautiful snow Bengal boy. 

Margiepuss and Silkypaws


Thank you so much Annabel!