Welcome to my about me page - Melanie Phillips! Lovely to see you here. My name is Melanie and I work alongside my husband Nicholas Beall and we are professional pet portrait artists. We work full time from our garden studio in the heart of rural Wales. However, as you have landed on this page about me, I'm guessing you don’t really want read about artwork...you want to read about me! That’s why you are here.
I grew up on a smallholding in West Wales. It was an idyllic lifestyle and a great place to grow up. I played with the animals, roamed the fields, made camps, damned up the stream, made ponds for the ducks and a tree house in the yard. It was a lot of fun for sure.
My father worked on a nearby farm but had his own animals on a very small scale. I say on a small scale, the majority of them were pets and we would rescue animals too. People would give us chickens, we adopted two kittens, and we even inherited a pig from the farm in the village. It would insist on visiting us however each time we took it back, it found it's way back a few days later. In the end the neighbour asked if we would like to keep her. She was called Flo. Our small holding was overflowing with animals, including pigs, sheep, cows, goats, geese, ducks, chickens, Guinea fowl, two dogs, two cats, a pet mouse and anything else visiting that people deemed us suitable to rescue or foster. All in all it was a great childhood.
Having left home at 19, I headed to Bournemouth to art college for 3 years. Here I met Nicholas on the same art course. After college we moved back to Wales. Nicholas is originally from Cornwall, which is very similar to Wales. Our cottage is pictured below.
We have settled here in our little Welsh Cottage, which is around 350 years old. There is a large inglenook fireplace and big old oak beams. There are no records that go back to prove its age and the garden wall could possibly be much, much older. We have done plenty of research, but it's full history may have to remain a mystery. We have renovated the cottage over the years and have now bought it back to life and made it a wonderful home. We have a large garden behind which has enabled us to have a studio in the Garden along with space for Chickens and Lily our dog..more about her further down the page....
Our garden is a slice of heaven and it's the perfect place for a studio. We have lots of wildlife visiting our garden and we see a whole variety of birds, an abundance of rabbits, very naughty squirrels, Tawny owls and bats. The bats even come out in early afternoon to swoop around the garden, they are quite incredible. Our garden also houses our chickens which keep us in eggs all year round. They have a large pen but are often allowed to wander around the garden...until they get into mischief and start dust bathing in my flower beds!
We have a purpose built studio and you can read about it on our studio page. It is fully heated 24 / 7 so is warm and toasty all year round. Wales isn’t known for its warm dry weather, in fact quite the opposite, so the constant heating is very important to us. As you can see the studio is positioned in our garden surrounded by plenty of trees and its a perfect place to work.
As mentioned above we also share our home with a mischievous Tibetan Terrier called Lily. She is with us all of the time and we take her where ever we go, she is truly part of our family!
The photo below shows me bird watching and looking at the coastline on the beach in Devon. We love getting out and about with Lily travelling around to different beaches seeing the coastline and looking at the different bird life. This was a very quiet beach which Lily enjoyed running around on, although she isn't a fan of actually going in the sea!!
This photo of Lily and myself was taken on another lovely beach at a place called Mwnt. It might be tricky to pronounce and it can be tricky to get to with all it's windy lanes however it is well worth a visit. It has a beautiful beach, which is dog friendly out of season, you can see dolphins and walk the coastal path too.
If you would like to meet Nicholas and myself along with Lily and our chickens, our door is always open to clients who would like to visit. Just give us a call or drop us a line to arrange a time. We can view your photos or why not bring your dogs for a photoshoot. If you are looking for a place to stay, there is a beautiful country house hotel about 20 minutes drive away from us, which is dog friendly. They not only allow dogs in the rooms, but upon arrival they will be greeted with food, bowl, blankets, towels and much more. They definitely cater for the dog owner - and we love that!