Rebecca Özkural Art - Owl Pastel PaintingOur mouths dropped when we saw Rebecca’s Owl picture on Instagram.

It sparked off an interesting discussion about the papers and materials she uses. We absolutely had to pick her brains!

Upon reading her bio we also found out she also works at Madame Tussaud’s in London as a colouring artist 😮

We requested an interview to find out more about what inspires her and her experiences – kindly Rebecca agreed! Rebecca is a Canadian Born artist living and working in London.

We hope you enjoy the interview below and find it as fascinating and interesting as we did. Afterwards be sure to give her a follow over on Instagram.

Rebecca Özkural Art - Canadian Born Artist

What were your influences and inspirations that lead you to pursue art?

I was lucky enough to grow up amongst the wild mountains of British Columbia, Canada. I have always loved animals and nature, ever since I can remember – my mum has kept a lot of the art I made when I was in preschool (mainly drawings of cats, dogs and rabbits). To be honest, it just feels like a passion I was born with rather than a subject I decided upon after deliberation. We moved to a house in the country when I was nine years old that was surrounded by forests and wildlife- that’s when I started drawing wolves in a way that can only be described as “obsessive”.

Robert Bateman, Canada’s most famous naturalist, became a major inspiration at a young age. As a teenager I turned away from wildlife thanks to an interest in Japanese animation; especially artists like Hayao Miyazaki and Naoko Takeuchi. I would draw comics for hours and hours with my best friend with the goal of one day becoming an animator.

Those hopes carried over into art school when I attended the University of Victoria. Although I specialised in contemporary art, my love of wildlife and manga has continued to inform a lot of my art- particularly the Manga-esque focus on capturing the spirit of the character through the eyes.

On your bio you mentioned you work at Madame Tussaud’s in London as an artist. What’s that like and how this experience translate to your work?

Working as a colouring artist at Madame Tussauds requires an incredible eye for detail. Every single figure we paint needs to have life like skin texture, which takes a lot of intricate layering of oil paints following very strict reference material.

This has taught me a lot of patience, something I definitely lacked in the past. It has also allowed me to develop a better eye for detail as well as a better ability to accept criticism and learn from it, as critiques are a regular part of the job.

Rebecca Özkural Art - Pastel Artist

On your instagram we can see you enjoy using the Pastel Pencil medium and produce amazing work! Which brands of pastel pencils do you use and why?

First of all: thank you! I use Faber Castell Pitt pencils – I actually just got my first set in January and I must say they are a real game changer. I love the variety of colours and how easy they are to apply and blend. I find it fantastic how, with the right paper, you can use layers upon layers of colour.

They are great for drawing finely detailed fur. Honestly, it feels like I’m able to paint with a pencil.

We can see that you also use soft pastels. Which ones do you like most and what’s your experience working with them?

I use both Unison pastels and Rembrandt. Once again, I have only just started to use both around January. I found Unison to be very soft with incredibly rich pigments. They can be tricky to use, especially as a beginner to the medium – they a very powdery but the colours they produce are incredible!

I use the Emma Colbert animal collection for my animal portraits – they are especially good on velour paper. Though trickier to control than the Pitt pencils, I like to use them to produce an undercoat for my animals and then draw with the pencils over top, but even that can be tricky as they can oversaturate the paper very quickly.

The Rembrandts are a much harder variety of pastel, a kind of “medium” soft pastel. They are easier to use in many ways (they produce very little dust) but they don’t blend as well. I prefer them when I want to do detail work as they are much easier to draw with and they can draw over anything so it does not matter if the paper is a bit saturated.

In our commenting on Insta, you mentioned you love working with the Pitt Pastel Pencils on PastelMat? What do you like about the PastelMat?

The PastelMat is great for getting a smooth finish. I find the pencils layer so beautifully and you can apply many layers before it becomes over saturated. The smoothness of the grain allows me to get the soft finish on the fur that I desire and allows for blending. The tooth of paper helps retain crisp, fine details like the shorter fur around the eyes and nose, the specular highlights in the eyes and the whiskers.

This picture (the owl) is the first one you’ve done using Velour paper. Could you tell us what it was like using this paper? What tips would you have to someone trying it for the first time?

Rebecca Özkural Pastel Artist

Rebecca Özkural Pastel Artist - Wolf PaintingThe velour paper was quite different!

I have since drawn a wolf on it too and I am learning to love it though it is certainly difficult to start with. The lovely softness of the velour is perfect for creating soft fur for animals. It is very difficult to draw onto initially.

I found the Pitt pencils only worked well on the paper after I applied an initial layer of soft pastels. The beauty of the velour is it seems to never get oversaturated.

I could add many layers of soft pastels followed by the Pitt pencils to create the details (like the feathers of my owl, or the fur of my wolf).

The paper is more conducive for a slightly looser style and I definitely struggled at times to create the fine details I could achieve on Pastelmat.

For a beginner, I would suggest starting with something quite simple to draw. In my case I chose an owl as it had a primitive silhouette. Map out your drawing first with soft pastels, and then go into it as you progress with the pastel pencils.

I also found that the white soft pastels – either Unison or Rembrandt had stronger pigments than the Pitt pencil so drawing in white details with the pencil was tricky. Instead I broke a Unison pastel into shards sharp enough for fine detail work. It definitely takes some getting used to, so just loosen up and have fun with the texture.

We see that you also do lovely work in watercolour. What other mediums have you used and how do you think these skills translate to your pastel work?

Watercolours have helped me to loosen up with my art and be more free with my subject matter but oil paints have taught me the importance of building layers to create depth. I think both of these skills have helped me a lot with my pastel work.

Rebecca Özkural Pastel Artist - Watercolour Paintings

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Where can people find out more about your work and follow you?

Thank you for interest! You can find me at: