Banbridge artist Michelle Wilson is an animal painter to A-listers including Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox

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Meet the woman who went from doodling at her desk to painting pet portraits for the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox.

Ichelle Wilson, 42, has also painted animals for a former President of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society and Alex Best, former wife of the late Northern Ireland football legend George.

Speaking to Sunday Life after her first-ever art exhibition in Belfast on Thursday, Ms Wilson revealed how she ended up working for Jennifer Aniston, aka Rachel from the TV show Friends.

She said: “I’ve actually painted all three of her dogs now. It all started when I saw a picture online of her little dog Clyde wearing a bow tie and I just thought it was super cute and decided to draw it.

“I thought it would be cool for her to see it and then thought if I could get my hands on it, so I did a bit of research and after some back and forth with some of their reps I managed to make that happen was great.

“Next, my phone started going crazy after she shared it on her Instagram. I then got an email from her and there were a few messages back and forth.

“She mentioned her other dogs and also sent me pictures of them.

“I also drew Courteney Cox’s dog that Jen gave her for Christmas, which Courteney mounted and framed.

“Jen was very nice to deal with, very friendly, no airs and graces as far as I could tell via email. As a former Friends fan, that was a bit strange.

“It’s fantastic, but also a bit strange. I remember when I got the first email I had to check if someone had pulled my leg.

“I’m also working on an assignment for Alex Best, which is great. I’m still waiting for David Beckham to knock on the door. He has two beautiful spaniels.”

Mrs Wilson, from Banbridge, Co Down, was working as a civil servant when one day she had the idea of ​​doodling on her break instead of going for a walk or something to eat.

Her decision changed her life and career and was also the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

“I was at my desk at work and just didn’t want to read my book or go for a walk on my lunch break, so I pulled a page out of the printer, picked up a pen and reached for it,” she said.

“Someone saw my doodles and people started asking if I could draw things for them or their dog or horse.

“I sketched my mother-in-law’s dog and she put it on Facebook and it got a really good response, which is what prompted me to start my own Facebook business page.

“From then on it was easy. More and more people were asking for commissions, so what started out as a part-time hobby has luckily turned into a full-time job.

“I loved art as a little girl and would have gotten art things for Christmas. Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be, I always said “artist” without really thinking that it would happen.

“I’m very happy things turned out the way I did and I ended up doing something I love.

“I voluntarily retired from public service and ventured into this career path, and I was lucky that it worked.”

On Thursday, Michelle held her first ever exhibition of her work at First Avenue Coffee Company on Ormeau Road in Belfast.

She added: “It was so exciting to have my first exhibition – also a little bit nerve wracking but mostly exciting.

“It’s been a goal for a long time and I just decided that this would be the year to make it happen.

“I hope people enjoyed it and that we might make some sales out of it; also get my name out there a little bit more and maybe get some more commissions.

“I mostly paint animals in a realistic style. I’ve been told my work around the eyes and the color in the fur is good so I do a lot of it, but I have a new collection of sky work called When Irish Skies Are Smiling.

“I hope to be able to get this up and running next year. It’s mostly sea and sky and things I imagined while swimming.”

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