DOT Merry has always loved animals and art from an early age.
From helping her mother to 'decorate' their home as a child, to working in a pot bank, her love and skill for art has remained constant throughout her life.
Having travelled all over the world seeking out inspiration, she is now settled in Oakamoor where she lives with her husband Clive and their dogs black Labrador Tilly and golden Labrador Beth.
She said: "I haven't known any part of my life that hasn't included painting; I don't know what it's like not to be an artist.
"I was born in Cobridge and when I was little my mum used to put me in our whitewashed front room with a crayon and let me colour all over the walls.
"When it got a bit too much, she would repaint them with white wash and I'd start all over again; as I grew my drawings got higher up the walls.
"I didn't have the opportunities that people have today with art, so because I was good at art I went to work in a pot bank as a free-hand painter.
"Once I'd learned how to do it there was nothing new after that, so I'd just hammer away and earn my money. But I couldn't stay working in a pot bank because I felt like I was in a trap, so I took off – most artists have to find themselves and where they belong.
"I worked in various jobs, and one thing or another, and eventually ended up back here, not a million miles away from where I started.
"I've been all over the world, Europe and America.
"I lived near to Brands Hatch and painted the Formula One race cars, just so I'd get in free at first.
"Then I started painting the winners' portraits for the Alfa Romeo team, which was fun.
"I've painted nudes, cars, seascapes, and whatever else cropped up along the journey."
Dot has worked with the Siberian Husky Racing Team and painted the late Les Oakes' Shire horses and the Hanley Park Shire Horse, which was shod by Cobridge farrier Percy Barton, who also shod horses for the First World War and all of the local park horses, alongside the milkman's and breadman's horses.
This led to her working in parks and zoos and then she began to take commissions from people to paint portraits of their animals.
Because she loves animals so much, she decided to use the proceeds to support animal charities.
She said: "The first thing I do is bond with the animal and once we've bonded they give me what I want and I give back what they are.
"Now I don't accept any commissions to do with anything other than animals, and I made up my mind that I would give everything that I make to animals.
"One painting makes quite a lot of money, as I reproduce them into prints and cards, which sell very well.
"The charity I'm working for at the moment is Nowzad Dogs, which rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan."
Dot has never trained as an artist and she is most at home when she is in the studio.
She added: "When I'm in the studio I feel this is where I should be and where I belong.
"When I'm not in the studio I have a strong feeling I should be back there; it's like being in my own world.
"It's truly a gift; I've never been trained or anything, I've learned from years of experience and hard work.
"That's what I tell kids who are interested in art; I love children's work because they are so innocent and unspoiled and that shows through their work."
Dot will be attending the Country and Western Weekend in Leek on June 22 and the Animal Charity Day in Oakamoor on June 29.
For more information about Nowzad visit the website www.nowzad.com or www.facebook.com/nowzad