Reflecting out loud


Today I’m busy preparing my presentation for the Vocational Practice module which is part of my MA course and takes place next week yikes! Like most people I am not a fan of public speaking.  The illustration above is supposed to resemble the start of my illustration journey! We have to discuss our art practice with the rest of our group and it’s been really interesting reflecting on the last few months. Some things I have noticed about the way I work are:

  1. I’ve found that whether I’m doing a painting, collage or an illustration I always approach my work in layers. I always put down the solid colour first then build on top of it.
  2. Colour is a big factor within my work, probably the most important. I’m drawn to colour because bright colours make me so happy. When I’m creating new work I decide on a colour palette first, always.  At present I can’t get away from primary colours!
  3. I probably work in a bit of a strange way for an illustrator, I don’t necessarily plan a piece out on paper first, i kind of have a vague idea of how it might turn out and thats the exciting part.  Sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.  Sometimes I can go a whole infuriating day trying to create a certain character like a turtle and it just doesn’t work out.
  4. I tend to work in collage first and foremost.  So do lots of mark making and painting on big bits of paper and keep them all in a big box so I have colourful library to delve into any time. Then I often use these to plan out a rough illustration digitally after scanning them in.  I will overlay a drawing done in illustrator and cut out the shape, so I end up with a patterned shape as the basis for a character. Then I work these up until they are finished. The finished image is always a digital image.

The Dead Bird

I picked up a copy of ‘The Dead Bird’ today, a children’s picture book illustrated by one of my fave children’s book illustrators Christian Robinson.  I love Robinson’s simple, mixed media illustrations they are always so joyful to look at. The story originally written by Margaret Wise Brown in 1938 was reissued in 2016 with new illustrations by Robinson. The book tells the story of a group of children who find a dead bird and hold a a burial ceremony for it.  There are very few children’s books which handle the subject of death and this book does so gently and with sensitivity.


As usual Robinson’s simple, hand-painted illustrations bring the characters to life and add so much to the story. The main scenes are set in a lushly painted green urban park. The book is a must-read for adults and children alike.


Hands off the computer

I’ve been finding it a bit struggle recently between getting the right balance between using the computer as a tool for my art and using my hands.  Before starting the MA I never used a computer to create art, so I have been pretty much learning as I go along  how to use Illustrator and Photoshop.  I was initially scanning in textures and hand-painted work and then using photoshop to manipulate the image slightly.  Now, as I am finding the programs much easier to use I have bypassed the scanning in of my handmade work and have been creating images solely on the computer.  Looking at the computer based images although I do like them, I feel there is something missing from them.  The imperfections and layers that make up handmade work give them that extra bit of character and added quirkiness.


You can see what I mean here.  In the piece above you can see the hand-painted mark-making, hand cut paper and layering that gives the piece it’s character. Whereas in this next piece although I like it, I feel it is missing the character from the first one.


Today I’m working on a piece which combines both the hand-made aspect and some elements created on the computer.  I’m hoping that it works more successfully as an image without losing any of it’s character.  I’ll post the results for you to judge!