Monday, 4 June 2012

Exercise 1 – The History of Illustration

From the list of illustrators to choose from, I did a quick internet search and looked at examples of each of their works. I must admit I wasn’t familiar with a lot of them and the one I was immediately drawn to was E H Shepard – perhaps because one of the earliest books I received was from my Aunt Elizabeth – “Winnie the Pooh”. She had hand written in the cover, words to the effect – well at least she can look at the pictures – (it was a gift for one of my first birthdays). I still have the book and before now hadn’t really researched the illustrators work.

Ernest Shepard was born the son of an architect in London in 1879. Encouraged by this father he attended art school earning a scholarship to the Royal Academy School. Here he met his wife Florence.

By 1906 Shepard had become a successful illustrator, having produced work for illustrated editions of Aesop's Fables, David Copperfield, and Tom Brown's Schooldays. At the time the premier showcase in Britain for sketch work was Punch magazine and in 1907 Ernest began to get his work accepted.
With the start of the First World War Ernest enlisted in the Army later becoming a Major. During these years, he sent jokes about the battles to Punch and after his return, he joined the Punch team on a full time basis. He was hired as a regular staff cartoonist in 1921 and became lead cartoonist in 1945 but was removed from this post by Malcolm Muggeridge, who became editor in 1953. It was at Punch he met E.V Lucas who introduced him to Alan Milne.
Initially, Milne thought Shepard's style was not what he wanted, but used him to illustrate his book of poems When We Were Very Young. Happy with the results, Milne insisted Shepard illustrate Winnie-the-Pooh. Realising his illustrator's contribution to the book's success, Milne arranged for Shepard to receive a share of his royalties.
Eventually, Shepard grew to resent "that silly old bear" and felt that these illustrations overshadowed his other work. Shepard modelled Pooh not on the toy owned by Christopher Robin, Milne's son, but on "Growler", a stuffed bear owned by his own son. His Pooh work is so famous that 300 of his preliminary sketches were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1969, when he was 90 years old.

Throughout the rest of his career Shepard illustrated books for many leading authors of the period, including several for Kenneth Grahame. Shepard was in fact the fourth illustrator to draw the characters for 'Wind in the Willows,' but the only one who managed to capture the essence of the animals that Grahame had in mind. He remained busy as an illustrator his whole life and even managed to write two children's books of his own in his mid-eighties. These were titled 'Ben and Brook' (1966) and 'Betsy and Joe' (1967). Though the books didn't gain much popularity, their publication gave Shepard great pleasure. Shepard also colored his original line drawings for new editions of 'Winnie the Pooh' (1973) and 'The House at Pooh Corner' (1974). 'The Pooh Story Book', released in 1976, contained new line and color pictures by Shepard.
An E.H. Shepard painting of Winnie the Pooh is the only known oil painting of the famous teddy bear. It was purchased at an auction for $285,000 in London late in 2000. The painting is displayed at the Pavilion Gallery in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Did the work of the illustrator you chose seem old fashioned ?

To an extent when I looked at my original Winnie the Pooh book I loved the quaint and vintage feel of the work – I think perhaps this is because the most popular images of pooh these days are those from Disney style colourful illustrations and the simple line sketches in the book are not normally what I would think would appear in a children’s books today.

Contemporary artists
I must admit I’m not really that familiar with a lot of illustrators, something which I hope to work on during this course – although I see a lot of styles and illustrations which I like. After some research and looking at online illustration portfolios, I made a list of some illustrators’ work, which instantly appealed.

I hope to try some sketches in each of their styles at somepoint.
Christian David Moore, John Walsom, Daniel Mackie, Rob Ryan, Quentin Blake, Kavel Lafferty, Amanda Hall, Megan Hess, Raymond Briggs

I really like the style of Daniel Mackie who I found through Illustration Web online but I must admit his style and detail are somewhat daunting to me as my illustrations are a lot more – well straightforward I guess.

What is it about the work of the contemporary artist that attracted you to their work?
I was instantly attracted to the work of London based illustrator, Christian David Moore probably because his works are mainly fashion and beauty imagery, which for me having studied Fashion is something, which instantly appeals. I like to draw glamorous images of beautiful women and Christian’s work combines inks and wash, with watercolour to create fluid and provocative images. He then scans and touches up his work with Photoshop and has a very impressive client list with renowned names including Chanel, MaxFactor, Tatler and Elle magazine.

How did each artist produce their illustrations – what tools and materials did they use?
E H Shepard sketches
CDM used a selection of watercolours, ink and wash and touches up with Photoshop. E H Shepard used pen and ink and then later added colour. The work of E H Shepard is almost very nostalgic with simple lines – produced with ink sketches. The work of Christian Moore is a lot more fluid with looser lines. E H Shepard was illustrating books/ political mags whereas Christian’s work is predominately for fashion editorials.

Teddy sketch

I gathered initally some images from EH Shepard's work - mainly Winnie the Pooh and some Wind in the Willows and added to sketch and log book. I then began to do some sketches focusing on a rough outline with some shading done with the pen. I chose some characters similar to those of EH Shepard - a child, some teddies in various poses and some young children on a beach. Initially I think my sketches were too tight and had too much detail so I tried to simply and just mark the main outline of the figures to retain a classic / old fashioned feel. Later I took a few pictures of my teddies in various poses and produced some sketches which I think were more succesful. The one of the bears on the stairs I think has similar E H Shepard properties after I added colour with some light watercolours over the ink sketch.


Teddy on stairs sketch - pen ink and watercolour

I also did some illustrations in a similar style to CDM. I really like to draw fashion style illustrations myself, but feel that I have a tendency to make drawings too small/ tight and that the people can all end up looking very similar. CDM's style tends to show the key facial features focusing on dramatic eyes. He uses pen and ink with some watercolour washes which gives an almost glamourous and sensual feel to the illustrations. Selecting some women from fashion editorials I did some sketches and I was a bit happier with the end result. I scanned this to Photoshop and added some text to show how this could be used in something like a fashion feature like CDM's work.

CDM sketches and my sketches
My attempt at CDM style woman
Reflecting on the exercise it has certainly brought up a lot for me to consider. I've also been looking at illustration styles around me on a daily basis and want to explore different types of illustration - loosening up and doing more abstract work. The styles of CDM in particular is a style which particularly appeals and I like to use pen with watercolours. After the exercise I took a small sketchpad to work and in my free time did some sketches directly in pen (so that I wouldn't be tempted to rub out!) I tried to be a lot looser with my work and this is something I want to explore

Drawing people is something I really enjoy but know I want to/ need to work on ( in particular the limbs and hands!) I also find myself questioning things so much regarding getting the proportions of images accurate vs being abstract intentionally, what makes something abstract vs just being a dodgy sketch/ drawing? I guess its only early days so a lot to explore.

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