Monday, 17 December 2012

Part 4 - Identifying tools and materials

Peter James Field

Peter James Field image
Peter James Field – “Tourists”
 available from Accessed 1st November 2012

Become the One You Love - Copyright Peter James Field

This exercise asked us to find a range of illustrators who use a particular medium. I wasn’t sure whether this meant to focus on only one particular medium and look at the work of illustrators who use that, or to find a variety of different illustrators who use different mediums.

Either way I decided to look at the work of some illustrators who I really like the style of and try and look at how they use different mediums/ tools etc.

Coloured pencil

Peter James Field

I’ve been looking at the work of Peter James Field’s whose intricate, hand-made work focuses on the human figure, and particularly the face.  From looking at his work he uses coloured pencils, pen and watercolour. I think his work can be quite playful and a bit surreal at times.

I like how Peter uses shading to create depth and detail in some works whereas other pieces are more outline based. The main features and tones of the image are emphasised whereas the lighter shades are sometimes left white.

I really like the image above it almost reminds me of a quick camera shot. I really like the composition with the viewer looking up at the two figures. The male figure being out of the frame adds to the image and reinforces the quick snapshot appeal of the illustration. I like the textured feel created by the coloured pencils and the shading and tonal qualities of the figures is very realistic emphasising the bright day and sun. The almost block blue sky contrasts well with the almost peely- walley white skinned tourists and the cross hatched pencil work adds some drama without the image looking flat.

Minna Havas

Online image available from Accessed 17th December 2012

Minna Havas

Comparisons can be seen in the work of Minna Havas who uses coloured pencils to produce very intricate drawings of girls. Her work also has an almost imaginary element to it. She builds up colour in the skin with shades of red and blue and there is a very technical element to the intricate nature of her work. At times I think her work almost looks like a photograph.

I like how both Peter and Minna build up layers of colour to add depth and create very realistic illustrations.

Moving on I also looked at artists who use watercolour to create quite stylised representations/illustrations.

Watercolour light

Agnes Decourchelle often uses bold colour choices in her works with clean lines then adds more detail to show tone etc.
Heather Gatley

Online image accessed via Accessed 20th January 2013

Heather Gatley has a real talent for observational drawing and creates almost reportage style images of scenes, buildings landmarks etc. Her work focuses on mark making and line quality. Using both handmade and digital processes she brings together pencils, inks and collage. I really like the bold and freshness to her work which is quite identifiable. She manages to combine  her accurate drawing with the charm of her style enabling her to convey information in an interesting but factually correct way for example in many of the book jackets and maps she has worked on.

Bella Foster’s work also has real appeal with bright watercolour and loose lines to create striking – bright colour watercolour illustrations. Whilst these aren’t as technical accurate the appeal of her work is in the almost Matisse inspired interiors and still life’s that put some imagination and eccentricities into the everyday life. To me her work almost appears quite messy/ blotchy but I think it’s really interesting to look at.

Pen and ink

Moving on I’ve been looking at the work of Harriet Russell who uses – quirky hand lettering in her work

Harriet draws everything by hand using pens, pencils, paint and then scans into Photoshop. She adds a lot of colour digitally and achieves a handmade feel by using different papers or painted textures etc.

Harriet’s work is full of visual metaphors and symbols particularly apparent in some of her own books including Sixty Impossible Things Before Lunch...

The book features a series of charmingly drawn visual conundrums: a leopard who can change his spots, a chocolate teapot and a balloon balanced on a knife are a few of those included. According to Russell, it is "a book of impossible questions, impossible pictures and impossible ideas".
Online image Accessed January 2013

Oliver Jeffers is another illustrator/ artist who uses symbolism and visual metaphor in both his painting and illustration projects. I’ve seen Oliver’s work before but never really knew anything about his work. I spent some time reading his bio and info on his website and am a real fan of his work. His paintings almost tell a story in themselves which he tends to do it oil on canvas and his illustrations use predominately watercolour with simplistic style drawings and collage. The figures and gestures of the characters in his illustrations are simplistic yet accurate and  he is well recognised for his subtle narrative and use of space in his compositions.

Olivier's work also features a lot of handwritten type and his quirky lettering works seamlessly with his illustrations.

Leading on from this, the work of both Alice Tait and Sarah Coleman feature sketchy stylised illustrations with handwritten type many of which feature on book jackets and editorials.

Similarities can be seen in the work of Kate Forrester who creates hand-drawn types and illustrations.

Her work intertwines words with illustrations and features lots of flourishes and flowing lines which I think is almost organic and I think have elements of filigree and fauna. I’ve struggled to see exactly how Kate creates her pieces but from reading various articles she uses a combination of hand-drawn techniques with paper cutting.but from reading various articles she uses a combination of hand-drawn techniques with paper cutting.

Kate Forrester

Online image available from Accessed 17th December 2012

Julene Harrison
 Online image available from,  Accessed 17th December 2012.

Julene Harrison is another illustrator who uses intricate paper cutting. I really like how paper cutting focuses on the shapes and form of the letter taking away the need for tones and concentrates on the silhouette. I also love the work of Rob Ryan who I think is somewhat of a master at the art of paper cutting. I watched a video online and couldn’t believe the intricate process in creating a piece but the results were so effective.  Rob started screen-printing years ago but is now known for his silhouette-style and minutely detailed paper- and laser-cut pieces. I think there is a fanciful and almost fairytale like quality to his work with the intricate yet bold shapes and silhouettes. 

This exercise then asked us to go back to an earlier exercise and render it using the same tools and materials are our chosen artist. Looking back at earlier work I couldn’t immediately find a piece which I wanted to redevelop so felt it more appropriate to produce a new piece. Given I want to try improve my observational drawing skills and tone I decided to do some people illustrating. Selecting a few magazine images as my source I worked on a few images of woman and a face close ups using coloured pencils and watercolours as per Peter James Field/ Minna Havas. I get a bit scared to start painting at times and have found it hard to use watercolour on skin tones without it appearing blotchy and to get good colour representations, but I think these illustrations are a reasonable attempt.

I then decided to have a go at some paper cutting illustrations as per Rob Ryan, Kate Forrester etc. This is a lot harder than it looks and it was hard to get smooth lines. However, when I placed my cut outs on a backdrop and manipulated in Photoshop I was pleased with my first attempts and it’s something I’d like to experiment more with in the future.

I plan to use some of my designs as Christmas cards for this year!

Overall this was a useful exercise for me to try to catalogue and narrow down some of the fabulous work by illustrators which really appeals to me. It was useful to consider how they use certain mediums and how they use them to communicate. In the future I hope to experiment with different illustration styles and take influence from some of the illustrators above.

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