Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Golden Age of Female Illustrators

Who would have thought that my recent foray into the realm of the virtual pin-board would have yielded such exquisite finds? Who would have thought that more then the opportunity of promoting my own work, it is the wealth of related images that fill my inbox from other pinteresters that's got me excited? Certainly not me! And I found myself asking the question, as I did a quick reccy on google of several names I'd come across on other pin-boards, how did I not know of these illustrators before now? How had I gone through an art foundation and a three year degree in illustration, not to mention the rest of my life!! without coming across their work? How on earth could it be Pinterest...Pinterest people!! that was finally filling in the holey socks of my education?!?! The answer is a simple one and yet still, somehow (naively?) astounding. They are all women. The list of illustrators I looked at this morning are all women who were around and producing art during the period that is now regarded as the Golden Age of Illustration in Europe. It was inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites at the end of the Nineteenth century and lead on to other such glorious movements as Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts and Art Deco during the early Twentieth century and included illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen (all well known and well loved names). I would boldly consider the work of these female illustrators as equal to such champions of the Age, however, the annals of History do not agree. I've compiled a small list here of women who I feel deserve to be counted with the men. One day I dream of standing with them.

Bertha Lum (1869 – 1954) . She was an American artist who lived in Japan over several periods in her life and helped to make the Japanese and Chinese woodblock printing process known outside of Asia. Her work sweetly combines the fluidity and style of both Japanese art and Art Nouveau. I love the lights in this image, the yellow just pops out next to the subtle grey and blue tones of the rest of the picture and draws the eye in. 

Jessie M. King (1875 – 1949). She was a Scottish illustrator mostly of children's books although she also designed jewellery, fabric, and painted pottery! The delicacy of her line work and colour pallet is beautiful here and makes me want to hold her originals in my hands so that I can peer at it up close to see all the details. I feel some of it is lost on the computer. 

Emma Florence Harrison (1877–1955). She was an English illustrator of both poetry and children's books. Her work is both strongly Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau based although her lightness of touch is uniquely her own. I love how the colours glow in this image through the contrast of the cool blues and warm oranges.

Cecile Walton (1891 – 1956). She was a Scottish painter, illustrator and sculptor and a leading member of the Symbolist movement in Edinburgh. The subtlety and coolness of the colours creates a beautifully mournful mood in this image and is also true of all her work. 

Jennie Harbour - (1893 - 1959). She was an English illustrator between 1917 and 1936 but very little else is known about her life before and after those dates. Her works of art are little gems, so saturated with jewel-like colours. You can't be fooled by the simplicity of her compositions because her colours do all the talking.


Monday, 17 February 2014

The Waves, the Waves are green!

I took the metaphorical plunge and coloured the image I had only pencilled in in my last post about The Waves, the Waves. Here it is looking all glossy green!

Friday, 14 February 2014


I now have a pinterest account where you can find the inspiration behind my illustrations. It also gives me the opportunity to spread my own work further and wider...hopefully! So get pinning guys! And don't forget to check out my pinterest account.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sketching for "The Waves, the Waves"

I have a twin sister who is an absolutely awe-inspiring writer! and I am totally unbiased, so no arguing please! You may be wondering what this seemingly random piece of information has to do with anything, apart from giving me an opportunity to boast about having a talented sister. Well, I'll admit I have an ulterior motive; namely, the excuse to say that I shall be illustrating a novella she is working on at the moment. From when I was very little I always wished that there was a job that both me and my sister could do together, and here is the perfect solution. Without wanting to give too much away, I'll say that it's a story about love, time travel (think The Time Traveller's Wife rather then anything overtly sci-fi), a house on the cliffs, selkie magic, 18th century tea smugglers, wartime austerity and the fact, the working title is The Waves, the Waves (it's kind of like a combination between Virginia Woolf's The Waves and Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea thereby referencing two brilliant female writers in one fell swoop! Clever, huh?). It's a project we've wanted to work on together for a while now so it's exciting and also a little nerve-racking to start on it. I wanted to share the small start I've managed to make. One is only half started and one didn't go so well but in the spirit of documenting my progress, here they are.

" Coldness filled her glass-glinting self up to the brim and life poured gratefully out. She kept falling. Arms caught her and enclosed themselves about her, cradled her through the darkness. This, she thought, is what it feels like to surrender." 
Extract from The Waves, the Waves by Abra Hunt.

I had Daniela Drescher and Warwick Goble in mind when I started applying the watercolour to this drawing. I can confidently say that I was (if I'm honest more then) a little disheartened it all went slightly awry. It's something I may go back to but at the moment it's staying in the back of my watercolour pad where I can't see it.

"It took her nearly an hour to reach the main road and the toothy outline of the village roofs. At the junction she stopped and bent down to remove her sturdy walking boots, delving deep into the depths of her bag and coming out with a catch of tan leather heels."
Extract from The Waves, the Waves by Abra Hunt.

I'm planning on using watercolour again on this illustration. I will not be defeated by the watercolour!