Owl Cat

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A rare sighting of an Owl Cat. Part owl – part cat, it dwells in trees, curls up in the sun and stares regally down at lesser species…I’ve been enjoying experimenting with Indian Ink in my sketchbook lately! You can get a variety of shades from mixing the ink with water. Using a range of brushes can create very different textures too.

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Tove Jansson & the Creative Process

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As a long time fan of Tove Jansson’s illustrations, seeing the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery before it closed was a big treat. Though the Moomins took centre stage, there was an excellent variety of her work on display.

Watercolours and drawings from Tove’s illustrated versions of Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. Large oil-painted self portraits and abstracts. Also a selection of her political cartoons and magazine covers, some of which were created during the Second World War. There was even a series of models, like this one of Snufkin (below) that I took the opportunity to sketch!

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However, what I enjoyed most about this exhibition was the touch of insight it gave me into Tove’s creative process. Evidence of pencil lines not quite rubbed out underneath delicate ink work. Some barely perceptible tippex-like corrections on typography. Roughs and layout sketches shown next to final versions. I noticed that a few of the watercolours had sections which appear to have been carefully cut out, perhaps by scalpel, and removed or replaced with a new layer of card fixed precisely in place over the top.

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It was very heartening to see these little human touches and imagine that even my illustration heroes made/make changes and tweaks to improve their work. That things don’t always come out perfectly first time and that there are many different ways to create. It’s all part of the process and one that we don’t always get to see – especially in today’s slick, Photoshop world.

I love it when illustrators share what goes on behind the scenes and how they make their work. I’ll be sure to share more of my creative process this year too!

The above Tove Jansson Illustration from Alice In Wonderland is used here without permission via Pinterest. 

Glen Baxter

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I’m currently enjoying Glen Baxter’s Blizzards of Tweed, a fabulous collection of whimsy and nonsense!

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I was lucky enough to receive my copy as part of a work-place Secret Santa (a rare occurrence when freelancing!). It must be the best one I’ve ever received and I felt pretty guilty for giving a standard chocolates and sweeties combo when I unwrapped it.

Baxter’s wonderfully ridiculous humour and embracing of the absurd aside – it really is a beauty to behold. The first part of the book is made up of elegant line drawings, then towards the middle he uses layers of coloured pencil to great effect.

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I find it can be difficult to do this well as sometimes the colours can turn muddy or the texture refuses to build up evenly, but he’s clearly mastered this.

I love that at first glance, any one of his sketches feels like it could be a legitimate illustration from a classic children’s book and it’s not until you look more closely that you can spot the oddities and weirdness of his storytelling. Lots of owls to enjoy too!