Thoughts on the history of illustration Pt1

Illustration over the last 50 years

Before we get into the exercise topic I wanted start with little note, that I may be adding a lot of post in my learning log at first. I have no plans apart from mind maps to be writing in my sketchbooks, I will make sure I add a summery on all the key points throughout, I will add post its as well so everything stays organized.
A the moment, I know I need to get used to getting my thoughts out of my head and in time improving my vocabulary and I want to quickly get into the habit of writing again.

“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say otherwise – things I had no words for.”

Georgia O’Keefee

Picking an Illustrator for this exercise Pt1

Exercise one give us the choice of these illustrators Edward Bawden, Kathleen Hale, Eric Ravilious, Edward Ardizzone, John Minton and E H Shephard.
I prevented myself from going for the easier option for me and picking E H Shephard, as I for me personally this as a chance to learn and grow as an illustrator, challenge myself. E H Shephard is a easy option as he is very much a part of childhood, I adore Winnie the Pooh and already very familiar EH Shephard.
So I took out my sketchbook, I needed to brain storm / create an image map in order to help me choose just one illustrator, while I was doing this I was googling each illustrator finding bits of information and analyzing the illustrations.
I was able to halve the list to three, these being the three illustrators I was most drawn to work with.
Short list included Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious and both being “members” of great Bradfield artist which is one of the reason they interested me, of the two Eric Ravilious stood out a tiny bit more as saw one of his Illustrations “boarding house” and I wanted to create my own version of this.
When I was a child, I loved a book so much called Sleeping babies written and illustrated by Tony Auth, I was truly mesmerized the illustrations and Eric Ravilious boarding house reminded me so much.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Babies-Big-Golden-Book/dp/0307120996
I then looked at the work of John Minton, firstly I found his jungle pictures something I wanted to try. Later it was his story that stood out the most to me, I felt both sorry and could relate to Minton. I also couldn’t help but think Minton was born in the wrong era.
Would he have been more accepted today ?
The fact he found himself so lost in his later years with his art and filled with self doubt is something we cannot help but relate to.
I really couldn’t stop thinking about John Minton, so that made my choice for me.

Next I needed to pair up with a contemporary illustrator, I wanted to have a choice like above so I did some searches and picked the following illustrators Laura Carlin, Sopfia Bonati, Jo Empson, John Hendrix, Gabriel Maneno and Michael Kutsties, who works appealed to me. Using the same progress as the “50 year ago” was able to narrow these down, eliminating three due to the work seems more fine art to me, another eliminated due to lack of information online. Wanting the illustrator to have a background in book illustration like that of Minton, My final choices were Jo Empson and Laura Carlin and with a bit more background research I ended up picking Empson, based I feel personality her work is most comparable to Mintons.

Plus I wanted to have fun and play with ink making splatters.

Originally I paired John Minton and Jo Empson because of their Illustrations by Minton titled “apple orchard” and landscape near Lungston, Jamaica and directly compare to a more modern images from Jo Empson book titled Jungle Jamcoree.
My plan was to take the styles from both and change to an autumn scenery.

However, John Minton story keep playing on my mind, thoughts like if he was an artist today would he have been more “free” to discover himself and then we have Jo Empson book Rabbityness teaching that it is okay to be different.

The sorrow of John Minton and the joy of Jo Empson

I could do a complete contrast as almost a story, have the gloomy sorrow, dark colours and the haunting eyes which are very dominant in Mintons work and have almost freeing feeling of joy, recovery and hope that is in the style of Empson with her slash of bright colours.

Hope after darkness.

Can I complete almost a life circle in my art that’s inspired by both ?
This is something that anyone can emotionally relate to every day life, we all have bad days and the good days.

So in this exercise I was asked to explore how has illustration evolved over the past 50 years. I think its not the work of the actual illustration alone that’s evolved over the last 50 years but our freedom to create and is it now more accepted to be different.
One thing became clear looking at the all the contemporary artists of today I’ve researched, is that styles can and allowed to be as different as night and day, we’re also not limited by our tools today and we have access to resources at the touch of our finger tips.


Next I will be moving on to a topic/post of both artists.
A little peek into the next post on this subject.

Working on some colour studies inspired by the work of John Minton.
Quick test to use Flickr (So can include loads of my artwork in this blog)

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