A friend of mine is a writer and every Thursday we get together with another writer, to basically, well, write. This was how my first book Pink Camels and Floating Grannies came about. This interaction also exposed a little something called ‘Prompts’ to me. I knew about prompts already, as I follow the #DailySketch and #FridayIllustration on Twitter. There was something a little more special, however, when someone pulls out a container and slips a little piece of paper that has a word, a sentence, a phrase written on. That little piece of paper was something you pulled out, just for you. It was what your body had chosen, your fingers had sussed out from the container.
I experienced this again, a few weeks ago at the Bodhi Khaya Retreat, where Michelle did a writing workshop. She brought her prompt jar for writing along and it was passed around the table, like sweets or treasures. I realised that the art world was greatly missing out with our short-changed twitter version. I also wanted a special jar with words just for me to draw. I wanted to whisper out a piece of sketching inspiration for a warm-up illustration before the day started.
Jules Richman, who you might remember wrote Katya Cat last year, has this time put together a wonderful tale of Sam who finds collective nouns everywhere on a safari. I have been having such fun painting Jule’s imagination of robbing mice and hugging hippos. Here is just a sneak peek of some of those landscapes. If you would like to pre-order the book, at R100 a book, you are welcome to drop me an email (mrsbeckerling <at> gmail <dot> com), with ‘Collective Nouns’ in the subject line. Read more
Last week, my Creative Box: Colour Mug, went live on Youtube. The object was to test out the potential of making videos and to expand into this medium a little bit. That’s not to say I won’t be writing here, on the blog, but it does mean that some topics can be a little more interactive. I thought I would write up here, a little bit on how I put together the video, in case there are any other creatives/illustrators out there who want to give it a shot. Read more
Sowls are small mischievous spirits. They like to frolic, so don’t forget to feed them sweets, and they will become your best friends!
Celeste: Hi Santani! Thank you for taking time out to chat to us today about your amazing creatures. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself – where are you based, how did it all start?
Santani: Hello! Thank you for the interest and kind words. I am sorry for my bad English, but I will try. I live and work in Moscow, Russia. I started making dolls when I was 15. Since then I’ve never stopped making them till now, so about 10 years. At first I made small full-plastic figures of animals and fantasy creatures like dragons and etc. After 2 years I started to make dolls combining faux fur and clay parts.
Celeste: The combination of sculpting and sewing is an unusual hobby mix – do you sew the dolls and how long did it take you to work it all out?Read more
Celeste: Welcome Mike, to my blog! Before we get started, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
Mike: Thanks Celeste. I appreciate the invite and opportunity. I live in the beautiful countryside just outside Edmonton, Alberta, where I’ve lived most my life enjoying comics, cartoons, sports, and ice cream. I also love creating stories and drawing and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. Professionally, I’ve been working in as an illustrator for over 16 years working almost exclusively on products for children.
Celeste: You style varies a lot, from realist to very stylised work. Can you tell us what your favourite project has been so far?
Mike: I have a couple favorites. Recently, it would be the I Don’t Want to be a Frog book, by Dev Petty, as well as my next book, A Tiger Tail. Both those books were such a natural delight to work on – which also helps having an incredible editing team that I really connected with. I should add that when I have time for it, I love doing personal doodles. I should really try to make more time for those.
Celeste: Not only are you a creative illustrator, but you’ve also been published as an author. How does it feel to be on the ‘other side’ as a writer?
Mike: It’s a very different approach to a project for sure. Drawing comes very naturally for me, where writing does not. When I get a manuscript that someone else has written, most of the hardest work has been done. As an illustrator, I get a lot of ideas and concepts I’d like to do or write. But an idea or simple concept is nowhere near a finished story. Writing a great story is the most difficult thing I have come up against, but something I also enjoy immensely. Read more
Sam van Riet is a South African illustrator, with 20 years of experience. She chats to us about how things have changed since she started, and her latest projects.
Celeste: Hi Sam, and welcome to the blog. Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. I thought it would be nice to have a local (South African) artist interview on my blog. First of all, can you just tell us a little about yourself and your experience?
Sam: I studied graphic design and then Illustration at Stellenbosch university. I was lucky to have Niki Daly and Paddy Bouma as lecturers, so studying was a great experience for me. Since then I have worked as a freelance illustrator for about 20 years. Read more
As a birthday present, my brother has bought me a subscription to Deckle Edge’s monthly Art box. As we only ordered early in Feb, I assumed I would have to wait and get my first box for March. I was pleasantly (actually that word is too mild, I was over-excited) surprised when the Feb box arrived. I ripped it open, tore the pretty blue tissue paper, with the ‘creative’ sticker and flung the quality parcel straw all over the room.
There was a useful explanation for all the items, stuck on the inside of the lid, which was good, as I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at. All I did know was the brush was pretty. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go through the items:
Schmincke Aero Color Finest Acrylic Ink
I was treated to the Cyan colour for this play-time. According to my helpful paper from Deckle Edge, I was informed that the Aero Color Professional Acrylic Ink was initially developed for airbrushing, but also works for dip pens, technical pens and a brush. I was to discover all these things. The actually eyedropper and product packaging for this ink was really high quality and I couldn’t help but feeling a little scientific as I used the eyedropper to place ink into the next item. I mean, sure, I wasn’t wearing a white lab coat, but a stained, paint-fill, clay streaked, garden dusted apron that I have discovered ever since working from home, that I can’t go without. Read more
I first saw Renee on Twitter and was blown away by her illustrations. But then ‘bumped’ into her again on the Oatley Podcast where it was so strange to hear her voice! I knew I had to chat to her about her unique style.
Celeste: Hi Renee! Thanks so much for taking time out to talk to me. I’ve been following/stalking you on Twitter for a while now and I really love your work. The original illustration of your that caught my eye was the one of the artist, twirling her paintbrush like a wand. I remember you saying you used pen and watercolour for it? How do you manage to keep the colours so clean when bringing to digital?
Renee: Haha, thanks Celeste! Firstly, I wish it was acceptable for me to use an “ou” in the word color – it looks so much more appealing (and fancier) than the American way of spelling it!
Thanks so much for your kind words. The piece you mentioned was actually quite a breakthrough piece for me. I’ve been trying for years to mimic a watercolor style on the computer and I think I finally hit it with this one. The line is done with a Prismacolor colored pencil, scanned and colored in Photoshop. This explains why it looks so clean.
I have yet to master the fine art of scanning, my watercolors always look so muddy and boring when I scan them in, so I was able to transition it almost entirely to digital. Read more
Sometimes I find myself face to face with my own limitations, drawing myself into a corner that spirals into thinking, “I suck, I can’t do this.”
Celeste: Hi Nidhi! I wanted to chat to you because I stumbled upon your illustration portfolio and was really taking with your style. You definitely have a particular style of textures and bright colours (my favorite), with most of your work being digital. Did you start out in traditional medium – and what made you end up in the digital medium?
Nidhi: The vast majority of my illustrations are digital. I have played with wood burnings and watercolor over the past few years and I truly enjoy it. I feel that each medium has its benefits and drawbacks. We live in a time and place where digital tools mimic traditional and afford a lot of flexibility. I will always explore new mediums, and as an artist I don’t know where that might take me next, but I do feel most strongly about digital.
I started with traditional and still sketch on paper as much as I can. I am currently creating my debut graphic novel digitally. But I firmly believe in honing your drawing skills before turning to digital. Nothing can replace a steady hand. Drawing on the computer before mastering paper can be very frustrating. I think many students believes the computer can do the work for you – that’s completely untrue. You must develop your eye, your hand and your understanding of form and shape before venturing into color. I spent a couple years in art school, before I dropped out, drawing traditionally before I began working digitally. Read more