Lino cut Print and Digital Print
For the Edward Bawden inspired illustration I chose to create a lino print. The lino was a soft type and was chosen simply because I haven’t had much experience of lino cutting. I wanted to keep my illustration simple and echo the simpler style that Bawden had engaged with for his ‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ linoprint. The lines were kept simple and strong with Bawdens print and so I wanted to echo that approach as much as possible. I was also aware that he kept it in a single black colour and I wanted to try that first but with the intention of possibly going for a 3 colour print.
The idea came from a sculpture that I saw commuting everyday. It’s a group of limestone beehive cells on the motorway called ‘The Beehives’ that were created by Rober McColgan and Irene Benner in 2001 that were inspired by a bee keeper called St.Molach
The preliminary sketches were done to get a sense of the shape and flow of the structure. For the lino print I wanted something a little less solid and more of a character piece. The first sketch was to get a sense of the shading on the stone while the second and third sketches were to see whether a portrait or landscape would work best. The second gave a more fluid feel but I went for the first because I liked the symmetry and rhythm.
Next I drew out the sketch again on the lino. I then used a marker to colour in the image in a bit to help figure out the bits that needed cutting away. The third image shows the cut away sections before the printing process. As you can see it was definitely a good idea to go with a simple design!! My cutting skills are still very much at beginner level.
A test print was completed with black acrylic ink. I was happy with the amount of ink and so went to do another. Then I cleaned the lino and went for a different colour range. I chose brown, gold and black and used the brown all over the lower half of the image with a gold ink centre, then black for the clouds, birds and edges (shadow effect for edges). These turned out ok, and I opted for a blue paper for contrast just to see whether the blue sky would add anything to the image. The blue paper was a little on the harsh side but it wasn’t bad.
The final image I was happy with because the birds were a little darker than the rest of it and it draws your eye up to the right so you take in the whole picture rather than fade out interest after the second cloud. I also liked how the gold and brown soften the centre of the image rather than having it all black.
The next image I wanted to create was with Joshua Middletons style in mind. He creates beautiful lines and digitally colours his images. In order to show a contrast I went with the same image focus of the beehives, but decided to do all the work in Painter X(Corel). No sketches, just working from the ground up. I was aware that Joshua tends to use colour for shading, so I couldn’t opt for black or grey tones for shading. I decided to try using blocks of colours and feel around the canvas that way.
This was the first installation after a few hours using airbrushes and pencils in Corel. I wasn’t happy with it though as I felt it wasn’t light enough and a had a heavy feeling around the shading still. That light touch just wasn’t forthcoming. So I went away from the computer for a little while and returned the following day and messed about with the layers. At various points I could see something was working but it wasn’t working together. The beehives looked terrible because I hadn’t created a proper line drawing of them. I had ‘felt’ my way through the design of them…and it was taking from the image.
So after much messing about in Corel I stumbled upon the ghost image of the beehives and felt that it was more representative of an illustration inspired by Middleton. I dropped an orange layer at 50% opacity behind the sky and softened it up with more rendering and lightened the grass further and dropped the opacity on it too. The final result was something I wasn’t expecting but am pleasantly surprised at. It’s got the vibe that I wanted and honours the ‘light’ feel that I wanted to achieve and has stuck to the theme I gave myself.
The lesson I take from this one however is plan and sketch out the idea before throwing myself at the canvas! The beehives would have definitely worked out better if I had…I was lucky on this occasion that it worked out.
Exercise 1 – A brief history of illustration
The internet has a vast amount of images online highlighting the amazing work of these artists and illustrators but for a small example of their work please visit Pinterest where I’ve compiled a better group of examples.Pinterest – The History of Illustration
Edward Ardizonne was an English children’s book writer and illustrator. His style was largely light lines with a light watercolor and delicate touch although he also worked in oils. He was well known for a variety of ‘Little Tim’ children books and was also a war artist for WWII.
Kathleen Hale was best known for her series of books on ‘Orlando’ the marmalade cat. She was a children’s book author and illustrator and many of the stories were loosely based on various family experiences. Her style was a mix of painting, drawing and watercolours. (researched from Benezit dictionary of British graphic artists and illustrators, vol 1)
John Minton was a designer as well as an illustrator and painter. He was part of the younger group of artists that were involved with the loosely termed neo-romanticism movement lasting for a short period of time in the 1940s.
Eric Ravilious was a painter, illustrator and wood engraver. His watercolors are particularly famous and he too became a war artist during WWII. He was a good friends with Edward Bawden and worked with him for over a year on creating the Morley College mural in London.
E.H. Shephard was an artist and book illustrator and is well known for the Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows well loved illustrations. He was a war artist for WWI and his sketches and paintings have a sometimes humorous touch in them.
Edward Bawden 1903-1989
Edward Bawden was born in the UK in 1903 and became a famous English Illustrator, Painter and designer. He became famous for his prints, lithographs, posters and book covers and was a member of the Great Bardfield Artists. It was at the Cambridge School of Art where he became interested in calligraphy and in the work of artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, Richard Doyle, and William Morris. He also gained his education from the Royal College of Art and the Anglia Ruskin University. During his time of study he met and became very close friends with, Eric Ravilious and for a period of time while studying he was tutored by Paul Nash.
(1) During his career he produced a wide variety of illustrations and cover designs, posters and advertisements, leaflets and calendars. Some commissions included famous brands and companies such as Twinings, Poole Potteries, Westminster Bank and the London Transport Board. Regardless of the project he was engaged in, Bawden ensured that the same level of attention and rule for design was applied.
(2) He worked as a war artist during WWII and before and after this period taught at the RCA until 1963. In 1968 he then tutored at the Royal Academy Schools and lectured at the Leicester College of Art and Design.
During the time when a visual record of the changing villages and towns of Britain was in progress, the emerging images seemed to record a largely romantic view of the country. It seemed that they displayed a yearning for the ‘old days’ of Britain, where life was simpler and less threatened(4).
Edward Bawden was a close friend of Eric Ravilious, who died during the war. Bawden had witnessed the horror of war first hand having been a war artist. On his return to Great Bardfield however, the place presented a landscape that didn’t seem to have changed much. Although rationing was still in effect, there was a timeless beauty in some of the villages and towns of Britain at that time that caught Bawdens’ attention and contrasted sharply with his experiences during the war. Edward Bawdens’ 16 lithographs in the beautifully realized ‘Life in an English village’ was an expression of this contrast.
His work broadly engaged with illustration, painting and graphic design and this balance of application between fine and applied arts appeared to be quite effortless in his finished pieces. (2) It was the work produced between the 1950s and 60s that he became more well known for as well as his contributions as a War painter during the second World War.
(3) It seems that the wide variety of styles that Bawden employed in his work made it difficult for others to put him into a defined category for that period in history. His career as an artist, illustrator and designer spanned over a number of decades, and although he had a quieter time in the latter part of his career, at the end of it he was recognized for his contributions.
The colour schemes in the ‘South Kensington’ poster appeal because it seems to use a tetrad colour scheme with the emphasis on the two primary colours blue and yellow. The red accent is used in a softer manner, leaning more towards a burnt orange and is only used sparingly.
In the second poster for Hyde Park, the colour scheme is limited to green and red, with the red going into the brown and muddy tones rather than being strong and vibrant. The black and whites act as a contrast to it and pops of blue help your eye to follow across the image drawing attention to the left and top of the page mostly.
As I explored some of his other work for wallpaper designs I noticed that in a lot of his work he tends to opt for a limit of colours, normally three. There is always a dominant tone and the remaining colours help to focus the attention on the key object in the illustration.
For example, the ‘Entertaining a la Carte’ illustration is extremely busy so he engages with a variety of textures and patterns to encourage a distinction between objects. The main colours are yellow for background while baby pink is used to soften the effect of such a strong red tone. The elephant breaks up the compositions flat texture by introducing some black lines to suggest the leathery type of skin the animal has.
The wallpaper with yellow and black is a beautiful repetitive soft shaped pattern, with the eye drawn to sections by the introduction of a small amount of red. Having the pattern repeat off centre is also a beautiful way to imply movement while also ensuring that the eye doesn’t find itself seeing the pattern repeated in a monotonous fashion.
One of the most striking aspects of his illustrations to me was the fun aspect of them. There are very few straight lines or harsh angles. Even when present they’re presented in a fun way, such as a quirky angle. For example, the South Kensington poster employs a beautiful isomorphic plan to present the animals in and the fencing in the Hyde Park is perpendicular.
There is a beautiful symmetry in his images and the composition is carefully put together yet still has a natural and effortless impression of movement in it.
When he created his linoprints I’m amazed at the range of blocks he used. His layering was really detailed for such a rigid type of material being used. Now we are so used to using digital layering, the concept of ‘real’ layering using printing blocks just seems tedious and time consuming. Yet the act of completing a piece of art in this way gives a hidden layer of depth to the piece that the digital format just cannot mimic.
He is an American artist and designer that started his career as a comic book artist back in 2000. He has a very distinct style in his pencils and finished pieces that creates something quite magical. He has built up an amazing portfolio of work since 2000 and has worked for both Marvel and DC Comics.
His book and comic book covers are something that have attracted me to his work. He uses a combination of pencil, paper and digital colouring to create the images that have made him famous. He also has developed a wide range of skills and experience over the years having worked in the fast paced comic and animation industry.
Over the last number of years he has worked steadily in the comic field, left it for a period of work in animation and has now returned to comics. On his return we see his work has expanded to include a more mature style which sees him moving from digital painting to traditional(5).
The reason I have chosen this artist to contrast with Edward Bawden is because of the distinctive style that both demonstrate in their work. They both have a very fresh quality in their approach and understand clearly the importance of bringing key design principles of balance and focus to their pieces.
In Bawdens work in linoprint, he approaches printing from the opposite sequence and opts to go from dark to light with his blocks. Middleton also approaches his art in a different manner, in that he uses colours for shading as opposed to the usual inking or spotted black for shadow effects(5).
Both artists exude a maturity and well honed skill in their craft with the compositions of their work. By contrast however, Middleton demonstrates how the world is changing to move into a more digital format but still returns to the traditional forms. Bawden was progressive for his time and was constantly staying fresh and up to date on approaches and methods.
It seems that although their work doesn’t match stylistically, their attitude and approach to their work is very similar. They both exude discipline and commitment and a willingness to change and adapt as needed, and the wealth of experience gained in relation to this is clearly expressed in their art.
(3) http://www.goldmarkart.com/scholarship/edward-bawden-biography/ 27/02/16 13.19
(4) http://www.artbiogs.co.uk/2/movements/neo-romanticism 27/02/16 14.25
Images sourced from: