Holly Exley is a young British illustrator with some big clients under her belt including Marks and Spencers, Stylist Magazine, Lonely Planet and The Wall Street Journal. Pursuing her natural talent with watercolour painting, Holly has been commissioned to work on projects from illustrating music apps, wildlife and cooking books, and city and charity campaigns. Her illustrations have an uplifting aesthetic with colour washes of wonderful hues, with an emphasis on light and contrast. I really like her food illustrations…food never looked so good! Holly has a blog, website and also a YouTube channel where she talks about her work and the life in the world of illustration.
I was lucky enough to see the Abstract Expressionism Exhibition that was on at The Royal Academy of Arts last year where I got to see master paintings by some of my favourite artists from The New York school such as Franz Kline and Mark Rothko. It was incredible seeing a collection of Franz Kline’s work in person and then being able to see a wall of Clyfford Still paintings in the next room – the exhibition was immense having such a huge amount of significant work all in one gallery.
So without going too in-depth into Abstract Expressionism (you and I would be here all day otherwise) visually, Abstract Expressionism art is powered by size and fields of colour. The spontaneity of the brush strokes and intense flatness of colour evoke instinctual feelings, from ecstasy to the sublime and tragedy to nothingness.
Abstract Expressionist artists express emotions consciously or subconsciously in the way in which they paint. 1. You interpret the how artist was feeling at the time of him painting the work 2. You interpret what the artist wants you to feel from the painting. Obviously these two points of interpretation do cross over but they are good starting point in understanding the distinction between some of the artists from the New York School. ‘Action painters’ like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning fall within the first interpretation where as Mark Rothko the second.
Franz Kline who considered himself as an action painter was problematic for critics at the time as he does not neatly fall into the typical ‘action painter’ group. He extensively explored his sketches before letting the brush touch the canvas. He creates the illusion in his work that they were created through a moment of inspiration, but in fact his harmonious strokes of black against white are well thought out. Kline’s smooth, calligraphic strokes imbue shapes and forms that can be interpreted. The forms and their impression of velocity translate into an experience of structure and presence that can be felt by the viewer. Before his death in 1962 Kline started to use colour in his paintings, some of which I have included here.
‘People sometimes think I take a white canvas and paint a black sign on it, but this is not true. I paint the white as well as the black, and the white is just as important’
Future posts here we go! I am usually not this organised when it comes to blog posts but I’ll try for a month and see how it goes. I have a huge stack of artists that I want to ‘collect’ and share with you on my blog, hopefully to inspire and give you something interesting to look at that you haven’t seen before. Below are some snippet images to give you an idea about the artists I will post about next so stay tuned.
If this is the first time you have come across my little blog I like to talk about all sorts of artists and not just sticking to one discipline or style.
With over 10 years experience in the art and design industry, Parisian illustrator Babeth Lafon has made a name for herself in fashion, beauty and life style magazines. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Architectural Digest, Glamour and Marie Claire. Her clients include L’Oreal, L’Occitane, Bare Escentuals, Stella Artois and ELLE.
Aside from her ‘hip’ name, Babeth’s drawings are commercial and complimentary to the label’s look she works with. I can see why her pastel colour palette and light washes work well for beauty in particular, they are fresh illustrations that are easy on the eyes . What I mean by this is as the ‘magazine consumer’ we tend to glance very quickly and turn to the next page, as with anything we need to be pulled in! Babeth’s illustrations do just that, making the products or content far more interesting. Check out her work below (I really like her perfume bottle illustrations).
Odilon Redon is one of the lesser known french artists who contributed to the nascent years of modernism. Part of the 19th century avant-garde circle – although he never considered himself as part of this modernist group, Redon is an artist with diverse sources of inspiration. From Poetry, to music and the natural world to fantasy, Redon’s work is beautiful and strange, bordering on the bizarre. Monsters inspired by folklore creep into enchanting scenes with angelic figures, showing the discontinuity between light and dark.
Redon’s dark charcoal drawings and lithographs evolved into vibrant pastel and oil paintings in the early 20th century. You may have already noticed from his golden colour hues and flat uses of colour, Redon was an admirer of Gustave Klimt and was also influenced by Japanese print.
I went to see the Turning Earth ceramic art sale for the first time last weekend. Turning Earth studio located in Hoxton, London opens it’s doors to the public every quarter. The sale is an opportunity for professional artists and amateurs who use the studio to sell their own work. The ceramic art sale is based in the Turning Earth studio so you get a real feel about the environment these artists work in. There was a good turn out of artists and visitors, with a live Jazz band and food stalls that made for a great atmosphere on the day.
The ceramics on sale were completely up my street, free form and organic. There were a couple of artists who’s work I adored, Andrea Roman, check out her website for more of her stuff. I bought one of her marble clay pieces (see below). Ben Sutton, who works in hand-thrown porcelain, producing aesthetic pieces inspired by Scandinavian and Japanese simplicity. If you are lover of small art fairs then I would highly recommend paying a visit to Turning Earth’s.
Had a lot of fun doing this piece. I wanted to change the header on my blog for a while and came up with the idea of doing a simple stationary illustration since I love stationary! Perfect for this little art blog.
Starting out with spontaneous mark and colour forms, with little expectation of the end result, her paintings reveal themselves through the process of painting; Betsy Walton creates as she paints. Walton’s work is as expressionistic as it is surreal, from the titles she gives each piece to the half drawn figures and cut out geometric pieces of gold leaf overlapping washes of paint. Her work attempts to reach the sublime, delving into the relationship between objects and people and the sense of mystery behind our everyday encounters. Needless to say her colour palettes are beautifully dream-like, evoking feelings of transcendence to the viewer.
‘We can experience the sublime in the same room where we fold the laundry, and perhaps at the same time.’ – Betsy Walton.
When needing inspiration I often look at one of my favourite art mediums and go from there. Watercolour painting is a versatile and flexible medium that allows artists to create their own colour opacity. It’s a fantastic practice in that it’s unpredictable and can be experimented with in so many ways, from technique to the materials used, to how much water is left on the brush. I always feel overwhelmed painting in watercolours because there are endless possibilities in what you can achieve with them.
Lourdes Sanchez uses watercolour to produce harmonic forms of colour across the paper. Reaching intensely rich colours, light to dark with her ink staining technique expressing serene to sombre emotional tones. Working on silk, Sanchez explores control and acquiescence up to a point where she lets the inks seep into one another.
See her website for more of her work.
Take A Look