Sunday, 16 December 2012

Incredible Illustrators | Mark Hearld.

Up until now, my blog has primarily been focussed on the illustration work that I have created, but as I am currently only working part-time as an illustrator, this means that the creation of new illustrations isn't as regular as I'd like. Boo. I really want to be able to update my blog more often, and hopefully capture the interest of a few new readers! I've decided I am going to start writing some inspiration-based posts; I'll be sharing the work of a selection of my favourite illustrators, along with some of my favourite picture books, plus anything else that has been inspiring me. My blog will remain illustration-based, but in addition to displaying my own work, I hope that branching out and posting about illustrations that I admire will provide inspiration and hopefully allow you to discover the incredible work of other illustrators, some of whom you may not have been previously aware of.

A few nights ago, I decided to splash out and treat myself to couple of beautifully illustrated children's picture books. I've had my eye on a few for some time, and so of course I got a little carried away, and ending up buying quite a few!

The first to arrive was A First Book of Nature which is written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld. I actually only discovered Mark Hearld's work very recently, but he's quickly become a new favourite. I happened to come across a beautiful squirrel card in a local shop and, as I completely adore squirrels, I did a little research on the artist, whose name I'd found on the back of the card. It turns out that Mark completed an MA in Natural History Illustration, so it is really no surprise that his work is very focused on the natural world - animals and birds and plants. Mark mainly creates prints, paintings and brightly-coloured collages, but I was delighted to discover that he had also illustrated a children's picture book and, with a beautiful red squirrel adorning the front cover, I knew I had to have it.

Quite honestly, A First Book of Nature is one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books I have ever come across (and trust me, I have looked at a lot of picture books). The book is much thicker than I imagined too, so it is literally crammed full of gorgeous illustrations. I'd love to share them all with you, especially as the book includes so many of my favourite woodland creatures, but I've tried not to go too crazy with the photos and only limit it to my very favourites;

The book explores the natural world throughout the four seasons, and the illustrations which accompany text about the winter months, or nocturnal animals, are definitely some of my favourites. I love how the white aspects of the images - the stars, or snow, or cobwebs - seem to glow against the darker background. The spiderlings page is one of the best in the entire book - the design of the page as a whole is so beautiful, with the spider silk so delicate and fragile-looking.

As an illustrator who creates collage and mixed media work myself, I tend to be naturally drawn to illustrators who create work using similar methods. Mark creates his work using a vast range of different materials - if you take a closer look at the images in the book (have a peek at the photos below), this range is clearly evident. You can clearly see the use of collage; the different cut out papers incorporate a range of colours, patterns  and textures. Print making is also featured strongly, which is consistent with the linocut prints Mark also creates. The illustrations also include hand-drawn aspects, created from materials which appear to include paint, chalk, crayon, ink and coloured pencil. Not only the range of materials used, but the methods used to apply them add additional texture to the illustrations - in some images, paint has been applied with a sponge; in others, it has been splattered in a seemingly haphazard manner. This creates such detail in each image that I could happily lose hours of my life just looking at them.

Such bold and confident mark-making techniques, along with the combination of such a wide range of materials, creates illustrations with such an incredible visual impact - images which really bring the animals and creatures they depict to life. There are other examples of Mark's work which I like, especially a certain squirrel linograph print - but the collection of illustrations contained within the pages of A First Book of Nature are by far my very favourites. 

There are certain picture books which you open, and instantly feel excited at the idea of having your own children one day, so that you can share it with them. I can imagine these illustrations being viewed in wonder through child-sized eyes - such a beautiful way to teach little ones about animals and the natural world. Definitely a book to be treasured - I'll be adding my copy to my shelf of picture books, along with a little selection of the ones I saved from my own childhood.

1 comment:

  1. I love art too,and artwork, and I think you are totally right about the picture book being amazing. I'm doing a project at school featuring Mark Herald, so this has been incredibly helpful to look at some of his pictures. Thanks!


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