Learning from the Masters

As an exercise this week I set myself the challenge of copying illustrations from some exceptional illustrators, to see what I could learn. It’s a really interesting thing to do – in copying you kind of ‘feel’ the way it’s drawn and understand better what the artist is trying to do with their materials. I’ve tried this in the past with Tove Jansson.

This is my attempt at copying an EH Shepard illustration from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame. 

I really enjoyed it, it was almost like doing a meditation, and I learnt so much in the 40 minutes it took. Here are some of the things I learnt: Every single mark is considered. He draws with a very light hand (I’m realising more and more how heavy handed I tend to naturally draw). The pen skips and dances and is always moving, never in the same direction for long. It really feels as if he is drawing from life. Shepard is a genius.

This is my attempt at Tony Ross, copied from ‘Hurry Secret Seven, Hurry’, by Enid Blyton. Here’s what I learnt from him: Shoes don’t matter too much (I often agonise over how convincing my drawings of shoes are). He uses a really varied line, very thick at times, really energetic and free. He often uses paint to describe things, rather than line. Frames feel really good (when I added the frame it seemed to bring the whole thing to life). Ross is fabulous.