David Gentleman’s Britain was my starting point when I went looking for illustrators who’d done stuff I wanted to learn from. I think I’d researched him in 1st year, so it was a familiar starting point. I don’t use watercolours, but I was interested in his composition, the layout of the book, and where the narratives were.
When I opened the book, being a Brummie I skipped straight to the Midlands. Having strong family links with Ireland, I then turned to that section. After that I had a look at the Wales chapter, because I live near Wales at the moment. Then East Anglia, because I went on holiday there as a kid. I suspect that people rarely read it in order from first page to last.
This is great in a book that covers so much ground, but what implications does it have for me? I should probably make sure I’m not excluding people who don’t live in the areas I’m illustrating. I think I want to focus on the types of journey rather than the places that are travelled through. The places should still be recognisable, but it shouldn’t be necessary for the reader to have been there before. The text in David Gentleman’s Britain is aimed at someone who hasn’t been to these places before.
When focusing on painters rather than how an illustrator uses narrative I originally looked at William Scott and Turner. I like Turner, so I just needed to be a bit more specific about what it was I liked. At the time, I noticed the colours, but now I can also see his use of aerial perspective. However, I wanted to think more about composition, so I looked at William Scott’s work in the context of me using a viewfinder to break out of the landscape formula I found myself stuck in.
Although I’m being a bit less formulaic with my composition, I’m stuck back in A3 landscape mode, which was something I’ve been trying to stop but is one of the most difficult habits to kick. Emily Sutton is a good example of an illustrator who doesn’t use A sizes, and she’s another good example of an illustrator who uses aerial perspective too!