I put together some thumbnails, I decided to use the Witches as the subject and thought about a little scenario they may find themselves in as they went about their Witch business.
I thought the most successful thumbnail was the three Witches around the cauldron , the main one I wanted looking maniacal and the other two looking worried or frightened. As I wanted to work more with hatching I kept colour out and decided to use hatching to create tones and dynamic light. Below is the Final Piece.
I’m pretty happy with the final piece, its not perfect but has given me a great insight into an Illustrator I would never have known unless I enrolled with the OCA. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and analyzing Edward Ardizzone’s work.
I feel I succeeded in capturing the atmosphere I wanted and it certainly communicates the idea I was trying to convey. It reminded me of the image of the cat I included as reference which demonstrated the chaotic but structured lines I was trying to mimic.
One of the things that i really liked about Edward Ardizzone was his work with hatching, I loved the texture it created and the way it creates quite dramatic lighting. I particularly enjoyed his witch characters he used in his work, due to there nocturnal activities the strong one directional lighting suiting the subjects perfectly, that said all his work featured the same great use of lighting to bring the character and their form to life.
Even though Edward Ardizzone’s work dates from the late 1920’s I think his style would still have a place in contemporary children’s illustration, Its not too far flung from the works of Quentin Blake and Tony Ross In fact who all use a loose and lively style of line and washey color.
I set about creating some hatched works of my own, I used his subjects as a jumping off point.
I wasn’t unhappy with my first attempt, the pose was pretty good he showed character and an a passive relaxed but still on guard attitude. I was aiming to capture the lighting I mentioned and this wasn’t a bad attempt, but something was lacking, I think it was a bit too messy.
It took a while to understand how best to approach hatching, while the references I had seemed to be quite chaotic there seemed to be some consistency to it, I attempted to tighten up the hatching and be more thoughtful in the placement of my lines.
I was much happier with this attempt, the lighting worked although it could have been a bit more dynamic and shown more contrast . I was happy that i understood enough of his style and I could move on and start the final piece.
I have tried to break down the characteristics of his line and wash pieces, they are all very economic with their lines, opting for simplicity over complexity, this is going to be a hard habit to break so I decided to get a some scraps of paper and mark make for a while before attempting anything.
I then turned to my computer to attempt an Edward Ardizzone inspired piece, I decided to depict his character Little Tim all grown up and walking a similar looking dog along a pier, I aimed to keep it as simple and loose as possible, not sure if I succeeded in selling the solidity of the character to the standard he did in his watercolour images, but I’m certainly more aware of the impact a realistically lighted figure has on an image, even one that is not necessarily a realistic depiction but a more stylized one.
I really like the way he lights his subjects so simply but effectively, its been a good observation and will surely influence my future efforts.
I used line sparingly, just enough to suggest shape and form the way Edward Ardizzone did. I used a similar line weight throughout.
Once the colour was applied it started to break up the image, and gave it some atmosphere, the shadows helped to show the movement between Tim and the Dog. The sea and sky I think worked well and added a narrative not seen in the black and white line work, its clearly a windy unpleasant day, with rough seas and dull sky.
I was quite happy with the mood that was created, and I felt it was a successful exercise in visual storytelling.
Below is the final coloured version.
This was a worthwhile exercise for me, it took quite a lot of discipline to stick to the characteristics I had observed from Edward Ardizzone’s coloured work.
I have noticed it has made me more analytical of the work of others and has made me think about how I can style my work to be a bit more defined and distinct.
From the list of Illustrators I decided to study Edward Ardizzone for several reasons, the main one was I really liked the way his marks depicted the form of his subjects, they are quite chaotic on close inspection but when viewed at a distance was amazingly descriptive. His line work also interested me, he used a lot of unfinished and broken lines, simple gestures that seemed to define a lot.
He lived through WWII as an official wartime artist, when I first read this and i saw his work I thought he was a strange choice for this role. I’d only seen a few images, all from children’s story’s etc, as his style is very lighthearted and I couldn’t imagine how his art would represent something so bleak, but when I saw his work it made sense why he had been chosen. The war illustrations I saw didn’t have the gravity or severity of the situation they portrayed, they had a very positive attitude which would have been important to pacify the people fighting the war indirectly at home, keeping them hopeful of a short war a quick victory and safe return of loved ones, It seemed to me this was achieved whilst still being a chronicle of this period in history and would certainly have been one of his prime goals.
Photography at this time would have been too graphic and alarming and likely distasteful, one of his Illustrations I found showed a soldier digging graves, whilst the subject matter was morbid the image was not, I should imagine that people seeing his wartime illustrations would be hard pressed to be panicked or upset, and that’s why in the end he seemed a perfect choice for the task.
I tried to find out as much as I could about the techniques he used, it seemed to be mainly line and wash watercolour images and lithograph prints, his watercolour art was a lot more subtle and softer, while the lithograph relied heavily on the hatching technique, both disciplines demonstrated his great sense of rendering light and form, it was this observation which drew me (no pun intended) to learn more from this artist.