Illustration Today

(Part 1/Getting started/Illustration today)

Illustration Today

For my modern illustrator, I have chosen someone at random from the internet.

She is Kelly Canby.

‘Kelly Canby is an internationally published illustrator and author of over two dozen books for children. Kelly was born in London, England, but has lived in Australia ince the age of three, which is probably around the same age she started playing with pencils and crayons, and it was probably only a few years after that that she decided playing with pencils and crayons was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

With a Bachelor of Art in Design from Curtin University, Kelly applies her quirky style to the pages of everything from picture books, to chapter books, to early reader books, to colouring books and beyond! Kelly’s books are published widely throughout the US, UK and Australia.

Kelly is on the judging panel for the annual Shaun Tan Illustration Awards and regional Advisor for The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Western Australia.’

Although born in London, Kelly lives and works in Australia. She has a varied style of illustrating however, much of it is identifiable which is why I chose her. From the information I could find about her she seems to spend all her time drawing and painting whether or not she is working. She mainly uses pencils and crayons and paint.

She draws crowds scenes in a very appealing way as in the picture on the left. They contain few details of the crowd other than their faces. There are quite a few examples of this style in her portfolio.

I have copied some from her portfolio to illustrate this point. She has a very versatile style and presumably is able to create whatever the client requires for their book. I have also copied a pencil drawing from the same portfolio as a contrast to the earlier ones by Edmund Ardizzone.

The little girl is dressed in modern clothing so it is obviously not an ‘old’ drawing. She has used pencil shading rather than cross-hatching which used to be popular and the birds and child’s face are a much more modern style of portrayal than was used by illustrators from the sixties and before.

In the crowd scenes her characters are much more ‘international’ than would have been depicted in earlier times. The style is simple but the concept is well-portrayed with minimal fuss. They both decorate and stimulate the imagination. They convey information effectively.

I really like minimal styles which are not too detailed so these appeal to me. I have always been a great admirer of the work of Patrick Caulfield but never succeeded in imitating his totally minimal style well enough.

This is my sketchbook drawing/illustration in the style of Kelly Canby. She often uses a simple drawing enhanced with limited supplementary colour. I have tried to imitate this idea or a slight variation on it.

She frequently draws ‘crowds ‘ so I have chosen a crowd of boys. As I don’t have a specific narrative to relate to I have made them into a choir with the implied style of background which Canby sometimes uses as a clue.

She creates hi-vis hair colours so I have copied that idea along with a variety of facial expressions.

One of my crowd is looking away which could be a significant moment in the imaginary story they are telling.

I used a drawing pen and water-thinned acrylic paint.

I copied the drawing on to the computer and have enhanced the colour and cropped the sketch to make the picture below.