Coltsfoot and a Crowd

I’M GRADUALLY getting there with the drawing style for my latest book. During our weekend away I picked up a copy of Private Eye at a station bookstall as my holiday reading. It was useful to be reminded how simply drawn cartoons can make a point so successfully. Private Eye is currently celebrating 50 years of publication and during its first half century the satirical magazine has stuck to newsprint for its pages, so they should have a pretty good idea of what works best in the medium by now.

Coming back to my drawing of Coltsfoot (top left), which I’d made a start on before we went away, I decided that I needed to simplify my design. When I’m drawing a flower from nature I like to include every detail that I see. My aim is to study the plant itself so who am I to decide what is or is not relevant.

These illustrations call for a different strategy. Real life can be confusing and I need to strip down reality to a few easily grasped essentials. Hopefully I can still catch the spirit of the subject.

Coltsfoot is a spring flower, so there’s none around for me to draw at the moment but working from a photograph was tending to make my drawing too literal. Instead, I’ve referred to a Victorian copy of Culpeper’s Herbal and tried to go for the simplicity of the coltsfoot illustrated on one of the colour plates.

Drawing a Crowd

I need to show a group of people crowding around a fire but with so many bodies blocking the view I couldn’t show the hearth itself. The tapering chimney breast isn’t typical of Victorian buildings but I felt that it gave more of a clue that the group were gathering at a fireside.


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