On Valentine’s as I was continuing my blogging classes with the engaging and supportive April from Blacksburg Belle I realized I needed a project to motivate me. Something that got ME excited about facing the procrastination demon. So here I am a month later and I found something I hope will get me drawing daily (GULP!)
I liked the idea of doing a “365 DAYS of my creations”: a sketch, a doodle, a drawing or a painting. But then there was always procrastination’s favorite obstacle: “what to draw”. To solve this I realized the decision needed to be out of my hands. I came up with the idea of writing every fun illustration idea I come across on a white piece of paper and just randomly pull one out. I wanted more structure and less avoidance so on an orange piece of paper I put all the mediums I want to work with. And for further help on a yellow piece I put “extras”. Creative ideas that could help narrow the style possibilities. Let’s be realistic and try something almost once a week this year.
On any given day I pull a white and orange piece of paper. If I feel uninspired I pull out a yellow piece to add to the challenge. I want the goal here to be to draw something, anything daily. The complexity has nothing to do with it. Just sit down and draw.
I love stories, fantasy stories actually. As a child I loved stories of heroes and princesses that my Czech grandmother read to my sister and I. She only visited us once every 2 or 3 years so between the visits we would fall asleep listening to 1 of 3 records my parents had of Czech fairytales. I still love stories where good and evil are clearly defined and honestly I need good to win for my life to be worth living (more on that later?). But I think what I loved most and what still thrills me is narrative illustrations. So to honor those memories and to discover more about my past I’m looking into the artists that shaped my childhood and hopefully discovering new ones as well.
Discovering Illustrators of my Czech Heritage
Let’s start with an artist I actually don’t know. And although he’s new to me he has everything I remember from the books I had as a child. The fluidity of the watercolor medium, the ease of brush stroke and a playfulness. There’s child-like innocence balanced by brilliant composition and those little touches that transform an illustration into a portal to a child’s imagination.
Stepan Zavrel (1932-1999)
A Czech illustrator who escaped from communist Czechloslovakia in 1959 and established one of the biggest centers for children’s book illustration in a village around 60 km from Venice where he lived.
Sarmede is also the home to Le immagini della fantasia . An international event that showcases illustrations from around the world and was establish by Zavrel in 1982. In addition Stepan Zavrel started an art summer school for children’s book illustrators! What a DREAM that would be to attend a class in Italy!
On my daily internet wanderings I just discovered Yelena Bryksenkova on Etsy. She’s an American illustrator originally from Russia. I LOVE her work. Her style attracted me right away. She’s got confident black outlines, a muted color palette and a personal way of drawing people that fascinates me. You can definitely see her background in her work. And then there her subject matter: Fairytales of course but also people in everyday settings. The care in every little details makes even the most ordinary setting seam special and cared for.
As I browsed her website I came across another reason to love this artist. In collaboration with Lucie Cash she has illustrated a cookbook called Fairytale Food! Combining my 2 favorite things in the world I think this book is genius idea and I hope the recipes live up to my high standard.