Friday, August 29, 2014

Illustrator Studies -by Eliza Wheeler

At the recent SCBWI LA Summer conference there was a lot of discussion about where a strong authorial or illustrative voice comes from. Great artists don't find their voice in a vacuum -- they study the masters that came before them. I loved hearing that Hunter S.Thompson re-typed 'The Great Gatsby' in its entirety to feel what it's like to write a great novel. Art Students are required to sit in museums and sketch off the work of painters and sculptors.

Study of Ernest Shepard, india ink

A similar practice that I use involves creating copies of illustrations that I love, using my own ink and watercolor process. Using the materials that I feel committed to gives me a chance to feel what it's like to make the artist's image with the marks of my own hand. I find this to be an incredibly clarifying (as well as meditative) process. I get glimpses of an elevated voice that I'm always reaching for.

Study of Lisbeth Zwerger, india ink and watercolor

Study of Lisbeth Zwerger, ink and watercolor

Study of Rebecca Dautremer, india ink and watercolor (special thanks to Lisa Anchin for introducing Rebecca's beautiful work to me)

It should go without saying that these are for study purposes only -- you cannot sell them, or claim that these works are yours (don't display them in your portfolio).

I hope you decide to try this process out and learn something for yourself!

~Eliza Wheeler
Author/Illustrator of NYT Bestseller 'Miss Maples Seeds'
Illustrator of Holly Black's Newbery Honor book, 'Doll Bones'
Illustrator of 'The Grudge Keeper', by Mara Rockliff
See her work online at

1 comment:

  1. I agree, this is a great meditative process and illuminating too. I love Lisbeth Zwerger- I can certainly see her influence on your work, which I also love of course!