Illustration: Key steps to illustration
Part 1: getting started
Exercise: the History of illustration
Edward Bawden (1903-1989)
Edward Bawden was born in England on 10 March 1903. At the age of seven he was enrolled at Braintree High School, and began studying or copying drawings of cats by Louis Wain. On leaving school in 1919 he attended the Cambridge School of Art full-time (1919 to 1921). Here he became interested in calligraphy and in the work of Aubrey Beardsley,Richard Doyle, William Morris and other Victorians. By 1930 Bawden was working one day a week for the Curwen Press (as was Ravilious and their former tutor, Nash), producing illustrations for leading accounts such as London Transport,Westminster Bank, Twinings, Poole Potteries and Shell-Mex. In the early 1930s he was discovered by the famous Stuart Advertising Agency. At this time Bawden produced some of his most humorous and innovative work for Fortnum & Mason and Imperial Airways. It was also in this period that Bawden produced the tiles for the London Underground, which were exhibited at the International Building Trades Exhibition at Olympia in April 1928. In 1938 he collaborated with John Aldridge, on a range of wallpapers, intended to be printed commercially, but from lino blocks handcut by the designers. The project left little other time for other work during the year, and war intervened, before the papers could go into production. During the Second World War, Edward Bawden served as official war artist, first with the British army in France, and then, following the army’s evacuation from there, in the Middle East. He made many evocative watercolour paintings recording the war effort in Iraq. Some show the unique life led by the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq, particularly their dwellings made from reeds.In 1949 Bawden provided illustrations for the book “London is London – A Selection of Prose and Verse by D. M. Low”.
Like Dufy, Edward Bawden looks easy to imitate, until you try. Unlike the ebullient French painter of pleasure, however, Bawden could not have been more English – in the manner of his time.
Born in 1903, he developed his style, which never altered, in the interwar years, a time of austerity and innocence. His palette was muted, his compositions tidy, and the very few nudes he drew might have been produced by someone who had never seen any. He was happier with gardens, churches, and cats.
Bawden didn’t work in oils but in watercolour. But he has always been better known for his linocuts, of which he was the 20th-century master, and for his commercial work. The last was a natural match for an artist whose figures at times resembled the monarchs of the bridge table. More often, they looked like clothespin dolls and the buildings around them like old-fashioned wooden toys. But Bawden created a world that, without being cloyingly nostalgic, was full of pawky charm, understated sophistication, and delicate fancy. He altered proportion and perspective in a way that owed much to the Cubists, and Miró’s painting of a farm comes to mind when one sees the one Bawden did for the Festival of Britain. The result, however, never strayed too far from the style of the chapbook and primer.
Bawden, who died in 1989, left his archive to the Cecil Higgins Gallery, whose retrospective fills only two largish rooms and omits Bawden’s war work but it sings with the vitality of his sharp draughtsmanship and the lively colours demanded by clients. The linoleum prints show how Bawden expanded the range of this humble medium with a variety of line and texture and an inventive whimsy – a sky filled with clouds, for instance, that could be inverted paving stones.
The characteristic device of Bawden’s teasing yet reassuring style is a design of straight lines interrupted by irregular forms that add variety but do not disturb. In his print of Braintree Market, one curious cow pokes its head through the rails of a pen that keeps the others in check. And while the scientists at work in a post-war mural are engaged in God knows what, the little explosions they produce are held in place by a geometric framework. Design triumphs. All is well.
SOURCE FOR ARTICLE ABOVE
KOENIG, RHODA. “Edward Bawden, Bedford Gallery, Bedford.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 30 Nov. 2009. Web. 12 Sept. 2013.
The work of Edward Bawden does not feel old fashioned to me. When I hear the term ‘old fahioned’ in illustration, I would think of victorian or gothic pen and ink illustration for news papers or the odd illustration you find in the dictionary under the definition. I would call it ‘retro’ instead of old fashioned. Out of the six artist that we were to explore, I felt a connection and appreciation with Bawden’s work and history. When looking on the tate gallery online, I was not as excited with his watercolor landscapes. Compared to his Lino Cuts, graphic designs and prints. I do appreciate the watercolor paintings, but I am not as drawn to the subjects. I enjoy his bold use of line and large blocks of colours in his prints. The images are playful and whimsical with understated sophistication. The last description was used in the article above.
I also enjoy his interest in other cultures in his work. He was obviously inspired by his time on foreign lands during WW2. I hope to also be inspired by the countries that I travel to and use it in my illustrations.
How did he produce his illustrations? Drawing, Linocuts, Lithogrpahs, water colour, print making. Some of the tools he could have used; pen, engraving tools, watercolor, oil paints, drawing ink, printing inks, masking fluids.