Recently, I have been looking through my portfolio of artwork, sorting out my favourites and rediscovering pieces I had forgotten about. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on my progress and how I went from a little girl copying illustrations from drawing books to the freehand drawing style I am currently so fond of. I have Disney to thank for my introduction to drawing; I spent hours copying my much-loved characters and painstakingly shading them in with coloured pencil. I still have a copy I made of Winnie-the-Pooh from goodness knows how many years ago. I have no record of how many of these I produced but as I got older I began to change things up a bit, using felt-tip pens to attempt to get the same shade of red used for Disney’s Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
I also loved other children’s illustrators, such as Beatrix Potter. This style of illustration was produced with watercolour paint, however, not being old enough or talented enough to replicate that, I went back to my coloured pencils in an attempt to capture the tones and details. Being supportive of my love of art, my Nanny bought me a more complex colouring book from which to copy pictures. Rather than being well-known cartoons, these were of birds, animals and plants that can be found in the garden. They were realistic rather than simple, childish drawings, which began to help me understand the importance of the shading and intricate details that made up an image. I alternated between felt-tips and pencils before settling on the latter as my preferred medium. It was not until I produced a copy of Disney’s Ariel that I began to recognise the significance of scale and perspective. This was one of the first illustrations I copied on a larger scale. It was also about this time that I was given my first set of watercolour pencils, which have become my favourite choice of media. These resulted in a stronger colour and difference in tone; they were also far easier to blend than the ordinary coloured pencil. I admit that I went back to copying Disney illustrations but this time I had far more skill and knowledge than my earlier attempts.
For weeks on end, I copied picture after picture, using my newly acquired watercolour pencils. I also began to mix my drawing material, outlining the drawings with black fine liners. One of my best drawings from this time is of Kaa, the snake from The Jungle Book. By now, I was beginning sixth form studies and my beloved Disney had entered the world of 3D. No longer were hand-drawn cartoons being produced, but this did not stop me producing my own version of the new characters. Without a 2D illustration to copy, I drew the familiar house from Up being lifted into the sky by hundreds of balloons.
I am really proud of this piece; rather than looking like a Disney replica, it has its own style – my style. With newfound confidence, I got more adventurous, drawing other things that were less cartoony. These include the characters from Thunderbirds and their rockets, which led me on to drawing vehicles in general. I continued to use my typical style of combined watercolour pencil and fine liner, but it was not until I attempted a motorbike, that I really accomplished the finer details. I really like the designs of classic cars, and my favourite drawing from this series is a Hot Rod, which I photographed purposefully in order to draw. I have since moved on to drawing my own imagined illustrations but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study and copy pre-existing illustrations, giving me the chance to develop my own style and understanding of different media and techniques.