Exercise 1 – The history of illustration

The internet has a vast amount of images online highlighting the amazing work of these artists and illustrators but for a small example of their work please visit Pinterest where I’ve compiled a better group of examples.Pinterest – The History of Illustration

Edward Ardizonne was an English children’s book writer and illustrator. His style was largely light lines with a light watercolor and delicate touch although he also worked in oils. He was well known for a variety of ‘Little Tim’ children books and was also a war artist for WWII.

Kathleen Hale was best known for her series of books on ‘Orlando’ the marmalade cat. She was a children’s book author and illustrator and many of the stories were loosely based on various family experiences. Her style was a mix of painting, drawing and watercolours. (researched from Benezit dictionary of British graphic artists and illustrators, vol 1)

John Minton was a designer as well as an illustrator and painter. He was part of the younger group of artists that were involved with the loosely termed neo-romanticism movement lasting for a short period of time in the 1940s.

Eric Ravilious was a painter, illustrator and wood engraver.   His watercolors are particularly famous and he too became a war artist during WWII. He was a good friends with Edward Bawden and worked with him for over a year on creating the Morley College mural in London.

E.H. Shephard was an artist and book illustrator and is well known for the Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows well loved illustrations. He was a war artist for WWI and his sketches and paintings have a sometimes humorous touch in them.


Edward Bawden – some examples of his work

Edward Bawden 1903-1989

Edward Bawden was born in the UK in 1903 and became a famous English Illustrator, Painter and designer. He became famous for his prints, lithographs, posters and book covers and was a member of the Great Bardfield Artists. It was at the Cambridge School of Art where he became interested in calligraphy and in the work of artists such as Aubrey Beardsley, Richard Doyle, and William Morris. He also gained his education from the Royal College of Art and the Anglia Ruskin University. During his time of study he met and became very close friends with, Eric Ravilious and for a period of time while studying he was tutored by Paul Nash.

(1) During his career he produced a wide variety of illustrations and cover designs, posters and advertisements, leaflets and calendars. Some commissions included famous brands and companies such as Twinings, Poole Potteries, Westminster Bank and the London Transport Board. Regardless of the project he was engaged in, Bawden ensured that the same level of attention and rule for design was applied.

(2) He worked as a war artist during WWII and before and after this period taught at the RCA until 1963. In 1968 he then tutored at the Royal Academy Schools and lectured at the Leicester College of Art and Design.

During the time when a visual record of the changing villages and towns of Britain was in progress, the emerging images seemed to record a largely romantic view of the country.   It seemed that they displayed a yearning for the ‘old days’ of Britain, where life was simpler and less threatened(4).

Edward Bawden was a close friend of Eric Ravilious, who died during the war.  Bawden had witnessed the horror of war first hand having been a war artist.  On his return to Great Bardfield however, the place presented a landscape that didn’t  seem to have changed much.  Although rationing was still in effect, there was a timeless beauty in some of the villages and towns of Britain at that time that caught Bawdens’ attention and contrasted sharply with his experiences during the war. Edward Bawdens’ 16 lithographs in the beautifully realized ‘Life in an English village’ was an expression of this contrast.

His work broadly engaged with illustration, painting and graphic design and this balance of application between fine and applied arts appeared to be quite effortless in his finished pieces. (2) It was the work produced between the 1950s and 60s that he became more well known for as well as his contributions as a War painter during the second World War.

(3) It seems that the wide variety of styles that Bawden employed in his work made it difficult for others to put him into a defined category for that period in history. His career as an artist, illustrator and designer spanned over a number of decades, and although he had a quieter time in the latter part of his career, at the end of it he was recognized for his contributions.

The colour schemes in the ‘South Kensington’ poster appeal because it seems to use a tetrad colour scheme with the emphasis on the two primary colours blue and yellow. The red accent is used in a softer manner, leaning more towards a burnt orange and is only used sparingly.

In the second poster for Hyde Park, the colour scheme is limited to green and red, with the red going into the brown and muddy tones rather than being strong and vibrant. The black and whites act as a contrast to it and pops of blue help your eye to follow across the image drawing attention to the left and top of the page mostly.

As I explored some of his other work for wallpaper designs I noticed that in a lot of his work he tends to opt for a limit of colours, normally three. There is always a dominant tone and the remaining colours help to focus the attention on the key object in the illustration.

For example, the ‘Entertaining a la Carte’ illustration is extremely busy so he engages with a variety of textures and patterns to encourage a distinction between objects. The main colours are yellow for background while baby pink is used to soften the effect of such a strong red tone. The elephant breaks up the compositions flat texture by introducing some black lines to suggest the leathery type of skin the animal has.

The wallpaper with yellow and black is a beautiful repetitive soft shaped pattern, with the eye drawn to sections by the introduction of a small amount of red. Having the pattern repeat off centre is also a beautiful way to imply movement while also ensuring that the eye doesn’t find itself seeing the pattern repeated in a monotonous fashion.

One of the most striking aspects of his illustrations to me was the fun aspect of them. There are very few straight lines or harsh angles. Even when present they’re presented in a fun way, such as a quirky angle. For example, the South Kensington poster employs a beautiful isomorphic plan to present the animals in and the fencing in the Hyde Park is perpendicular.

There is a beautiful symmetry in his images and the composition is carefully put together yet still has a natural and effortless impression of movement in it.

When he created his linoprints I’m amazed at the range of blocks he used. His layering was really detailed for such a rigid type of material being used. Now we are so used to using digital layering, the concept of ‘real’ layering using printing blocks just seems tedious and time consuming. Yet the act of completing a piece of art in this way gives a hidden layer of depth to the piece that the digital format just cannot mimic.

Joshua Middleton – some samples of his work

 Joshua Middleton

He is an American artist and designer that started his career as a comic book artist back in 2000.  He has a very distinct style in his pencils and finished pieces that creates something quite magical.  He has built up an amazing portfolio of work since 2000 and has worked for both Marvel and DC Comics.

His book and comic book covers are something that have attracted me to his work.  He uses a combination of pencil, paper and digital colouring to create the images that have made him famous.  He also has developed a wide range of skills and experience over the years having worked in the fast paced comic and animation industry.

Over the last number of years he has worked steadily in the comic field, left it for a period of work in animation and has now returned to comics.  On his return we see his work has expanded to include a more mature style which sees him moving from digital painting to traditional(5).

The reason I have chosen this artist to contrast with Edward Bawden is because of the distinctive style that both demonstrate in their work.  They both have a very fresh quality in their approach and understand clearly the importance of bringing key design principles of balance and focus to their pieces.

In Bawdens work in linoprint, he approaches printing from the opposite sequence and opts to go from dark to light with his blocks.  Middleton also approaches his art in a different manner, in that he uses colours for shading as opposed to the usual inking or spotted black for shadow effects(5).

Both artists exude a maturity and well honed skill in their craft with the compositions of their work.  By contrast however, Middleton demonstrates how the world is changing to move into a more digital format but still returns to the traditional forms.  Bawden was progressive for his time and was constantly staying fresh and up to date on approaches and methods.

It seems that although their work doesn’t match stylistically, their attitude and approach to their work is very similar.  They both exude discipline and commitment and a willingness to change and adapt as needed, and the wealth of experience gained in relation to this is clearly expressed in their art.



(1) http://fryartgallery.org/the-collection/search-viewer/135/artist/6/Edward-Bawden-CBE-RA    25/02/16 16.56

(2) http://www.scottish-gallery.co.uk/images/exhibitions/Ten_Printmakers_-_additional_works_inc_historical.pdf 25/02/16 17.07

(3) http://www.goldmarkart.com/scholarship/edward-bawden-biography/ 27/02/16 13.19

(4) http://www.artbiogs.co.uk/2/movements/neo-romanticism 27/02/16 14.25

(5) http://www.newsarama.com/6962-joshua-middleton-announces-return-to-comics-from-animation.html 12/03/16 15.35

Images sourced from: