Although it has been a long-cherished dream of mine to write and illustrate children’s books, I’ve only recently embarked upon this wonderful and fantastic path. Last year, I took a series of 10 weekly evening classes in Children’s Book Illustration at The Mary Ward Centre in London – highly recommended, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I’d started some preliminary work on this illustration before starting the course, but I have to admit that having the input of an experienced teacher really helped me to think about my work critically, and most importantly, it gave me a much needed confidence boost.
The illustration above is part of a children’s picture book that I am currently working on (so exciting, I’m finally making the dream a reality!)
So, a little background to the illustration above… It was painted using a mixture of gouache, watercolour, shell gold and gold leaf. Yes, that’s right, I do use REAL gold in my work (I think the gold in this illustration was 23 carat). But don’t worry, it’s not as expensive as you might think – approx. £15 or so for a book of gold leaf, which is used in tiny amounts, so it lasts ages. In fact, the techniques that I’ve used are very much inspired by Islamic manuscript illumination (called tezhib in Turkish), as well as Persian and Indian miniature painting. “Shell gold” is a type of handmade gold paint, which enables the artist to paint really tiny, intricate detail in gold. It’s made by grinding gold leaf by hand, then repeatedly washing the gold particles with distilled water. The final stage is to sift the gold and water into a glass cup, through a piece of silk. The water is left to evaporate, and a delicate mist of gold is left on the surface of the glass.
“Shell gold” is used very commonly in manuscript illumination. It’s called “shell gold” because traditionally, the gold was ground in a shell. Apprentice manuscript illuminators learn how to make this paint by hand and believe me, it’s a tiring and time-consuming process!
Anyone who is familiar with my work will know that I love nothing more than to adorn my paintings with tiny, intricate little patterns. I intend for this picture book to be no different, so if you’d like to see more you’ll just have to watch this space! I’m a tease, I know, but how else will I get you to keep visiting this site?!
Love and Light.