THE UNDERPAINTING

Ninety per cent of the painting will be done with three colours and a white – Michael Harding Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Lake, Crimson Alizarin and Titanium White. The one colour that is difficult to achieve with this set is turquoise, which I use for the underpainting of the skin.

The underpainting is the engine of the work and it is these colours that power and affect the top colours. For example, the turquoise might scumble through in areas to guarantee my flesh tones are chromatically balanced, and do not appear too sunburnt. I give a lot of thought to the underpainting and how much of it I am going to make visible. I try to work out what colours will produce the maximum effect for each object, relying heavily on a colour wheel to confirm instincts.

1I lightly rough in the shapes with an H4 pencil and block in the underpainting with old rags to keep everything loose. Using a soft pencil would leave graphite smears and reduce the brightness of the ragged-on oil colour. The slate tabletop was underpainted in a warm dirt colour – to complement
the cool blue-grey colours that will be scumbled and knived over it – and a warm, orange-brown under the blue jeans. For maximum effect, I used Michael Harding Magenta for the pink shirt and Crimson Lake for the tomatoes, letting the white of the canvas illuminate the colours.

2Outlines are worked in using a large brush. There is a lot of still life on the shelf and, at this point, I can’t help myself

and complete some of the objects to help get

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a feel for the final
image. The window is
formed to give me clues
about the side-lighting
and shadows, and I also
start making colour tests
on paper to work out the
best colour for underpainting the
shed and the best top colours to give a silvery, aged appearance to the wood.

3

which can really punch out. This colour is also used on man by the

I block in the shed with a bright green

shed look old and silvered. I use a palette knife to roughly scrape various warm and cool greys and blacks over the green, letting some of this show through to give it a bite. When dry, I pick up on the texture by running a palette knife with black lightly over the wood. It was a simple and effective way of creating a wood texture. Careful consideration is given to the light from the various sources and how it is illuminating the scene, and the final objects are added to the walls. When the portrait is finished,
I lay it out on the floor and start splattering areas to mess things up a bit, and unify the painting. I splatter a dark purple into some of the darker shadows to give these areas another visual lift.

with rags, splatter the colour with Gamsol and quickly blot it dry to create a chaotic, spotted appearance. I will let some of this show through for visual kick and interest. The slate is formed using a palette knife to create the surface texture, and the snails are painted in using fine brushes. I often stand back from the painting and squint to see which colours could be chromatically amplified and adjusted. I spot that I should add a flash of blue on the central guy’s shirt because it is too muted. Mixing Ultramarine Blue with Titanium White produces the most amazing Kings Blue,

ANIMALS IN MOTION

FORMER ARMY OFFICER FREDDY PASKE DEVELOPED HIS STYLE ON THE FRONTLINE. NOW KNOWN FOR HIS SPORT AND WILDLIFE SCENES, HE REVEALS HOW TO CAPTURE THAT SPARK OF LIFE

How can I hope to capture the dynamism of an animal moving at speed, such as a racehorse?

The key is being loose with your work. The naked eye will not pick up the fine detail of a rabbit running or horse jumping, instead your brain fills in the gaps.
This is the same principle I use for capturing movement in my subjects. Get the basic shape and light right, and then enjoy playing around with the medium to enhance your image. You will be amazed at what you can actually get away with.

What techniques are best for working with wildlife and moving subjects?
Work quickly. This will force you to capture the essence of your subject and not get tied down. The medium will bring out detail. Leave your mistakes: you won’t believe how many unruly lines or smudges turn into ‘happy’ events as the image progresses. My most valued technique is understanding negative space. The eraser is your most important mark-maker. I will regularly strip back a drawing to add to the illusion of movement and simplify the subject matter. Be bold and adventurous

– you can always build the image up again.

How can I bring an animal’s character into the painting?

If you want to capture a specific animal’s character you have to observe it from life. By doing so you will pick up different mannerisms or a stance and gait that are unique to that subject. As an example, when working in

Africa I rapidly fill sketchbooks with quick, 30-second drawings of my subject. Many of these never see the light of day, but they help me to focus on the key shapes and positions that are inherent to that animal. If you can’t work from life, use video or a series of photographs and build up a sketch series. You’ll soon find yourself focusing on key characteristics.

What are your preferred materials for painting wildlife?

I love drawing in charcoal and painting in oil. Sadly both are impractical to use when working from life, so I will mainly sketch in pencil and watercolour. I am constantly experimenting and striving for new techniques. My latest process is using oil paint on an acrylic sheet. The flat, smooth surface underneath means that you can wipe away the oil paint to produce a clean white line. The resulting image is fantastic and also very fun to create.

Should I paint en plein air or work from pictures? Nothing beats working en plein air or from life, but it is difficult and you can’t expect perfect results. Always have a camera with you as a form of reference, especially when starting out. There is absolutely no shame in this and I will often use my camera phone in the field to readjust a shape or highlight. It takes years of studying a subject to master its every move, so make full use of technology.

Are there any paintbrushes you would recommend for painting wildlife?
I find the key to my style is experimenting with different techniques, which often means I don’t use a paintbrush at all. With oil colour I have used everything, including earbuds, fingers and even credit cards to apply the paint.

How do you incorporate vivid colour?

I always refer to the colour wheel. By using contrasting colours you can create fantastic vividness that is already present in nature. The blue and orange of a kingfisher is a prime example of this, and that’s why they feature a lot in my work. Push the boundaries with your palette and look for vividness in your subject.

How can I capture animals en plein air without scaring them away?
Use your camera. The photograph doesn’t have to be amazing. I regularly use my phone, but for flighty animals it is crucial to establish a good impression of

the subject’s shape and form. Try to use the image straight away, then and there, in the field. Your mind will still be fresh with the sighting and the fact you are in the animal’s environment will add to the image.

How important is the background to creating an expressive image?
The background can bring an image alive and I try to be as adventurous as possible. I often choose contrasting colours and use bold brushstrokes to frame my subject and instil a sense of movement.
It can be a great space to experiment and create an intriguing context for the animals you are portraying.

I see a lot of your work is on the larger scale, is there a reason for this?
I love working on large canvases and would work lifesize if I could. I find it very important not to constrain an image by canvas size and the more space you have the more you can let the subject stretch out. I am working on an oil of two lifesize rutting stags. The energy within the image is massively increased by the freedom of movement I have within the canvas.

Find out more about Freddy and his work at www.freddypaske.com

NEW SERIES

IN THE FIRST PART OF OUR NEW SERIES, ARTIST KATE OSBORNE EXPLORES AN EXCITING WAY
TO WORK WITH GOUACHE

I have always loved processes and ringing the changes from time to time. We all get a bored of repeating ourselves, whether it’s the marks we make, the surfaces we work on, the subjects we choose or the equipment and materials we use. It is good to alter at least one of those options when things start to feel a bit stale.

I discovered monoprinting with gouache through a chance remark at a print workshop. The tutor commented that by adding a few drops of gum arabic or washing-up liquid (the eco-friendly kind, to avoid damaging chemicals) to gouache you could use it to print. I loved it. Initially,
I painted freehand on a sheet of acrylic and printed onto a cheap Fabriano Rosaspina off-white print paper. Gouache’s drawback is that it dries much more rapidly than purpose-made printing inks. If I was working on a large area, by the time I had finished painting, the first part of the image was often already dry. So I experimented with quickly repainting dry areas and then printing; soaking and blotting the paper before printing; and spraying the surface of the painted acrylic sheet with a fine diffuser (of water). All of these methods produced different results.

UNPREDICTABLE

Autumn Border with Bumblebees (right) was produced with the first method of quickly repainting dry areas just before printing. A sheet of paper is laid carefully over your painted image and rubbed all over with the heel of the hand. You can check how the image is transferring to the paper by peeling back one corner at a time. The magic is that you cannot predict what is going to appear – it usually bears only a partial resemblance to what you brush, then added grass leaves with a Daniel Smith watercolour stick, which introduces different textures. The sword brush is a favourite: it is a lovely responsive drawing tool that is perfect for describing finer stems and leaves, as well as the veins in the bees wings. I added the bumblebees last to give the painting focus and narrative. Printed bees of this size can look a bit clunky so, instead, they are painted directly, and kept simple and delicate with a minimum of detail.

LOOSE WATERCOLOUR

My allotment prints, such as Allotment, Autumn (below), demonstrate another approach to monoprinting that reverses the process used in my prints of borders. Instead of printing first, I start by painting a very loose watercolour onto paper, allowing colourfields to merge wet-in-wet. Once dry, I monoprint over the top. A way to avoid the first areas of gouache drying is to print one small area at a time, for example, the wheelbarrow, then the watering can and so on, making sure that the glass or acrylic is wiped clean between each printing. If I feel the painting needs more work, it is usually a few brush strokes, such as stalks and leaves. The underpainting with watercolour stitches the composition together and provides a good backdrop for printing.

I would recommend monoprinting if you are stuck in a rut, feel you are repeating yourself or want to experiment with a technique. It creates opportunities to have a ‘conversation’ with your artwork, responding to each stage rather than attempting to impose a premeditated idea onto the paper.

painted on the acrylic. All kinds of textures, broken areas and splodges emerge. Next there is the question of what to do with the resulting image. Sometimes it needs hardly anything – the picture speaks for itself, and additions and improvements can kill it. Sometimes I feel nothing is needed, as with Still Life with Lemon (inset). And, at other times, just the tiniest of brush, crayon or watercolour stick mark is all it takes, as with Bumblebees and Nasturtiums (above). Sometimes it needs more: for instance, going back into the painting with off-white gouache and defining some shapes: it’s one of the advantages of working with opaque paint.

If you paint, especially with watercolour, you know one of the biggest challenges is knowing when to
stop. It’s a judgement that I’ve found becomes
easier with experience, but it’s still a call that needs careful thought with every painting. I felt Autumn Border (previous page) needed more definition. The flowers were persicaria with various grasses; I darkened one or two of the flower heads and loosely drew the individual flowers and some grass stems with a sword

THE CALL OF THE WILD

MASTER PAINTER RAY BALKWILL REVEALS HIS TRICKS FOR CAPTURING THE DRAMA OF MOUNTAINS, LOCHS AND WATERFALLS AS HE TUTORS A PAINTING GROUP IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

‘The call of the wild’ is perhaps one of the most seductive and stirring

phrases ever coined, and for me it is epitomised by the grandeur of the Scottish Highlands. For the past few years I have led painting courses based at Achintraid on the beautiful shores of Loch Kishorn. The views across the loch to the sandstone corries and hills of Applecross, which rise to nearly 3,000ft, are awe-inspiring. To the east, the limestone hills rise more gently with hidden lochs and peaty burns. The light and colours, combined with the history and romance, make it an inspirational place.

Painting is always a challenge no matter what your level of ability, but perhaps none more so than when faced with an unfamiliar landscape. I remember my first trip, during which I felt excitement and apprehension.
I was ill-prepared for the sheer scale of the mountains. Being confronted with a vast, unpredictable landscape can be daunting, so this is where a viewfinder is crucial in narrowing the field of vision and creating the right composition. It also helps to decide which format is best suited to the scene – landscape, portrait or square.

THE SKETCHBOOK

In a remote landscape, combining sketching with walking is a rewarding way of gathering information, as well as soaking up the spirit of a place. In my experience, rushing too quickly into colour, particularly in an unfamiliar landscape, brings problems.

On the first day of my courses, I encourage students to sketch in monochrome. I believe this not only helps develop stronger powers of observation, but sharpens awareness of shapes and tones. Also, gently easing the students into a difficult subject by drawing first subconsciously helps breed confidence. My sketches take many forms; some record

58 Artists & Illustrators

topographical features in line, often with colour notes, while others, using a broader medium, such as charcoal, create mood and atmosphere. I find when I am working in the studio it is the sketch, rather than the photograph, that rekindles my emotions.

THE MOUNTAINS

When painting mountains you have to think carefully about the subject and how its main shapes are arranged. Ideally there should be interaction between the shapes, creating a sense of movement around the picture as well as a feeling of depth. Focus on shapes, rather than things, and think of your paintings as mosaics of interlocking shapes, some larger, some smaller, but all related.

In a mountain scene there are a number
of main lines formed by mountainsides and foreground slopes. If these lines are continued, the majority will meet at one or more points. These are the vanishing points, and general composition depends on their position. The simplest composition is one where there is only one vanishing point and, in this case, it is best for it to lie outside, instead of inside, the picture area. This means that the eye is led out of painting, suggesting that more is going on. Including buildings, animals or figures can also give a sense of scale, as well as adding life and a focal point to the picture. Most landscapes are painted in a horizontal format, but sometimes a square or portrait view can work equally as well.

Foregrounds are important. Without them it is impossible to appreciate the scale and grandeur of a mountainous scene. However, although we see more detail in the foreground, it is better to simplify this. I often take a lower eye level and look through grasses to make the scene more interesting.

THE WATER

Mountains and water – the two just go together. Rivers, waterfalls and lochs impart a life to the landscape. Few painters can resist painting a mountain stream or waterfall, yet are often disappointed with the results. The bubbling, dashing turbulence is often transformed into something static and

LEFT Moorland Falls, mixed media on paper, 36x53cm BELOW Autumn Light over Loch Kishorn, mixed media on paper, 33x46cm

lifeless in paint. Simplifying and working with speed are my tips for success, whatever medium you choose. I find using a vigorous treatment will carry far more conviction, particularly when painting moving water. When working in watercolour, masking fluid can be useful in reserving the highlights as in mixed-media Moorland Falls (above).

THE SKIES

One of the most exciting things about mountainous terrain is the weather. I am disappointed when there are cloud-free days, as clouds and their shadows add so much atmosphere. Although the changeable weather can be frustrating, it is the different light and transient moods that define the character of a place. I set the mood of the picture by painting the sky first, focusing on the most interesting part of the sky.

It is surprising how many artists treat the
sky and landscape as separate subjects. When painting skies, it is important to work quickly to organise the arrangement from the outset – and then stick to it. Another important consideration is the proportion of space devoted to land and sky, and whether you choose a high or low horizon. Of course, in this kind of terrain, it is the landscape that tends to dominate, with the sky playing a secondary role.

I came across a lovely quote by the 19th-century, Scottish-born naturalist and early conservationist, John Muir. His words summed it up when he said: “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”
Explore Ray’s painting courses in Scotland, Devon and Cornwall at www.raybalkwill.co.u

HOW TO DRAW

Reducing the fresh colours of the landscape to monochrome seems a travesty, so this is where coloured pencils come in. You don’t need one to correspond to every colour

you see – you can mix by layering. First pick the brightest colours in
your scene because these will be difficult to mix. Secondly, pick pencils that mix to achieve the most prevalent

colours. Finally, think about dark, dull colours – you
can achieve a dark brown and greys by mixing brighter colours.

Brown Ochre

Each manufacturer produces pencils with different names for colours. I sketched out this rural scene – a pond seen from my favorite path to the beach near Mevagissey in Cornwall – in an earthy yellow Brown Ochre, the lightest and least overpowering colour in my set of four.

Mineral Green

Using a combination of quick hatching and heavier textural marks, I added the most prevalent colour – green – to the drawing. In some areas, I layered green over yellow for a lighter colour and, in others, I made heavy marks that would later be layered with magenta for the darkest shadows.

Oriental Blue

I drew in the blue of the sky with broad horizontal strokes, leaving negative spaces for the clouds –
I also added a little blue over the green of the foliage for variety.

Magenta

I added the magenta of foxgloves and grasses, working over negative spaces I left light. I layered the magenta over green to darken it, creating chromatic shadows without a black or brown. Jake’s You Will Be Able to Draw by the End of This.

ART HISTORIAN SUSIE HODGE EXPLORES FOUR WORKS THAT REWROTE THE TECHNIQUES RULEBOOK

For many, the word ‘art’ evokes images of artists starving in garrets and dying for their work, leaving behind a legacy of great masterpieces no-one had recognised. The truth, of course, is rarely like that.

Art is full of industrious people who are affected and influenced by their times, surroundings and personal experiences, as well as the materials available to them and the art required at the time. Since ancient times, artists have produced two- and three-dimensional art in paint, plaster, bronze, marble, mosaic and more, and as they try new things, they affect and influence the art that follows. Sometimes art changes as a positive response, and sometimes it reacts against art that has gone before.

When I began writing my book, The Short Story of Art, I wanted to create an introduction to Western art that would be unique and accessible. Often, people are interested in art, yet feel uncomfortable because they don’t know (or think don’t they know) enough. The easiest way to approach the vast subject is to encounter it in bite-size pieces, and then learn how these connect. I have chosen four snapshots, not because they were the most ground-breaking art of all time, but because each initiated developments in the story of art. The 13th-century mosaic Christ Pantokrator included some tonal contrast, which harked back to ancient Roman mosaics, suggesting it wasn’t simply a flat image on a wall. Giotto went even further, trying to portray depth, distance and emotion. Mary Cassatt used the inventions of portable paint tubes and photography, and the newer influence of Japanese prints to capture a boating scene from an unusual viewpoint, while Degas outrageously added clothing and hair to his statue.

Interestingly, however, one of the earliest works in the book is bulls painted on a cave wall thousands of years ago, while one of the most recent is a shark preserved in formaldehyde: large images of animals about 20,000 years apart. It makes you wonder, has art changed much at all? The Short Story of Art by Susie Hodge is out now, published by Laurence King, £12.99. www.laurenceking.com

ALEKSANDRA MIR

AS THE CONTEMPORARY ARTIST UNVEILS HER HUGE HAND-DRAWN WALL HANGINGS EXPLORING SPACE TRAVEL AT TATE LIVERPOOL, SALLY HALES ASKS WHAT INSPIRES HER BOLD AND GROUNDBREAKING WORK IN FELT PEN

Can you tell us about the Space Tapestry project?
It is a 3x200m wall hanging that relates the history and recent debates around space exploration and earth observation. It is inspired by the 1,000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, which carries one of the first known depictions of Halley’s Comet. The work has been three years in production and involved 25 young artists in the process. There is also a companion book that interviews 16 people who work on space today – engineers, doctors, historians, geologists, and biologists. Inside the book, a speech bubble says, “Space seems to be everywhere.”

What attracts you to the subject of space?

I saw Neil Armstrong land on the moon on TV when I was two years old. My family lived behind the Iron Curtain, but we shared the experience with everyone else in the world. Few subjects are as unifying as space, which is actually all about our lives on earth – for example, as rovers are surveying Mars, its newly discovered geological features are named after existing features on earth because we are limited to what we already know or what we can perceive. In 1999, I staged the art installation, called First Woman on the Moon, on a beach in Holland. I sent Neil Armstrong the video and he acknowledged it with good humour.

Space Tapestry is a monochrome drawing. What draws you to black and white? How do you use it as a medium?
I only use Sharpies, which were invented in 1964 so they’re contemporary to my lifetime. In the 15 years that I have explored this simple marker, I have yet to see the same stroke repeated twice or get bored with it. I have even achieved watercolour-like washes by violently destroying a thick Sharpie and using the innards like a delicate brush.

What are the challenges of working with a large team on such a big scale? Is the choice practical, or is it intrinsic to the work’s meaning?
I was a New York artist without a studio for more than a decade when a friend lent me his large apartment and empty floor space. I had all these big works in me, so I simply needed extra hands to finish the projects before he returned. In the process I discovered the diversity of the strokes my friends helped me to produce was much more interesting than the uniformity of my own hand. When I was offered a solo show in a Manhattan blue-chip gallery, I used it as studio for two months, recruited 17 assistants (some off the street) and showed the work process live. Space Tapestry is partially funded with grants that have a strong diversity criteria and that widens my scope for the work even more.

38 Artists & Illustrators

You’ve worked across a variety of media, eschewing traditional art practices.

Do you think there is a unifying theme to you work?

An exploratory approach and the fact that I am doing it all – although not at the same time, obviously. One thing has organically led to another, ideas have looped back on themselves over time, and experience and skill has accumulated across media. A lot of the time I just adapt to my resources and run with it. If I am on a beach in India, I try to capture the energy of sleeping cows and wild dogs on a small drawing pad. If I am offered a museum show with a budget and massive wall space, I will want to fill that.

You were born in Poland, have American and Swedish citizenship, and live in London. Does this feed into your work? And how?

Some aspects I can trace to a particular location while others just reflect a general sense of being in the world. I have maintained a relationship with London since I was a teenager in the 1980s, when we had to take a 24-hour ferryboat from Gothenburg, where I grew up, to go to Camden Market to buy shoes. I have travelled the world extensively and lived for five years in Palermo, Sicily. My schooling in Sweden in the early 1970s celebrated socialism – as articulated in a productive group dynamic – above individual achievement. But my art education is steeped in American art history and art’s complex relationship to capital as I encountered it in New York at the School of Visual Arts and in galleries in the 1990s. Communist Poland itself barely features since I was only five when my family was expelled following the 1969 political turmoil, but the experience of migration and the cultural relativity that comes with it has probably formed my brain more than anything else.

You studied communication, media art and cultural anthropology. How do you feel they relate to your art? And to art in general?

Art is often talked about as just making, yet a big, but invisible, part of it is that of looking at the world and drawing conclusions from it. My communications background is a support structure for publishing and talks, while, in the studio, we explore very basic mark-making and, in that, we enter in dialogue with the Neanderthals. It is essential for me to be aware of these often-anonymous people and vernacular practices alongside celebrating the great masters in art history.

Aleksandra Mir’s Space Tapestry is on display at Tate Liverpool from 23 June to 15 October 2017. www.tate.org.uk; www.aleksandramir.info

Meagan Morrison

Fashion illustrator Meagan Morrison has a host of big-name clients including Dior and Harper’s Bazaar. She shares her secrets to runway success and building a presence online with Natalie Milner

How do you capture a figure moving along a catwalk?

My trick is that the very first head I draw will pair with a look on a model who comes well after that, because you have less than a minute to capture a figure. I tend to keep the faces and hairstyles general, so no matter what outfit I draw, it marries easily with the person’s features.

What are your favoured art materials?

I use a variety of media and I don’t get too specific about what I’m using. I would rather hold a paintbrush over a pencil. Truth be told, I do not love sketching. My first love is – 100 per cent – painting.

Why did you set up your blog?

I started Travel Write Draw in September 2010, one year shy of graduating from my fashion illustration AAS degree at Fashion Institute of Technology. I had just returned from Dubai, super-inspired and longing for a space to share my illustrations.

You have more than 142,000 followers on Instagram. How did you build this?
When there was just a handful of illustration blogs and Instagram didn’t exist, I spent a great deal of time engaging with other art bloggers. Then Instagram became the dominant platform. I built up around 8,000 followers and, in September of 2014, was featured as a suggested user – my audience grew to 100,000 in three weeks.

What advice can you offer a fashion illustrator?

It is easy to cave under the pressures of social media, press features and commissions, so it’s important to know why you started so you can come back to that. See more of Meagan’s art at www.travelwritedraw. blogspot.co.uk; Instagram @travelwritedraw

Darya Shnykina

The winner of this year’s Book Illustration Competition – a partnership between the House of Illustration and the Folio Society – talks to Natalie Milner about creating the society’s beautiful new edition of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

What was your starting point for illustrating Mansfield Park?
Books by the Folio Society are arranged so that each illustration is closely related to a certain passage. I needed to choose particular moments to work with. But I think that you can’t draw a book illustration without a feeling for the whole story. You need to know what happened before the episode and what will happen next.

Why did you decide to work digitally for this particular project?
I thought it should be quite simple, so as not to cause any inconvenience in printing. The illustrations were created in Adobe Photoshop and it was my first experience of drawing colour illustration without using any traditional materials.

Did you approach the cover
and inside pages separately?
I learned that the book should be treated as a single
organism – from the cover to layout. My aim was to follow
the existing style of the society’s Jane Austen series. I had to work with a given colour palette – three colours

– and gradually I began to use other shades.

What influences impacted your designs?

The whole atmosphere [of the illustrations] was the personality of Jane Austen. When I begin to work on any illustration project, I search for helpful materials, in this case it was art from the Regency era.

What’s your favourite book cover?

I’m crazy about exploring bookstores and libraries. Some of my favourite covers are the Vintage Classics Brontë series. The covers look so silent, but also so full of emotions.

What’s your top tip for getting into book illustration?

All I can say is that you need to be passionate about

what you do. I adore books in all their manifestations.

The Folio Society’s Mansfield Park is out in October 2017. Follow

Darya on Instagram @daryashnykina

William Grill

When he won in 2015 he was, at the age of 25, the youngest winner for more than 50 years. He is shortlisted again this year for his new book

The Wolves of Currumpaw

How did you create the distinctive style of The Wolves of Currumpaw?
I work in just one or two colours for preliminary sketches, and try to work as quickly as I can, but usually redraw the same spread several times before I’m happy. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and keep the colour palette as limited as posible. I work on everything at once: colour, storyboard, design, text and characterisation.

You make your loose and flowing illustrations look easy. What’s your tip for achieving a similar effect?
Work quickly. The best drawings are usually done under pressure. And draw from life – don’t sit behind a desk. With The Wolves of Currumpaw, I was lucky enough to travel to New Mexico and did a lot of drawing and research. This made the drawings far richer.

When did you find the style that you were comfortable with?
Falmouth University was hugely formative. Being encouraged to draw in sketchbooks every day helped enormously, and this is where my style emerged. It sounds counterintuitive, but the limitation of using a few coloured pencils on the go made me feel more free and confident.

You work for major clients such as The New York Times. How did you break into editorial and commercial illustration?
With a bit of luck! My work must have a broad appeal. Putting examples of book jackets, editorial work and so on, on your website is the best way of showing what you could do.

Your books feature everything from figures to landscapes. Do you approach these subjects differently?
Everything is the same apart from that I usually hold the pencils differently [for the backgrounds]. I tend to use the side of the pencils to create more sweeping strokes. Sometimes, I layer colours and even use a rubber to smudge subtler colours together.

Which artists do you admire?

Influences change all the time but a few consistent people would be some of the Fauvist painters, Saul Steinberg, Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden – their work has a particular charm. I think it’s important to look outside your own profession for inspiration as well. For me, film is a big one. I love the documentaries of Werner Herzog and the poetic, all-encompassing style of Terrence Malick.

What’s your top tip for getting into the world of illustration?
Firstly, and most importantly, draw every day. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, let your interests feed into your work

– and be patient.

See more of William’s art at www. williamgrill.co.uk. The Wolves of Currumpaw is published by Flying Eye Books, £14.99. www.flyingeyebooks.com