Τετάρτη, 2 Μαρτίου 2016

The portrait of an artist: Jackie Morris

Painting inspired by a sculpture of Mister Finch [1]

She loves to read, to paint, to knit, to walk around searching for words. The illustrator and author Jackie Morris lives in peace, writes by the sea. When she was little, she wanted to be a bear. Now she paints the mood and wisdom of animals combining medieval and modern influences.  The heroines of her stories are not sleeping beauties waiting for a prince to wake them up. They are girls full of courage, leaving their home, going out to the world alone. 


"Song of the golden hare"
Tell us a bit about your life. When did you begin to paint, what made you decide to do illustration?

I grew up in Evesham, Worcestershire, hated school, wanted to draw. I went to Art College, against the advice of teachers and parents, but compromised by heading towards illustration. Ironically, in a time when publishing has been lurching from one crisis to another, when working in books, trying to make a living has never been so hard I think (with publishers discounting best sellers, new books, bookshops closing, library budgets slashed), I subsidize my career in books by selling paintings. Took me a while to work that one out.

Is there a text, a book, a fairy tale, a song you would like to illustrate but haven't yet?

Anything by Angela Carter, “A Wizard of Earth Sea” by Ursula Le Guin and a new polar bear story that’s wandering around in my head.

What kind of illustrations do you do? Would you like to share with us a unique experience you had when illustrating a book?

You need to look at the books really, make up your own mind. Each of my books is a response to text. Each book has its trials and tribulations and it doesn’t get any easier.

"One cheetah one cherry"
What materials do you usually use?
I work in watercolor mostly.

Is there a time of the day you prefer to work? Do you always paint at home? 
I paint in my studio, I write outside.

What is on your desk at this moment?
Hour glasses, a computer, a notebook, pencils, a tea cup, a squirrel of time, some polar bears and arctic foxes.

Are you currently working on something?
I am currently working on about five books and a Christmas card design and I have a book badgering me, wanting to be written. Best place to learn more about this is the books page of my blog.



Curious lovers: The fox and the hare
"I’m not a fan of children’s books. Books for people. That’s what I like. Ones that work with a whole family. I don’t do that thing that many do where I have the ‘child audience’ for my work in mind. I’m not often writing for the child I used to be. I am trying to catch stories in   a net, like a butterfly hunter, pinning down the words so they can be set free in a reader’s mind."


Is illustration a profession for you or a hobby? Is it possible to make a living through illustration in your country?

One of the things I have always hated is that word ‘hobby’. It is my life. Since the age of 27. I have done nothing but. And yes, it is possible to make a living, depending on what you want out of life. I want to earn enough to carry on. Nothing more.

Which illustrators (classical or contemporary) have inspired you?
Brian Wildsmith, James Mayhew, Nicola Bailey, Angela Barret, medieval artists, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Frida Khalo, Shaun Tan, Rebecca Dautremer, Charles Tunnicliffe. Many more.

"The wild swans"
Image forms imagination. When you paint do you think that images will come alive in the imagination of children?

I hope so.

What in an illustrator's relationship with childhood? How much do your childhood memories define your work?

Everything in my life defines and informs my work.

You very often paint animals (bears, rabbits, owls). What is your relationship with them? 

I love animals, wild places, and wild things. When I paint animals I am trying to catch a part of their soul. Horses. I want to paint more horses.

"Something about a bear"
Do you believe that a new illustration can be a different approach/ interpretation of the same story?

There are as many different ways of interpreting a story as there are people. More. Because we all change and grow. So this story meant one thing to me when I was young, more now that I am older. And it will change again.

In what degree does the environment you live in influence your painting? If you lived somewhere else would you paint the same way?

I live here because there is space. In cities I find the crowds, even at night, difficult. All those people in such a small space dreaming their loud dreams. I need to see a dark sky, stars, to see the moon change, the star patterns turn with the world.

***


[1] This painting was inspired by a sculpture of Mister Finch, textile artist in the UK. It was produced by Jackie Morris "for an organization in the USA, Kids Need to Read,  who works to get books into the hands of children who don’t have access to them, for numerous reasons, mainly poverty". Every year she produces a piece of work for this organization. 
[2] For any information concerning Jackie 's books, have a look here.

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