Πέμπτη, 5 Ιανουαρίου 2017

The portrait of an artist: Kate Leiper

Geese with coifs of rabbit skin

"Kate Leiper is an artist and illustrator based in Edinburgh. Her work has been exhibited in galleries from London to the north of Scotland. Inspired by Scottish folklore, tales from the far East, Shakespeare, and even the lyrics of Noel Coward, her animal drawings, rich in emotion as they are in detail, celebrate stories and bring narrative to life". [1]
 
The Sultan's Pride
Tell us a bit about your life. When did you begin to paint, what made you decide to do illustration? 

I was brought up in a village on the north east coast of Scotland and ever since I was a young child I have loved drawing. I studied art at school and then went onto art school in Aberdeen where I specialized in printmaking. While at art school, I became interested in how narrative was portrayed in pictorial form and often looked to stories, myths and legends for inspiration. I continued on this path once I'd left art school and this naturally led me to illustration.   

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

I enjoy illustrating any narrative, although the work that is published tends to be for fairy stories and traditional tales. For me each illustration project is a unique experience, requiring its own research and planning, and every one will present a challenge that has to be overcome.  
 
The Proud Ram
Is there a text, a book, a fairy tale, a song you would like to illustrate but haven't yet? 

Ovid's Metamorphosis, because it is a great narrative full of fantastic imagery. 

Is there a specific process you follow when illustrating a book? What materials do you usually use?
 
When illustrating I spend a lot of time researching and planning before starting on the finished piece. I mostly work in pastels and occasionally use watercolor and ink for backgrounds. 

Is there a time of the day you prefer to work? Do you always paint at home? 

I am definitely a morning person and I work from my studio which is only a few minutes walk from my home. 

What is on your desk at the moment? 

An old kitchen drawer full of pastel pencils and a Stanley knife for sharpening them. 
Bustopher Jones

Are you currently working on something? 

I am currently working on a commission for a client in Germany.  

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

As I work full time, including evenings and weekends, it is definitely a profession. Up until recently and for the past 20 years, I have always had a part time job to help supplement and income, so although I'm  making a living from it now, I have had to work very hard to get myself to this stage.  

St Cuthbert's Prayer (detail)
Which illustrators (classical or contemporary) have inspired you?
 
Lisbeth Zwerger, Maxfield Parrish, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, Piero della Francesca, Giotto, Helen Ward, Olga and Andrej Dugin, Rebecca Dautremer, Jackie Morris, Jon Bauer.

 
Images form imagination. When you paint do you think that images will come alive in the imagination of children?  

If I'm working on an illustration, I am not really thinking about what is going to appear in the imagination of the viewer as I have no control over this. Instead,  I'm working out how best visual images can work with a text so that they're not duplicating each other, rather than enhancing the narrative.  

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

I don't believe illustration is exclusively for children. In fact, I think that it's rather sad that once you reach a certain age books no longer have pictures. In my experience, adults enjoy images while they read just as much as children do. Therefore I'm not thinking back to my childhood when I illustrate, I'm more focused on how imagery can enhance what is being told in the text.   

In your country, you have an old oral  storytelling tradition. However, nowadays children do not have the chance to listen to stories; they usually read them. Do you believe that an illustrated book is possible to limit their imagination? 

I would disagree that children don't have the chance to listen to stories - bedtime storytelling, audio books, stories read aloud in the classroom are very popular here. 
 
You very often paint animals. What is your relationship with them? Is it easy for you to give them an expression or a feeling, to develop them into characters? 

I love animals and I think that they are a great shortcut route of presenting a set of characteristics, in a similar way to the animals in Aesop's fables  - the fox is cunning, the lion is brave etc. I think that is human nature to anthropomorphize the creatures around us. 
 
You seem to have a strong love for the wildlife, nature. Does the wild lie within us all?   

I have no idea... 
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[1] For any information concerning Kate's work, have a look here
[2] And don't forget to watch this!


 

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