Tag Archives: jo brocklehurst

Gallery visit: Jo Broklehurst and Quentin Blake

This weekend I visited The House of Illustration to see the above two exhibitions. 

Brocklehurst’s work was new to me. It was great to see an artist focusing on unconventional subjects. A lot of her work was large format pastel, quite sparing in how she filled the paper with more focus on line than shading which I am now keen to try and has given me confidence with larger formats which my tutor has encouraged. 

You can tell she studied life drawing from how well she draws the figure, and her background in fashion shows in the swaggering poses she captures – presumably executed at speed if she was working in nightclubs. I liked her unusual mix of media and colours too – paint and pastel, neon, metallic and uv paint as well as a range from muted to garish colours depending on her subject. Below are a few pieces I found particularly interesting that show this. It was encouraging to see her pale blue lines where she sketches out forms first before committing using a darker colour on the first two below which are large format pastels. 

As someone who costumes for charity, her approach to art as performance with her Alice in Wonderland pieces has given me ideas about how I might be able to draw my fellow costumers before and after events. 

I adored the Quentin Blake exhibition which was a selection of bird drawings. I tried to identify the media used before looking at the hand guide and was pleased I got it right in all cases. I was surprised he uses watercolour pencils as I always thought these were perhaps a poor  relation to painting and drawing ‘properly’. I love the uneven, loose way he draws, the amount of expression and emotion he conveys with such sparing lines. I grew up loving his work and characters from things like The Muppets and The Labyrinth. Inspired, I did two cartoon sketches this weekend in Blake’s style. The first is the winner of the worlds hairiest man competition, inspired by an idea in a book about illustration. The second is my friend and I having a coffee after the gallery visit. 

When drawing these I was beaming from ear to ear and laughing which doesn’t happen when I work in other styles. Joyous, I’d say is the right word for how this style makes me feel. It’s ironic I can’t loosen up when I’m doing what I previously saw as ‘proper’ drawing – a view that has changed since studying Blake’s work which may look simple but is not. 

My daughter and husband laughed and really liked my illustrations. I loved that I could bring them pleasure in this way. My husband says I have a great sense of humour and keen observational skills. I feel this style is where I belong and am at my happiest. This may also be due to its immediacy as it feels I have a mountain to climb with eg pastel. I was able to use skills practised on this course in both drawings below e.g. perspective.

The surprising outcome is I think I will be more suited to the illustration modules of the degree course so I will investigate their content and see if this is the case.