Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cluster; peak; overload . . .

Whatever you choose to call it, I'm a bit busy this month. But feast and famine is a fact of life when you're freelance – and the upside is that I work in a lovely studio with 'studio assistants', I can hear the birds singing outside, the radio is tuned to Radio 4 and when I do take a break I'm only a few steps away from the garden and the under gardeners.

When people discover that I work as an illustrator they often conjure up an image of Beatrix Potter sitting in a flowery field drawing bunnies, well it's not like that and I'm sure even Beatrix worked her socks off to meet a deadline occasionally. When I was at art school the Head of Illustration, John Vernon Lord, brought us down to earth by telling us his first commission had been to illustrate a plumbers' catalogue. I take on all sorts of projects; a rich seam of work comes from English as a foreign language text books – have you ever thought where all those little pictures come from? Well I'll let you into a little secret . . . I draw them. Well, not ALL of them, but over this week and last week and next week I'll draw 234 of them.

There are some things I love to draw . . .

Salad, cake and fruit

Client: Emc Design © Nelson Thornes

Client/© :International Teaching Services

When I was very young I loved looking at a very very special book my Gran owned, it was The Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese Dillmont, with my Gran I tried out the embroidery, knitting and crochet stitches. But it was the illustrations that I loved the most, I spent hours and hours looking at them and can remember them all. I wanted to be the person who drew all those beautiful diagrams.

Dreams can come true – these are for some 'Textiles' worksheets for Key Stage 2 . . .

Tying for dying

Client: Black Dog Design © A & C Black


Client: Black Dog Design © A & C Black

Must get on – today it's beans, biscuits, cereal, cheese, chocolate (need reference for that!), coffee . . .


  1. I love this post - now I have a little cartoon vision of you, stout as B Potter, surrounded by hens, drawing line illustrations of stitches to pay your rent .... except that I prefer the other picture I have of you in a light-filled workroom making woodcuts of your garden and your animals and birds. Both true, probably, except for the stout bit


  2. Doesn't drawing food make you hungry? I'm sure it would me!

  3. Nice drawings, how could it take me so long to find this blog? I'll be adding you to my blog roll.

  4. There is only one thing that is worse than having to work to a deadline and that is having no deadline because of lack of work. As I know only too well!

  5. Those illustrations look as though they were serious fun Celia - and the textile/stitching ones - fabulous! Glad the 'day job' affords some smiles!

  6. As a past user of many an A C Black textbook, I appreciate great illustrations and illustrators. Nice to think of the person behind the picture and thanks for the embroidery book link-I have added it to my list of source material.

  7. I shall think of you as Beatrix Potter in your studio with the assistants and under gardeners now! Lovely illustrations Celia - being an illustrator was always one of my dreams as a child!

  8. Nobody tells you, when you train to teach languages, that in addition to excellent linguistic skills, classroom management skills, the ability to deal with 30 demanding kids at the same time by dividing yourself into 30 bits and dealing with each one individually, bionic hearing, etc., you also need to be a superb artist. This is the skill I am lacking and have always wished I had. Practically every day i would have to draw something on the board and would have to apologise for how little it resembled what I was going for! I have in mind some sets of MFL worksheets I would like to have a go at producing to sell on the internet which would work without illustrations but wouldn't be very user friendly. Can you learn to draw if you have no talent at all? I had a GCSE student once who produced an amazing cartoon strip to remind herself of her prepared talk. She went on to get a first in graphic design at uni.

  9. The embroidery illustrations sent me running down memory lane to my 'Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework' (1940's?) and the much less sophisticated little booklet from which I was supposed to learn from in the 1960s - '29 Embroidery Stitches' (price 4d). Such illustrations are oddly satisfying to look at. I think they show a potential that is within one's reach combined with a reassuring order and neatness which aren't. (At least, not in my case!)

    Lucy Corrander

  10. Hi Joanna - "Both true, probably, except for the stout bit" LOL!!!

    Hi Veg Heaven - stangely it doesn't, but I loved fantasising about that cake!

    Hi Randy - welcome to PPPs :-)

    Hi Acornmoon - I know the feeling, you're either fretting about having no work or fretting about how to cope with the deadlines.

    Hi Silverpebble - thankfully there have been lots of nice things in the art-briefs this time.

    Hi Threadspider - there's a real person behind every picture ;-)

    Hi Gina - Oh dear, I think I've started something by mentioning Ms Potter!

    Hi Pamela - I actually believe evryone can draw, but you have to learn to look and get over your fear ;-)

    Hi Lucy C - those books sound lovely, and your last comment is very perceptive.

    Best wishes


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