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.

Friday 27 March 2015

Gardens Illustrated – my April illustration

The April issue of Gardens Illustrated Magazine has been published, my copy arrived yesterday in the post. The final article in the magazine is always 'The Writer's Plot' by Frank Ronan, it's a coda to the magazine – an end piece, a slowing down, a final chord.

I thought that you'd like to see behind the scenes as I worked on my first illustration as a regular contributor to GI. I'm given about a month to work on the illustration, I have no idea what the subject of Frank's piece will be until it appears in my email inbox. It was only then that I realised it was about Frank's new garden in California!


The editor highlighted the sentence that will be printed larger and in italics under the illustration, also underlined were two latin plant names - Aloe barberae and A. polyphylla. I read Frank's words and looked up the plants on Google, I also found photographs of the other Aloes mentioned.


While I was thinking of compositions I made careful sketches of the Aloes, getting to know their beautiful sculptural shapes. I decided to concentrate on small specimens as pot plants on an English window sill in Winter. The wonderful huge Tree Aloe is depicted on a postcard pinned to the wall - California dreaming.


Once my rough had got the thumbs up from the Art Director, I could start work on the linocut.


The final size would be 90mm wide, the block is 190mm wide, I kept the lines bold as very fine textures would get lost when the illustration is reduced.

 The block

I've decided to print the GI illustrations in a single colour, different for each month. Aloes suggested to me a deep verdigris copper-green.



I needed just one clean crisp proof, hand burnished on smooth white Japanese Hosho, to scan for the final hi-res digital image (on the right, below). After scanning the original print, I adjust and edit the white background in Photoshop to make sure it is perfectly clean – this will mean that when printed, the background of my illustration will be the colour of the magazine page.

I will be printing a limited edition of this linocut, which will be available this Autumn.

I've already finished the illustration for the May magazine and have just started research for the June one. I can't tell you more about those until the magazines are published.



  1. WOW! What a beautiful start. Look forward to seeing more.

  2. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Well done you, really great feel to the piece and of course big is beautiful if it's going to be scaled down for print. (Former print manager speaking here.)

  3. How exciting! And such a beautiful illustration.

  4. What a very special thing to be doing and How lovely to see it come to life through the research and sketches. Brilliant!

  5. Fabulous work on a fabulous subject matter!

  6. Fantastic to see how this came together and a great project to be working on. Good luck!

  7. thank you, the tracing lives, and the luscious colour of the fresh ink. Gives me a fresh love for the aloes growing in my garden, and waiting in pots.

  8. It's good to see the process behind the print. I shall look more carefully now when reading magazines. Fab print.

  9. Fascinating to see how it all came together and lovely to hear about your thought process from the beginning. What a lovely thing to be involved in, I hope you are proud!

  10. Absolutely fascinating to see the process Celia! Well done on your commissioning - I'm looking forward to seeing the others already! Jane x

  11. Celia, I like this print so very much! Your way of incorporating both California and the UK into one picture is very clever, and subtle. too.

    It's so interesting to see the original drawings and how they grew into fully realized images and began to tell an aloe story. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the magazine itself...perhaps it will arrive on the international magazine shelves about the same time that we finally see some spring weather here in NYC. Can you believe it...little snow flurries here today. Goodness!


  12. So much better than a photograph! Thank you for showing the processes.

  13. Those aloes are absolutely gorgeous, congratulations on the feature, it's such a beautiful magazine, I need a subscription soon! Katie x

  14. Great to know the process. Congratulations on the stunning design.

  15. It's a beautiful illustration Celia

  16. That's fascinating! I've seen many of your prints, but not the whole process.

  17. Lovely to follow your process from brief to page. I really like what you came up with :)

  18. Well Celia, I think you've stamped your style onto the page right from the off. I've not picked up a copy yet but I shall look out for it this weekend. The design is so striking and the colourway is perfect. You've captured their sculpted contours so well. Can't wait to see the others that follow!

  19. An enormous cheer from me. HURRAH. I'm utterly thrilled for you and know how prestigious this is. I adore the fractal-like shapes and designs f those aloes. This is a stunning piece and ace to see your process in such detail.

    Let me know if your girls have produced any more blue eggs....

  20. I've changed my blogger image. It's peculiar to see my mush popping up there all of a sudden!

  21. How very beautiful! Lovely to see how you work too.

  22. There's nothing so wonderful as cutting lino and it's really lovely to see your drawings and preparation Celia.
    The green you have chosen is one of my favourite colours too, well done in being published in Gardens Illustrated which is a great magazine.

  23. Very interesting! Do you add your signature to the linocut itself, in reverse, or do you add it to the print afterwards?


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