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 26 June 2015

My illustration for July Gardens Illustrated

Once a month an email arrives from David the Art Director of Gardens Illustrated magazine, with Frank Ronan's text for his article The Writer's Plot. Usually there's a suggestion as to which paragraph I should illustrate. At the end of May the text for July's magazine arrived, David's message read:
Here’s the text for July Frank. It’s mostly about Frank’s cat dying, which is very sad.

I sat down with a mug of tea and read, yes it was sad BUT it's also a beautiful tribute to a rather majestic and loyal cat . . . and the apple tree Frank planted as his memorial.

I decided to start with the apple tree which was in blossom, so I drew some apple blossom from life. As the magazine is about beautiful gardens and plants, starting with carefully observing flowers and leaves seems a good way to find a composition.

The main question was, should I include Hero, Frank's beloved cat? I drew a cat that fitted the description in the text . . . then I worried that it wasn't quite like Hero and what Frank might think.

I considered sending a message to Frank asking for a photo of Hero. 

Then I had a rethink, if Hero was my cat, I'd like to remember him in a doing what he enjoyed . . . wandering the edge of the garden, the common and the hedgerows.

The cat in the illustration can be Hero, or it can be a cat you know or remember.

I printed the linocut in a cool mid blue, I wanted the scene to have a half-light feel when a crepuscular feline might be out walking and stalking.

If you have a copy of the magazine, I hope you enjoy Frank's eulogy for Hero, yes it brings a lump to the throat but I hope my illustration lifts the mood and is a fitting tribute to Frank's dear cat.

As with all my Garden's Illustrated illustrations, I will be producing a limited edition of original print and a range of cards of all the designs, available from 6 months after the magazine publication date.



  1. A perfect solution and beautiful lino cut illustration - as always :-)

  2. What a beautiful illustration, I am sure that that is exactly how Frank remembers him.

  3. It's perfect. My eye was immediately drawn to the cat. It's beautiful.

  4. A lovely and thoughtful way to illustrate a difficult but universal topic - we all lose ones we love - how we remember them matters to how we go on without them.

  5. Dear Celia,

    I agree; my eye was drawn to the cat immediately too. What a beautiful illustration.


  6. wonderful progression in your process too. and the result is perfect, in blue. i'm loving it. n♥

  7. Love it, a hero of a cat for anyone who loves their feline friend,

  8. Heartfelt and beautiful, that's just how I'd want my pet to be remembered, exploring and finding their own path! Katie x


  9. How very touching, such a beautiful and sensitive illustration. I love that blue too.

  10. A lovely picture Celia, and a very thoughtful way to include Hero and the main focus of the magazine as a whole.

  11. A lovely picture Celia, and a very thoughtful way to include Hero and the main focus of the magazine as a whole.

  12. Well done, the tribute could not be bettered, in my opinion.

  13. It is an absolutely stunning piece of art, you accomplished exactly what you've aimed for and the attention's where should be :) I still love the first image of the kitty though, still has a lot of character in it

  14. Celia, I am happy to report that I've now got my copy of the GI issue 222, that features the trimming of the oak tree in your splendid illustration. Your talent at creating the perspective in the picture from the observant bird in the forground to the fellow perched on his own branch, saw in hand, to the open view beyond is beautifully realized. I am always awed by your linocuts.

    Now, on to this current Hero design. It is a beauty. Seeing those original preparatory sketchbook drawings and paintings really does allow us to follow the progress of your thinking through the project's concept.

    It's fascinating to me to see how the design takes form and your linocut begins to tell a story that compliments Mr Ronan's words so well. You all have created a very lovely tribute to dear Hero.


  15. Oh this is beautiful C , and rather touching. I love the view of the cat in the distance and the blossom in the foreground is exquisite - it has hints of Morris and of Tudor embroidery.

  16. Your illustration is beautiful, I always enjoy seeing your process and the way you design each element.

  17. Celia - you continue to inspire and amaze. I simply adore all your works. Were it my cat I would treasure this magazine story and your linocuts x

  18. It's a beautiful illustration, Celia, and it reminded me of the cat we lost on the last day of May... I'm sure Frank recognized his Hero.

    I loved reading about the whole process of finding out what your assignment is and thinking how to illustrate it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.



I love reading all the comments (except for spam and advertising which I will delete) and I'll reply here in the comments under each blog post, it may take a few days if I'm busy.
You don't need to have a blog to leave a comment, you can select the name/URL option and fill in just your name instead of a blog link.