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.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Illustration for the Telegraph Gardening section

to paraphrase Jane Austen . . .

It is a truth universally acknowledged that nice commissions come along when you are already up to your neck in work!

It was late on Tuesday after that I got the email from the Daily Telegraph's creative director, there was no time to dither the deadline was the following Wednesday afternoon. Yes or No? Overload or miss a juicy commission?

I said yes.

The brief was to illustrate an article about growing edible plants in a shady garden. It was for the front page of the Gardening section of the Saturday Daily Telegraph. I found a previous week's copy and stuck a print out of the designer's layout on the front. The design could break out of the top and slightly overlap the header, I also noticed the bottom of the illustration wouldn't be visible when the paper is folded in half.

I then researched the plants mentioned in the article and did sketches. By Wednesday evening I'd come up with a design - this was a relief as I wouldn't be in my studio on Thursday. However after sleeping on it, I awoke the next morning with an alternative idea! So after frenzied scribbling while eating my porridge I supplied an alternative design as well. And this was the one the creative director liked best. (Moral: always sleep on a design before submitting it!)

Thursday evening . . . I drew a more detailed version of the design and traced it onto the lino ready for cutting on Friday.

Friday was spent carving the lino! I was determined to get it done by 6pm as we were going out for supper and then to a Katherine Ryan gig. Gosh I was tired! but the laughing was a great distraction.

Saturday . . . I printed the lino. A few tweaks and once I had one good impression that was it - hung up to dry.

Sunday was Mothering Sunday - my Mum came to lunch and tea and I did lots of cooking (and eating)

Monday . . . now for more colours . . . the brief was to emphasise the shadiness of the garden by using dramatic blocks of colour. I scanned the printed image (thank goodness for my new studio toy - an A3 scanner) and settled down to work in Photoshop.

Each colour is on a separate layer and is set to 'multiply' with the other layers. The result is just like printing layers of transluscant ink over the scanned linocut. Radio 4 on iPlayer and a mug of tea are also essential.

And there it was finished. 'Just' the last "flight-checks" and the image whizzed by email to the newspaper on Monday evening.

And here it is in this morning's paper . . .

I was pleased with the colours, they looked so zingy on the screen but printed on newsprint they are muted but still bright enough. And the folded paper shows the shady garden and then turn over to see the small sunny area utilised to grow salads in a raised bed and herbs in pots (great idea)

And opened out, here's the illustration in full . . .

If you can't get to read the paper, Lia Leendertz's article is in the online Telegraph (my illustration is only in the print edition) and it's full of interesting ideas for growing edible plants in a shady garden.

Now, what was I doing before I was interrupted! A commission for a music festival programme, a local landscape print and May's Gardens Illustrated magazine illustration. I'll need a holiday in April!

And I haven't yet blogged about the March Garden's illustrated linocut . . . that was an interesting challenge! I'll tell you about that in my next blog post.

Before I finish . . .
on my website I've updated the news and events page, there are some new stockists and in the online shop my Gardens Illustrated linocuts are now available as prints and cards (more are being added over the coming weeks/months).

In my shop you can use the discount code MADMARCH16 to get 15% off your purchases of prints and cards (offer ends midnight on 31 March)




  1. It looks amazing! Well done to fit in all that hard work around other life doings, it looks well worth it. xx

    1. Thank you Jess, to think I stopped working for educational publishers for a quiet life!

  2. It's a glorious design that you've created and it looks wonderful on the front of the supplement. Well done you!

    1. Thank you Su, I'm relieved it printed well and turned out as I hoped.

  3. It is fabulous Celia. Good to be busy!

  4. What a crazy schedule!! but how exciting, and it looks lovely :)

  5. Wow what a whirlwind but a great result. Your illustration looks beautiful.

  6. Really beautiful illustrations- and so interesting to see the background work involved. I love them! Well done.

  7. well done Celia! Commissions are like buses..they come all at once. I don't like to miss them though...as they may take you on an unmissable journey!q

  8. Celia, I am so happy that your wonderful prints are bringing you more and more commissions. I suspect that you will continue to be quite busy, as more and more folks are able to see your talent!

    The Telegraph Gardening Supplement first page is gorgeous. I want to find a way to grow vegetable in the shade...even without a garden. Surely lots of UK gardeners were drawn to that article and will have enjoyed your picture so much.

    Bravo to you on the other commissions, too. And...it's grand to see what's now available in your shop!


  9. Oh Gosh Celia that blog post rattled along at a frantic pace... just like your timetable. Whew! What a great illustration and I am ashamed to say I've still got parts of Saturday's paper to read, so I'll remedy that now and give the image a good scrutinising. Well done you. Success breeds success. As it should be!

  10. It looks terrific; you do so much I wonder that you have any time to yourself.

  11. What a lovely juicy commission!
    What a great solution to it too - and great you used the zingy colours and not a pastel palette. So pleased for you it all turned out well.

  12. You are amazing...The illustration looks great. Congrats on the gig, and for pulling it together so quickly. Very inspiring : )

  13. Celia, this is amazing...love all the different stages you have to go through :) xxx


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