Quentin Blake is most definitely one of my alltime favourite illustrators. As a child I devoured all Roald Dahl’s books. I feel this is not only Dahl’s merit. Blake’s drawings are essential to Roald Dahl’s colourful stories. I truly admire how he is able to grasp a character with only a few strokes.
A few years back I watched a documentary about him. I wish I hadn’t… It ruined the magic in a way. (If you’re a big Quentin Blake fan too and you don’t want to risk ruining the magic then don’t watch the video below and stop reading.)
I’d always loved the spontaneousness of his drawings, little did I know … Blake says to do ‘a freewheeling sort of drawing that looks as though it is done on the spur of the moment. However even a single drawing needs a certain amount of preparation and planning’. I have to admit his lightbox technique is really genius, and actually I often use a similar technique. In a way, I’m also glad he shared his working method. In my magic fairytale-version of reality I assumed that this genius drew his drawings with his eyes closed. Now I’ve learned that also a genius has to put time and effort into his illustrations for them to excel, which is a comfort to a hobbyist like me.
Anyway, I was in Cambridge in April and I couldn’t believe my luck. There was an exhibition titled ‘Drawn by Hand’ that looked at individual works he had produced in the past decade: book illustrations, etchings, lithographs, drawings and works done for hospitals in various and contrasting media. The work was accompanied by a display of pens, brochures, inks, watercolours, quills and other materials from the artists studio. Nele accompanied me, and I don’t know about her, but I had a field day.