'The place where inspiration hits the page running... A sketchbook to fail and reflect on my work and my process'

Monday, 7 December 2015

Evening Course Loveliness

I have been running an evening course over ten weeks from Sept-Dec this year at Plymouth College of Art. I was signed up to do the whole year of beginners through to advanced but sadly living in Falmouth and teaching in Plymouth all day and night meant the journey home was too much and was impacting on my professional work, so I had to step away and let someone else take the mantle.

The students were incredible, in that they were all eyes open and ready to give anything a go. They turned up each week, showed their sketchbooks and homework tasks set each week and generally got stuck in. Some were more advanced in their practice and had more to show each week, but those who had less time and a less developed practice equally had so much to show, maybe not in quantity but in confidence as the weeks went on. It was like watching a caterpillar unravel into a beautiful fully fledged butterfly. Everyone showed so much more than I had imagined. There was vulnerability, laughter, sharing, caring, exploring and more than anything a curiosity and drive to create and be inspired.

It has been a learning curve for me also, as I have never crafted a 10 week course on my own and after a few misdirections and a few misunderstandings in the lead up, I met the students on the first night with a workshop from the previous course and promptly scrapped the schedule and started again, with only them,their abilities and needs in mind moving me forward. Knowing then that I had to teach what I knew and understood Illustration to be, from the ground up.

Each week was sketched out and then homework and workshop task sheets were designed and written up the week before in order to keep it fresh. I realised that it had to start with the basic development of what they had already. To encourage and enhance the foundation of their own individual practices with workshops that I thought would generally appeal to all, but offered them tools and new techniques to take home and develop into their own practice and in their own way of working. They did not disappoint. The results were brilliant.
Their homework was great, their sketchbooks full and their faces smiling.
I set them one homework to produce one black and white image in proportion to A5, so I could get them printed so we could bind them into our own books, helped by Mel Brown, who showed us a lovely Japanese stab bind. Below are some of my favourite pieces of work I managed to get photos of, inc the book we made. I will add more when I get a chance.

They all said they had nothing to offer, I beg to differ and I hope you do too.





Belita-I can't draw
Susie -loves detail






Monday, 26 October 2015


I’m in my studio working on my own work for the first time in months. With no reason other than to follow my intuition and the drive to make. I feel an urge that will not be satisfied until I have created something of worth. This of course could happen today, tomorrow or in months, years time. But still I continue, without real knowledge of when, but strongly with the faith that it will happen. I feel almost overwhelmed by the urge I am feeling to chase a feeling of joy and fulfilment in my work. Sometimes I get close and even feel like it is here, finally, I’ve reached the ‘Holy Grail’, and then it fades and it starts all over again. The quest to follow, to find, to search, never dissipates. And when I am tied up in life, in work and have no time for myself, the feeling is pushed into my heart like a hamster stocking up for winter. I can’t help but feel this intense pressure boiling up inside.
But today I am working, and the feeling is intensifying like no other day I have had of late. I feel like my body and mind are suppressing my heart but in the same breath allowing my hands to feel the way forward, through the dirge of my mind. It is through my hands that I must make sense of a situation. Listening to Eno, erasing all distractions of words, of form, or reason, my hands are talking and creating once more… they are home. My words flowing through my fingers, I must get back to my hands, to breathe, to create, to colour my world.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Teaching and Artists and Illustrators magazine

Well what a year! Lots happening and I'm taking on a lot more teaching. Currently working on a two day Illustration course with Georgie from Pirrip Press for Newlyn School of Art. I've taken on another day at Plymouth College of Art, teaching the second and third years Illustration BA this year. Along with running my own evening course in Illustration from Sept at PCA also.
Along with illustrating the books still, but there is good news. I had an article in the Artists and Illustrators magazine this month. It's such a great article. Jenny White wrote it and did such a lovely job, and I only met her once. So have a look and a read and I'll add more next week.

The words are here..it's a bit long in this format sorry!

Look for Caroline Pedler’s work online and you may
conclude that there are two artists with the same
name: one, a prolific and versatile illustrator of
children’s books and the other, a bold painter of fine
art in the spirit of Cy Twombly and Antoni Tàpies.
These are, in fact, two sides of the same person.
The Truro-born artist has created bright and colourful
illustrations for some 50 children’s books, yet over the past
four years she has also developed her own darker, more
personal style of painting, too. And rather than dividing her
time or one taking preference over the other, these two
strands have instead enriched her practice and given her
an outlet for all sides of her personality.
Caroline’s remarkable double-edged career began with
her studying illustration at Falmouth School of Art and the
University of Portsmouth, before she took time out to go
travelling to Hong Kong, Bali and Australia. Those
experiences abroad transformed her palette and helped
to kick start her career as a professional illustrator. “It was
so colourful out there that when I came back and created
my portfolio, it was full of colour,” she says.
In 1997, Hallmark Cards sat up and took notice, and
Caroline has since been in continuous employment, first
creating greetings cards and then illustrating children’s
books. The popularity of her work for stories such as David
Bedford’s Bedtime for Little Bears! and Julia Hubery’s
A Friend Like You has resulted in 30,000 
Caroline Pedler-illustrated
books being borrowed from libraries in the last
year alone. Likewise, in her pretty home just outside
Falmouth, the bookshelves groan with dozens upon dozens
of different titles – a riot of colour, fun and imagination.
Many of the books that Caroline has worked on, including
the recent Badger and the Great Storm, have been
published by Little Tiger Press, who she credits with helping
to develop her style. “When I started out, my illustrations
were all drybrush and very heavy,” she explains. “Little
Tiger worked with me quite hard to get me to loosen up.”
These days Caroline switches between styles
effortlessly, tailoring her approach to different
commissions. Surprisingly, however, this is not something
she recommends when teaching students at Newlyn
School of Art. “I’m always telling my students not to have
too many styles, but it’s worked to my favour in that I do
get bored doing the same thing every time,” she says.
That versatility took another leap forward in 2009
when she decided to undertake an MA in illustration and 
authorial practice at Falmouth University, partly with a view 
to writing her own books. “I needed something to change
and I went onto that MA thinking I would write [my own]
children’s book. I’ve been illustrating other people’s books
for 16 years now and I sometimes can’t help but think that
I would write the stories differently. I also felt it would be
nice to have the proper me in my books. What actually
ended up happening was that the MA opened up a
completely different side of me.”
That side is free, sometimes anarchic, and often darker
than her bright, cheery illustrations. Caroline used it to
explore work more in keeping with some of her artistic
heroes, including the aforementioned Twombly and Tàpies,
as well as the likes of Robert Rauschenberg, David
Hockney, Mary Newcomb and contemporary illustrator
Laura Carlin. To provide an outlet for the work, the Cornish
artist has founded her own imprint. “I’ve called it An-ti-dote
Press, because all the work I do off the back of my MA is an
antidote to my commercial illustration work. I love doing the
bright illustrations but I need that to be able to do this
other work. At the moment, it’s nice having the two sides
to what I do.”
Printed in editions of just 25 each, her self-published
books stretch the boundaries of contemporary illustration,
frequently crossing over into fine art. Some of them are
best described as picture books for grown-ups, while
others point towards the way she would like to write
children’s books.
The subject matter is diverse across the six titles
released so far. The Extra-Ordinary Events of Walking The
Dog is a relatively straightforward daily journal of walks in
the local fields and coastal paths, while the more surreal
catalogue The Royal Beasts of Bialowitza sees bears
emerge from wild and messy brushstrokes or sit in dainty
teacups. It’s clear that the books have allowed Caroline to
give her imagination and creativity free rein. “I make time
for this work between books,” she says. “When a book is
finished, I’ll treat myself: I’ll tidy the studio and then just
scruff around in my sketchbooks.”
It’s a welcome release from the rigours of the illustration
work. In the past 12 months Caroline has completed no
less than five books, which has required her to complete
a double-page spread on average every single working day.
“I start each day early and don’t really stop until I’ve
finished. If the illustration is a bit more detailed it will take a
little bit longer. The only downfall of the commercial work is
the deadlines. Sometimes you’re working until midnight
then up again in the morning and doing the same again.”
However, it would be simplistic to say that her newfound
way of working is the real Caroline Pedler and that her
commercial work is just pretence. “There is a lot of me in
my commercial work,” she says firmly. “It is very influenced
by Watership Down, Disney, Winnie the Pooh – all those
things from my childhood. My drawings can be very much
like that – it’s one side of me.
“The way I write, however, is naturally is more poetic;
there is space in there, it’s a bit more ambiguous.
I’m beginning to feel there’s a proper divide between that
and the commercial work, and I suspect that the children’s
books I want to do will fit more in the fine art side than into
the commercial side.”
In keeping with this fine art slant, Caroline has begun to
exhibit her work now, including a solo show at Penzance’s
Newlyn Art Gallery last October. She plans to show her work
at the Affordable Art Fair too. “I’m going to see what comes
from that and also just keep feeding the website that
features that work, with the aim of making it strong
enough to pay its own way.”
An-ti-dote Press will play an important part in
documenting these ongoing developments, as she intends
to produce a book after every exhibition. “Each book is like
a full stop, a punctuation mark at the end of the show, and
a prize for creating that body of work.”
Caroline is currently in the process of creating a large
studio in her back garden, which will enable her to move
her work into a bigger space. It’s a shift that chimes well
with her expansive mood and the sense that she has
started to explore a newer, bigger creative landscape.
That said, she still treasures her commercial illustration
work, and it looks likely that this will benefit from her
creative experiments rather than being overtaken by them.
Earlier this year she went to the Bologna Children’s Book
Fair in Italy with Little Tiger Press and the experience was
a highlight of her long and productive career to date. “I felt
so proud to be part of this whole thing, and I don’t think I
would ever want to stop doing children’s books,” she says.
“This is something I love: I love the process, I love the
thumbnails, I love seeing the finished product. It’s always
“As for the other work,” she adds, tantalisingly, “I may go
down the path of publishing something very different under
a pseudonym.”
Establishing two parallel careers in both fine art and
illustration is no mean feat, but it is one that this talented
individual appears more than able to balance beautifully
for many years to come.

Friday, 10 July 2015

It's been a good year already

 Well 2015 has been busy already, with a few more bits planned for the rest of the year. I decided to go solo to Paris on the way through to Bologna for the children's book fair, which was incredible. It was a sketching trip for me and a test to see if I would enjoy it and get anything from it also...and I did. So meeting up with a friend of a friend and spending the evening with her. Drinking cocktails, chatting, laughing, walking, having dinner, seeing the sights at midnight, and drinking some more. What a treat! and in Paris! I spent one whole day traipsing the streets of Paris looking at art. It was just lovely, and tiring, but a real reboot to the senses. Les Cahiers Dessines at Halle ST Pierre. The YIA show in Bastille. The Picasso Museum was stunning, and just general arty goings on, along with a visit to the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop over the river.

Bologna was more than I imagined in an emotional way. I was tired after the close fitting flights and delicious late night eating and drinking of one night, but to see Monty and the Little Tiger team, and to get to know them all over dinner over two nights was so much fun. They looked after me, and I appreciated every ounce of my journey to Bologna. To see my work up among all the talented illustrators in the whole mammoth event that was the Bologna Children's Book Fair was so rewarding after always being shut off in my studio at home. To travel into the city for a few hours, to sketch, to have an Italian ice cream, to speak to the Italian bus driver who was so willing with his sign language, to have lunch with a beer, to have sun shine on my face in March and to get a little lost on the way home, finding the small streets and hidden gems. To end with a midnight feast in great company, to then get up a few hours later to start the journey home. It floored me for a week afterwards, but it was so worth it all. A memory I will repeat soon I hope. Maybe somewhere new, some other time.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Lots of goodies to post

Just a short post for now, but the first thing is my new facebook page. Pop over to Caroline Pedler Art & Illustration page here.

I have a few pics up for now and more to come. Keep checking in for giveaways and new posts, news etc.