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

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

It's been a while!

I haven't posted on here for so long. Lots has happened, good and bad, but I have been working hard to make my art and my practice work in the most authentic, efficient and most enjoyable way.
The most recent event was an exhibition at the Cornwall Contemporary Gallery in PZ in Cornwall, here in the UK. I completed a collage for a whole year, 366 days of the leap year of 2016. They started out in a skethbook and then as time went on, the sketchbook was impossoble to work in so I chose single pieces of card to work on, all the same size mostly. I hated it and loved it and thought it futile on occasion, but I was deteremined to carry it through. I had a goal and that goal was to create a style of working that I could make my own children's books in, while having some fun and feeling fulfilled in their content. I have created a bundle of friends that I am happy have on my website. Now to make some stories with them all : ) watch this space. Mammoth, Birdy and Crane are first!

Here's the press release for the show and the reasoning and experience of it.

an-ti-dote – a collage a day for 366 days
Starting out in 2016, Cornish Artist and Illustrator Caroline Pedler set herself a task of completing an image a day for 366 days, (2016 – leap year).

‘The driving force was to create a style that fits outside my commercial children’s books. Producing an image a day, forces you to make, regardless of mood, time, ability and inclination and without distraction.’
The downfall of having to post every day means you are vulnerable to those pieces you are not happy with and uncomfortable about posting, but I knew that if I didn’t post one day, I would lose interest and momentum, so kept going, day after day.
The upside is that I have a new body of work, a new website, new workshops and have generated various streams of interest throughout the year including a publisher or two.’
My goal for 2017 is to create my own children’s book in this style, sourcing from the characters and elements from this 366 project I’m loving the process already and can’t wait to get a publisher involved and get it out there in the world.”
Caroline teaches on a part time basis on BA and MA Illustration at Plymouth College of Art, mentors adult creatives, runs various creative adult and children’s workshops around Cornwall and continues to exhibit her fine art work locally. She has also illustrated over 50 children’s picturebooks, of which the majority, sell in 23 languages, in 28 countries around the world.
I feel proud to have achieved my goal and have reeped rewards beyond my fulfillment in that I have made a new book, greeting cards, I have a new website, an exhibition or two, a childrens book deal, a couple of magazine articles and lots of lovely instagram followers, so a great project and a new way of working. You can see a good range of the collages on www.an-ti-dotepress.co.uk or on @collage_366 on Instagram. Or follow my daily creative life on @cpedlerpics on Instagram.

A couple of the first collages -2016.

Open Studios, Krowji. Dec 2016
The first sketchbook of collages
Exhibition in the Attic Room- Cornwall Contemporary PZ

Getting work ready for the PZ exhibition

Sunday, 19 June 2016

New Horizons

What a year 2016 has been already! Personally for me more than anything, but also I have put a lot of effort into nurturing the style of own, authorial work. It has been hard when I have been on deadline, but I set out to achieve a real sense of ownership over my life this year, with a more honest and fluid core. I am currently going through a huge personal transition, so my energy has been away from my work for a while now and hence no posts since Sept! I am looking forward to the time when my heart and mind are not distracted by the logistics of life, and I can get back into the studio and get out sketching again, find focus and get my creative life back on track.
So, partly inspired by my friend and fellow creative Jo Bradford of Green Island Studios,  I started by setting myself a goal of creating an image a day for a whole year. 365 days, (366 days for 2016). It started off with painting objects, but this became tricky when I wasn't inspired and really struggled with a sense of continuity, and interest, if I'm honest. So with my abstract, fine art work I constantly have paint pallets and bits of card with paint marks and lots of textures on, so I always feel as though that's not the end of the story for them, so I have started using them in my illustration and started cutting them up. Houses just came out of the scissors to paper, so I went with it and then made a print out of them, and that inspired the collage a day from then on.
After a couple of weeks of painting, I continued the task with just collage and so it continues today. I am on day 167 now and some nice bits have been coming out. It has been hard to create them while I have been away, or just having tricky times, but if I know I am away and have no way of doing any collages on location, I will cheat a little and do a couple more at one sitting and post later. I don't do that very often and find it very hard when I'm tired, and sometimes you can really tell, through quality and connection, but there are some nice bits coming out of the project, and I have a new body of coherent work for my website, which is very rewarding. I will have an exhibition somewhere fitting and may even try to get an agent with this work. in January 2017.
I have sold a few pieces to Instagram followers already and a piece at the Newlyn Art Gallery called New Horizons, which for me sends a message that it's all going in the right direction. I hope you enjoy them too and you can see the best of the bunch here and the whole works from the very beginning here and just collage here. Please do comment if you have anything to offer and share away if you feel so inclined as long as my copyright and name is next to it : ) Thanks for reading, I'm off to do day 168! More up to date posts to follow.

First mixed media illustration made from paint palettes

First collage print made from paint palettes

My Instagram account

160ish days in with a few faves

Website screen grab

One of my latest faves, day 135

Day 82
Day 138

My updated website

More recent work

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.