Quentin Blake, a hero of mine

Self portrait by Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake is one of the most prolific and decorated illustrators of our time.  He is best known for his lively illustrations in Roald Dahl books but he has done more, much more. He has over 300 titles to his name and continues to work out of his studio in Kensington.

One of his influences is Picasso, and it’s clear to me why.   Pablo was quoted saying:

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

Sketch by Quentin Blake, (from Cockatoos)

Quentin has kept that child-like energy and purity in his work.  In any artists education a lot of things seem to pull you away from the artistic energy of a child.  Things have to look right, you have to know all the bones, muscles one point, two point and even three point perspective.  Then before you know it the artist, if he’s not careful will become a technician with a pen and not an artist expressing something.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love anatomy and drawing from life and even perspective but these things are merely tools in your tool box. In 2006 the Eric Carle Museum of picture book art published on book on Quentin’s life work called Quentin Blake the Theatre of the Page. The following is an excerpt from the book:

Part-time life drawing classed at the Chelsea School of Art gave Blake a vital understanding of how the body works. But having observed and understood reality, he says, “What’s then important is not to copy what you see, but rather to look away and capture for yourself the balance between what’s seen and what’s imagined, feeling the attitudes and gestures and physically acting them out as you draw.”

These words echo the teachings of another brilliant artist, the late Walt Stanchfield(click here for more on Walt). Walt taught gesture drawing classes for years and years at Walt Disney Feature Animation. One of his students, David Pimentel (click here to see his work), has carried on his torch and teaching methods in his own gesture drawing class.  It was in DP’s (Dave Pimentel) class that I had my Eureka moment as an artist.  I am not bound by what the model is actually doing; I am limited only by my imagination. This is something that is crystal clear in all of Quentin Blake’s work. He defies laws of gravity, perspective and science to make the drawing better.

BFG, by Quentin Blake

Now in his 70’s Blake continues to work and makes regular appearances at book festivals and books signings.  According to his website he has also started an illustration project for hospitals and his work can be seen in the wards and public spaces of several London hospitals and mental health units.

Quentin’s uninhibited style is loose, scratchy. Sometimes people don’t have all their fingers, and sometimes the perspective is skewed or ignored. But his drawings are perfect Melanie McDonagh of the Daily Telegraph said it best:

Blake is beyond brilliant, He’s anarchic, moral, infinitely subversive, sometimes vicious, socially acute, sparse when he has to be, exuberantly lavish in detail when he feels like it…..I’ve never met a child who didn’t love Quentin Blake.”

Quentin Blake.com

-I really recomend taking a peak at his website. Not only is it full of his artwork and background. He also shares his creative process. 


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