Artists are always asked a few standard questions about their art: ‘What inspires you?’ and ‘Who inspires you?’ Well, I’m still figuring out the complete answers to those questions, but I can tell you that one of the artists I love most is Beatrix Potter.
We’re all familiar with Ms. Potter’s tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, but did you know that in addition to writing the stories we all dearly love, she also created the artwork we adore? She did. One of the first things that drew me to these stories as a child was the artwork- the illustrations of the characters and their settings. I loved the bit of whimsy mixed with real-life features that created the characters, and the stories were just as fun and endearing as the artwork!
As it turns out, Ms. Potter didn’t set out to become an author/illustrator. She was simply filling her time. Ms. Potter came of age during the Victorian era, when young ladies were encouraged to pursue artistic endeavors such as painting, watercolor, music, and needlepoint. Her parents invested in painting and drawing lessons for her as a young teen, and as she advanced in her studies, she became one of the most renowned scientific artists around- drawing diagrams and illustrations of plants and animals that were then used in academic settings. As an adult, however, her artistic pursuits became more personal; she began writing short stories accompanied by illustrations to the children of her dear friends and cousins. These stories became treasured by the children and their families, and soon she was encouraged by them to write full-length stories.
Ms. Potter took it under consideration, and determined that if she were to pursue becoming an author, she would also be responsible for illustrating her stories. So, based upon her childhood pets, she began to weave tales that included morals for young children to learn. She developed characters that were rich in personality and in color. And, despite having to self-publish her first book, she soon found herself in high demand as a children’s author.
I loved her stories as a child; my favorite was always Mrs. Tiggywinkle. But now as an adult and an artist myself, I look at her work and I want to create my own that reflects the world I see when I look at it through her stories: a world with just a touch of whimsy where happiness and love shine through. I want my photography to leave you with just an inkling of a reminder of the lives and stories of Beatrix Potter.
Who- or what- inspires you? Leave me a comment below!