Gabrielle Rose was born in 1983, in Texas. Her published works include collaborations with Josh Tierney, participation to Narcisa’s gallery, etc. She is open for commissions.
Old Book Illustrations: Many of your drawings look like they are illustrations to actual stories or tales. Do you sometimes have one in mind as the starting point for a drawing, even if only as a blurry reference? Or does visual stimulation come first, one character, one graphic element calling for the next one?
Gabrielle Rose: Generally I’d say I have some sort of vague narrative in mind when I draw something. This was especially true when I was younger, as I think it is for most children. Children don’t seem to draw things in isolation. There’s always a story in children’s drawings. I still think that way, but instead of drawing something happening on the page I like to focus on the in-between moments, leaving the viewer to wonder what happened before or what will happen after. In that way I think the viewer becomes more invested in the picture because their interpretation of it becomes very personal, very unique. However, sometimes I just feel like drawing something specific, like gnarled trees or mysterious girls, in which case I’ll just draw it, unconnected to any narrative.
OBI: You have developped a style of your own, which mixes two very different techniques: one is watercolour on wet paper, which is rather spontaneous and not always totally predictable, and the other one is ink and pen, which one would place at the other end of the spectrum – very controlled and planned ahead. Can you tell us how this came about, and how you deal with both these aspects of your art?
G R: Well, I used to draw exclusively in ink as many of the illustrators I admire made beautiful ink drawings. I was scared of applying color to my line work! I didn’t want to mess up something I had worked meticulously on. Eventually I started adding watercolor to my ink drawings, a little at a time, and now I’ve embraced it. Watercolors were what I had on hand at the time. I like them because you can paint over the india ink which will still show through. I do enjoy the unpredictability of watercolor. Once I learned to apply the paint and then leave it alone, it was like a whole world of possibilities opened up for me! I love the organic-looking textures that happen when the paint hits wet paper.
OBI: On your blog you mention children’s book illustrators, such as Kay Nielsen and Arthur Rackham as a major artistic influence. Can you track this influence back to your own childhood, or did you discover them later, as a teenager or a young adult?
G R: I grew up with Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, and Tomie DePaola, and I discovered Rackham and Nielsen as a teenager. In my house we had a book containing the complete fairy tales of the brothers Grimm, and I always liked looking at the black and white illustrations by John B. Gruelle. I started to seek out other fairy tale illustrations, and that led me to discover the artists associated with the Golden Age of Illustration. Nowadays it seems that there are so many mediocre children’s books, so I really admire the artistic ability of these illustrators and their beautiful gift books from the early 20th century.
OBI: You also tell us, in that same blog post, that the themes inspiring you now might come from the fears that you experienced as a child. Were those fears related to natural phenomenons, like storms, night, etc, or to more social ones? And is this something that you might be tempted to explore more specifically, in a way that could influence your work in the future?
G R: Oh, I was afraid of lots of things, from the tangible to the abstract, from cancer to death to ghosts. At some point maybe in middle school I just decided that I wasn’t going to be a scaredy cat anymore. Really I think I was just outgrowing those fears. But I’ve never forgotten how it felt to be scared; there’s something really poignant about childhood fears, and I find myself drawing on (no pun intended!) those feelings often. I imagine I always will. It’s hard to put those feelings into words, so I attempt to convey them through my drawings. In fact, I think that might be one of my goals in making art: conveying feelings that are difficult to articulate. I’ll definitely continue to explore these feelings and ideas.
All the pictures included in this article are copyrighted to Gabrielle Rose.
If you would like to be the illustrator featured in this section, please read our guidelines.