contemporary artists/illustrators and the paper maquette

Above and below: maquette of a dragon and a detail of the cover of Glimmerglass for which it was used.

My work-table is presently strewn with paper maquettes of beasts as I bring the cover artwork of Marly Youman’s new novel, Glimmerglass, to completion. So this seems like a good moment to introduce the work of two contemporary artists/illustrators I admire, who also use versions of paper maquettes as part of their processes.

Above: from A Crocodila Mandona illustrated by Marta Madureira. Published by Tcharan. 2010

Marta Madureira is a Portugese illustrator from Oporto. At the most recent count she has sixteen books to her credit, and has been the recipient of many prestigious awards. Her illustrations are in an expressive combination of techniques that include print-making and collage. Madureira also makes wonderful, vibrantly coloured paper maquettes. Here are a few of them.

Above: cover art-work by Marta Madureira for Mocho Comi. Published by Tcharan. 2012

Morteza Zahedi is an Iranian artist and illustrator living in Tehran. He has produced images for several children’s books, and his illustrations have been extensively exhibited at the Bologna Book Fair. In common with my own practice, there would seem to be a connection between Zahedi’s cut-out (maquette) figures, and the painted works that spring from them. (I think it clear, too, that we’re both engaging with issues of positive/negative space, and a kind of pattern-making.) Below I’ve posted images of the artist’s wonderful series of interlocking horses, and some of his maquettes that I think must have been their origins.

Below: Morteza Zahedi maquettes of horses

Just to underline the interests in ‘image dissection’ I share with Zahedi,  here is a stage of maquette-making I took a quick snapshot of in 2012 while working on figures for The Soldier’s Tale. Although this was just an image made for my own pleasure (and for the blog), I carefully laid out the individual pieces to make an interesting composition. Moreover I made further, more randomly interlocking compositions, that I photographed before finally assembling the figure.

Below: to end today’s post, Zahedi’s beautiful cover for his children’s book, 1000 Animaux. Published by RMN

Being an artist can be a pretty solitary occupation. I work alone in an isolated studio in rural West Wales. Every day at my desk and easel I labour away at problem-solving, and my use of maquettes as a part of that process has evolved over a period of just over a decade. It’s interesting to come upon other arts practitioners using techniques similar to my own. All three of us make maquettes as compositional tools, and yet what emerges from the three studios is so diverse, each artist’s work unlike the others.