Art Quarter Interview

Would you share something about yourself with us? What’s your education background,

your creating style, etc.?

I love my watercolors and I love flowers, even more than art history, books (and chocolate).

My father taught me the love for plants and it was him who gave me the first box of watercolors,

I was five years old and since then I have never left them. I graduated in Art of the Printing and

Graphic Design and then in scenography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples. For years I

worked as a graphic designer and for theater as a costume designer, assistant director, set

designer and later as interior designer. But what I wanted to do was illustrate fairy tales and

write them myself. Together with drawing and painting, books and stories are my great passion.

So I took a master

degree in illustration and published a dozen of children's books, some written

by me, in Italy and abroad.

My style was formed around the work of great watercolorists like

Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and Lisbeth Zwerger, with whom I studied for a short time in

Venice.

 

What are your creating materials/tools?

Watercolor is my technique, but I am really into pencil and with ink and nib draw. In the past

my watercolor illustrations were often contaminated by other techniques such as pastel or

collage, while presently for the botanical painting the watercolor is pure, it is used by the

lightest washing up to the most defined of the details.

 

When did you start to create in your current style? How did you develop it? Why are you

fascinated by birds and flowers?

Throughout my studies and my entire carrier I have kept some sketchbooks to design, take

notes, write, but mostly to paint several natural elements. They have been not only a useful

exercise and a great pleasure, but at a decisive turning point in my private life flowers, plants

and nature have been a new field to explore. Drawing and naturalistic painting have become a

new creative challenge for me and a peaceful place to let my brushes move. I started to practise

seriously with regard to shapes and techniques due to the fact that I discovered botanic

watercolour to be very different to how I was used to know it. Indeed, I studied thoroughly,

practised a lot, trying to find a balance between scientific fidelity and my personal style, in order

to respect the care and definition required by botanic watercolour. At this point in life, begin to

carefully observe the nature turned out to be for me, a very internal path. You get in touch with

a beauty source, so pure and mysterious, to be completely charmed. Even the most common

flowers are incredibly perfect vital devices and the birds are intriguing and marvellous creatures.

 

What is the general size of your work? How long does it take to paint one, generally? Which part of the process takes the most of time?

In botanic painting there is a tendency to respect the actual measure of the subject and in

general I do prefer little dimensions, the ones that require a precise willing of the observer in

watching. My sketchbooks’ pages are generally small and the maximum size of the plates is

35x50 cm. Although these are just sketches or studies, they are very detailed and for this reason

if I can’t manage to finish them outdoors, I take the specimen with me and I complete the work

at home. The large and more complex works take several days to be finished, partly because I

spend time painting just some hours in the morning and some in the afternoon. The colour is

the most demanding and the longest part during the realisation of a botanic plate. I work up to

the smallest fold of a petal, to the lights and shadows of a single tiny stamen.

 

Do you produce commercial works? When you do, how do you shorten the time it take?

How do you handle it if customers want to make changes?

I worked a lot in advertising and publishing too, but now I produce high quality prints of my

botanical works, postcards and a board game that I sell in the shop of my website and on Etsy.

There are always exact deadlines that must be met regarding both deliveries or shipping.

Furthermore, in my opinion to achieve a result of a good level, the execution times cannot be

shorten, it’s the effort taken that must be multiplied! I love receiving private commissions, but

most of all to get to know, to talk with and to understand exactly the desires of the people that

appreciate my work and wish to have it in their homes. Obviously it’s possible that some clients

request some changes, therefore I always provide them a very detailed preliminary sketch, with

various options in order to offer a wider choice. I would like everyone that decides to invest in

my work to be satisfied at least as much as I am in painting it.

 

Would you describe your typical day?

I wake up at 6.50 AM to prepare breakfast for my daughter and after she leaves for school, I

do prepare a cappuccino that I sip while writing or drawing a sketch. I have been writing at least three pages, every morning for many years now, indeed it is an activity which frees mind and prepare yourself for creativity. After some routine activities I work at my desk, outdoors (I live

near a river) or on my roof garden, looking for plants to portray. I continue working until lunch

time, to restart then in the afternoon, compatibly with the activities carried out with my

daughter. After dinner, when it’s possible I watch films (I adore cinema) or I read until I fall

asleep. During weekends my routine changes, I often travel by train, I search for exhibits or

interesting events or I go seeking for books (I could spend entire days in a bookshop), I see my

friends for a pizza or a glass of wine. When my daughter is away I love staying at home and

dedicate my time entirely to my projects. As soon as I can, I fly to London, where another part of

my heart lives and there I often draw in Kew gardens and I spend most of my time in museums.

Wherever I go I always bring a sketchbook with me.

 

What’s(re) your next plan(s)?

I am working on two projects that are very dear to me, a children book and another on

creativity, which will collect together my past and most recent work experiences. One will be

accompanied by a greater dose of poetry, while the other will be more practical, but both will

have in common love and amazement that only nature can gift. Moreover I am preparing for an

important botanical art exhibition.

giacomina ferrillo illustrazioni, all rights reserved

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