I see the world as a universe of giant forms
Illustrations by Alenka Sottler
Alenka Sottler, illustration for a fairy tale from Ghana, "Keep Your Secrets,"
in Svetovne pravljice (World Fairy Tales) (Nova revija, 2004), b&w tempera on paper
Here's her bio:
Alenka Sottler (b. 1958, Slovenia) was born into a creative family and began her art practice early on, as a child by the side of her father, an academic sculptor. Later she pursued her formal university education in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, at both graduate and postgraduate levels.
A prolific author, she has illustrated more than forty books for children and adults. She has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards, and has exhibited widely at home as well as abroad.
I asked Alenka to describe her technique:
Essential for my creative process is the ability to use extreme simplification, which opens up surprising worlds and a space for creative play. I am lead by the joy of discovering the new, a respect for the material and its nature.
I produce seemingly extremely complex visual forms in an astoundingly simple manner. In my drawings I behave like someone who partakes in nature’s processes. I find an interesting abstract structure. I grasp its visual essence and its hidden logic. I add to it with its own laws of growth.
For example: What a beautiful trace a metal comb makes if you pull it across some fresh black paint on white paper. I understand that the strong impression is created by the multitude of parallel thin black and white lines, which wind across the surface of the paper. In this abstract space I see the scene. Using a brush, that creates the same fine lines in black or white paint, I add to the structure..., which then grows into a new organism—an illustration, and eventually into a book, perhaps. I begin from any kind of structure—see my letter illustrations for instance. In this process, I am influenced by the concept of evo-devo evolutionary developmental biology which is concerned with the formation of organisms. Recent discoveries bring to the visual world totally new dimensions and relationships between the large and the small. I see the world as a universe of giant forms, constructed from an endless amount of repetitious identical particles, rebuilt with the same meticulousness as the large ones, and I draw these through my illustration.
In this post I feature Alenka's work for children's books. In the near future I'll focus on her work for adults.