View Full Version : Once upon a time- Beatrix Potter

06-01-2009, 02:03 AM
Welcome to the first of our children's book illustrators projects. I see this is where the female artists turn up!!:thumbsup:

I am kicking off with Beatrix Potter because she is well known, there is a lot of information out there about her life and work, including a movie, and I like her work.:clap:

The idea of the project is to read up about Beatrix, copy some of her illustrations, or do your own Potter-style little animal.

Any size; any medium welcome here. Monthly project.

Here are some web links. Please add any more that you find.


http://www.ortakales.com/illustrators/Potter.html (http://www.ortakales.com/illustrators/Potter.html)

http://www.peterrabbit.com/home.asp (http://www.peterrabbit.com/home.asp)

http://www.beatrixpottersociety.org.uk/files/publications.html (http://www.beatrixpottersociety.org.uk/files/publications.html)


06-01-2009, 02:06 AM
How she started as an illustrator (from web info)

In 1890, encouraged by her friend Canon Rawnsley, she created six sample greeting cards and sent them off to Hildesheimer & Faulkner in Germany. To her surprise, not only did they buy them for £6 but they also requested more. Her first commission was around 1893 for children’s verses by Frederic E. Weatherly called A Happy Pair from Hildesheimer & Faulkner. It included illustrations of rabbits and other animals.

It was about this same time that she began to write picture letters to the children of her former governess. Noel Moore had been sick with scarlet fever so Potter wrote him, “I don’t know what to write you, so I shall tell you the story about four little rabbits, whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter . . .” Seven years later, Potter decided that it would make a good book for children and asked Noel if he still had the letter. Indeed he had and was happy to lend it to her.

Potter’s last little book was published just as she was becoming Mrs. William Heelis of Sawrey on October 15, 1913. She had become a new and independent woman, no longer under the constant scrutiny of her controlling parents. The fantasies that she created were no longer necessary for her as she was no longer lonely.

A few more books were put together in later years, but because of failing eyesight, they were pieced together from sketches and drawings done years earlier and sent off to America to be published with orders for them to never be published in England during her lifetime. She always kept rabbits on her farm so little children wouldn’t be disappointed, and told them that the rabbits were descendants of the real Peter Rabbit.


06-01-2009, 02:07 AM


That's all for now, folks!:heart:

06-01-2009, 09:14 AM
Love Beatrix Potter, I have a whole big book of her stories and illustrations. I'm not too great at drawing animals, but will give her a try.

Here's is a direction she might have gone, and we never would have had her wonderful stories. http://amos.indiana.edu/library/scripts/bpotter.html

06-02-2009, 09:47 AM
June, thanks for starting this one. So what should we do? Copy one of her works or do we draw something along that line? What about copyright issues? It should be okay just for learning, I assume?

06-02-2009, 09:57 AM
Generally speaking, copyright expires 70 years after the death of the artist. But its always a debatable issue. If you are copying for private study purposes only, I believe it is OK to make copies.

Gakinme...its up to you what to post for this project. A copy of one of her children's illustrations; an animal in her style; a new illustration for one of her stories...etc etc.

If you like, you can do one of her botanical or landscape watercolours. If illustrations as per Peter Rabbit are not your interest.

We have all month...:D

06-04-2009, 10:25 AM

'A cup of mouse tea'. 8 by 10 ins, watercolours on paper.

I worked on this today, inspired by Beatrix Potter, but my own design, as you can see.

I need to do a few more to get the 'style' I am looking for. But it was fun to do. I used to do some illustrating years ago.:D

06-04-2009, 11:24 AM
Charming, June. I knew you would be in your element with this project. :) Maybe you can do your own children's little book.

Janet :cool:

06-04-2009, 02:28 PM
Very nice, June. It does have some of her style. Your mice are skinnier. Perhaps they got run ragged by the cat? LOL.

06-04-2009, 04:54 PM
Thanks Janet and Sandra.

06-05-2009, 08:14 AM
Hi, I saw the movie Miss Potter on the plane to Hawaii a couple years ago. It is a good movie. Not inaccurate though the actually scenes are improv.

June that is a charming cup of tea. We have the complete set. Jeremy Fisher is one of our favorites......oh my I can feel the excitement rising....:cat:

06-05-2009, 02:45 PM
Here is the first of my study of Beatrix Potter's work. Yesterday, I was moaning about this Acquarello Fabriano 140 lbs watercolor paper because I was using watercolor pencils. Today, it's much better with just watercolor and a brush.

I have to find a way to erase pen lines. I did too much on its left chest and I put Higgins white in there but it became even murkier. The same with the tail. Walmart ran out of the fine point for acrylic pen.

So I put white watercolor over it and when it dried, I put in minimal pen mark and some color pencil to touch up.


06-05-2009, 02:54 PM
Oh, this is good Sandra. I can see this is going to be a fun project. :)

06-05-2009, 03:27 PM
Thank you, Janet. So does anyone have any suggestion how to erase pen marks on a watercolor piece?

Also, does anyone of you use acrylic inks? I really want to know how you like it compared to watercolor if any of you use it.

06-05-2009, 05:44 PM
That is a gorgeous literary mouse, Sandra!

I've used acrylic inks and they are much brighter and shinier than watercolours and so good if you want that effect.

Have you tried a bit of white gesso over the pen lines to erase them? Or even an ink eraser.

I don't have many Potter books at the momet...maybe one...I think. I used to have a few years ago. I thought I might take a look in the charity shops next week in town as they usually have lots of children's books on sale and there may be a few Peter rabbit and friends.

I like the tale of Tom Kitten and also Squirrel Nutkin. I haven't tried any direct copies of Beatrix Potter animals as yet.

06-05-2009, 06:51 PM
I actually love Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin too. That squirrel nutkin last part was actually quite scary. The other one that's scary was the mouse that got rolled in dough. OMG, how could they do that to food. To think there's a live mouse in my dough....hahahaha...

I don't have white gesso. I have white acrylic. What is an ink eraser? Do you have a link for it please, June. Now that I have started, I'm going to work on a couple more before Delacroix. Too many good things to copy!!!

06-05-2009, 08:18 PM
Edit from above: They rolled a kitten inside the dough, not a mouse. Either way, it wasn't appetizing.LOL.

06-07-2009, 03:50 AM
Ink eraser: I was thinking about those double erasers where you have a white pencil eraser one one side and a grey ink eraser on the other.

You could also try the tipp-ex liquid whitener usually used for erasing typing errors!

Oh yes, you can also try using a craft knife to gently scrape off the top layer if using a thick paper.:thumbsup:

06-09-2009, 02:52 AM
here a doodle I did on a scrap bit of cartridge paper
of a glass we brought in the lakes


it draw in STABILO rollerball pens one morning while I was bore
wait for THE BOSS "wife"


06-09-2009, 06:42 AM
A very cute Peter Rabbit, Ollieowl. Love the movement in his body.

06-09-2009, 10:39 AM

Miss Piggy- Beatrix Potter style!!

I did this copy today and its about 4 by 6 ins. Used the colour very lightly and had to try and adjust the colour in photoshop as my scanner scanned it in rather pinky. So I hope it looks OK.

Don't know which story this happy little pig peeling apples comes from. It was in a book I have called something like 'A first Peter Rabbit book'- which has illustrations of some of Potter's characters but no story-lines. Could it be from Pigling Bland. Anyone got a clue?

06-09-2009, 10:52 AM
Found this link to see inside the story-books and so I am off to have a look for the pig.


06-09-2009, 10:15 PM
ollieowl, very good quick sketch there. Simple yet effective.

June, that pix comes from Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes where there are a few lines to each pix.

Yours went like this:

Gravy and potatoes
In a good brown pot -
Put them in the oven,
and serve them very hot!

I'll be right back with some quick sketches too.

06-10-2009, 12:48 AM
Some practice on Beatrix Potter's work.

This piece I used Japanese brushpen and the pen was too thick for a small image on the left so I did one more on the right.


Not satisfied, I used my disposable fountain pen and did one more.


Now that I am pleased with the lines, I started adding my own stuff to it. Gave it a stove with a hood on top. Top of the line stuff in Potter land. :lol: Gave it an impatient and starving baby.


And a house guest mouse that is in a bad temper. I made this one up in pose and expression.


Tried some mice in a shoe and they didn't pan out.


Finally, took my General's Pastel Chalk to do this piece and outline with 0.25mm along the way. The real colors are softer like pastel, smooth but the scanner couldn't pick up the softness of the yellow and green. I always have great faith in pastel chalk as compared to watercolors.

This image is only 4x5 inch.


06-10-2009, 01:05 AM
Sandra, many thanks for finding the pig image and the source book for me. I thought she was peeling apples but it seems she's doing potatoes. Luckily they are so indistinct in my copy..they could be apples or potatoes.

Love your sketches done with a lovely light hand. The addition of the surroundings is fun. And the pastel work is really good. I'd do more in pastels rather than watercolour if you're not as comfortable with watercolours. Pastels are great for animal fur.

06-10-2009, 03:33 AM
Hi, gakinme - I am new here, and was just browsing around to see what's what, when I saw your post about acrylic inks.

Artbyjune already gave crucial insight into their increased potency where brightness and shine are involved --so please forgive me if I am intruding into a resolved conversation-- but I think another important aspect to point out, or remind people of, is that many of these inks are waterproof.

I particularly appreciate the myriad possibilities for layering and mixing media that this opens up. :)

06-10-2009, 12:01 PM
Thank you, June, for your comments. Watercolor definitely takes a lot more patience but that is something I will work on gradually.

Welcome, A. Phillips, to Wetcanvas and this section too. Thank you for your input on acrylic inks. It is the waterproof quality that I am aiming for. I understand that gouache is rewettable and that's something I don't want because I wanted to do washes after I did the drawing. Do you use acrylic inks quite a bit? Do you have any work that I could look at too? You could post it at the WC! Gallery (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=73) or my All Media On-Going Sketching Thread Part 4 (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=560491) so I could learn also from you what could be done with them.

I'd also like to know how transparent it could be. Could it be as transparent as watercolors?

06-10-2009, 11:34 PM
Ollie - that rabbit means business! like the straight lines confined in the rounded shapes...

June - ohh, that is perfectly Potter.

Sandra - Just love the adorable pouting baby and cooking mom,, the impatient rodent is too cute. That picture looks to be from Johnny Townmouse. Inks are not cooperative when it comes to removal. tThe mouse reading the Daily is super.

06-11-2009, 07:38 AM
Ollie, your little guy could be swinging a golf club instead of a carrot. Nice drawing.

June, you really are a good illustrator down to the pattern in piggy's dress.

Sandra, a bunch of wonderful little characters. I love that cooking guy.

I hope to get started on this project soon :heart:

06-11-2009, 03:31 PM
Miss piggy was delightful to paint. Transported back in time.

06-13-2009, 11:07 AM
Trouble is I keep reading the stories.



06-13-2009, 12:50 PM
Here is another one...


06-13-2009, 01:17 PM
Oh yeah, I remember these few too. Very good rendition of the kittens, Janet.

06-13-2009, 06:59 PM
These are so-o-o cute, Janet. You captured the characteristics of the cat,rat and dolls very well.

06-13-2009, 07:45 PM
Thanks Sandra and June. Did the drawings and then spent the rest of the afternoon reading "The Complete Beatrix Potter" I've had the book for a while but haven't read these stories in years. My favorite today was " The Tale of Ginger and Pickles" Ginger is a tom cat, and Pickles is a terrier. They run a shop and give everybody credit, so naturally they eventually get in trouble.

I do love these stories...Janet :heart:

06-16-2009, 06:21 AM
Thanks for the invitation. This is a fun one for me, I love drawing little critters. Thought I would put a modern day tech spin on Beatrix Potter's
little friends.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/16-Jun-2009/140812-HPIM1319.JPG

06-16-2009, 06:26 AM
:lol: Wonderful, wonderful, jillanne...neat drawings too.

06-16-2009, 03:02 PM
Jillianne, welcome to the Potter project. Your update on Peter Rabbit really is fun. I enjoyed it very much.

06-16-2009, 03:30 PM
Came to look due to invite - absolutely amazing and so cute, lovely, adorable,imaginative and creative!!!! Quickly ran to the bookself...now if my memory serves me correctly....yes! The Tale of Mr Tod..and a cross stitch pic done by my mother-in-law for our second eldest child -he is now 29-the front page of The Tale of Two Bad Mice. [cross stitch is 24x26"] Thanks for bringing back happy memories. I have many books by Enid Blyton - Brer Rabbit and Noddy. Will maybe try my hand at one of Beatrix Potter.

06-16-2009, 07:58 PM
This is one of my own critters, mice are my favorites. This switchplate is in my little studio above the pencil sharpener. It was done with airbrush and regular brush with airbrush paints.

06-18-2009, 06:31 AM
June- I thought your cup with the mice was adorable-love those mice!
Janet-Something about your drawings, takes me back to my childhood books, I really found them interesting.
Sandra- your reading mouse is great. A good cover for pen marks without ruining your paper is Dr. Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White--Cheap Joe's has it.
Peter, you should try an owl and call him Olliowl--cute name!

06-18-2009, 01:06 PM
Oh, thank you, Jillanne, for the tip. I'll make sure I'll get some of that Dr. Ph Martin's white.

Your switchplate is very cute. Especially the mouse holding the cable. Very creative.

OMG, mommy bunny has a martini and the babies tex message each other. She's really easy going! No books or studies? LOL. Very cute.

Perhaps you should give Mr. G a robotic scarecrow! Very cute pieces.

New breeze
06-21-2009, 09:40 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Jun-2009/163099-watercolour1.JPG (http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/Uploader/upload_image_save2.php#)

06-21-2009, 12:54 PM
New Breeze,
Nicely drawn, has a real children's book "look".


06-21-2009, 07:53 PM
New Breeze, This rabbit is really enjoying his carrots...lovely little painting. Makes me want to go back and read all the children's books I have, and I think I will. :heart:

06-23-2009, 12:13 AM
Oh Janet those are good. You really captured the confused look on Tom's mothers face

Jillanne - LOL - yes, Peter's mother probably could have used a "stiff" one if she knew half the stuff he did

New Breeze - your Peter is very nice...I like the simplification of an already simple picture.......looks kinda modernish

06-25-2009, 11:44 AM
Here are two more Potter drawings, I love frogs, or is he a toad? I'll have to read the story.



06-25-2009, 11:59 AM
Just found this, a delightful trailer for a ballet movie. The Royal Ballet.


06-25-2009, 02:15 PM
New Breeze, very good clean rabbit there. Good clean colors and lines.

Janet, I love Jeremy Fisher of all characters. I often study Potter's drawings on the toads especially because it was so action oriented on top of a very good fun character in the story. Great simple interpretation!! You drew a very good lotus leaf too!

06-25-2009, 02:35 PM
Thanks, Sandra...A lotus leaf? :lol: I guess I'll have to look that one up. Really enjoyed all the little creatures...a good two weeks. :cool:

06-25-2009, 03:55 PM
I love the Jeremy fisher drawings you've posted, Trafford.

Does anyone want to host the next children's illustrator? For July? The host picks their favourite illustrator, or maybe an illustrator they'd like to learn about. Please pm me if you are keen! And have some time.

06-26-2009, 02:51 PM
Oooo, Janet....very good....just love the excitement of the toad as he talks to his friend the salamder.....both these are great fun!!!!

07-02-2009, 11:25 PM
I'd also like to know how transparent it could be. Could it be as transparent as watercolors?

I am so, so, SO! sorry that I did not see this in a more timely maner. Sadly, I am not able to post photos due to being in need of both a new camera & a new printer/scanner - something I hope to soon remedy!

But I can tell you that the acrylic inks that I have been using are, indeed, transparent...perhaps not to the same degree & softness as can be achieved with true watercolor, but certainly to a degree that is suitable to wash over a drawing. Just be sure to familiarize yourself with each individual hue before using it on an actual project because --as has already been mentioned-- they do tend to be rather intense so a little goes quite a long way!

While I have not [as of yet] done a project solely in inks, I do find myself reaching for them more and more often. So far, I only have tried Daler-Rowney (which is labled "liquid acrylic"), & Dr.Ph.Martin's (which is labled "pigmented india ink"). I like both brands but have found that I prefer the Martin's when it comes to straight color, but do appreciate that Daler-Rowney has some beautiful pearlescents.

Usage wise, I have done washes of color first, as a waterproof base, onto which I applied additional media & have done my drawing first, then added the pigment/ink as color. Each way has it's place. If you are wanting to do illustrations in a waterproof medium to which you could then add color over the top I would highly, HIGHLY recommend checking out Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens, if you have not done so already. They are felt tipped, but filled with a lovely, dark, bleedproof india ink. I have gotten to the point where I do not even bother with any of my other pens if I plan on using water media over a sketch/illustration. For times when you might prefer the look of a dip pen, Speedball carries a wonderful india ink called 'Superblack'. I have found it to be less costly but even darker & better in quality than any of the other brands, including Martins.

Goodness!, this post is rather lengthy but I hope it helps. :)

07-03-2009, 12:18 AM
Thank you, A. Phillips, for the long input. I heard that a lot of people like the Pitt Artist Pens and now I understand it. Good, I'll definitely look at D.H. Martin's ink more seriously then.

07-03-2009, 02:28 AM
Thanks A,Phillips. I feel like working in inks again soon. I have those pitt pens and FW acrylic inks. Maybe the greenaway project would be a good place to try them out!

07-06-2009, 08:36 AM
Yes, thanks Phillips for sharing your experience with us.

Here's my Jeremy Fisher.......better late than never:wave:

07-06-2009, 02:53 PM
Lovely Mr Fisher, Robin

07-06-2009, 02:56 PM
I think Jeremy is my favorite. Nice go, Robin. :heart:

07-06-2009, 06:44 PM
Oooh, Artbyjune, I should have mentioned that Faber-Castell does make the PITT Artist Pens in a hue they call 'Sepia', as well as the standard black. That, especially, might be lovely for any Greenaway project!

Although, one always could become caught up in the romance of the thing, and opt for a suitable brown-hued india ink [Dr.Ph.Martin's, or other], using dip and/or mapping pens - and, I'm not sure I could resist that particular temptation! LOL

07-06-2009, 07:06 PM
Also, anyone interested in a more permanent option for backgrounds --or watercolor in general-- should check out a thread here at Wet Canvas started by a member named, Bearded Bob, concerning a product he seems to have quite the bit of inside knowledge of; Derwent Inktense Pencils.

These sound FUN! :)


07-07-2009, 10:21 PM
Thanks June and Janet

a.phillips - thanks for the inktense suggestion.....I have loved the intense colors but didn't realize the added benefit of the water fast ink attribute. That is a definite plus. I'll think these will be the next art tool I buy.

07-08-2009, 12:58 AM
inktense are good. I have some but keep forgetting to use them!

Came across this article on using inktense as fabric paints....


07-15-2009, 12:17 AM
Robin, I remember the moment. Mr. Fisher got bitten by a fish or snagged his finger to the hook or something. He's one of my favorite too and you have good soft colors there.

I use Inktense quite a lot. They are quite convenient for on the go stuff.

lovin art
08-10-2009, 12:39 AM
Hi guys came across your thread and found it very enchanting, i have enjoyed looking at everyones art:clap: . I loved Beatrix Potter stories as a child, and bought my daughter the books and video's when she was smaller, i painted this for her bedroom when she was smaller its done in pen and wash with acrylics, hope you dont mind me posting this.



08-10-2009, 08:28 AM
Lovin, your painting is charming. Your daughter must have loved it. Thank you for sharing and I hope you stop by again. :heart:

lovin art
08-11-2009, 06:09 PM
Thankyou Trafford:) , yes she did at the time but she's 12 now and its been replace by a poster of that Twilight movie thats out at the moment:rolleyes: , all the beautiful stuff i painted for her room has now been cast away into the bowels of her wordrobe, its a shame we have to grow up.:wave:


08-11-2009, 07:59 PM
Sandra, we have the same name.

Your Peter Rabbit has very good colors. And I enjoy seeing how you did your foliage with all those pen marks. They are very good! Join us for other illustrator's work too. I have a 15 year old daughter but she still enjoys my art. I'm lucky in that way.

08-12-2009, 07:51 AM
She will treasure them later, lovin....long after the vampires have evaporated into the past. :heart:

08-12-2009, 12:47 PM
Lovin art, I love your painting of Peter rabbit. One your daughter gets over the teens, she'll rummage in the wardrobe for Peter rabbit, I'm sure!! Hope you have saved it and don't let her throw it out...

lovin art
08-13-2009, 03:54 AM
Sandra, thats a cool name you've got there:) thanks for the invite to join in on other illustrator's work, sounds good to me, also thanks for the nice comments on my work, pen and wash is fun to do the boreing part is the preperation for it, so many layers of paint and fine sanding.

Trafford, love that comment about the vampires:lol: .
June, thankyou for your lovely comment also, and i do hope one day she will treasure it:) .