Meet The Artist: Frances Costelloe

29 May 2024

Meet Frances Costelloe, the wonderful artist behind our new summer postcard, which you’ll find tucked lovingly into every one of our parcels this season. With a palette that spans from watercolour to pastels to her signature Indian ink, Frances shares her philosophy on power of free-flowing line work, her seamless fusion of mediums, and the role nature plays in inspiring her work.

What initially drew you to the world of illustration, and how did you develop your unique style over time?

I always drew a lot as a child, and it was one of the things at school I was actually good at. I love that time doesn't register when you are deep in a drawing. You don't think about much; you just become absorbed in the act of mark-making. I have no formal training apart from A Level art and it was actually glazing ceramics in my signature blue and white palette that got me back into making work. My process became simplified, and I enjoyed the reduction in noise that the glaze allows. This is because I used dipping glazes, which aren't designed for brushwork. I then took these drawings and started to paint them on lampshades. It was my customers who first asked me to draw my work on paper. I have a lot to be thankful for, especially a welcoming and supportive Instagram community, which I feel I am a part of.

Your illustrations often feature free-flowing line work. Could you tell us more about your approach to ink drawing, including how your creative process contributes to the overall mood and style of your artwork?

I teach workshops in ink drawing, and what I tell the people attending is that there is no going back. It is not like watercolour - once it dries, it stays put. I love the freedom in the difficulty of this. You just have to go for it. Lean into the lack of control and make the mistakes work for you. It’s almost a philosophy for life.

Your work showcases a range of mediums, from watercolour to pastels to your signature Indian ink drawings. How do you decide which medium to use for a particular project, and what unique qualities do you believe each medium brings to your illustrations?

I usually work in all of them at the same time. I often draw the outlines for watercolours in coloured pencil or crayon. I also often do this with my pastel works too. I like black Indian ink by itself, without any other colours. I often sketch with an Indian ink fountain brush pen and find it one of the most satisfying mediums. Each medium brings its unique qualities: coloured pencils and crayons add a delicate texture, while Indian ink provides a sense of boldness to a piece.
Your illustrations often feature nature and organic elements. What role does the natural world play in inspiring your work?

Since the pandemic, I have developed a deep appreciation for the living world of plants, especially woodlands. I am nearly finished training as a garden designer and I love observing what survives through winter and how different plants cope with the shade of the canopy. I am particularly obsessed with dahlias. My first pastel drawings of them instilled a love of this medium within me and eventually led to a collection at Liberty.

It was a pleasure working with you on our summer postcard. Can you share how the piece came together and what mood you were trying to capture?

I became obsessed with the red stripe on your Emerson Garden Armchair while looking through some of your photography. I wanted to capture the feeling of sitting down on the grass as it glows in the sunlight, as you drink a glass of ice water - relaxing into the comfort of nothingness. No deadlines, no work, just pure summer at its best. I added the blanket, the fruit, and jug to evoke that feeling of time shared with friends.

And finally, what are you most looking forward to with the approaching summer season?

I am a sea swim lover and I feel 80% better when I have swum outside. My mum has a place in Suffolk, so I look forward to swimming amongst the waves there. This is the first year my son can properly swim, so I feel like I have grown my own little accomplice. He is so brave and can cope with the cold too. Eating fresh seafood like crab and prawns in the garden is also something I can't wait to do.

Frances’ delightful postcard is tucked inside each parcel we send out throughout the coming season. To explore our latest Collection, please click here.

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