With a warm, saturated palette and painterly marks, Holly Warburton’s view into everyday life is like looking out of a steamy night bus window. Based in Bath, the illustrator and animator has always been drawn to observational sketching; filling books with fleeting moments and faces. While studying Illustration and Animation at Kingston University, Holly began adding movement to her drawings and working digitally. Although switching between real and digital brushes, her mark making stays the same, creating layers upon layers of soft strokes that make trees flutter like hairs.
Painting on a tablet à la David Hockney, she adds depth and texture to create a mood that is melancholic or nostalgic. “It’s hard to pinpoint the exact feeling it gives, yet it is a familiar and recognisable feeling,” she tells It’s Nice That.
GalleryHolly Warburton: Sketchbook drawings. Cows/Dusty Green
This familiarity may be due to having their roots in memories, real moments that Holly brings back to life from her sketchbooks. “They’re something I’ve witnessed in real life. For instance, a couple embracing or a solitary figure passing through a street at night,” she says. One of such pieces, Sisters, was a scene that captivated her when travelling on the underground.
Taking these moments forward into finished pieces, much of this process comes down to her palette: “the colour plays a big part in the mood and feeling of the work," she points out. Keeping her brushes translucent and light, Holly avoids flatness in order to build up layers and shadows.
This is most obvious in her current project, a series of digital illustrations titled Spirit Hold, in progress whilst she’s an artist in residence in rural Mendip, Somerset. Amongst the peaceful countryside, Holly’s been creating ethereal, longing images. “They depict ghost-like figures in vast natural spaces,” she says, “I’m enjoying playing with the vagueness of feeling and mystery of what is happening in the images,” she continues.
Using its square tile format, Holly curates her images on Instagram as though a continuous narrative, whereby each image becomes the page of a book or frame of a comic. Mysterious and poetic, her images allow introspective moments that make you pause on the continuous scroll of social media.
Whilst on the residency, Holly is also dedicating her time to educating young creatives by teaching her skills. She’s also taking part in various shows and exhibiting digital illustrations, pushing them to be considered equal to physical pieces, “it gives me confidence that people can see the value in digital work,” she says.