Manon Molesti creates hyperrealistic scenes crafted with felt tip pens
Believe it or not, what you’re gazing upon is the handiwork of the humble felt tip pen – detailed illustrations emblematic of a desire to translate the simple moments of everyday life.
- Ayla Angelos
- 16 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Believe it or not, what you’re gazing upon is the handiwork of the humble felt tip pen. Created by illustrator Manon Molesti, these detailed works are emblematic of a desire to translate the simple moments of everyday life – with each depicting scenes from warmer months in the sea or forest. “I like the felt tip pens’ instantaneity and the vibration when they are superimposed; the mixture of these colours creates something a bit impressionistic,” Manon tells It’s Nice That. “I also like their popular side as they are familiar to everyone, and firstly to children (great creators!). These markers are simple, as are my subjects.”
Having drawn all of her life, Manon always knew that she’d end up pursuing something in the creative field. So much so that her adolescent drawings became more advanced after her studies at the Emile Cohl school, based in Lyon: “I used to take drawing and painting lessons from the age of 13, and I wanted to continue this training until I was perfectly capable of portraying anything,” she explains, “which is what this school offered.” After four years of extensive studying, Manon could therefore mark herself as a specialist within illustration and contemporary drawing.
Putting pen to paper, Manon’s drawings hit you with a heavy dose of photorealism. One drawing in particular sees a group of beach-goers relaxing in the shade by the sea’s cliff edge; with details so intricate, you’re instantly transported into the picture. Another sees a disco ball hanging in a green space, with the day’s sun twinkling through the green trees. Most recurrent is Manon’s depiction of water and her absurdly meticulous representation of light and nature. When asked which drawing she favours the most, she explains how “it’s hard to choose – some speak more to me than others depending on the mood and the moment.” At this moment in time, she chooses Ascension, a picture she’d created while on a trip to Cornwall visiting the Eden Project – a two biome structure filled with topical and diverse plants. “I spent six hours there in December 2016; these greenhouses are gorgeous, especially at night when the lights play with the plants. this painting evokes in me a feeling of appeasement and its title, Ascension, illustrates the height I feel I have gained in my artwork as well as in my personal life.”
While creating her works, Manon prefers to work at home rather than in a studio. “I like to have a familiar and confined environment to create,” she says. And on the topic of why she chose to land on the felt tip pen as her tool of choice, she explains how it was a natural progression. “I always liked working with it, and I feel much more comfortable with this technique than gouache, pencil or acrylic – no doubt because I have handled it since childhood.” However, this does not mean that she avoids any further techniques, like watercolours, and isn’t afraid to mix in these creations with the likes of oils. So, with these methods decided upon, she then starts to work on her compositions. “I start by choosing a visual that inspires me, a personal experience,” she adds. “For that, I pick one of the hundreds of photos that I have taken.” After working out the framing or even after creating a montage, she then retraces the features in pencil on paper, before adding in the colours. “Using many layers of markers is often necessary to find the right tone, which makes this work exciting but also laborious. I like the contradictory idea of spending so much time on an image of such brief moments.”
Laborious but clearly time well spent, Manon’s drawings are completely infatuating – you can spend hours gazing at her intricate line work and inspecting the scenes of sunnier times gone by. With plans to experiment further with the concept of “time passing by”, you can expect even more felt tip pen work coming this way. “Pay as much attention to the important moments in our lives as to those which seem to us succinct, daily, ephemeral and without interest,” she says on the message in which she tries to convey. “Try to find beauty everywhere; be able to find it in a dead bird on the road, in a held breath underwater, in the touch of a leaf, as much as in a burning cathedral.”