'It was so very beautiful that the Mole could only hold up both paws and gasp, "O my! O my! O my!"'
That Inga Moore is an exceptional illustrator is no surprise. What surprised me when I received The Wind in the Willows was how consistently exceptional she is. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of time it took to conceive and create the wonderful illustrations. Clearly a labor of love, they are the most beautiful depictions I have ever seen of the English countryside, and that includes the classic EH Shepard illustrations of the same book.
How perfect are these for a full wall mural?!
The Guardian, Inga spoke of how she came to illustrate this classic:
Was it really a "long-harboured ambition", as it says on the dust jacket? "Not exactly," she says, almost guiltily. "I'd been in the pub with an old boyfriend and he'd suggested it, quite out of the blue. I was rather shocked. I might have thought about it, but only as an impossible dream. Shepard's are the definitive illustrations."
I'm always fascinated by an artist's working methods, and have had the opportunity to attempt to replicate some of my favorites through my work. In the same interview, she speaks of her process.
For each spread she photocopies her original drawings, then works on them with a mixture of pencil, ink, watercolour, crayon, pastel, even oil paint – "anything that works". With intricate textural variations and masses of engrossing detail, she achieves a realism that is unusual today, and those warm, underground kitchens have never been more invitingly portrayed. Landscape painting holds a particular fascination for Moore, and she has reproductions of impressionist paintings pinned up all over the place. "I'm hoping some of the genius will rub off on me."
The Secret Garden, which just as beautifully conceived and executed as her work for Wind In The Willows.
Here are a couple of unpublished illustrations I painted for a prospective book about an island out to sea that turns out to be a sleeping giant. In the meantime I pin some of her illustrations on my wall and to quote her, "hope that some of the genius will rub off on me".