Published on October 7th, 2008 | by Christian Cawley
This is long, long overdue. First off, massive apologies to Carolyn for not running this for nearly 12 months.
Carolyn is a smashing lady, a regular at many Doctor Who conventions with prints of her exquisite artwork. You’ll probably have seen her illustrations on Kasterborous in the past, or maybe elsewhere. Some time ago now, I arranged an interview with her to tie in to our Eighth Doctor feature last November.
In the event, things got held up for a short while (!). But finally, here it is – a chat with a talented artists and illustrator and charming lady to boot, Carolyn Edwards!
What first got you interested in art, when did you realize that this was the type of career you wished to pursue?
My first memories are of admiring the illustrations in the books I read as a child. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to draw and illustrate books.
Years later at school, when I was a big Doctor Who fan, I discovered the work of Alistair Pearson and Andrew Skilleter among others, and dreamed of being a female Doctor Who artist!
What courses/qualifications did you undertake and at which university, and what was your first artistic job upon leaving university or college?
I did O and A level Art, a foundation course in Art and Design at Bradford College, then a (BA) hons in Illustration at Harrow College (now University of Westminster).
I scraped through my degree and left University rather disillusioned, and convinced I’d never make it as an illustrator. My tutors didn’t seen keen on traditional art and portraiture, and tried to steer me away from it. This just made me feel lost and confused, artistically. As a result, I didn’t paint, or draw much again for about 10 years. I worked for the RSPCA and trained to be a veterinary nurse instead!
What are your influences, artistically and generally?
Incredibly eclectic! Artistically, I love the Old Masters, such as the dramatic works of Caravaggio and Rembrandt, then Durer and Michelangelo’s pencil studies, and the narrative realism of the Pre-Raphaelites.
More up to date artists include: Kit Williams, Boris Vallejo, Norman Rockwell, the Hildebrandt Brothers, Brom, Alan Lee, Keith Scaife, Anne Sudworth, Chris Achillieos, and Michael Whelan to name but a few.
I’m also a huge fan of my contempories – Daryl Joyce, Alistair Pearson, Mike Collins, Roger Langridge, Lee Sullivan, John Ridgeway, Andrew Skilleter, Frank Bellamy and Kasterborous’ very own Anthony Dry – respect!!
Since joining the sketch card world, I‘ve discovered Nik Neocleous, Warren Martineck and Joe Corroney too…
General influences are pictures in magazines, newspapers and books, music (lots of music!), films, TV, people and Ireland (my spiritual home).
When did your interest in Doctor Who begin, and when did you start creating Doctor Who related images?
I remember seeing Tom Baker stories on TV when I was very young. My interest waxed and waned, depending on what was happening in my life at the time, as new Doctors came and went, right up until Sylvester walked out of frame, arm in arm with Sophie. I loved them all.
The first Doctor Who drawing I remember doing was in 1987 (I was at school). It was a portrait of the Second, Sixth and Seventh Doctors… (above right – click to enlarge)
I didn’t seriously start creating Doctor Who images until 1996, when the TV Movie dropped like a bombshell into my consciousness!
Did you have a particular favourite piece you worked on regarding Who and which Doctor do you favour drawing?
I like a lot of my paintings for different reasons. However, if I had to choose a favourite, it would be ‘Inspiration’, because it marked a turning point in my art career. And I’ve never looked back.
It is the first real painting I attempted, after leaving college (left – click to enlarge). It was inspired by the TV Movie. Also by Paul McGann’s portrayal of the Eighth Doctor, which to me was such a breath of fresh air, fond as I am of the past Doctors…
Around then, I went to my first Doctor Who Convention, met Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred and got squished by a cyberman! The rest is history. I like drawing all the Doctors, as long as I have good picture reference.
For pure affection though, the Eighth Doctor is my favourite.
What era of Doctor Who has most inspired you?
You have what many would call a traditional approach to illustration, utilising different methods, colours and surfaces – while many other Doctor Who illustrators seem happy to work in their preferred medium, you seem to produce work in different ways. Do you put a lot of planning and thought into what textures and lines you use? Do you let the image “make up it’s own mind” or “paint itself”, as it were?
I prefer to work instinctively. I’m too impatient (and too busy!) to spend huge amounts of time producing beautiful composite studies and getting everything just so. That’s not to say I don’t have piles of sketchbooks filled with ideas and scribblings…
I usually get a powerful image of how the finished painting might look in my mind. Then I set about recreating it in whatever medium feels right. The artwork often takes on a life of its own.
I’ve never been able to settle on one way of doing something, one medium, or style. I’m a restless soul, always looking for a better way of doing things, or some new technique. I like lots of variety. I’m inspired and moved by lots of things in life. I think my artwork reflects that.
Carolyn, you’re a regular at conventions, allowing the thronged masses of Doctor Who fans to observe and purchase your work first-hand. What do you like most about conventions? What is the best convention you’ve been to so far?
I like lots of things about Conventions. It’s difficult to pinpoint just one aspect.
I like the buzz of being behind the scenes, as a trader. I get on well with the other traders and enjoy seeing familiar faces setting up at each event.
I like setting out my stall. It’s a place I feel confident and happy.
I enjoy meeting people and getting feedback about my work. I like meeting up with old friends and guests, dressing up (occasionally), and dashing off during quiet moments on the stall, to catch glimpses of other bits of the convention.
I love escaping briefly into the world of Doctor Who, which is populated by adults being kids again, often now with their kids in tow! As The Doctor once said, “you can’t be grown up, without being childish sometimes…”
My favourite convention has to be the Dimensions on Tyne Event, which takes place every November in the Newcastle on Tyne area. I’ve had some great times there and I know a lot of people who come back year after year. It feels like a big family sometimes.
Having been to three conventions (and met you at them all!) three times previously, twice at Dimensions and once at The Cavern, I was struck at how different the content and tone of the different venues is. What is your opinion of this? What do you prefer – lavish hotels with a touch of the impersonal, or small, intimate affairs where everyone can meet and speak?
As a trader, the bigger events are better for me, in terms of my work being seen by a wider audience, and sales, obviously!
As a convention goer, and I speak for my friends here too, I would definitely prefer a more intimate event, where the guests are more relaxed because they are not on such a tight schedule and can mingle with the fans more.
Saying that, I was at a Gallifrey Event in Los Angeles recently and was very impressed with the organisation and variety of activities on offer – the daily newsletter, the art show, the talks, discussions, meet and greet room, bring along a snack bar, the enthusiasm and excitement. Also the adventure of being in another country!
What’s your favourite work that you have produced?
That’s a difficult one, and changes all the time. I’ll have to choose more than one, is that ok?
The first is ‘Regenerations’. It’s a portrait of the Ninth Doctor, which combines cartoon style with more traditional portraiture. It won second place in an art show in the USA.
The second one is ‘Gandalf’. It’s an atmospheric portrait of Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf. I think he’s got a wonderful face for painting.
The third one is ‘John Barrowman’. This was painted on a box canvas. It is my first painting on canvas for many years, and much fun to do.
You produced an excellent poster for the OFFSTAGE Theatre Group’s “Who Am I?” show – have you done any other work which admirers of your work might be unaware of, or do you have plans to move into other areas?
I’m currently working on some sketch cards for Strictly Ink. I’ve done a lot of work over the years for Doctor Who fanzines, such as Myth Makers, and In-Vision.
I was responsible for the first four book covers of the Bernice Summerfield range. I do family and pet portraits when I have the time. I’ve done quite a bit of work for the Offstagers, as well as cartoons for family and friends. I also designed the map inside the BBC books EDA Year of Intelligent Tigers.
I’ve done some pencil art for a forthcoming Sci-Fi novelisation, which is being produced in California. I’ve designed stationary and business cards, and I once painted a Pre-Raphaelite mural on a bathroom wall!
For future projects, I’d like to do more fantasy art. I love paintings you feel you could walk into, pictures which tell a story, or appear to be a gateway to another world, or place. I’d also like to try some comic book art, as I keep drifting into cartoons…
So much to do…so little time!
For more examples of Carolyn’s work and to contact her, visit carolynedwards.blogspot.com