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​Pen portraits: an illustration masterclass with Georgina Gill

14 March 2017

Life's a rush, but here's an invitation: pause for a moment. Make a cup of tea, pull up a chair. Look with us at this picture - the Bettys With Love Chocolate Selection Box. Note the flowers that form a border around the lettering, arranged to form a perfectly imperfect pattern. Watercolour art made especially for us, especially for this box, by an artist we'd like you to meet.

Georgina Gill previously worked at Bettys, and created many illustrations that we still use now. Today she’s a freelancer, but the Bettys connection endures. She has a style we love – handcrafted, detailed, elegant. It was just what we needed to add a special touch of beauty to our new With Love Chocolate Selection box.

We’ve come to her home near Knaresborough to learn more about illustration, and we have a simple question: how does she do it?

She explains the importance of light and shade and picks up a pen and a Fat Rascal to literally illustrate her point. First she sketches a light outline in pencil, adding the cherries and almonds. Then she takes a fine-tipped artist’s pen and starts to work on the darkest areas of the scone – the ‘eyes’ and the deep shadows formed by the craggy surface. She does this not simply by colouring in but by cross hatching the same area for what seems like a very long time.

Gradually a Fat Rascal emerges on the page; and not just an image of one but a sense of its weight and texture. Seeing an artist work – seeing their hand and eye in perfect harmony – you can’t help but draw parallels to our bakers, weighing their ingredients, kneading the dough, and shaping the breads. Craft means handmade, whether you’re talking about drawing or baking.

Scattered across Georgina’s kitchen table – where she works because of the natural light from the windows – are paintings that reveal a different side to her practice. These are vivid, colourful watercolours created for RHS Harlow Carr for use on educational boards and they show Georgina’s love of the countryside and nature. As she puts it she grew up “practically feral” in rural parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands seeking out things to draw and paint. Even as a child she knew it was what she born to do.

Her home now looks out onto rolling North Yorkshire fields and it’s clear her own children have plenty of space to explore when they grow bored of the trampoline and bikes in the garden. Perhaps, like their mother, they’ll take their sketchbooks with them.

A little piece of art with a boxful of deliciousness inside: order the With Love Chocolate Selection - delivered with our Perfection Guarantee