Louise McNaught: Animal Colour Mixed Media Illustrations

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Admiring the likes of Tracy Emin’s “honesty”, Barbara Kruger’s “truisms” and Mark Ryden for his “perfection”, illustrator Louise McNaught creates these illustrations in order to portray her own style to her intended audience. Using mixed media in order to create these “paintings” McNaught uses a variety of paint, pencil and ink to transform her backdrops from “very traditional canvasses” into unique works. “McNaught primarily uses a neon colour palette to depict the presence of nature in her work”. This design decision proves very interesting as bright colours such as neon pinks and greens are not usually used when illustrating nature however McNaught’s design style proves unusually successful. Illustrating the animals within her work in a “god-like” style, this designer as able to “draw the viewers attention to the animals presence and energy” and using bright, vibrant colour mimics their personalities physically onto the page. Through these designs the illustrator aims to show the animals in their natural stance wearing the bright, overpowering colours as “war paint” and she is aiming to highlight man’s interaction with the lifestyle and survival of these animals. Using the bright, vibrant colours in a way to highlight the energy “radiating from the animal” as she paints the areas of the animal that is known as the more intense areas, such as the clashing antlers and strengthened shoulders between the two animals in the image above. This designer find the eyes and the neck are the more intense areas of the animal and this can be seen clearly as a common theme throughout this designers work. Seeing the stereotypical view of stag’s as being “majestic and pure” McNaught uses them within a lot of her work. Promoting them as being “strong yet so peaceful” this designer illustrates the animals in an extremely exceptional presence, this appeals to a wide audience however not such a young, chid age range as they would not find the realism of the illustrations of the bold contrast of colour understandable or appealing. 

Louise McNaught captures these animals as if they are in a hidden, fantasy reality. I love how the realism of the drawings and the playfulness of the colours used work together in a way that would usual prove unsuccessful. McNaught is able to capture a unique design style and concept through her work which is an extremely appealing and attention seeking element. The unique and original style of the designers work would immediately capture the audiences attention as it is not a style of work that has been used before. The bright tones and neon colours immediately capture the audiences eye sight, well it certainly attracted mine. The colours are the first element of the work that the audience see as the contrast and stand out greatly against the grey tones of the medium used for the background. For instance in the stag image above, the neon pinks and reds stand out greatly between the grey toned background, as well as being immediately viewed as dripping blood which would often be seen through fighting, the action that the animals are captured in. I love how this designer uses these magnificently vibrant colours in a successful way where usually they would be hated for the very “chav” appeal. I usual despise colours like this however in this work, I love them, they are my favourite part!

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“It’s fund to see each drawing skilfully created by this artist as being part of a hidden world”. The illustrations within this set allows the audiences attention and interpretation to be easily accessed and McNaught refrains from including type of informative text telling the audience of what she is trying to show. She allows her audience to create a reality where these animals could be seen and giving them a personality that would appeal to them. I love how this designer allows her drawings to take control and simply be admired for their unique style, colours and concept rather than for a specific purpose for a small audience range. These illustrations are seen as being “a hidden world where colours are always bold and animals rule the neon landscape”. The huge contrast in colour work well in appreciating one another as each represent two parts of the “delicate relationship between animal and humanity”, they connect through their differences, like we work well with animals through out similarities. The delicacy used to blend these media, colours and moods together is also a physical reminder of the delicate relationship we have with animals, illustrating this message physically and metaphorically. 

Completed with glorious neon hues, McNaught’s work presents a “balance between traditional technique and a new age” of modernised media. Initially inspired by nature, this designer uses “a mixture of painting with drawing overlay” creating a mixed media approach perfectly suited to her mixed mammal concept and her unique mixed hue toned colour palate. Finding the traditional, stereotypical symbolisms of animal extremely interesting such as the strength of stags, McNaught uses the high regard that these animals are held within to highlight the evolution of how these animals are understood. Aiming to highlight a parallel universe where “nature is god” this designer uses her own understandings as a muse for her work as she creates pieces based on her thoughts and views. 

Using her infamous neon hues repetitive within her designs, McNaught chooses to introduce these within her work as she believes they are the only tones which produce a “light” outcome in colour, tone, weight and surface on the page. I agree that neon colours often produce a light weighted approach to the audience through work and especially within thickness when being used. This is perfectly used within her work as she aims to highlight the ethereal quality and importance of her theme and message. Using simple dripping effects within her work, McNaught creates upward drips as they are “further hinting at their divinity as drips usually drop down because of gravity but by having them travel upwards towards the ‘heavens’ it shows that the animals are sacred, divine beings” another way that this designer can highlight the importance of them within her work and her message. 

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Personally I would not change anything at all about this artists work as I love the colours, elements, messages, concepts and overall image of the work. Usually I would despise this colour scheme and neon tone however in McNaughts work they proved amazingly successful.

The traditional skills of this artists illustrations have been stretched into a new contemporary reality. This mimics the new reality created within the message of the work and the understanding of the audience. “Straddling the line between haunting illustrations and paintings that entice our perception with their bright designs” McNaughts work perfectly pushes the boundaries of traditional work however successfully highlights the traditions of the animals beings used, a perfect balance of animals and humanity. This designer communicates the sacred appreciation of the animals whilst “taking the viewer’s mind to a magical world where animals are gods, magic exists, and things around us possess an ethereal, delicate yet simultaneously bold appearance”. I, as a viewer of this designers work find the overall approach amazing and perfectly suited to her concept. Her originality has proved extremely successful and overall creates a unique style of art. 

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