This week’s musical guest, as it were, is Phoebe Wahl; a recently graduated illustrator from the Pacific Northwest. Although, I thought at first she was from somewhere in Scandinavia or Germany. Her work, echoed, it seemed to the illustrations of classic Swedish illustrators like Ilon Wikland and Elsa Beskow, with its goodnatured domestic scenes, and woodsy settings. What distinguishes her work though is the heft and the presence of her materials. There’s no ethereal application of pastel and watercolour here, instead gouache, pencil and collage assert themselves almost forcefully. The way you feel the slathered on paint in a van Gogh painting.
It gives her work a sense of conviction and an earthiness that is singularly appealing.
You can also tell that it takes time to make such pieces. So it’s not surprising that she says that her studio is where she spends most of her time already. Having her bedroom in there though, she feels, is not entirely ideal. Spending the entire day in your bedroom working, doesn’t always feel like working. And it’s hard to take breaks when your work is staring you in the face.
However she does enjoy working at home, surrounded by her things.
Her work is intertwined with her life to a degree where, she thinks, she’d be uncomfortable to separate her work and living spaces.
So if she did find herself locked up in there, she only needs the following items to make life a bit more comfortable:
- I don’t know if a window can count. But I have to have a window. I have to have some reminder of nature and the outside world to space out through while working. Plus fresh air!
- Books. I like having lots of books around to look at if I’m stuck and need inspiration. Most of the books I own are children’s books…
- Slippers & hand warmers. Maybe I’m stingy or my house just doesn’t hold heat very efficiently…but my feet and hands are always cold. Even in the summer I wear slippers while working, and a lot of times fingerless gloves too.
- Tea. Earl Gray with milk and honey. Chamomile & Lavender after 9pm. I was vegan for a while and non-milky tea was the second saddest part. (No cheese was the first saddest of course.)
- Some sort of audio-device, a computer or iPod (although I could definitely still get down with a walkman… I love cassettes.) When I was little I would zone out for hours drawing and listening to audiobooks. I would listen to the same ones over and over. I’ve listened to Little Women and The Secret Garden about 30 times, I swear. I still love audiobooks, and revisit old favorites frequently…like Harry Potter!
Musically her choices would be:
I tend to listen to a lot of mellow folk music. Vashti’s songs is slightly fantastical, which is why I love listening to her while I work. It’s like fairy music. She traveled with her boyfriend by horse and cart from London to the outer Hebrides to live on a commune that Donovan started, which is where she began writing her first album Just Another Diamond Day (released in 1970). She holds a special place in my heart because I listed to a lot of her music when I traveled to the Isle of Erraid (part of the inner Hebrides) while I was doing a study abroad program at the Findhorn Ecovillage in northeast Scotland. She’s a great name to plug into Pandora you get a lot of early Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, Carolyn Hester and Sibylle Baier. All good listens for a mellow rainy work day.