I have come across the work of Osbert Lancaster through the Troutmark Bookshop as I had with John Lawrence and Ernest H, Shepard. The gorgeous light green front cover illustration of the book called ‘The Water Beetle’ drew me to Lancaster’s work as this attractive colour of green has been a prominent indication of vintage and Victorian history that I have been researching and incorporating into my own practice. The essence of history and connection to naturalistic colours interests me and draws me into the world of stories in which it is visually used.
SOURCE: Source: Mitford, N. (1962) The Water Beetle. London: Hamish Hamilton Ltd.
The ways in which Lancaster’s work relates to mine is through the time period of a hugely decorative culture of high-class living in the 19th century shown in this detailed depiction (shown left).
Having learnt that Lancaster is most well-known for his character work I can see how the characters in this picture are animated features in the work and an intellectual control is made with their more solid lines. Everything surrounding the characters are more vague and are weaker in tone. This creates more of the pull of the attention to the characters.
This control of momentary scenes of clarity or pause in the chaos of detailed work is something that I also praise in Lancaster’s use of colour. I love how Lawrence uses the old tones of reds and greens that contrast with the spotlight feature of white shown in the image below. The frequent force of white in the surprising environments of full colour images creates a really interesting world and a powerful tool in which to draw attention to selected features and where this relationship creates a striking effect.