Watercolour whimsy – Erin-Claire Barrow

Erin-Claire Barrow creates fantasy worlds filled with mysterious landscapes and quirky creatures through her watercolour paintings and illustrations.

I grew up surrounded by beautiful picture books, in a family that always encouraged and appreciated my drawings. We moved a lot, living variously in the Adelaide Hills, Canberra and Reading, England, but drawing was a constant. After years of experimenting with a range of mediums and topics, in 2011 I started painting with watercolours and haven’t looked back. There’s so much to learn!

I adore illustration, and am always thinking of stories I want to put into pictures, from old fairytales to something that aims to provoke discussion on human rights issues. In the past this has included illustrating concepts around human trafficking, child labour, domestic violence and asylum seeker policy. I try to illustrate a moment that suggests a story – that fleeting look over her shoulder as Cinderella flees through an avenue of gargoyles, or that moment in a game of hide and seek just before the seeker finds the child behind the curtains.

My inspiration for paintings varies. Sometimes an idea for a painting just appears, almost fully formed (although details and colours are always a last minute decision!) and other times I’ll start sketching and something will grow out of all the lines and scribbles, then I’ll redraw the sketch onto watercolour paper, trying not to lose whatever it was that I liked about the sketch – perhaps its character, whimsy, movement, or emotion – in the process.

There are so many artists who inspire me it would be hard to list them all – John Bauer, Arthur Rackham and others from the Golden Age of illustration are a given, but modern artists like Niroot Puttapipat, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Sylwia Telari Cader also continually amaze and inspire me.

I particularly like to put strong, empowered female characters in my paintings. I’m currently working on illustrating an old fairytale, The Seven Ravens, which has a fab heroine who sets out on her own to rescue her helpless brothers, overcomes danger and adversity, and saves them without a prince in sight. (In my version she’s also accompanied by a pet sphynx because they’re undeniably adorable!) Head over to my Facebook page to see these paintings as I finish them.

Autumn Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 14 Ready Or Not Luna from Cycling to Grandmas House Audience with the Sorceress Midnight for Cinderella Identity

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  • Yen commented on October 28, 2014 Reply

    These are amaze balls.

    What a talent.

  • Penelope commented on November 27, 2014 Reply

    I was listening to Elena Kats-Chernin’s ballet work Wild Swans as I read this, which is based on a similar fairy story about a sister rescuing her brothers…in that version they have been changed into swans.

    The Facebook link is not working, by the way.

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