Mother of two teenagers, two indoor cats and a shih-poo, Molly Harrison Lives in the northern California valley, USA. Molly has a BA in Illustration Design but is mostly self taught with her influences and inspirations coming from nature, emotions and other art. She creates her works using mainly watercolour and ink. Her latest venture into colouring books can be found at her website.
How long have you been illustrating and what made you start?
I have loved drawing all my life for as far back as I can remember. I studied Illustration at CSU Chico and got my BA in Illustration Design. But I did not start actually working as an illustrator/artist until a lot later after my children were born and the internet made it a lot more possible to work at home while also being a mom.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Seasons, holidays, nature, emotions, movies, music, other art, family, and my pets. I think the innate drive to create calls upon all artists to always be observing the little details that are all around. You can find inspiration anywhere.
Where is your favourite place to illustrate?
I am always in my art room when illustrating. It is my sanctuary and my space filled with my favourite things. Everyone has a special place where they feel the most “at home” and this is it for me.
What are your illustrating/colouring material essentials?
Pencil – F lead for sketching Sakura Micron Pigma black inks in various sizes. I particularly like size 01, 05 and 08. Watercolour paint – I love Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff brand American Journey as well as Daniel Smith extra fine watercolours. Brushes – I use almost exclusively rounds. I prefer to work quickly and I use a large size 10 or 12 round for the backgrounds because they are usually a lot of open space. Also size 4-8 rounds for more detailed work. I sometimes use a big mop brush for large backgrounds or large flats. Watercolour paper – I only use two different kinds for my paintings - Arches Bright White hot press (smooth) 300 lb and Kilimanjaro (Cheap Joe’s brand) cold press (textured) 300 lb. These are beautiful heavy papers. I especially like the cold press for taking the paint but the hot press is better when there is a lot of ink detail. I would say paper makes all the difference in watercolour painting and is the one thing that I would not skimp on. Copic Markers and Prismacolor Markers – these are the most wonderful markers! Prismacolor pencils – I don’t use these very often but sometimes I use them for highlighting or shading. Sakura gel pens – mostly white for detailing. Also sparkly ones are fun. Dr. Ph Martin’s liquid acrylic inks and India inks – for brilliant colour and a pigment that is a lot bolder than watercolours but is thin. Liquitex and Golden fluid or soft body acrylics – once in a while I do an acrylic painting.
What’s the piece of work that you’re most proud of or enjoyed doing the most?
I don’t know that I have just one piece. As an illustrator and commercial artist more than a fine artist, I don’t get attached to my work – I can’t let myself get attached because my paintings are for sale and will be going into someone else’s home. I only have one painting of mine in my home (other than in my art room) and it is of a polar bear with a fairy riding him called “Moonlit Solstice”. I love Polar Bears for some reason – not sure why. I love a lot of animals but the polar bear is just majestic to me. There are other pieces I am proud of also, but this is the only on I decided to keep. It may not be my best, but it lifts me up spiritually.
My first tip is to have fun! Of course this might be obvious but sometimes when we start up we feel anxious and imperfect. Practice, practice, practice! There is something that happens that we might not realise when we practice we are growing whether we know it or not. Don’t compete with others but get tips from others and enjoy other’s ability. My advice for actual colouring is to start out light. You can always get darker but you can’t get lighter unless you use an opaque medium over it and it might turn muddy. I highly recommend mixing mediums. Try colouring with copic markers on a background and then coming back and using some soft pastel to create clouds or a pattern in the sky or ground. Don't’ do the highlighting or shading until the end (for the most part). Experiment a lot. Mixing mediums is so much fun once you know the way they work together. But it does take a bit of experimenting. Don’t be afraid to add little elements if you want – there are no rules!