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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with Hannah Rollings: Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion featured artist.

The mega talented Hannah Rollings talks about her PhD thesis, her new art book for Michael O'Mara, and the inspiration behind her piece for my upcoming colouring book.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Hannah Rollings
Hannah Rollings recently published An Artist Once Said with Michael O’Mara books, a beautiful interactive art book. Her piece for Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion follows on from this idea, taking the style and ideas of Henri Rousseau as a starting point.

Hannah Rollings portrait
Your PhD thesis is extremely interesting – can you tell us a bit more about it in layperson’s terms?
I am looking at developing illustrated interactive books or digital outcomes for children aged 8-11 on the subject of woodland stewardship specifically communicating the carbon cycle. I hope to work with children themselves to co-design narratives and resources that they find meaningful.

Dev Hannah Rollings
What draws you to educate youngsters about the natural world, and where did this interest start?
I’ve always enjoyed animal documentaries and used to have a WWF filofax that I used to study and draw from. The outdoors has always been a massive part of my life and has come to mean more to me as I begin to think about what is important in my own life. That natural childlike fascination of learning about things you see or find on a walk in the woods is very liberating and gives me a great sense of freedom that I hope I can communicate to big and small explorers.

Hannah Rollings
You also teach, what do you enjoy most about the engagement with students?
Teaching is a very inspiring conversation as you often question your own thoughts on subjects and it is always a privilege to see someone develop their work and to have a small helping hand in that is very rewarding. It is about asking the right questions at the right time, not necessarily having the answers.

Development Hannah Rollings
Why has academic study in general been so important to your artistic process?
Illustration can be quite an isolated working environment so I have always found that study has given me a good balance to broaden my work and gain critical discussion. Academic study has allowed me the structure and collaboration to develop a more reflective practice, giving me the space and confidence to shape my own direction. I also quite like certificates.

Hannah Rollings
As part of your research you coppiced an ancient woodland – what did you learn from this process?
It was a rollercoaster of an experience: amazing discoveries coupled with the practical difficulties alongside general misunderstandings about coppicing such as often being asked why are you cutting down trees. It was beautiful to see a small coppiced area come back to life through the seasons; the bluebells come up as you’ve given them more light and the butterflies and insects take over while new shoots of tree come up doubling the trees capacity to grow and live on.

Hannah Rollings
What inspired you to create your recently published book “An Artist Once Said”? It’s a beautiful tome.
Whilst lecturing in the studio staff and students would often put on the wall their favourite quotes from artists they admired – each unique and fitting to that persons work – and I thought what a lovely idea for a book. As I often need a creative nudge to get over the blank page.

Diary of a Redundant Cow Shed Hannah Rollings3
What is your favourite way to work?
I love the looseness of inks and watercolour but also find I want to create a little friction and contrast and then that is when collaging on the computer can be very exciting as it allows you to bring very different elements, scale and textures together to experiment and surprise yourself.

What made you want to take part in my colouring book?
My work is focusing on building in interaction and the refreshing menagerie of illustrators and approaches I thought would be very exciting to see and be apart of.

Double Page Hannah Rollings
How did you decide on your theme and realise the image for the colouring book?
I wanted to lead on from an ‘An Artist Once Said’ and had been looking at Henri Rousseau as part of my research in depicting foreign lands that people may not have first hand experience of but have magical naive images of. So I looked at this idea of travel and exploring to discover, as Henri Rousseau himself did to produce beautiful images, through the medium of colouring.

I am so excited that Hannah Rollings is part of Amelia’s Colourful Colouring Companion. Available to pre-order as soon as my Kickstarter campaign is live!

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