Sunday, March 1, 2015

Artist Spotlight: A Guest Post by Kelsey Hammersley


    Hey guys! For this spotlight, I thought it would be neat to get an actual artist’s perspective on what goes into creating fairy tale illustrations. I've admired Kelsey’s artwork for a long time, and I’m so happy to feature her here! If you like her post, be sure to check out her blog and her Tumblr
First of all, I'd like to thank Alex for inviting me to write a guest post for Third Star to the Right! I've never guest blogged anywhere, so needless to say, this a squee-worthy experience for me. I love seeing Alex's artist spotlights on here (plus all of her pretty fairy tale pins on Pinterest), so I thought I would talk a bit about the impact fairy tales have made on my art.

Oh, and just so you know, my name is Kelsey, I live in Ohio, and I am a Christian artist who's interested in going into illustration.

Fairy tales have been a huge influence and inspiration to me over the years. The first real artwork I encountered as a child was H.J. Ford's illustrations from the Andrew Lang Color Fairy Books. I actually picked out the fairy tales I wanted to read based on how pretty or intriguing their illustrations were. I discovered some of my absolute favorite artists while browsing through the illustration gallery of the fairy tale site Sur La Lune Fairy Tales--artists like Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, and Walter Crane. I can't quite pinpoint what it is about fairy tales that attracts me so, but I think part of it is their hopeful examples of perseverance through adversity, along with how the tales ignite the imagination.
For creating my fairy tale-esque illustrations, my ideas tend to start with a vague sense of the emotion I want to get across and the style I want to use. I try to hold onto that feeling as I work on the project. Emotion plays an important part in art for me; I want to create something beautiful, but I also want it to have meaning, something that people can connect with. The method that works best for me right now for creating paintings is to start off with an accurate pencil sketch as a base. Getting the drawing down right can be pretty tedious for me (the shading and the coloring are my favorite parts) but it helps me a lot in the long run by (ideally) sparing me from making big adjustments when I'm further into a painting. Once I'm done fiddling with the drawing, I clean up the pencil marks as much as possible so that the graphite won't mix in with the color too much and make it muddy. When adding in the paint, I tend to go through a lot of trial and error, playing around with the project and doubting myself--basically jumping from This is so much fun!!!! to I am a horrible artist. I can't finish this. But perseverance really does pay off. 

Lately I've really been inspired by the work of Albrecht Durer, particularly his woodcuts and engravings. I love how the subjects in his prints push forward into space. My linework is frequently inspired by Arthur Rackham, who's pretty much my favorite artist. My ambition in art is to both use my imagination and take inspiration from the beauty of the world around me--and hopefully inspire others in the same way that fairy tales and their illustrations have inspired me.

I'll finish off with a few tips for other aspiring artists, or basically anyone who wants to get better at drawing. Tip #1: Look at the work of other artists. Better yet, practice by copying works of the masters. You notice and learn so much about something when you try drawing it yourself. Tip #2: Take classes, or get lessons if you can. If this isn't an option, there's a wealth of online tutorials out there. I know plenty of completely self-taught artists have found success, but getting advice from other artists is a great way to encounter new ideas that you would be hard-pressed to happen across on your own. It's kind of like having someone else read your writing in order to figure out where you could improve. Sometimes you need a fresh set of eyes, or a fresh set of ideas. Tip #3: Keep drawing! The best way to learn is to try. Even if you make mistakes (and mistakes are inevitable), with each attempt you make, you will see improvement.

Thanks again, Alex, for hosting me here! :)


  1. Ooh, I'm a huge fan of fairytales so I couldn't be happier to see this guest post! And the jumping between "this is fun" and "I suck" seems to be universal across all art forms; I get that in writing a lot too. And trying again and again is also a transferable attitude :D

  2. Hey! Visiting from the GTW's link-up.
    That is a pretty painting! I think the dress is really beautiful. Thank you, Kelsey, for sharing with us. :)