Welcome to my illustration website!

I'm a freelance artist and illustrator living in Shropshire. I take commissions public and private, and work towards exhibitions, illustration and book-art fairs and my Etsy shop. I like to draw from life so you might find me perched somewhere around the county making illustrated maps.

I studied Fine Art (painting) at WSCAD now you might know it as UCA,  graduating in '88 and have worked as an artist, at first as a painter and then increasingly in illustration.

 I experiment with a range of media but mainly use dip-pen and ink and digital media.

Having completed a PCGE in Further Education alongside my illustration, I teach workshops for adults and give talks on my illustration.

See below for the latest news!

The Susannah Darwin Project 

The Susannah Darwin Project

After making a 'Botanising at the Mount' picture, about the life of Charles Darwin at his birthplace, and subsequently connecting with Jude Piesse on Twitter, she approached me regarding a potential project about Susannah Charles Darwin's mother.

Susannah has faded out of history, little is known about her, not directly anyway. Information can be gleaned from around the edges of others' lives, and deduced from her letters and partly from Mount house itself.

Having realised when looking at the history of the Mount, what an enormous wealth of information is available, I was excited about using this information and cross referencing with maps, writings and letters to create the house and garden at the time when Susannah was there. A broad remit, I was working around the years after she had had her children but before her last illness. Working across a time frame like this is very much a mapmaking process - maps take time to make, and whilst making them places change so a specific date isn’t helpful in attempting to provide the whole picture.

Mapmaking also encourages securing people and actions to places, in a way that simple drawing does not. A rigour is needed in checking facts and location. Detail is encouraged and a multiple viewpoint is sustained, the focus being similar across the map. The map creates the composition.

I tried to put myself in Susannah's shoes, how she would go about her life each day. I realised the similarities between her life and ours today, and the sometimes jolting differences. Shrewsbury archives again provided information as well as the invaluable garden notes provided by the garden diary written at first by Susannah’s husband Dr Robert Darwin and then by her daughter Susan.

I was given a tour of the Mount by John Hughes, the Darwin House Museum Project Manager, which was fascinating, and cemented more of my knowledge. The project has really brought Susannah alive for me, and made me consider all sorts of related subjects.

 I also attended the symposium in February at the Mount and listened to the talks by Jude Piesse, Gaynor Llewellyn-Jenkins, and Jessica Cox. I gave a talk in the afternoon and asked the audience to contribute ideas of what they would include in the image if they were making it and then I attempted to include as many as I could. In fact I had already included all but one of their ideas.

I have created a large watercolour image which is currently on its way to Liverpool to the Research Institute for Literature and Cultural History (RILCH) at Liverpool John Moores University, a large print and several smaller prints which will be available from my Etsy shop.

Also have a look at my Instagram feed for more katy_alston

Presentation of the Age uk 'bonadsmålning’ an egg tempera painting made by the ladies from Alveley and me, from their amazing memories!

The Age uk part of the Arts Council egg tempera project ( see below) has been featured in the Shropshire Star and will be on Radio Shropshire very soon ( it was recorded 25.9.23)

At the beginning of the year I was received an arts council award in 'develop your creative practice'

I looked at egg tempera through two lens, that of the traditional painting on gesso board and that of the Swedish Bonadsmålning, a traditional folk art.

Using a limited palette of earth colours plus indigo, I created paintings based on my locality

A Swedish folk art type painting about our local Wenlock Edge, referencing the folklore of the area.

The famous Clun bridge

As part of my arts council project I worked with an older group of ladies to create a piece of work to capture their memories.

In December 2021, I won the prestigious Michael Marks Illustration award with my work in the poetry pamphlet  'Fan-peckled’ 

Have a look here https://michaelmarks

Cover of the illustrated Fan-peckled

Illustration for 'Barley child'


All works Copyright Katy Alston 2024