Barbour Summer: Learn to illustrate like Becky Bettesworth

Barbour Summer: Learn to illustrate like Becky Bettesworth

Meet Becky Bettesworth — an artist living in South Devon with her husband, three children and dog Squiggle. After working in the bustling city as an art director at an advertising agency, Becky moved to Devon to live a more Barbour Way of Life. Since then, she has built her career on creating beautiful, vintage-style travel posters, celebrating the amazing natural beauty of England.

We collaborated with Becky, to give you an insight into her artistic process, and teach you to illustrate her unique style for yourself at home. So sit back and enjoy, as Becky guides us through bringing her latest creations to life.

Jay Blades wearing his rewaxed Barbour jacket

My work is reminiscent of the 1930’s travel poster art but done in a modern contemporary way, with the use of mainly soft pastel colours. I have always loved this art and the nostalgic feel of the wonderful bygone era.

Capturing a place

Each piece starts with my own desire to replicate a place. I then visit the area to get a real sense and feel of the location. I take photos, do some sketches and then construct my image so that the composition is perfect. This is done by sometimes striping away a lot of detail and simplifying the view so that the image is uncluttered and uncomplicated. I feel the theory of less is more often really works. My objective is always to find the right balance between simplicity and attention to detail so that the finished creation has a calming effect and a nostalgic feel.

jay blades rewaxing Barbour jacketrewaxed Barbour jacket hanging up

Getting a new perspective

The angle and perspective may need to be adapted too, so that it isn’t necessarily exactly true to life but the essence of the picture is true to the place. My pictures always have the heading/name of the place in it, so it is at this stage that I need to think about positioning. I then sketch the composition of the picture, often adding elements such as birds and clouds to make it aesthetically pleasing.

jay blades rewaxing Barbour jacketrewaxed Barbour jacket hanging up

Build it in layers

The artwork is later created back in my studio on the computer using Photoshop. The image is built up by drawing hundreds of shapes (paths) and then creating them into layers; each built up one on top of the other to create the final picture. Some of my pictures have over 1,000 layers, so it really is a work of art, love and devotion! This method is similar to the traditional technique of silk-screening, which is how many of the original pictures were created around the 1930s and something I did a lot of at art college.

I am creating my images using a digital method which I feel is a modern equivalent of this old technique. The principals are exactly the same, using block colour to produce a very graphic style. Having said that, I loath technology but see the mouse and digital pen as my pencil and paintbrush!

Make it colourful

I love colour and it is a major component of my artwork. The use of colour is absolutely fundamental in my compositions and essential to create a sense of calm and capture the romantic essence of a place. I spend a lot of time considering the colours and shades to get it just right.

jay blades rewaxing Barbour jacketrewaxed Barbour jacket hanging up

Take your time

Each individual piece takes a different amount of time to create. Some I can do in days, others can take weeks! Being an artist really isn’t a 9-5 job and sometimes when I sit down to create I just can’t! You have to be in the right frame of mind and mood – unfortunately, this for me is often at around 10pm when the madness of the day subsides and I find some peace and quiet. Quite often I end up going to bed at three in the morning, but that’s just me.

Finally, you have got to have passion in what you do, without that a picture will never truly work!

Jay Blades wearing his rewaxed Barbour jacket

Stay tuned to the Barbour blogs for more stories, guides and inspiration based around the beautiful British summertime and download your very own Becky Bettesworth activity sheet to have a go yourself, here.