5Q :: ‘Corpses and Copses’ a pit stop for local illustrator Whitney SaurerIf you like your fairy tales slightly off-kilter, Whitney Saurer is an illustrator you should know by name.
If you like your fairy tales slightly off-kilter, Whitney Saurer is an illustrator you should know by name. This local talent has crafted quite the imaginative tale in “The Tale of the 3 Ballerinas” — which revolves around the Tim Burton-worthy “Insanity Serum” — and, best of all, it’s offered up on her website free of charge for your perusal.
Saurer has also been busy putting together the show “Corpses and Copses,” which will be on display through Halloween at Washington.
With such a flurry of noteworthy activity, we bugged the talented artist for another round of “5Q”:
Budgeteer: If someone’s never experienced your artwork before, how would you describe what they’ll see at “Corpses and Copses”?
Saurer: In a nutshell, the paintings are of a bunch of happy dead things and a few pumpkins. I’m a fan of early American folk art and 18th century Gothic chapbooks, and my paintings are a modern homage to these genres. I use ink, watercolors and gouache as mediums because they give a whimsical, illustrative look to the paintings. I don’t like artwork that takes itself too seriously, and the work in “Corpses and Copses” is purely thematic and fun.
When did you first seriously get into art? And how long did it take until you nailed down your signature “vibe”?
I seriously got into art when I was in my late teens. I hated art classes, but I developed projects on my own and started creating my own portfolio. I started selling prints of my ink drawings at a local gallery when I was about 18, and since then I haven’t stopped painting.
I started exploring the style that I use now a few years ago, but it was very raw and sad-looking at first. It’s taken a while to refine it, and it’s not done evolving.
In another 10 years, my work will probably look quite different.
Who are some of your influences?
I am highly influenced by 19th century fashion lithographs and children’s book illustrations, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) and ancient Egyptian mummies.
What is “The Tale of the 3 Ballerinas” that appears on your website? Has it been published in a physical medium before?
Unfortunately, no. A few months ago … I wanted to challenge myself by writing and illustrating a fairy tale. The result was “The Tale of the 3 Ballerinas.”
I think ballet is beautiful, and I wanted to make a story about the dancers in the background that don’t always get the spotlight. I will most likely write and illustrate much more about ballerinas; they make the most interesting characters!
Finally, what is next for you? Do you have a follow-up show in the works?
Fine art is lovely, and I have had a wonderful time putting together this upcoming show, but it’s not really the direction I want to go with my paintings.
I have begun compiling stories I have written, much like “The Tale of the 3 Ballerinas,” and illustrating them.
My ultimate goal is to write and illustrate children’s books exclusively.
The next you’ll see of my work will be in a book.
NEWS TO USE
Whitney Saurer’s “Corpses and Copses” will be on display Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. through Oct. 31 at Washington Studios Gallery, 315 N. Lake Ave. Learn more at www.whitneysaurer.com.