A harmonious world with love and peace. That's Cecile's spiritual universe you can find in her illustrations. Only with a heart filled with love and innocence can we see the beauty in animals drawn by Cecile. From the cute animal drawings and hats as well as clothing on them, we are once again reminded that all grown-ups were once children, but only few of them remember it.
AWW: Where do you like to draw?
Cecile Metzger: I usually draw sitting at my small desk. Wherever I am, I always try to keep my desk close to a window to get as much daylight as possible. It helps seeing the watercolour shades much more accurately and so it is important for me to build a nice colour palette! Here are some things you will find on my desk at all times: a cup of warm tea (blueberry tea is my favorite), watercolour tubes and pans, a glass of water to paint, a sketchbook, pencils and brushes, and my computer with peaceful music on (probably some Ghibli soundtrack). This is my cozy little corner where I can let my imagination go wild and paint imaginary worlds and happy characters!
AWW: Do you still remember your first piece of work? What made you start drawing?
Cecile: I cannot say I remember my first drawing ever (it was probably just a random scribble), but I do remember a drawing I made when I was around 5 (I think)! It was a large drawing, around 60x40cm, and it was a birthday gift (or a mother day gift?) for my mother. I drew some mermaids and mermen, an island with lots of palm trees, and fish. I remember being very proud of it for a long time because it was quite detailed and big. The drawing has been hanging up in my parent's bedroom for a very long time and the sunlight faded the colours, but I think the frame where it is must still be somewhere in the house, in a box or a cupboard. It would be funny to actually find it and see it again, it has been years since I last saw it !
Unfortunately, I don't have any picture of it with me now, but I do have some old drawings I made about 3 or 4 years ago, when I decided to start practicing illustration. So, they are not my first drawings per se, but they are the first drawings I made after I thought I could try being an illustrator! I remember that when I started this journey, I had a story in my mind that I really wanted to illustrate to start building a portfolio. In the end, I only made one illustration, but it is still special to me because it reminds me of this period of time when I was full of hope and fear about taking this path (I still am, but in a different way). This was the story of a little boy going on an adventure... but I won't say no more, maybe the story might come to life someday, who knows what the future holds?
AWW: How do you come up with the style of illustrating animals?
Cecile: It is funny because a few years back my favorite subject to draw were human characters ! Especially girls and women. But then, little by little, I felt like I really wanted to expand my skills and started practicing animals (because I was very bad at drawing them). And now, it is the total opposite! I recently tried to practice more human characters, because I feel uncomfortable drawing them now. Animals are the first thing I draw when I want to feel comfortable or happy because I am very used to draw them. At first, I was drawing "natural animals". And then, for some reason, I thought it would look cute to add some piece of clothing or some hats to them. This is when I started to give them sweaters, party hats, patterned pants and little shoes. I still try to go back to drawing "natural animals" here and there because it helps practicing and not always drawing the same thing. But I love inventing new outfits for my characters!
AWW: Could you kindly explain your message behind your work?
Cecile: I never really thought of a message behind my work, but I think it really shows how much I love nature. I realise that, the older I become, the more I need nature around me to feel happy and inspired. Nothing makes me feel as peaceful and quiet as a walk in the fields or in the forest. And my favourite things to draw are plants, flowers, animals...
I am often worried nowadays to see how our beautiful planet is suffering, and lots of people are suffering from it. Ecology is a very important cause, and I think there are so many things we can do nowadays to try to make things better, little by little, all together. I believe that if we all try our best, we can make things change.
So I guess maybe a message you could see in my work is how nature is a big part of our lives and how we should try to respect it more. But all of this is quite unconscious I think, because I don't necessarily try to give a message to my work. I only paint things that make me feel happy and at peace, and it happens that our beautiful nature is the biggest part of it.
AWW: What’s your beloved project/product/book/tv show/movie with an animal theme?
Cecile: It is very hard to pick one. After thinking a lot, I think that Disney films might actually be my answer. I am mainly talking about older Disney films because I haven't watched most of the recent ones. Films like "One hundred and one Dalmatians", "The Aristocats", or even "The Little Mermaid", ... they all have such great animal characters. I think these films help children to feel closer to animals and nature, as it shows it in a very endearing and sweet way. Every character is very unique and original, and it is amazing to see how a simple crab, for example, can become such an interesting and friendly personality in the Little Mermaid. I think that these films manage to blend human and animal characters in a very natural and beautiful way, and it helped me learn to pay more attention to details and nature around me. It is hard to explain, but even though I don't think about these films very regularly, I do every once in a while, and I think that they are still with me somewhere deep inside, inspiring me and reminding me of happy, beautiful moments, and things to look for around me, and I feel happy every time I remember them!
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