Peaceful Simplicity that soothes your mind: Interview with Penelope Dullaghan
Penelope Dullaghan is an experienced and award-winning illustrator who started off as an art director for an ad agency and became a full-time freelance illustrator as she found her passion for art. Penelope has worked with magazines, newspapers, ad campaigns and recently, she has discovered the charm in children’s books and starts illustrating for them as well. Everyone would be enchanted by the simplicity of Penelope’s illustrations, which can soothe your mind somehow! Keep reading to find out more about her.
AWW: Which piece of work is your favourite of all your drawings? Could you share with us?
Penelope Dullaghan: I love simplicity in imagery and messaging. So I think my favourite drawing of all time might be my simplest - a sweet card welcoming a new baby that shows a big rainbow and a teeny rainbow together. Something about the proportions and positions of the rainbows makes it feel very nurturing and peaceful.
AWW: Could you explain the message behind your work?
Penelope: I believe the main message behind my work is to slow down and notice small, often overlooked, beauty. It’s remembering that a simple cup of tea can be a thing to savour. Or reading to a child can be a way to bring playfulness and presence to your relationships. My message is about being alive and being there for it.
AWW: During illustrating children’s books, were there any difficulties or challenges that you have encountered?
Penelope: Illustrating children’s books has been such a treat because I get to dream up and create characters and the world they live in. Sometimes, when I’m starting a new book, that can feel daunting and I have to play around with different ideas, often doing many drafts that just don’t feel right. It’s like playing hide and seek in the dark. But then there’s a little spark of an idea - a little glimmer of “there it is!” - and I’ve found what I was looking for.
AWW: Do you have a favourite children’s book? What do you love about the illustrations of the book?
Penelope: My favourite children’s book is called “The Promise” by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Laura Carlin. I love the colour shift that happens in the illustrations to show how the world changes in the story from awful and scary to wonderful and optimistic. Carlin’s loose style and sense of colour make me swoon!
AWW: Could you describe the routine of your typical working day? Maybe list out what you would do during the day.
Penelope: My day begins early. I like to get up with the sun and go swim or hike first thing in the morning before I start my work (otherwise I won’t exercise and instead just work all day and burn out). I also homeschool my daughter, so we do school stuff in the morning before I start on my work. When I finally sit down to work, I’m definitely ready! I usually tidy up my table, rinse off my palettes and start on the project at hand. My daughter works on her projects in the same studio, so we turn on the music and lose ourselves in our projects.
AWW: Can you share your favourite motto or quote to us?
Penelope: "A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
AWW: What inspired you to draw in this style? Do you find any artists or accounts that inspired you? Could you recommend at most 3 of them?
Penelope: My style has shifted and evolved over my career as an artist. Sometimes it was intentional (when I felt I needed to express things differently) and sometimes it was a natural progression to make my process more efficient. But mostly I draw the way I do because it comes easily.
Artists who have inspired me have been the work of Phoebe Wahl, Giselle Potter and Mark Hearld.
To find out more about Penelope Dullaghan please visit the artist's IG account | @penelope_dullaghan