Merle Hunt is an illustrator specialising in traditional illustrations that reflect the natural world and the universality of stories.
Sometimes our lineage can help shape our futures. Such is the case with illustrator Merle Hunt, whose great, great, great Grandfather, Benjamin Bowen – a printer in Sheffield – was instrumental in the production of the first ever Christmas card. And several generations later, Benjamin Bowen’s great, great, great granddaughter, Merle Hunt, creates delightful card, wrapping paper and stationery illustrations. These are focused on seasonal themes such as snow-laden Nordic fairytales for Christmas, life-filled baby animals and peeping buds for spring, famous literature love quotes for summer weddings and darkening forests (with a witch or two) for Autumn.
Armed with a basketfull of brushes and a mechanical pencil always to hand, Merle creates work that is often small in scale and filled with decorative detail. Merle’s illustrations tell stories inspired by literature and fairytales. Using nature and animals as the main reference, Merle’s use of watercolours and in-depth, colourful detail creates an immediately accessible, warm appeal.
Merle draws inspiration from the works of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen, whose rich and magical ink and watercolour illustrations at the turn of the 20th century, gave rise to the ‘Golden Age of Illustration’. This was a time of Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau and the Pre-Raphaelites. Says Merle in her own words, “My images always tell stories, in fact, I think illustrators are essentially storytellers. I find endless inspiration from literature and fairytales. I enjoy capturing and evoking the mood, the magic, the feeling and something of the internal yearning of the writing or the characters I portray.”
Predominantly a watercolour artist, Merle likes to use the vibrant, pigment based colours of Windsor and Newtons professional range to create images that might at once produce the subtle tones of a frozen tundra or the brilliant hues of an Indian summer. Merle draws on her Anglo-Indian heritage to create bold, intricate patterns and animated subjects that each combine to create a story.
This sense of nature and narrative extends into Merle’s business “Merle Made Tales”, where much care is taken in sourcing ecologically sound products and printing methods for her illustrations. Merle now lives in East Sussex, in the heart of the Ashdown Forest where, incidentally, Whinnie the Pooh also lives.