Who is Jeannie Baker?
Jeannie Baker is an artist, author and film-maker. Born in Croydon, England on November 2 1950, Jeannie grew up the eldest of six children. As a child she loved drawing, painting and making things (Walker Books, 2008). She attended art college at Brighton Polytechnic before emigrating to Australia in 1975 and becoming a children’s writer. She is now based in Sydney (AustLit, 2011).
Jeannie Baker is a multi-award winning author and illustrator of a number of children’s picture books, perhaps most notable of which is Where the Forest meets the Sea. While her genre is children’s literature, many of her more recent artworks used in her picture books have also evolved into a travelling exhibition. She has also directed several short animated films using her stories (Baker, n.d).
She has a unique and distinctly recognisable style and is well known for her use of mixed media to create detailed and elaborate collages. She addresses a diverse range of issues in her work, including family, society, sustainability and environment. The Australian outback and wildlife has also had an enormous impact on Jeannie Baker’s art with many of her books having an environmental focus (Walker Books, 2008).
Jeannie Baker’s main aim is to communicate to people through different layers of meaning in her work, some which are aimed at young children and others targeted at older readers. The process of creating and illustrating her picture books through collages takes a substantial amount of time with most taking around two or three years to complete. The first step is to work out the ideas in drawings. Jeannie first focuses on the work as a whole before adding the details. When it comes to making the collage, the focus is first on the colour and texture, while still developing the ideas. Her collages are created using a combination of natural and artificial materials and where possible Jeannie attempts to use the textures from the actual materials portrayed, for example bark, feathers, earth and wool. In this way the natural textures become an integral part of the artwork. The natural materials are preserved and colour is added. While her work is largely two-dimensional there is an element of depth created to give a strong illusion of perspective (Baker, n.d).