top of page
Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

A Sense Of Place

Assignment Two

Like most of the exercises in part two, I have struggled with this one. Of course in true fashion, I tend to complete the exercises before getting to the assignment, so this leaves a smaller window to arrange seeing an event. In this case, I decided to use a previous exercise, "drawing on location" and build on the works created from Hitchin Lavender Fields.

I reflected back on the work I had produced and the direction I wanted to go in originally. My coloured pieces felt to have had something in them, but was unresolved and not exactly what I was aiming for. I really liked the connection I made with how visually, when in between the lanes of lavender, the people that filtered through the lanes all around appeared to be in a pool. I wondered if there was something in this that I could use for the local tourist board.

The Hitchin Lavender field provides an excellent day out for individuals, friends and families of all ages. There is a beautiful 17th century barn serving all kinds of foods, with a lovely little shop in side as well. The seating goes from indoors and carries on to a thoughtful porch area outside with the same great aesthetics found in the barn. You can find a selection of Lavender plants for sale next to this, and a children play area. Not only this, but there is a small museum about the farm land and the owners from late 1800's. when you move back to the main fields of lavender, you will find plenty of other food options with vans parked along the entrance, home made ice cream and another cute shop to buy lavender related bits and pieces. It's really quite a charming space, great for a day trip, and perhaps for an annual return each year.

With all this, it seemed the perfect subject for this assignment.

I began with doing research. To get behind the theme of travel posters, I wanted to step back in time to learn more about the boom of the travel poster, the art style and why they became the most popular type of poster to collect today.

I was split in how wide I should make this research. Do I go as wide as the era of intercontinental air travel, or focus on the British Railway posters. I had found a few website that had given me a good background on both, but there was something more charming about the British railway and the seaside town posters that are celebrated today that really appealed to me. Perhaps it is because I spent many of my childhood summer holidays playing at the sunny seasides of Britain!

Creating the posters seemed to be highly regarded in terms of what made a poster successful. Based on what I had found pictures of, there seemed to have been a set standard for which railway posters should follow in those early years, which meant including as much information as possible. Only by the 1920's did the British travel posters start to become less about the information included and more about the simplistic power of image and bold text.

“From the late 19th Century up until the 1920s, a lot of railway posters were based around landscape painting – the countryside and hills, moorland and castles,” Procter says. “And the design was really quite crude. It was very jumbled, with different typefaces. The poster would try to cram in train times and prices as well as the company name.” - Article by Amanda Ruggeri - 17th August 2015 for BBC Culture

The famous "Skegness Is SO Bracing" poster by John Hassall was designed and first issued by the London and North Eastern Railways in 1908. Because it was so popular, they reissued it in 1925 where it went on to be used for years thereafter. The design of this poster does not include the formal foundation often found in the posters of 19th century mentioned above, it does not include railway information or feel crammed with other text. Being first issued early into the 20th Century, it feels as though this might be one or the earliest iconic British posters to take on the new attitude towards what a poster should be. Hassall's style would often combine broad humour, strong colours and in his words "the less writing the better".

The 1920's is said to be when the British Railway posters began to get "interesting". The idea of what made a successful poster, much like Hassal's opinion, had evolved to needing a strong image and a clear message.

"Designers began to agree that a poster should be, above all, an advertisement, focused on delivering a clear message about a single destination." - Article by Amanda Ruggeri - 17th August 2015 for BBC Culture

LNER was one of the first companies to embrace this, as seen in Hassall's work. In 1928 William Barribal, a commercial artist, designed the incredibly strong poster for Bridlington, featuring the "bathing beauties" sailing in a wooden rowing boat on the shore with swimmers all around. The painting very much embraces the typical seaside activities whilst also including landmarks of the town in the background. The bold colours are incredibly striking and appears to be of a limited colour palette. The powerful pose that takes centre stage shows pride in the town as she carries a flag behind blowing in the wind. The very well composed painting and title proves that a good poster needs only a good image and barely any text for it to be success.

As we move forward a few years, the format of the strong image and less text seemed to not have evolved much into the modern day. The difference took shape in the images that would be used and the technique in which they were done. This began to show in the late 1930's onwards. A painting by Chalres Pears for The Cambrian Coast. the painting shows a lady laying at the sea edge with the tide washing in. She is posing in a way that seems relaxed, with the surroundings given the opposite to what was more commonly known as packed full of people and activities to keep you entertained. Instead it is quietly inviting you to escape, yet still showing the beach as family friendly as kids can be seen playing in the background.

Heading in to the second world war, it seemed that perhaps the idea of going to the seaside was not the reality many sought, for a while it seemed the paintings were more romanticised. Perhaps encouraging a dream. The paintings are still brightly coloured and enticing, making one believe a war wasn't happening at all.

As a stark contrast to the railway posters, and perhaps going slightly off topic here, I wanted to know whether during the second world war people might have had the opportunity to travel to the seaside. I first landed on IWM website and found a painting by Henry Carr called Incendiaries in a Suburb, 1941. It summed up my imagination for this period; dark and scary.

Not the picture of tourism that's for sure!

I then found a website telling of a persons own experience as a child during the war, and memories of going to the beach. They go on to say that the beaches were no place for children to play on, and were in fact sectioned off with barbed wire to prevent access. The beaches were mined and stepping over the barbed wire defence would mean stepping on a mine. For some years after it remained closed as they worked to clear the beaches which took time and expertise.

Once the war was over, the railway posters continued, but travelling to the seaside was soon challenged when the world would become more open offering affordable package holidays to Spain and the Mediterranean. This would then lead us to the intercontinental air travel, which may also be known as the golden age of travel. For me the posters of this era didn't seem far different to those of the British Railways. They often involved an image celebrating a culture, landmark or other known tourist attraction accompanied with the name of the location and the airline or tourism company.

Whilst it was useful to step back and understand the design of a successful travel poster, I wanted leap forward and see more modern illustrations used for posters. To further my research I looked to find other visual reference / inspiration to help with my own process in creating a series of illustrations.

I started basic with a Google search, "Lavender Field illustrations" and scrolled passed the "stock image" that are always up first (there was a time Google images was the place to go for reference, that has fallen extremely flat in recent years). A couple of paintings caught my eye.

I loved the painted textures in these paintings and how they captured the rows on rows of lavender. It was interesting to observe the compositions used in each and in a way there are two version that are visible above. you have the perspective of the lavenders going away from you into a landscape of hills, or the perspective that feels very straight lined. I particularly like the painting with the farmer with his tractor and dog. It is this style of showing subjects straight on in between the lavenders that I would like to capture in my design.

I then looked for reference images of posters used for tourism. I found many different styles, all of which that had stood out to me as being unique in some way or another.

In this selection we have the illustrative style, the painterly style and even one that feels to be reportage style (Hong Kong bottom left). I loved the Japan artworks, I loved how bold they were and how they suited the many themes and style that can be found in Japan both modern and traditionally. I also LOVED the Spain image in the top right, it felt very illustrative yet graphic in the composition.

During the search I cam across a selection of travel posters that included Lavender Fields as their main focus. Finding these really helped with seeing how they had incorporated life and landscape around the attraction.

I was most drawn to the warmth in the Provence France top left image. I thought the composition was good for Luberon bottom right, and how it was interesting to see the inclusion of a couple between the rows in the Les Champs De Lavande bottom left. I was feeling like had gathered a good range of inspiration to move forward with figuring out my own illustrations that would become the posters.

Looking at the posters above, you can definitely see that the tradition in the travel posters remains consistent no matter the creator. Whether these continue to be used in todays world or not, an image, a title and small text is all that is included. There was no doubt that I had to include this format in my illustrations.

Artist Inspiration

Although I had mentioned a few artists during the history research, one artist that I hadn't included was Dorothea Sharp, who I had taken a particular liking to after seeing her contribution to LNER with the "East Coast It's Quicker By Rail" in 1934.

East Coast It’s Quicker By Rail, Dorothea Sharp, about 1934, UK. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

There was life in the painting that made it feel almost reportage, a sense of plein air to the piece with the choppy brushstrokes and energy captured. The children's pose was captured but missed the details of features in the faces, further adding to the sense of joy in the moment.

I wanted to some how capture the essence of Dorothea's work in my own.

“No other woman artist gives us such joyful paintings as she. Full of sunshine and luscious colour, her work is always lively, harmonious and tremendously exhilarating ... her subjects appeal because they are based on the joy of life ... the chief attractions of Miss Sharp’s delightful pictures are her happy choice of subjects, and her beautiful colour schemes’’ - Harold Sawkins, editor of The Artist Journal,

The second artist I wanted to use, again! was the artist used for the original exercise where I visited the Lavender Fields, Charlotte Ager. Her illustrations have really left an impression on me. Not only the swimmers project, but her work on a whole. The mixed media and textures across her work is beautiful. She uses a variety of subjects within her illustrations which offers a huge library of inspiration. I wanted to see if I could produce something somewhere between Dorothea and Charlotte, and wondered what that might look like.

Lavender Fields

Using my own images from the recent trip, and those I had taken last year, I collected a small library of reference to work from. As well as those, I browsed Hitchin Lavender website and social media to find other references that would be useful. I was looking for a different perspective and experience compared to my own as this needed to appeal to a variety of people. I sought family friendly images that expressed the joy.


As I had already gathered drawings on location in the previous exercises, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to progress my work here into producing thumbnails for possible ideas I would like. Using ProCreate, I scribbled down a few compositions.


used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject

used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject - Artist work - 07/07/23 - used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject

used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject

used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject

used for researching on existing works with Lavender Fields as the subject - Beaches during the war - 07/07/23

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page