Vibrant Jewel Tones and Balanced Compositions by Kaley McKean

Kaley McKean is herself drawn to images with a variety of detail and as such creates illustrations abundant with colour and texture for the eye to enjoy.

Whether it’s vivid, jewel-toned colours popping from the page or layered, textural flourishes, Kaley lines her work with engaging visual moments.

With so many moving parts, it can be challenging to keep a piece from becoming overcrowded yet Kaley is skilfully able to maintain a sense of balance and order in her bountiful compositions.

She talks to us about how a considered palette and the techniques she uses help this come about.

“I’m Kaley McKean and I’m a freelance illustrator in Toronto, Canada. I received my Bachelor of Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2012 and since that time I’ve been working mainly in the realms of editorial illustration and children’s publishing.”

“I’ve been lucky to be involved with some amazing clients like ‘The New York Times’, ‘Smithsonian Magazine’ and ‘Storey Publishing’.”

“I work from my home studio, which is a big attic room with vaulted ceilings and a skylight. My husband Nolan Pelletier is an illustrator as well, so we share the space.”

“We built an 8-foot desk along one wall and set up shelving to accommodate our favourite art & design and children’s books.”

“My side of the desk is set up with my computer and Wacom tablet and a few of my favourite brushes and pens. At this point, most of my work happens in Photoshop, but for most illustrations I’ll bring in scanned shapes and textures created with ink, watercolour, graphite, charcoal etc.”

“The flexibility of Photoshop makes it indispensable, especially on a tight deadline, but I always like to add a human touch with traditionally-created elements.”

“I’ve never really been a minimalist in any aspect of my life and I’m not in my illustration either. I love decorative art and I love bringing together colour, texture and pattern into something that keeps your eyes busy for a while.”

“I have the most fun looking at art that has so much going on that it seems to vibrate. I bring cohesiveness to the work by limiting my palette to three or four colours and strive for a composition that has the right balance of energy and tension.”

© Kaley McKean, 2018

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