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Shepherd Illustration on Wellbeing, Symbolism and Furry Friends

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

We recently commissioned Lauren Shepherd of Shepherd Illustration to create 8 Mountain Totem illustrations for the 8 local totemic animals that our bedrooms are named after. Here we dive a little deeper into her beautifully symbolic world.

You draw animals… Why?

When I started drawing again after many years of trying different crafts and art disciplines I immediately gravitated towards drawings flowers. Roses and peonies in particular because they are my favourite flowers that I always have in the house. From this I became increasingly interested in the natural world and I started to draw animals. Initially I drew only British wildlife, as it would be inspired by something that I saw on one of my daily dog walks through the countryside. But then I started buying lots of wildlife books and using them for inspiration but I still to this day feel strongest when I am drawing birds.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between symbolism and illustration?

I believe illustration and symbolism have a huge connection. I wouldn’t draw if I wasn’t trying to convey something. Symbols help me to express what I am trying to convey. They give added meaning to the viewer. I often find people have more personal reactions to my drawings because of added symbolic elements.

How do you find inspiration for your work?

Whenever I see something inspiring I take a picture of it and make a few notes about how it made me think and feel. I watch a lot of nature documentaries and find them very inspiring, most recently the BBC documentary Planet Earth 2 had me overflowing with new ideas.

I also find inspiration whenever and wherever I travel, whether it is a local trip into the countryside or further afield. When travelling around Morocco I was blown away seeing storks gliding through the sky every evening. The symbolic meaning that the storks carried for the locals made them something I had to draw.

Do you enjoy what you do? How does it make you feel?

I love to draw and it is a genuine passion that makes me very happy. When I draw I feel like I am taking part in a guided meditation. I have to concentrate very hard on every tiny detail, which means I can silence my brain from the stress and business of daily life. But at the same time there’s another part of my brain wanders while I draw, giving me time to think about friends and family, the people I love and the people I have lost.

Do you think creating art can have wellbeing benefits? If so what?

I believe art definitely has wellbeing benefits. If you’re creative and you never give yourself chance to be creative, I don’t believe you will ever feel truly be happy with your life. For many people creativity is not a choice, it’s a necessity. My mum is a seamstress, and even if she was never asked to sew again she would still have a house filled with fabrics, buttons and threads. She would still sew because it will always be part of her. This year I draw an anchor to be engraved on my grandfather’s headstone. I don’t feel I truly came to terms with his death till I completed this drawing and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be freed of the grief thanks to illustration.

Tell us a little bit about the Chalet Rosière collaboration.

Sometimes drawing for yourself can be difficult because you have so many ideas you don’t know where to start. When I started the collaboration with Chalet Rosière and the brief was laid out I felt a huge weight had been lifted and genuinely elated at every aspect that had been suggested. Each totem was an animal I felt hugely excited to draw, and with the added symbolism and meaning that Alex & Philip wanted to convey in each drawing I immediately started to lay down some ideas. I had such fun researching medicine cards and totems and when I had formed the main elements I worked on modernising and streamlining the overall look of the illustrations. Alex & Philip where hugely supportive throughout the whole process and working together I feel we have produced my best work to date. I am so excited to see our Mountain Totem postcards used in Chalet Rosière, and to hear about the reactions from their guests who will be given them to send home to family whilst staying at Chalet Rosière.

Lauren Shepherd’s 8 beautiful Mountain Totem postcards will be free for Chalet Rosière guests to send home to friends and family this winter, but you can win a complete set on our Facebook Page until 27/12/16 at 23:55.

To learn more about Lauren Shepherd:

Visit her website Shepherd Illustration

Visit her Etsy store Shepherd Illustration

Follow her on Instagram @shepherd.illustration

Like her Facebook Page Shepherd Illustration

We produce yoga retreats in France in both winter and summer. We have 2 places remaining on our New Year skiing and yoga retreat 7-14 January 2017 and our other retreats are filling up quickly. Email for more information.

Wild regards,

Alex and Philip Volkers


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