Here is my interview with Penny Neville Lee, the illustrator behind the hashtag colour_collective.

What is your background in illustration?

I studied Painting at the Royal College of Art and spent the last ten years or so making large oil paintings. Looking back on them now it’s easy to see where the illustration stems from as they were all quite driven by stories and narratives. When my son was born in 2010, my work naturally shifted away from the studio to something more domestic. It sounds obvious, but it was something of a eureka moment when I realised I didn’t have to make large scale work anymore and I could just make work that I enjoyed and made me happy.

How long have you been using twitter?

I’m a relative newbie really. I joined last year and started using it in earnest around August. I was encouraged by fellow RCA painter turned illustrator Fiona Lumbers @fionalumbers to use the wonderful @Daily_Doodle as a way of generating work and getting immediate feedback; a revelation after years spent in the solitary vacuum of my studio. Ever since it’s been an addiction!

Do you find it useful and if so, how does it benefit you?

Twitter is the most incredible way of connecting with other creatives. From the beginning I only followed other illustrators, artists, or people involved in the making or enthusiastic promotion of illustration and children’s literature. Without doubt the main benefit is having an immediate, interactive platform for my work and to see other people’s work. During December last year I decided to make a painting a day for advent and devised the #illo_advent hashtag to pull together others doing the same. The sense of community that arose through the sharing and enjoyment of everyone’s work led onto #colour_collective.

Can you tell us the idea behind #colour_collective?

The most important idea is that it’s open to everyone. It doesn’t matter how you make your work: traditionally, digitally or a combination of both; anything goes. The only rule if is that it’s based around the same central colour which is set on a Saturday and that everyone posts their submissions the following Friday at 19.30 GMT or afterwards.

Do you have a favourite entry?

I couldn’t possibly choose! The quality of the artwork has been staggering, there is no central theme so each week varies hugely in subject. There’s no doubt I have people that I really look out for when the entries start pouring in, but every submission is a treat.  My new hobby is sidling up to my favourite illustrators on Twitter and asking them to join in.

How many illustrators are taking part?

The first week, Cadmium Yellow Pale, had about 50, which was incredible as I think I gave about 5 days’ notice on the colour; now we tend to number between 80-90. Amazing! I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s a great way to use colour as a starting point for making work and the sense of anticipation on a Friday night is fantastic.

All the work can be seen on the #colour_collective Facebook page too at https://www.facebook.com/colourcollective

Here’s a selection by Penny, Luke Flowers, Rob Biddulph and Tim Budgen.

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