Have you ever come back to your mate’s house after a night out, way before Covid, sticking about for tea long after the partying and post bar drinks have ended. You’re sober, 4am summer sunlight is beginning to turn the room blue. Everyone’s talked out, you’ve all caught up, and now you’re just enjoying each other’s company and taking turns choosing records from this cabinet that looks older than you are. Because you’re into all that hipster nonsense, but also it’s less pressure than plugging in your own Spotify and exposing your secret passion for Dolly Parton.
Flipping through, a record sleeve catches your eye. It’s aggressively, unapologetically 80’s in style. Kate Bush. You’ve not heard that name since you were about ten and your ma and da were teasing your uncle for his obsession with Hounds of Love. The vinyl you’re now holding in your hands. You put it on, and any soft chatter stops. You sit on the dilapidated sofa, head tilted back, staring up at the indigo ceiling as the twanging opening of Running Up That Hill fills the room.
No? Just me? Ah fair enough.
The surge of Kate Bush appreciation coming out of the new season of Stranger Things has honestly delighted me. I hadn’t thought about her music in years, but after absolutely rinsing her music for about a week straight, I couldn’t not make some art about it.
I started out basing this illustration on the stills from the iconic Wuthering Heights video (if you haven’t seen Noel Fielding's 2011 rendition for Comic Relief, you are missing out and should definitely read this post and then go watch that excellent nonsense) which features some great dresses. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on anatomy and so I chose to explore a more dramatic pose for this print, especially since Running Up That Hill is so theatrical in itself (another Youtube spiral for you).
Initially I had started out working from this still and an alternate version of the Hounds of Love album cover, the colours are so dreamy and gorgeous that I really wanted to capture that same sort of ethereal feel in my drawing. The line work was done, I’d gotten the face right, after much grinding and gnashing of teeth, I’d even started to work out blending and colour schemes. But it just didn’t feel like it flowed properly. The pose felt less like a dance and more like some sort of statue, which wasn’t what I was going for at all, to be honest I was probably just a little out of practice when it came to drawing full figures! So back to the drawing board I went.
I loved the original pose I had chosen, so in the end I stuck with that, but I started to explore different images, facial expressions and angles of the head to find one that would give the overall drawing more life and movement. In the end, I revisited the Hounds Of Love artwork, which had inspired me to work on a Kate Bush illustration in the first place, and played around with combining this with the drawing I had previously been working on. And like these things tend to do, everything very suddenly came together!
After settling on what the image would look like, I redrew it entirely in a looser style, playing about with the shape of the hair to make Kate appear like she was running through a starry sky. When it came to the colour palette, I went with the purple and violet tones of the original album artwork, but included a pinkish red dress as a nod towards the Wuthering Heights music video.
“Keep running up that hill” felt like a very apt bit of typography for obvious reasons, but I also felt like it would make a pretty great companion piece to, “What would Stevie Nicks do?. She’d keep running up that hill, obviously.