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Caribbean Aesthetics: The Illustrated Grenada’s Fayola Edwards

by Lou-Ann Jordan Sep 19, 2022

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Findyello Caribbean Aesthetics article on Illustrated Grenada Fayola Edwards with photo of Fayola smiling
Photo credit: Terel Moore Photography

That Grenada is picturesque, that is for sure. Many scenes signify its incredible beauty and are the subjects of many local canvases.  

There are our hillsides, on which the Flamboyant trees add bursts of scarlet among rich green foliage when in bloom. Also, so are our beaches, where shades of blue blend together and crash onto beige sand, white and foaming. Let’s not forget the worn lattices of our antique buildings, displaying intricate work that speaks to a time and artistry gone by. Our architecture adds a touch of august elegance that their dereliction cannot diminish.

Additionally, there are the more mundane things that we take for granted, but that contribute to the aesthetics of this proud country. The smiling faces and heart-warming exchanges of our people are beautiful and portrayable. These all speak to the island’s charm and are all canvas-worthy and stunning when brought to life with skilful sketching. Fayola Edwards, the artist behind, The Illustrated Grenada, has been bringing them to life.

Pen and sketch pad in hand, Fayola has been sketch-journaling these aspects of Grenada’s beauty. Also, a professional dancer, her paintings reveal a merging of the two art forms. For example, Fayola’s paintings and sketches reflect her ability to arrest her audience’s attention through motion. Deftly, her pencils create subtle movement in her drawings, grabbing attention.

The works featured on the Illustrated Grenada Facebook page are remarkable for the way motion is captured and the endearing and relatable quality of the scenes. These can be seen in clothing billowing in the wind, greenery swaying against an old house, a mother and smiling baby at the doctor’s office or a young child atop a father’s shoulders. Ultimately, they showcase the beauty of familiar scenery and everyday interactions in Grenada. Her digital sketch journal, The Illustrated Grenada, is aptly named.

Interested in learning more and wanting to share it with you, we reached out. Here’s what the talented artist had to say about her forays into art and the creation of Illustrated Grenada.

Findyello Caribbean Aesthetics article on Illustrated Grenada Fayola Edwards with image of sketched houses.
Illustrations by Fayola Edwards

When did you first become interested in art?

For as long as I’ve known myself, I have loved drawing and colouring for fun. I loved receiving colouring books; although opportunities to paint were very few, they were a treat when they came!

UK Illustrator Owen Davey says, “every artist is self-taught in a way” what has been your experience? Were you self-taught or trained?

Through school, whether for projects, science or fun, I revelled in every opportunity to draw and trace drawings with friends. I entered school art competitions and got third place once. In college, I took an elective course in Art for one term and learned about shadows and light. I loved it and wanted to do it for A Levels but lacked parental support. In those days, art was not seen as much of an asset. Twenty years later, I found myself in quarantine in a pandemic when my sister sent me a link to an online art course opportunity. I began taking lesson after lesson and soon found it to be a way of life. Now, I draw everything. I take a small sketchbook everywhere I go and draw at every opportunity.

How do you classify yourself as an artist or illustrator?

I see myself as an artist because that term encompasses all drawing and painting styles. Also, as I am new to the field, I am still at a stage where I am discovering and exploring my favourite areas and developing my style. Even so, I don’t see myself ever settling on any one area of art. Even if I eventually specialise because of business, I will always return to the ones I love for relief and distraction.

What factors influence your work and inspire you to create?

Findyello Caribbean Aesthetics article on Illustrated Grenada Fayola Edwards with photo of Fayola sketching.
Photo credit: Terel Moore Photography

The life I see around me is all the inspiration I need. I live in a tri-island ex-colonial country with volcanic geography, beautiful Creole people, and a culture influenced by Africa, Asia, and Europe. There is a lot to draw on from our culture, geography, and architecture.

Do you have themes you pursue? If yes, what are they?

It’s mostly capturing Caribbean life around me.

You’re also a professional dancer. As someone involved in two art forms, does dance influence your drawings?

It’s hard to say which influences the other. Even before I started drawing professionally, I used an art analogy when choreographing a dance. I would tell my dancers that the stage is my canvas, and they are the colours that I am using. I love drawing dancers in motion. My mind views the two art forms quite similarly.

What is your process for drawing? What steps do you follow generally?

Finding a subject is easy. It is usually something that has left some impression on me. Then I put pen to paper and narrate what I see as I draw feature by feature.

Findyello Caribbean Aesthetics article on Illustrated Grenada Fayola Edwards with image of sketched fort.
Illustration by Fayola Edwards

What are your tools of trade?

I am very much a sketchbook artist because of my daily drawing routine. Mostly, I work with pen and watercolour or markers because they are easier for daily drawings. However, portraits for clients are done with watercolour and coloured pencils.

What is your favourite thing to draw?

This question is hard to answer. In terms of frequency, it’s people in action, traditional Caribbean houses and town architecture. I also have a special place in my heart for the portraits I do. My portrait style is realism, so it is a very slow process of bringing faces to life on a flat sheet of paper. When I draw deceased loved ones, it feels like somewhat of a spiritual experience. It is like they are speaking through my hands as their faces appear on my paper layer by layer. At the end of the process, I am rewarded by their beautiful eyes looking at me. It’s a pleasure to do this for clients.

Findyello Caribbean Aesthetics article on Illustrated Grenada Fayola Edwards with image of portraits of a smiling woman and man.
Illustrations by Fayola Edwards

Is there any new area in which you would like to challenge yourself and what are your goals for overcoming it?

Well, I am learning as I go along, and I will continue to explore the possibilities of applying my art to life. So, I see challenges as part of this process. I want to explore painting on clothing and accessories, and as usual, I will start small. I am about to custom paint some of my own accessories! I have no experience in this, but I will learn through trial and error.

Tell us about The Illustrated Grenada page. What can visitors to the page expect to find there?

I created The Illustrated Grenada because of my love of sketch journaling and also because I love writing. I post the things I see in Grenada and say a little about the subject. Visitors will find drawings and commentary of cute architecture, illustrations of the people and what they do, dance and events that I observe and interest me.

What is your goal for The Illustrated Grenada?

Eventually, I would like to illustrate and write articles on culture in Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean, which I would like to learn more about. So presently, it is a means to explore that on a smaller scale.

Do you do book illustrations or commercial art projects? If yes, what’s the process for commissioning you?

I am currently doing commissions for portraits, as that seems to be a favourite with people so far. However, I am open to proposals for art and writing projects that can use my style. I can be contacted via message on my Facebook and Instagram platforms. You can also reach me via [email protected] and on WhatsApp at 1-473-537-5095.

The Caribbean is teeming with talented artists, and we’re happy to introduce you to their work. Stay tuned for our next instalment of Caribbean Aesthetics.