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Meet: Becca Hall

Becca Hall is on a mission to capture a childhood feeling of free joy. Using paint and ink, the Newquay-based illustrator creates delightful, playful characters that decorate ceramics and capture moments in children’s stories. 

Ahead of Becca’s Watergate Bay artist residency in October 2023, we met up to chat story illustration, coastal colour palettes, Drink and Draw workshops, and find out what she’s looking forward to most from her residency…

How to draw dogs

Fresh from her residency, Becca shared with us her 'How to draw dogs' tutorial to screen during Kids' Zone supervised sessions.

I’m originally from the Lake District, but grew up visiting Cornwall twice a year, since I was four, and it always felt like it was my true home. There’s something so special about this end of the UK; it’s like no other place on earth. I’d planned to retire here, and then one day I thought, why wait? I packed as much as I could in my car, moved down the following week, and I’ve never looked back… 

I love the number of creatives in Cornwall, doing their own thing, running their own businesses. It makes you feel like you are part of this big collective of people who have chosen not to follow the ‘usual life’ but took a freelance route instead. Being surrounded by people who are following their dreams is so empowering and inspires me to ‘play’ more in my work, to try new things. 

illustrations by Becca Hall

Being surrounded by people who are following their dreams is so empowering and inspires me to ‘play’ more in my work, to try new things

— Becca Hall

The ocean and coast are a huge inspiration too – as well as a distraction! Depending on the swell or tide times, I’m either wanting to surf or walk the dog along the beach. Those walks are a great way to clear my head if I’m ever feeling stressed with work. My partner Ben and I will go for a surf or wander on the coast path, and all my worries disappear out to 

sea. Walking along the coast path has inspired various colour palettes in my sketchbook as well.

I often find myself driving to Newquay Harbour and sitting in a quiet spot to draw the boats bobbing about on a high tide. Experimenting with the landscape’s ‘wildness’ in the winter months, capturing every single little fishing boat in the harbour, spotting seals or seabirds, seeing the light shimmer on the water. There’s always such variety there, and I love to watch (and draw) the fishermen coming in from their latest catch.

Becca Hall surfing

I came to Watergate Bay a couple of times during our Cornish holidays as a child, and loved the hotel being right on the beach, but never imagined that one day I would live just down the road and would walk on or surf at Watergate most days! I love how Watergate Bay changes throughout the year too. It can be flat-calm and sunny, or the windiest, wildest beach you’ve ever walked on. Filled with people, windbreaks and sandcastles in the summer, then in winter you might not see a soul. It has everything, including the best sunsets! 

I’d say I have a hand-drawn, nostalgic style of illustrating, but I always find describing my illustration style difficult, and usually end up just showing people instead! My aim is to make people smile. I love to bring character and charm to my illustrations (especially my animals!) and evoke that feeling of childhood joy. No seriousness, just fun, free joy. 

Every illustrator’s work is inspired by someone else in one way or another. I grew up adoring the illustrations of Quentin Blake, who created so much character with just a dip pen and ink. I also love the work of Catherine Rayner and always admired how she brought animals to life. Lately, it's a whole mix of illustrators and artists – Instagram has been an incredible tool to be inspired by others. 

Fishing trawler - Becca Hall illustration

My aim is to make people smile. I love to bring character and charm to my illustrations and evoke that feeling of childhood joy. No seriousness, just fun, free joy.

The mediums I use change depending on what I’m illustrating and where, but it’s also developed and changed a lot over the last few years. I used to work solely with watercolours and pen, but I now bring various mediums into my work. I use brush pens, gouache, pencil crayons, dip pen/fountain pen, and pastels, though I do go back to watercolour for some illustrations. I also work digitally on my iPad when illustrating books, so I can move things around easily and make changes that the publisher asks for without having to start again!

I illustrated my first book in January 2018 and it’s grown from there. It’s now the main part of my business and the thing I love the most. The latest one to be published is Meet the 

Bears by Kate Peridot. I absolutely loved illustrating it – a true adventure filled with beautiful bears and scenery.

Go and take a look! 

Illustrations by Becca Hall

My Patreon online tutorials have had a better response than I ever could have imagined. I feel so honoured to have helped people get into illustrating, or to improve on their skills and grow confident enough to go out, draw and find joy in art rather than dismissal or frustration. Now I never believe anyone who says ‘I can't draw at all’. I’ve seen how people learn to draw from scratch through the tutorials I’ve run, and their progress and work is incredible.

Surfer in the sunset

My residency at Watergate Bay is coming up, and I can’t wait to open the curtains each morning and see the sea right in front of me. Taking a bath while the sun sets will be an absolute dream. I’m hoping for a clean swell so we can go for an early surf before I start drawing. I want to try and fill as many sketchbook pages as I can with the wonderful variety of dogs that are on the beach and in the hotel. I want to celebrate how dog friendly Watergate is. But I also like to keep a door open in my mind for anything else that inspires me during my stay… 

I am so excited to host the ‘Drink and Draw’ workshop. I’m creating a mini-series about ‘dogs on Watergate’ during my residency, so I will be sharing my top tricks and tips for Cornish sea life including seals, crabs, dolphins and birds. I’ll present some of my sketchbooks at the beginning of the session, and the evening will be spent drawing from a selection of beach treasures, before we move on to illustrating some gorgeous creatures from photographs.

Becca Hall Illustrations (1)

A cup of tea is always on the go in the studio, and a selection of mugs on rotation depending on my mood. Today was my Border Terrier mug, which is still my favourite. It was my first ever design, still my bestseller, and made from Cornish Clay which I think makes the tea taste that little bit better! Then I tend to have a chatty podcast on, something funny and light-hearted so it doesn’t matter if my concentration dips in and out. It feels like I’m in a shared studio of people having a natter.

Meet Becca

Becca will be working around the hotel and on the beach during her September residency - Wednesday 27 to Sunday 1 October. Please come and say hello.

She has recently finished a commission at Watergate Bay with Boardmasters Music Festival and is currently working on serval children’s books publishing later this year.

Illustrator Becca Hall

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