Tuesday, 14 November 2006

Dear me, where has the time gone? I suppose you're waiting for an update, eh? Well, it is about time I got off my backside and made a post or two.

Well, since the last time I was here I've finished the four spot samples I was doing for Lovely Mark - not without some hassles, the time difference being one - and they've been sent off to L.A to be passed around the "sales team" for their opinions and, hopefully, the much-coveted go-ahead for the whole project. We should find out this week, apparently, if they are going to continue with the full project. Here's just a little snippet:

I've also been working like a demon on portfolio pieces without the hated black eyeliner. I really need to do more of these. I think quick one-off pieces are the way to go, although to start with I'm taking Goldilocks - which Lovely Mark very kindly provided ready-made layouts for - as a starting point.

Not too heavy on the kohl, I hope. ;-)

It's much more like the Eeries in approach - ink outlines for a start - and much more "free". It's just a start, though. Much more to do. I'm not really liking his scarf at the moment - it looks too static. A casual over-the-shoulder throw might work better! And, of course, that's the in thing for young whipper-snapper bears right now.

I do find the B&W much easier, though. More fun. Good job too, as I have an appointment with an editor to go over the Eeries on the 28th, and they want to see my portfolio, too. Two weeks to produce some good B&W stuff.....? Let's go!

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Today's Firsts

First: Job in from Mark
First: Ride in a TucTuc
First: Time I've been to the cinema this month
First: Knitting project for Christmas started
First: Offer made on
First: House

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Been busy on the robin/Xmas card today. I think I have a basic robin I can work with and develope, and I've been having a play about with the trees as well.

However, I did get a mini telling-off from Mark when I called him earlier. He REALLY needs some re-worked picture book pieces from me minus the black eyeliner. Helpfully he's sending me some layouts tomorrow that I can work from , which will definitely make the process quicker. It's all the "Oh-God-what-shall-I-do?" faff that takes up all the valuable drawing time. That's Thursday sorted, then!

Yesterday's house hunting went really well, even if it was incredibly exhausting. I don't want to say too much just in case I jinx it all, but there's definitely somewhere we like. Just got to get money issues sorted. I'm trying really hard not to be already living there in my head, but it's not going too well!

I've also set up a new blog today. Nothing on there as yet, so you can't get there, but in a nutshell it will be my one-woman campaign for real chips! Watch this space.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

In a bid to develope my "inky" style - and TRY to come up with ideas for my Christmas cards - I've been playing about with robins and bare, wintery trees.

The robin is painted in exactly the same way as the inky dogs and pigs were. I think I may give him two tail feathers instead of three, though. He's looking a little too chickeny at the moment. I've also been trying out using thumb prints for his red breast, or just a scribble of wax crayon. Both are looking pretty cool so far in PhotoShop, but they need a bit more of a play about. Perhaps I could pick up something else a bit more unusual - or natural - to scan in. Like a holly berry or similar. Will have to go out for a forage!

The trees were loads of fun. I used the old-skool ink-and-a-straw method, and just basically blew the watery ink about until I got my spidery bare branches, which made me think of doing a range of spiders for Hallow'een.

Can't wait to get on with these! But they will have to wait until Tuesday, as we're off down to Cornwall tomorrow and Monday to check out some potential houses TO BUY!!! Hurrah!

Monday, 9 October 2006

I've spent the last week updating and re-jigging my website, only to go and upload it today and find a lovely "page cannot be found" message. Apparently my DNS is pointing the wrong way. Oh, of course. How silly of me not to realise. I've switched over my DNS, but now have to wait 24-48 hours for it to come into effect before I can even see if the site is OK! The tone of the email from the web hosting support team was slightly patronising and annoyed me, as did the fact that the guy, "Jonny", I was talking to wasn't one to use five words when one will do. Not everyone is an internet genius, mate. But never mind, it's sorted. I hope.

Went out for a gorgeous walk yesterday afternoon. The weather was glorious. We took the train two stops to Falmer and had a lovely wander around Stanmer Park and a cup of tea and a scone in the village tea room. I picked up loads of beautiful autumn leaves that I'm going to put in a sketchbook of "red things". I really like the idea of making little documented collections. The leaves really are stunning. I think I'll get out the watercolours and have a go at trying to mimic the colours.

We came back and I made delicious - even if I do say so myself! - braised lamb shank with leeks and mashed potato. I got the receipe idea from Pie by Andrea Boggiano, one of the five books I've bought recently! (There's nothing quite so cheering as the postie delivering a nice big package of books.) A gorgeous book with beautiful photographs and design, plus it mentions Brighton's own Pokeno Pies. I didn't have a big enough pie dish to make the lamb into a pie, so just served them as is. Autumn food. Love it. Can't wait for it to get colder.

Friday, 29 September 2006

Gawwwww. I'm all restless, and it's all because I'm really inspired! I WANT to get on with things! Lorna drew my attention to this wonderful site this evening, which in turn led to other fabulous sites. I also have some fabby ideas for my website up-date and just WANT TO GET ON! Hurrah! I rarely feel so inspired to just "do", so I MUST not let this pass me by and drift into laziness.

Part of my problem with just "doing" has been my unwillingness to make mistakes. That something can just be an experiment and no one else has to see it. Lovely Mark has been very good at encouraging me with this, and I'm slowly getting over it.

About two months ago I bought a pack of three mini Moleskine sketchbooks, like these in the lovely parcel-paper brown. I've done nothing with them, depsite carrying one about in my bag most days, and even taking it up with me to Edinburgh. I'm going to use them for "stuff". Just because I'm an illustrator, it doesn't mean I can just collect or collage things. Who knows where it will lead? In fact, just thinking about this has made me think about the possibilities of combining my inky dogs with scanned found textures or other bits and bobs.

Really excited.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

A bit of an odd day today. I didn't have anything specific to do - only a vague notion of updating my website - so I felt a bit aimless while waiting for Mark's verdict on the train pieces.

So, the website it was. The new Plum Pudding site made me realise I still have far too much old work on display, and a quick shufty around my old site revealed much the same. Another re-jig is in order, then. I don't think I'm going to change the general appearance too much, but I definitely need to divide it up into sections. I'm taking Oliver Jeffers' site as inspiration. We have a fairly similar "picture wall" layout anyway, but I like that the pictures on his home page don't really relate to what's behind them, and that a little piece of text pops up in the top left corner telling you where it goes. I really, really like his coffee pictures. Inspirational stuff.

Went out for a lovely, lovely walk with Lovely, Lovely Jon about 5ish. I even had to wear a coat. I don't want to jinx anything, but it could just be possible that autumn is on it's way; there was a definite nip in the air. Huzzah! Also saw the cutest Jack Russel puppy who jumped up at us all excited to say hello. Shame she was called Daphne.

Mark rang at about 6.30pm when I'd just got back in to tell me he LURVES the train stuff. Am really chuffed. A breakthrough!!

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

I'm not sure I will get used to this watercolour malarkey. Having to wait for each layer to dry before you get on with the next feels a bit lazy to me. Oh well. Plenty of time for knitting in between!

I have two versions of my "below" spread. The first bleeds off the page, the second is confined by a frame, but has the train jumping out.

I think I prefer the second. More movement. I'll see what young Mr. Mills thinks.

I went up to the allotment this afternoon as well. Lovely to get out of the house, and the weather was pretty stunning, too. I picked LOADS of tomatoes, and there are still many more ready to ripen. I want to make a green tomato chutney (good for Crimbo pressies. Eeek! Crimbo!) with any left over, but at this rate the Indian Summer will have ripened them all. Not that I'm complaining as such, but I really, really want to wear my new boots and my stripy jumpers. Not to mention my selection of self-knitted fingerless gloves!

Monday, 25 September 2006

I've had a rather busy couple of weeks, and have really got down to the Eeries portfolio pieces.

So, amongst others, there's the WLC in colour - which, I have to say, I love, as does Mark, thankfully - and a colour version of the Eerie family from the original piece I did waaaaay back in February. I start off by painting it purely in B&W, and then scanning that in and laying thin, thin, thin colour underneath in PS. I found that the lairier colours make the best thin "washes". You don't want to see them at their full opacity! Yeeeech.

I've also been working on that pesky train spread today. There are two versions of it - one from above and one from below. This is "above".

"Below" will hopefully follow tomorrow, in some form or another.

Also had my Mighty Mouse delivered today! Much easier to use than my prehistoric iMac mouse, but annoyingly loses the bluetooth connection when the computer goes to sleep. Have changed my settings so it never goes to sleep, but I'm sure there must be an easier way around it.

In other exciting news, the Plum Pudding website is up and running today.Mark has also moved into his new premises in Wandsworth (At least, I hope he has. That was the plan!) I have to say, as lovely as the site itself is, I HATE most of my work on it. All the more reason to get on with some really good portfolio pieces to replace all the old embarrasing stuff. After all, I can't get the work I want if the work I'm showing is completely different, can I?

Went up to London yesterday and popped into the Mac Store on Regent's Street. It's Ikea for boys.

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Well, after two really rather lazy weeks, I've finally got back to the Eeries.

Here is the WLC in black and white:

I am totally in love with black and white at the moment. Can't get enough. Very strange as I've never, ever done any. That must be why - the draw of the new! I've always envisaged the WLC - and all the Eeries illos - in B&W. If it's ever published they would be in B&W, so I'm finding it really hard to approach them in colour, especially as a group. I think the singular Mrs. B-S works well, but putting all that colour together........hmmmmmm.

So, to try and get my head around it I've been having a quick play about with laying thin colours underneath in PhotoShop. I really don't want to lose the lovely textures in the black, and this is the only way I can think of doing it. The idea is that it looks like an old, hand-tinted photograph.

Not bad for a first attempt.

Both Kingfisher and Hodder have turned down the Eeries, so I'm meeting up with Mark to go through the text on the 19th. That also gives me a definite deadline for the portfolio pieces. Should get my bum in gear, at least!

Friday, 18 August 2006

Well, the WLC is finished, in rough at least.

I'm quite chuffed with it, and Lovely Mark is very happy. Even Lovely Jon said: "I love the twins. There's always creepy twins!"

So I've been working on how I might approach doing this baby up in colour. Obviously, if The Eeries was to be published, the illo would actually be in black and white, but Lovely Mark has requested a colour version for the Plum Pudding portfolio.

So here is my first attempt at Mrs. Barrett-Swann, not mentioned by name, but one of the more formidable members of the Worthing Ladies' Choir.

I got a bit disheartened with it so didn't bother to finish it off, although it's not bad for a first attempt. It's hard thinking through how best to use a new medium. Apart from the Black Arrow cover, I've not used the Dr. Martens properly. The only real piece I've done with them is the original Eeries portrait in b&w. I was never taught how to use watercolours - when I had a set as a young whippersnapper I just used them like gouche- so it's a bit of a steep learning curve. I get too impatient inbetween layers, but have discovered it gives me a bit of time to do a few rows on the old knitting while I'm waiting for the paint to dry, so it can't be all bad!

Also, the main thing I have to work on is my eyes. Not MY eyes, obviously, but the way I treat my characters'. Basically, the heaviness of the outline is losing me work. Kingfisher and Hodder both said they're put off by the thickness of the black line around the eyes in my colour work (although in my b&w stuff it works fine), and that means I have to acknowlege that Lovely Mark was right all along - he's been telling me that for months.

So, using a new medium AND trying a new approach. Blimey.

The first Mrs. B-S uses a lot of my old familiar techniques - coloured pencil to give defintion, same thickness line - but I made myself stop and do a second version just using the paint and the pen. There's only a teeny weeny bit of black pencil around the eyes.

I much prefer this version - it's much "tighter". In fact, the Gorgeous Erica (please see links on the right hand side) said:

"I much, much prefer no.2. Regardless of whether she looks dead or not the painting is far superior to image 1. IMHO

Look at the depth you have with the shading under her music sheets, and you've kept the whole thing cleaner. I know she's supposed to be dead, but maybe there is another way of portraying this other than washed out colours? Maybe try giving her a lavender coloured hat with holes, tatty edges and cobwebs and spiders coming off it?

Also...ok I'm off on one now!... ...If the final illo is to be on a white background, I think you need to be a bit braver with colour. Saying's how she's dead, how about a lavendery coloured dress with big bold black stripes? If you introduce colour in her clothing then you could get away with a paler face to make her look dead? I wouldn't give her rosey cheeks either, I'd put a nice purple wash around her eyes, not too dark, just enough to make her look suitably unhealthy."

I love her.

So, I've been working a little on the eyes, as I still don't think they're "there" yet, but I need much more experimenting time to slosh the paint about, and try a little purple outlining, before I'll give Mrs. B-S another go and post her up here.

Kingfisher turned down the Eeries, but Lovely Mark has left a copy with Hodder as well. Let's hope they are more positive.

I feel really happy with the way things are going at the mo. I didn't want to go to the library today, but stay at home and experiment. The new-found positivity comes from having a new direction to go in, even if you're not entirely sure if it's going to lead you anywhere, and a Lovely Mark to navigate the hairpin bends for you. He's doing a fabulous job.

So, up to Edinburgh tomorrow to see the Lovely Jon, who I haven't seen for nearly three weeks. I really, really miss him. It's been quite a struggle on my own this time, even though I thought I'd be fine. Things are so much easier when you have someone to bounce off.

Then back to the eyes!

Monday, 7 August 2006

Oh, and my glamorous and far more interesting flatmate Pinky Gigglejuice has her new site up and running as well!

Check it out!
So, I'm all on me lonelisome again. Yes, it's August, so it must be the Edinburgh Festival. Lovely Jon is up there for nearly five weeks, so I'm here manning the fort.

And it's been OK so far. Getting lots of stuff done. I spent the day at Mark's last Tuesday, and, as well as talking a whole load of rubbish, we had a good talk about my work and where I'm heading. He's read The Eeries and really likes it, so I'm currently doing a few spreads for it for my portfolio, and, of course, to sell the idea a bit more to potential publishers!

This is what I've been doing for the past two days:

I had a lovely weekend with Amy Spud coming down to allieviate my loneliness! We went to Pride on Saturday, and made her work for her lunch at the allotment on Sunday:

I do feel much, much more positive about my work, and the direction I'm heading, which is due in no small part to Mark. Top, top bloke. I hope I can do 'im proud!

Thursday, 20 July 2006

'Cor blimey, guv'nor. What a busy time it's been!

The final artwork for Scholastic was sent off two weeks ago with only a few changes. I haven't heard anything back from them, so I'm assuming no news is good news!

Here's a section from it:

I need to find out when it's published.

Since then I've been working on Lovely Jon's Edinburgh promo material, and cultivating an alter-ego! Pinky Gigglejuice (see links) is my new graphic design persona. Although it's been quite fun doing these, they have taken a lot of time and energy. But they're all done done and being printed all over the place as we speak. All I have to do now is get the website up and running before 1st August when Not-So-Lovely-Jon deserts me for the joys of Scottish capital for five weeks. Tsk!

In other news, Lovely Mark is all set up and raring to go with the Plum Pudding Illustration agency, and I have a big where-is-my-career-going chat with him coming up on 1st August again. I HAVE to finish the Eeries's novel by then, but there is only one chapter to go. Do they live happily ever after? We shall see.....

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

This is - finally - my entry for the Travelling Sketchbook: "Sir Bernard Dashley-Holmes and The Order of The Phoenix". Oh, hang on, that's not right. It is, in fact: "Sir Bernard Dashley-Holmes and the Great Indian Safari of 1926."

The text reads:

8th June 1926
Dashed hot again today and still no sign of the blasted tigers.
I'm beginning to think Melrose has no damn idea where the
bally things are, and he's leading us all on a wild goose chase.
Mmm...goose. What I wouldn't give for Gilly's traditional,
British roast goose. With extra potatoes.

All these funny "curries" and what-not the locals serve up
around here. They play havoc with my downstairs department.
Took me forty minutes to get out of the WC this morning.

Melrose says we are making too much noise and are
scaring away the wretched tigers, forcing them deeper
into the jungle. He's reluctant to go any further in
– too many wild creatures about – but dash it all!
Wild creatures are what I've come all the way out
here and paid a damn fortune for! I'm making him
take us further in tomorrow if it's the last thing I do!

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the tiger sleeps tonight....

Here is my progress so far for the Travelling Sketchbook (check the links on the right hand side) project. I'm sure the others are tutting at me and rolling their eyes, so this is acting as a little taster and a little bit of proof that it actually exists!

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Red, Gold and Greeeeeeeennnnnnnn.....

I've been incredibly lax on the updating recently, what with a gazillion things on the go and my lovely, lovely week in Cornwall, but here is a section from the colour rough for Scholastic. I'm waiting on a verdict........

The main image of the scroll has a dark green background at the moment, which I think is far too dark, but we shall see what The Others think.

In other news, I seem to have mastered circular knitting on double-pointed needles. It took me three goes last night to finally realise how to actually join it together to make a tube, but I think I have the hang of it. I've even changed colours! Stripy socks here I come!

Plus, here is our first produce from the allotment! A few gorgeous, fat ruby strawberries, a huge bag of spinach, and a stumpy little carrot that I couldn't resist pulling up to see what it looked like.

All taste splendacular.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

The horror!

Today I've been working on the book cover for my new client. Here is just a little detail.

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Alright, alright.

I know, I know. I've been very slack on the old updating recently, but here they are.

I'm waiting to see what Meadowside reckon. Mark has been making them up into dummy spreads, so we shall see what Simon thinks when he returns later this week.

I really like them just in black and white. Not sure if that would be commercial enough, though.

I've also started doodling down a few ideas for a new job that came in last week. It's a book cover that the publishers would like in my Eeries style. The power of the postcard, eh? Speaking of the Eeries, only 1000 words to go. Ye-haa.