Saturday, 25 February 2006

Tsk, tsk.

Note to self: Don't think you got off lightly, young lady. You may have missed out in this week's Illustration Friday, but it now means you have TWO to do this week.

Everything always happens at once.....

Why oh why are you bored out of your head for weeks and then a gazillion things come along that make your brain frazzle?

I've been very slack on the updating this week, but with good reason.

I arranged to go and see Mark up in London on Wednesday afternoon, which turned out to be a very interesting meeting. He's trying to get me to stop being so "safe" in my style and experiment more. I really want to give this a go, especially as even before Christmas I was getting bored with what I was producing and felt the style had somehow slipped into something else -something not as delicate and fun. It's just that I've had so much interest lately (but not paying work, alas) that I feel if I change things I could be shooting myself in the foot. Perhaps there's a reason no real work has come of it. This is the motivation I need to try things and not to be too worried if they don't work out - they're only experiments. I don't have to choose to carry on with any of them.

Mark did like my new postcard, though, which had arrived from Vistaprint that very morning. I am very impressed with the quality, especially for the price. I just need to send those out now, although my website badly needs updating first, but I could just get away with the minimum for the time being. He also though my Eeries story could make an interesting 96 page illustrated junior fiction title....hmmmm. Something else for the list. I'm so aware that time be always a-ticking and I never seem to be getting anywhere fast. I have done a fair whack of the character design project, though.

After seeing Mark, Lovely Jon and I met up had a bit of a wander about town, had a lovely waffle and hot choc in a tiny little cafe in Covent Garden, and then mosied on over to the giant Waterstones on Piccadilly. Never, ever let me loose in that shop. It was hard work to restrain myself, especially as they had a half-price offer on selected children's books. In the offer was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle and Judith Kerr's "The Tiger Who Came To Tea". I never properly realised these books were both published in the late 1960's. I hope there are huge piles of my books in Waterstones in forty years time. We then went to FBC for a luvverly burger and delish onion rings, and then I tootled off to meet me Larrhhhdan illustrator pals from the AOI discussion board at The Crown Tavern. It was very nice to finally meet some people and re-meet others.

As nice as Wednesday was, Thursday I seemed to spend in a pit of dispair. It must've been the constant sleet and the lack of sleep over the past three weeks finally catching up with me. I had missed the delivery of my OSX update yesterday evening (Evening? EVENING? what kind of time is 6.20pm to deliver anything other than a pizza? ) and little did I know that the whole re-delivery palaver would not be resolved until this afternoon, and now I think I've killed the iMac trying to update it, so I'm just letting it sit quietly in the corner and hope it lives tomorrow.

Friday was Sister No.3's 14th birthday, so I went home for the evening and ate far too much. I now have a literal tonne of party-bag cake and assorted goodies to get through.

Even though I spent the majority of Thursday in bed (glad I had the last three days of the week off from the library), I did manage to drag myself out in the sleet to get a new sketchbook. Thank God for Pink Pig. They have done the job and inspired me to get on with things, I just need to do something, anything, to get me started off and then I'm hoping all these great new ideas will just burst out of me like in Aliens. But with less blood, hopefully.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Every other day, every other day of the week is fiiiiiiinnne, yeah.

Started off the day by going to Mail Boxes Etc and stuffing the BiG newsletter. By myself, I might add. Belle had a slight memory-lapse situation and failed to turn up at 11am, but it was fine. (I didn't tell her I nearly forgot myself). Got all 105 stickered, stamped and sealed in 40 minutes. Not bad going.

Had a gorgeous Nigel Slater- inspired lunch. Bought two huge flat mushrooms from the Open Market and sauted them with an obscene dollop of butter and three crushed cloves of garlic. Sandwiched between an oven-bottom muffin and eaten while partaking of the afternoon session of Australia's finest soap opera, what more could you ask for from your lunch? I'm sure I was wafting my garlicy fumes all over the library this evening, though. Never mind. I can't smell worse than the majority of the customers.

Only had a couple of hours this afternoon to work on Mark's samples, but I finished off with a re-working of a spread from a board book idea I had a couple of years ago. Voila:

No. 2 is my favourite. It's the mis-registering I lurve.

I emailed them all off the Mark this evening, so we'll see what he says tomorrow - hopefully.

Now what do I do with my time?!!

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my head...da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da....

And as the rain poured down the Lord sayeth: "No, thou shalt not garden today."

So it was a-sketching and a-digitising I did go.

I feel I've done loads today. Some of the pieces I like, some I don't think work so well.
A selction:

I don't really like the dog, but the octopi I LURVE.Less is more, it seems. I think I'll try a couple of people and some inanimate objects tonight/tomorrow and then send them off to Mark. Still not sure what this is all for!

In other news, we managed to get quite a bit of flat-painting done. I don't know why I was panicking so much yesterday; the key is obviously just to do a little bit at a time. The Lovely Jon was very good and started on the hallway. He was up the ladder and everything. My hero, he's so brave. Looking better already, even if it does mean the flat is a tip again!

Also managed to pop out for a cuppa and teacake from Hudsons, which was nice. I wore my painting trousers out with my stripey wellies, so I hope I was giving off a carefree bohemian air. So very Brighton, dahhhhhling.

Saturday, 18 February 2006

What's New Pussy Cat?

Have been working on these pussy cats this evening. I think I've found a way of working that a) works, and b) I like.

The thing that was annoying me yesterday was that although I like the quality of the line using the wrong end of the dip-pen, I think it comes across as too clumsy small-scale. Also, I didn't feel the look of the cat was "me". So, following on from that, I spent a while before bed last night having a quick doodle in my sketchbook and came up with a cat that is much more in keeping with my style which I then traced over this using my trusty home-made lightbox, layout paper and dip-pen. I've been trying a couple of ways of colouring him in. This is just filled.....

.......but unlike yesterday's Cat No.3, it doesn't look so effective with an off-centre outline, if you can see:

I think the mis-registered outline works on yesterday's Cat No.3 because the line itself is so simple. There's not the detail in there like today's cat with his stripes and whiskers.
This one with the blue background is slightly off-centre, just enough to give interest, but doesn't go as far as the cat above:

I think he's my favourite. I'll show this and the top one as alternatives, anyway, plus Cat No.3 from yesterday. It's so hard trying to simplify your style enough to suit the media, but no so much that it becomes unrecogniseable. But I'm much happier with this approach, so I'll have a go at some more animals and a few other bits and pieces.

I really feel I should be knuckling down to this and "churning" something out quickly, but there are so many other things I need to be doing as well. Character designs by 17th March, these, plus trying to get the new flat in some kind of order. I managed to splosh a bit of paint on the bathroom walls, plus the door frames around the living room and Jon's room, late this afternoon before the light got too bad to see what I was doing, It's the hall that's bugging me - there's a lot to do, and most of it is unreachable without balancing precariously on a ladder - like over the stairs. Plus the paint itself is taking up so much room in the kitchen. I also feel bad that we haven't been to the allotment for four weeks now. We've been so busy with moving and painting, plus the weather was atrocious last week. Guilt, guilt, guilt. We did plan to go today, but again it was chucking it down. We'll see what tomorrow brings, although part of me wants it to be raining again so I can get on with these digi-coloured pieces! I want to get on with everything, but there's never enough hours in the day! At least I managed to get outside today, despite the rain. I hate being in all day. I only have one pair of everyday shoes without holes in, so the lovely Jon offered to buy me some. In the end I plumped for these from Faith. A bargain at 18 quid:

Illustrated boots. Rock on.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Ta v much

I just wanted to add a big thank you to all those who have left comments about my work. It's very nice of you all to take the time to do so.

Thank Crunchie It's Friday....

Have been at the library for most of the day. Not quite as crazy as Wednesday, but still pretty mental. I was having one of those "oops, I seem to have left my brain at home" days, but it's now the weekend at last. Whoo-hoo! (Actually, not quite sure what I'm whoo-hooing about. Weekends don't exist for the self-employed.)

Anyway, have been working on some digitally coloured samples for Meadowside Mark. I'm not 100% happy with them, but I think they're heading in the right direction.

This one was my first attempt. Just basically drawn out in ink with a dip-pen, scanned and tidied in PhotoShop. A bit dull, quite frankly.

This is my second go. Nice fat lines made by dipping the handle of an old dip-pen into the ink. I also changed the colour of the line on this one to dark brown instead of black. Getting better.

This one is my favourite of the bunch. I like the mis-registering of the lines. Makes it much more exciting. Not sure if it's as "simple" as Mark's after, but it's very early days yet. I'm going to try a merger of the two ink techniques tomorrow. I need a finer line for details, ie whiskers, fur.

Now I'm verging on a nice line, I just need to work on a drawing style. Something much more streamlined than my usual stuff. Less detail. It's all in the eyes, I fear. Dots vs balls, *adopts Geordie Big Brother style accent* you decide. Literally back to the drawing board, then........

I've been looking at Linzie Hunter's recently re-vamped site today for digital inspiration. It's gorgeous. You can really see a progression in her work over the last 9-12 months. Check it out at

I'm big time jealous. ;-)

I feel a bit slack for not posting anything yesterday, but it was a completely art-free day. Had to do the squillion mile round-trip to the dentist for a lovely filling. It wasn't too bad, actually. I'm a pro at these things now; I don't think there's a single tooth in my mouth that isn't plugged full of metal somewhere. The dentist has got a new chair, though, and it's a bit scary. Rather than lying horizontally across the room as his old one did, this new one is so big it has to run vertically. It has loads of pipes and rubber tubes and it can think for itself! It knows exactly what height and angle to put you at. It was all a bit too much like being plugged into the Matrix for my liking. It still tastes of new rubber, too.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006


For the first time I'm having a go at Illustration Friday. The word of the week is "Simple". I've gone all Mini Grey on ya ass and plumped for an egg: a design classic.

In other news, I've not produced anything else artistic today. I went in early to the library and spent most of the day in the kid's department. Chaos, disorder and probably blue murder behind the non-fiction too. And that's just the parents.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Day 2: The Fun Begins

So, second day into this blogging milarkey, and I feel I must apologise for the briefness of yesterday's post. After finally managing to fight my way through all the technical gubbins to get here, I was somewhat at a loss as to what to actually say! However, I do feel I should have some sort of mission statement:

I hereby state that this blog will be primarily for me to keep a record of the illustration work I produce on a daily/weekly basis. I hope that this will make me get off my bum and produce more work.

There we go. Although there's bound to be a bit of aimless rambling, occassional ranting and the odd photo too. And if I'm entertaining the "masses" then all for the good!

So, started off with some old-skool marbling today. (Whilst still in regulatory PJs, of course.) Inspired by the endpapers for Nigel Slater's "Kitchen Diaries" (excellent bedtime reading, btw) I bought Marabu's "Easy Marble" inks in black and white from Clarke's a few weeks ago to use on my new picture book idea. At a bargain £1.79 a pot you can't go wrong. I also got a cheap cat litter tray from Ransoms to use as my water bath.
I don't remember the inks being oil-based from my childhood, but I suppose that's how they float on the surface. They also "clog" up pretty quickly too, so you have to be quick with them. Had loads of fun, even if I did cover myself and my cutting mat in black ink. A quick hosing down with the white spirit and all was as it should be.

Here are a few of the better experiments:

I love the ones with a lot of white in them. The patterns in them are pretty amazing. Like, check out the psychedelic swirls, man. It's all random and left to chance so there's no control over the outcome. I think that's why I like it.

The lovely Meadowside Mark contacted me to ask if I could furnish him with some samples of my work that are "coloured in" using digital means. "Of course", I said, which roughly translates as "Shite. Better knock some up quick".

I did a couple, but George here is my favourite one:

I actually quite enjoyed it AND liked the result. Good grief, what is the world coming to?! I've emailed them off, so I'll wait and see what he thinks.

It was off to the library at 1.30 (once I'd actually changed out of the PJs) to do some extra-curricular birthday/Valentines card making with the kids. I was dreading it a bit, but it was actually quite fun. Couldn't take any pictures as that's not allowed anymore, but the display will be up for the 1st birthday celebrations in a couple of weeks.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Oh good grief. My thoughts are out there.....