Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Well, I'm still in Surrey at my mum's and not in Cornwall where I'd hoped to be by now. However, the last check has been done - at long blummin' last - and the results are OK, so it shouldn't be too much longer. I've been working on a few bits and bobs but I don't have my scanner here so I can't assemble it all as yet. I've been mainly been knitting and making notes for my new story idea.

Calorie-free cake, anyone?

I also need to list six odd things about myself, although I have been tagged by three people, so maybe I need 18 weird things!But here goes:

1. I can't eat yellow food. Or rather, I can't eat too much yellow food. For example, a couple of nights ago, my sisters had chicken casserole with mashed potato and peas for dinner. My sister Holly isn't keen on peas, so she had sweetcorn instead. Now the yellow of mash, with the yellow of the corn, and the orange of the carrots, and the creamy colour of the chicken made me feel odd. I actually couldn't look at it. Similarly, I can't eat off a yellow or orange plate.

2. I can't go downstairs. I HATE stairs. Especially if they are old or spiral or those backless ones. I actually have nightmares where I can't get down enormous old, ornate staircases and just cling to them sobbing until either someone rescues me, or I bump down on my backside like a three-year-old. I usually have to hold onto someone's shoulder in front of me as we go down. I think this stems from my grandmother's old staircase which was backless and made from highly polished wood. I always used to think I'd just slip through the back on my socks.

3. If I'm out with Lovely Jon, I never look before I cross the road. I let him be my eyes and ears. Dangerous, I realise, plus I run the risk of looking like a fool when he roughly grabs my elbow and runs with me across the road with my arm in the air.

4. I will straighten all CDs/DVDs in their cases even if they are not mine. Like in the library, or at other people's houses.

5. I have to eat in even numbers. For example, if I'm offered a Tic Tac or similar, I have to take two. My mother is like this, too. To the extent where she had my youngest sister Sophie to make the total number of her children up to a nice, even four.

6. I am a bit obsessed with eyelashes. I love the feel of them. If Lovely Jon is in a particularly nice mood, he'll let me stroke his. I have done this ever since I was two when my grandad used to let me "play with his eyes" while I sucked my thumb. Even now, it will send me to sleep. I often have an overwhelming urge to touch the eyelashes of people I'm talking to, even if they are virtual strangers.

Yes, I am odd.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

These are the last pieces I will do for a while. Lovely Mark has several meetings next week about a picture book idea he and I came up with together, and these guys are a few of the characters. I wasn't able to do a spread in time - what with all the moving stuff and everything else - so I hope these little fellas will do the job of convincing people the idea's a goer.

Monday, 15 January 2007

I received a gorgeous new little friend in the post today.

Her name is Cecily and she comes compliments of Ladysnail. 
Good grief. The sun is shining here and has been for two days now!  It's almost like - dare I say it - spring. I'm sure, however, that I am getting ahead of myself. It usually snows around this way in February, and we haven't yet had any really good, frosty, but sunny, weather. (Unless you count five days at the beginning of November where your fingers might have fallen off if you ventured out without gloves.)

Taking advantage of the good weather, Lovely Jon and I got out of the house after a disgustingly long lie-in. As the washing machine has been returned from whence in came in preparation for moving out, we trundled up the hill to Seven Dials and Upper Hamilton Street to use the launderette and, obviously needing some way in which to pass the time, went to The Chimney House for lunch. You know you've slept too late when you're eating your Sunday roast for breakfast.

The CH is a lovely, smoke-free, dog-friendly "gastropub" - to use that annoying term - but that also means it's a kid-friendly pub too. Not that that is such a bad thing, but Brighton Mummies have a habit of thinking they're the most important people in the world, so therefore they can go/do/say whatever they like without feeling they need to ever disipline their child/children. Humph.

We also went there for Sunday lunch two weeks ago on New Year's Eve when it was much quieter. We ended up staying for nearly three hours eating and playing chess! I'm a beginner at chess really, but Lovely Jon was, like, Junior Chess Champion of The World 1989-1993 or something, so he's teaching me. I surprised both him and myself by not being as crap as either of us thought I was going to be in a game that lasted well over an hour. The deal is that he is going to teach me to play a good game of chess, and I'm going to teach him to knit, which should defintely come in handy come Christmas when I'm up to my eyeballs in Crimbo pressie knitting!

After lunch and after collecting out toasty-warm laundry, we walked over to Lewes Road and to Shabitat.
We found a lovely big table and four amazing chunky chairs for the new gaff which we are picking up on Friday when we have the van. A bargain at 60 quid for the lot.

I love walking out in the cold air. I haven't been walking an awful lot lately, but that will all change Come The Move. Everything seems to be Come The Move. I just want to get there and get on with my new life and all the projects I have planned! Grrr. Frustration.

Sunday's weather might've been glorious, but Saturday's certainly wasn't. Now we have a car for the first time in two years, Lovely Jon and I have started Saturday Explorations where we basically jump in the car and just drive anywhere, and this week we ended up in Arundel. I've been to the castle there as a teenager, and the WWT centre as a child, but never to the town itself. 

We found a lovely, lovely second hand bookshop where I picked up this box:

With this book inside:

The bookshop owner told me it was published through a private press in America in the 1950s/60s. She bought it from a man called Alan Wyngate - whose name is on a bookplate inside the front cover - who was given it as a child. It is taken from Lewis Carroll's original manuscript for Alice, and, to top it all, with his own illustrations. I love it. Apologies for the slightly rubbishy photos, though.

We also came across a traditional sweet shop where I got this "Retro Bag" and 100g of Strawberry BonBons for £1.99. A bargain weekend all round!

Friday, 12 January 2007

My fellow Brighton illustrator Jo Moore send this out as her New Year's card. Lovely.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Right, I'm back again. This is almost getting to be a habit.

This 'ere new Blogger takes a bit of getting used to. It's much better with uploading pictures,
though. I used to have to keep re-formatting my posts so the text fell inbetween the pictures and not down the sides. No more hitting the return key a million times! Hurrah! Not sure about updating my template, though. Maybe that's a task for another day.

So where was I?

I'd been to the meeting with the publisher who liked my b&w work and looked through the Eeries. I met up with Lovely Mark in the week before Xmas to show him all my new stuff - which he really liked, thank Gawd- and we made a plan of action. We've agreed that I will work on the Eeries - or even a new text - and have it ready at the beginning of March. No pressure or anything! It should be a much easier task, though. I finished working at the library back in December, so that gives me an extra two days straight away.

The thing about having a PT job is that it doesn't just interfere on the days you are there. I worked Wednesdays and Fridays, so Mondays and Tuesdays used to be really productive, but as soon as Wednesday comes it breaks the momentum. Come Thursday, it takes you a whole morning to get back into it, only to have Friday get in the way again.

Well, at least - for now anyway -  I can say I'm a full time Illustrator.

Here are a couple of my new pieces, Blitzen and Pippi Longstocking.

I'm so IN LOVE with b&w. It's much more liberating than colour, where so many things have to come together correctly to make it look good. With b&w, all you have is the white of the paper, and how much water you add to your ink. My ideal job right now would be to illustrate a junior novel. Even better if it's my own!

There a so many things I want to do RIGHT NOW, but it's pointless to start something new when we're so close to moving. It seems that we've finally got to the end stages of the whole business. Only a few more bits of paperwork to go. We have to be out of our Brighton flat by the 22nd anyway, regardless of whether or not we actually have anywhere to move in to! We had planned to be there this week, but it's just dragged on and on and on. It's just annoying work- wise to find yourself with time you didn't think you were going to have, and to have find something suitable to fill that time with. Hence all the knitting I've been doing this week!

Here is my first attempt at Lace Knitting - basically making holes in your work on purpose, and not by accidently dropping stitches.

The yarn is Twilley's Freedom in Spring Green. It's 100% wool and lovely and soft. Even Lovely Jon was impressed, so much so I've been asked to knit him a scarf using the Olive Garden, which is a much nicer shade in real life than on the screen.

I've also been knitting one half of a late Crimbo pressie for Amy Spud using a thinner version of my scarf wool in the pinky/purple shade on the left.

Yum. Don't tell her, though.

Um....is there anybody there? My poor baby, I have abandoned you!

Well, I'm not going to make any excuses, but I am back here at last. You know what that end-of-the-year-oo-'eck-it's-Crimbo feeling is like, so I don't need to explain.

Where do I begin? Well, the samples including the pumpkin on my previous post from way back in mid-November were all sent off to the US of A, and they seemed to be well received. They paid quickly, anyway! However, I'm still waiting on a decision as to whether or not the whole project is going ahead. We should find out in January, apparently. Tsk.

Another American publisher approached me around the same time about a fairy/folk tale job that around 40 artists were taking part in, and after confirming the money involved, they said they'd send me the final brief and promptly disappeared off the face of the planet. PG was offered a part in the same project, and seems to have got only a bit further than me with it! It does make me wonder what some publishers/companies actually DO. Not to mention all those desperately frantic emails they send you saying "Oh, but we need the final artwork by last Tuesday!" only to not contact you when they recieve it - so you're worrying your socks off that the piece actually got to them OK - but then there magically happens to be enough time for them to faff about with everything. Tsk again.

A lot of people are liking the watercolour bears also in my last post, including Lovely Mark, who sent them off to all and sundry the literal second I'd emailed them to him. On the back of these, I was asked to produce some samples for another publisher who is creating a pop-up Santa book for next Christmas. (Or rather, THIS Christmas, as I suppose it is now.) So, four samples sent off, but although they like the style, they prefer my older method of working (minus the eyeliner, natch) so it was out with the dusty old gouache, and another sample duly dispatched. I'd forgotten how blummin' long it takes to paint with gouache. Not like zippy watercolour, where you just splosh it on and layer up the coour as you go. No, gouche requires mixing and everything.

Here is Santa from sample set no.1

(I must get rid of those spidery shadows)

I cheated a bit and used this second piece as a Crimbo postcard for my Illustrator Mates.

Of course, I'm still waiting on a decision about the go ahead for the project. Tsk thrice.

Around the same time, the postman rang the doorbell at 7.03am to give me an interesting box that contained this:

I waited as long as possible to open it, but gave in in the end. This was inside:

A rather terrible photo, but I think you can get the gist. It was my SOSF Christmas exchange present all the way from California. Many thanks to Pumpkin Cupcake my Secret Fairy (and many aplogies for taking so long to thank you.)

I had a lot of fun with my own card and ornament making. This is my card:

The card itself - although you can't tell from the photo - is pearlescent. I used a star-shaped cookie cutter as a template, cut out the star in the middle, and laid a sheet of sparkly gauze behind. Luvly jubly. Beautiful and much cheaper than buying a card. Without wanting to sound like one of those terrible middle-aged women I know who live for Paper Crafting With Dawn Bibby, I think I could like making my own cards.

Also in my previous post, I mentioned I was going to a meeting at a publishers to go through my b&w postfolio and talk about the Eeries. Well, I managed to create loads of artwork - I even surprised myself - and the meeting went rather well. They were very positive about the text, but agree with the whole world that is needs work. They gave me a few pointers about where to start, so re-jigging the text is on my list of things to do next. They also really liked my b&w work and said they'd love to use me on an upcoming title. Hurrah!

So there are a gazillion things going on, and updates needed on all of them, but I think that's enough to be getting on with for now. More to come, honest guv!