Friday, 29 April 2011

A day of Royal celebration!

Like many in the UK, I have to confess that I have spent the day watching the Royal Wedding. Really enjoyable and of course the dress was stunning - like it wasn’t going to be!
It was quite fun lip-reading them both and I loved it when Prince William said as Kate arrived to stand next to him before the alter “you look beautiful” and Kate saying "oh, wow!" and looking stunned as they came out onto the balcony and she saw the sheer number of people waiting to see them, waving flags - flags from all round the world!
Here’s my contribution:

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Body painting bumps - first design

It won’t be long now before I will painting pregnant ladies bumps for a 2012 charity calendar for Sue Greetham, London-based photographer.
We had a big meeting recently (involving way too much wine) to generate ideas for what we intend to paint onto these ladies. I felt at least one design had to represent summer and so I thought a design of British wild flowers would be appropriate, as my recent fairy books all have wild flowers in them. Here is my first colour rough for this idea. Now do bare in mind it is a rough, just to give me some idea what to do on the day, after all I don’t know the size or shape of the bump yet! The finished idea will be more defined and the colours much brighter and intense. Any suggestions or comments are most welcome, as I have never done anything like this before!
Hope you like it... O_O

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Greetings to you all!

Well I’ve had a funny day really! Haven’t had time to work on body paint designs yet unfortunately - too many appointments and so hopefully I will be posting something up about that tomorrow (maybe the first design....).
As well as children’s books I have had the opportunity to dabble a little in greetings cards artwork. In fact I regularly illustrate for Heritage Art Papers, and apparently my card designs sell in all the Scottish National Trust shops, which is curious. Long way to go to see them if you happen to live in London, but apparently they sell all over the place! Most of the artwork I do for them is animal based: dippy ponies, wacky dogs and weird wetland animals. Every now and then I get to do something more wacky and it is the wacky I want to share with you today: from baby dragons to crazy reindeers!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

For all the cat lovers out there!

Well it’s another sunny day in London - although I haven’t seen much of it as I have been making polar bears with three year olds today! Managed to throw in a bit of French today as the picture-book was all about a French polar bear called Albert le Blanc, who says things like “oh, moi mon amie”! Very sweet.
From bears to cats I thought I would share some cat pictures with you today. Over the years I have been asked to draw animals in all sorts of odd situations, in today’s post I’m showing the sublime (a British red cat) to the ridiculous (mafia cats with pizzas). Yes, I did say “mafia cats” and “pizzas” in the same sentence. It was an illustration for Oxford University Press. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

Art tip of the week - work out your colours

This week I thought I would give you a useful tip when working in colour. Now if you are creating an image from your head, i.e. not from life, landscape or still life then working out the colours in advance is very important. As an illustrator I am always creating images from my imagination, but you can very quickly make mistakes with awful colour combinations if you haven’t thought about them first. I know this, because I’ve done it - lots of times unfortunately! 
A useful tip - and one I’ve seen Janet Ahlberg use in her original artwork - is next to your artwork or on a separate sheet of paper, try all your colours out first, using small dabs or squares of paint, colour pencil (whatever your using). Place them next to one and other to compare. Creating a sort of mini-palette and see which colours work together. This way not only can you avoid any major colour clashes, but you can also work out your overall colour palette and therefore the mood or feeling you want to convey. Also it is a good way of seeing if one dramatic colour, amongst the rest really works and adds something extra to your finished artwork. Simple but effective. 

Friday, 22 April 2011

Usborne Publishing - British History

As well as illustrating fiction books for children, I have also had the opportunity to do some non-fiction work for children too. A couple of year’s ago, along with a few other artists I illustrated a large encyclopaedia on British History, published by Usborne Publishing. 
The artwork consisted of tiny little spot artwork and were not much bigger than a large postage stamp in the book. They are not in my usual style, as they were looking for something that would be in keeping with the style of the book overall, but I thought I would share some of these illustrations with you today, just to show you the truly wide range of things we illustrators get to do!


Thursday, 21 April 2011

My day filming in London

Well what a fun day I've had in Clerkenwell today, filming at Video Jug's studio! I have to say I have never been on camera before and was quite unsure what to expect at first, but luckily for me if talking was an Olympic sport, I would be a Gold Medalist! I talked my way through each video quite contentedly! The cameraman actually said I was a natural presenter! Good grief! The only down-side was that I thought that only my hands would ever get filmed and then right at the end they made me sit facing the camera and I had to give a little speech about myself. I am hardly photogenic and so goodness knows what I looked like!

I had to do twenty videos all about drawing different things from waves and curly hair, through to elves and Chinese dragons! Phew - what an artistic marathon!

I already have my own profile on their site, but the actual videos won't be available to view for another seven weeks everyone and so I won't be posting any or links to their site for some time yet!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

New blog look and sharks ahoy!

Hello everyone. I decided my blog needed updating a bit to go better with my website and so here’s the newly tweaked blog for you. 
I may not get a chance to post tomorrow, because as you know I am in London filming with Video Jug. Will of course post all about it on Friday!
I thought I wouldn’t chat too much today and maybe just share some artwork with you I did for Kingfisher Publishing. The artwork has come from a series of four non-fiction books I did with them - this artwork is from the book all about sharks, called Inside Access: Sharks
Hope you like...?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Body painting pregnant ladies!

Once I've got Thursday's video session out the way with Video Jug, I need to start thinking about the next madcap venture I have volunteered myself for! 

Next I'm body painting pregnant ladies for a London-based photographer, Sue Greetham. I have decided I am going to work the designs up into colour roughs before I paint them onto our volunteer mums-to-be! I will be posting the designs on my blog and so would be grateful for everyone's thoughts. Look out for those next week. The photographs are hopefully going to feature in a charity calendar for 2012. Later this year I will be posting the photographs of the painted ladies on my blog for you all to see. Should be interesting and so watch this space, as they say!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Art tip of the week - measuring accurately

No Video Jug material today, just a straight forward tip for you! Last time I discussed how to try and understand colour a little more with two unusual still life exercises, but before you can even get to colour you’ve got to learn to draw what’s in front of you accurately. When you are first learning to measure with your eye, it is a good idea to use the tool in your hand - the pen or safer option - pencil you are using. Use the top of the pencil as the end of your ruler. With your arm out straight in front of you, line the pencil up with your eye line (I close my left eye and line it up with my right) and ‘place’ the top of the pencil against the object you want to measure and with your thumb run down the pencil to the second point you want to measure, then transfer that length on the pencil to your paper by making a mark for the top and then a second mark for where you thumb tip is, remembering if you can to keep account of the angle of the measurement too!
You can also use the pencil to measure angles, which if you are doing life drawing (figure drawing) is another way to get lengths correct - comparing one angle against another, giving you the length of something else. It sounds very longwinded and complicated, but it is not at all. It is a very ancient method of measuring and with time you learn to do the same with your eyes. Although, even now I will occasionally use my pencil to double-check a measurement or angle, if I am drawing from life. Give it a go! If you want visual instructions, let me know and I’ll add them to tomorrow’s post! 

Friday, 15 April 2011

Buster Books - boys annual

I was so busy and ill yesterday that I didn’t get round to posting on my blog. First one I’ve missed so far and so sorry about that! Rather than give you an art tip today I thought I would share some artwork with you I did for Buster Books in 2010 for the Boys Annual 2010! I think I ended up doing about 189 illustrations for the project and so was kept very busy indeed. They had me drawing things like ‘the discovery of Tutankhamun’, ‘the most dangerous insects in the world’ to ‘dinosaurs’ and ‘super heroes’. All good fun! 
Here are a few pieces from that book, which I hope you will enjoy. I am hoping to be posting some news next week from Bologna and the London book fair, I am just hoping that it isn’t bad news! I hope everyone has a great weekend and that I can top coughing soon! 

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Video Jug - How to draw a kitten

Well this is a rushed post today! I have only just got in from a mad day out and thought I'd better do today's post. Here is another video I am doing for Video Jug: How to draw a kitten. Like all the others I am doing a practice run to see if I can come up with an easy way that everyone can follow. It has also helped me realise all the art materials I will need to take with me on the day and the list is getting longer by the minute! Might need a cart and horse...

Anyway, here are the visual instructions for how to draw a kitten:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Art tip of the week - Video Jug

Well here is another practice run for Video Jug. Below I am showing you how to draw a Cockerel, step by step! See if you can follow my steps, I am curious for feedback and so someone have a go and then send me a comment.
My debut with Video Jug is on the 21st April and I have got to go to their studios in Clerkenwell! I intend to publish the videos on my blog and website and so you can see these steps in action eventually. Hope you like these...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Illustration Cupboard - artwork of Janet Ahlberg

Had a great weekend. On Saturday met an old colleague and friend in central London and we went to see an exhibition at the Illustration Cupboard. An art gallery in Bury Street that specialises in exhibiting the artwork of illustrators. It is a lovely little gallery and well worth a visit if you are interested in the artwork of children’s illustrators. We went to see Peepo! The picture books of Janet and Alan Ahlberg. I had no idea that Janet worked in such a tremendously small scale. The detail was incredible and her observation of babies and children was delightful. Every image is jam-packed full of small detail, humour and fun. Later this year there will be an exhibition of Chris Wormell’s work, which I am keen to see, which is his pastel and watercolour work. 
Sunday I spent practising again for my on-line TV day with Video Jug. Apparently their studios are in Clerkenwell, and so once again I am in London this month!

Friday, 8 April 2011

London book fair

Well next week it’s London's turn to hold an international book fair that all the publishers, agents and other people in the industry attend! So will be two projects I have illustrated for two different publishers. They were at the Bologna book fair too, the major children’s book fair that I hope to get to one year. Fingers crossed both projects will be successful and will result in quite a lot of work for me! I’m afraid I can’t share any of the artwork with you until I know whether the projects have been successful or not. This is how publishers do a lot of their business these days, very few publish speculatively. Publishers will get an idea for a children’s book, approach a writer and an artist and get both to work on a dummy book for the book fair. A dummy book usually consists of a sample jacket and sample spread. The sales team at the book fair then try to generate interest in the idea and hopefully get a sale, and if they get it they go ahead with the book, if not it’s sad faces all round! 
Keep your fingers crossed for me x

Thursday, 7 April 2011

I’m out there in the universe!

Have had an interesting day so far. This morning I decided to join Jacket Flap on-line, as quite a few illustrators and publishers are on there. Then I checked Google to see how quickly it would appear and ‘shock- horror’ I found links to reviews about me, reviews about the books I’ve illustrated and websites I didn’t even know I was on! I had no idea there was so much about ‘me’ out there - gasp - bit daunting really! 
I also met up with fellow twitter-holic, Sarah Hurley today for a coffee and cake in Central London. A fellow illustrator and fantastical designer - check out her entertaining blog: click here

Twitter is great! You meet all these amazing people that you could never meet, because they’re all round the world, but as Sarah lives not too far from me, I thought we must meet!  Although a trip to Sicily to visit fellow tweeter Agata or even L.A. would be great! 

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Parlez vous Français? Oui, un peu...

Yes, I had my French lesson last night and now we are learning directions (where people live) and also descriptions of where you live, like ‘bruyant’ busy, ‘ancien’ old and animé ‘animated/lively’! So most of the lesson was verbal last night and when it came to place names a verbal mess at that, because most of us did not know how to pronounce most of the towns, villages and regions, unless it was a wine region and then we got it straight away (what does that say about us, I wonder?). Anyway in order to aid my French I am attempting to read two children’s books all in French, ‘Asterix goes to Britain’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Just in the first paragraph of Fantastic Mr. Fox I came across three different spellings for ‘were’ and thought “oh, god I have bitten off way more than I can chew here”, but that’s me all over! 
Changing the subject today’s artwork are a couple of card designs I did for Heritage Art Papers, these sell all over the country and in Scottish National Trust shops! I may be doing some sample pieces for them again later this year for possible sale through Avon catalogues - you know the cosmetics company? Hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Video Jug - how to draw a cartoon

This is another ‘how to’ from the list of twenty that I will be filming towards the end of this month for Video Jug. As I have never done anything like this before I am trying to be prepared as I can be, so I hopefully I won’t be so nervous on the day! Well that’s the theory anyway. So, in the steps below I am trying to show you how from very simple shapes you can build up a figure doing something, in this case a cartoon character falling/somersaulting through the air. Have a go yourself, using these simple shapes and see how you get on.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Art tip of the week - How to draw a cartoon face!

I’ve decided that this week’s art tip and possibly more this week will be based on what i’ve got to do for Video Jug later this month - a sort of way of preparing for my debut on Internet TV! I am doing twenty short videos on how to draw various things and I’d thought I’d share the tips with you here. So today I am going to show you step by step how to draw a cartoon face. See pictures below...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Pirates run a muck!

Today I thought I’d share with you a series of pictures I did for Kingfisher a while ago now for a non-fiction book all about pirates on the high seas! The book was a combination of my character/guide called Jake Rattlebones, a highly crooked pirate Captain and digital artwork. They seemed to work together really well and the finished book ended up being a lift the flap book too, which was a fun idea. The book was called ‘Open Access: Pirates’ and was part of a small series entitled ‘Open Access’.
Hope you enjoy the pictures!