Thursday, 30 June 2011

Gizmo and Scatz

Having spent this week reviewing images for my talk I came across a couple of images that I did some time ago, which are quite cartoony in style, but I am still very fond of them. They are actually based on an old work colleague's pets: a cat and a dog. In my pictures the dog is called Gizmo and the cat Scatz, but his cat was the one that was actually called Gizmo and the name Scatz I made up myself. I actually showed them to Templar Publishing some six years ago now and they loved them, but the idea they had in mind did not, like many progress! They are rendered in a weird combination of ink (the line work) and oil glazes, yes I used oil paint to colour them! Enjoy...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

My day lecturing on illustration

Well I have had an enjoyable afternoon with a captured audience talking about illustrating (poor things). We had a few technical hitches to start with getting the projector to work properly, but once I got over my initial nerves and relaxed I quite enjoyed myself.

The only real mess up I made was that I forgot to take some paper engineer models with me to show them and only realised once I started setting up. 

I am glad I decided to take some original artwork with me, as I think everyone enjoyed looking at those, as they do come across very differently in print and on a slide projector - less detail and you lose the subtly of colours, etc.

I am afraid a public health warning is coming up, here are some photos of me taken at the lecture, whilst I was showing them a few of my published books. You have been warned!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What a day!

I seem to be chasing my own behind at the moment and have just found five minutes to post something! 

Tomorrow's my big day at Beckenham LIbrary in the London Borough of Bromley! I have been invited to talk about what it is like to be an illustrator. Having not anything like this for some time (I used to lecturer at the Tower of London), I have put together a PowerPoint presentation full of animation and artwork, to entertain my audience and act as a prompt for me! Yikes!

I am taking a selection of books, but am disappointed that my 3D fairy pop-up book is still not published, well let's just say I certainly haven't received any copies yet! 

I have also sent on a portfolio of artwork, which I hope (eyes swivel in head), that they are looking after for me! It can take up to two hours to get there and so I am not looking forward to the journey, but hope the talk goes well.

Here's one of the originals I am showing them tomorrow!


Sorry I didn't blog yesterday! Will post something later - promise! Must squeeze it in between story time sessions and French tonight! 

Au revoir!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Captain Jake Rattlebones...

I have been spending the last few days preparing for a lecture I am giving at Beckenham Library next week on 29th June, as part of the BecFest festival and it is all about illustrating. I have been sifting through old projects, original artwork I am going to take with me and have been putting together a PowerPoint presentation, which I thought was the easiest way to show everyone a range of my work.

I have also managed to find a couple of paper engineer models that have been sent to me for various projects I have worked on, as I think people are interested in the processes behind producing a book.

As a result of sifting through old projects I found a series of sketches that I did for the Kingfisher book 'Open Access: Pirates'. I had to do a lot of historical research for them and so the flintlock pistol and sword, Captain Jake Rattlebones is wearing are the real thing from that period. Thought I would share some of the artwork with you today.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Burlesque pose...

I had great fun last night in Camden Town. We had a burlesque model last night and so she was very fit and also experienced, because she did some challenging short poses, which were good to do. 

I managed to leave my walking stick behind so that's the last I'll see of that! On the plus side it did not take over two hours to get home this time; just an hour and a half. Anyway here are some sketches from last night's session.

twenty-minute pose

three-minute pose

three-minute pose

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Nudes again...!

Bit of a short post today, just to say I am off life drawing again tonight in Camden Town. What's great about it is that it takes place above a pub and so you can have a drink and draw at the same time - well everyone did last time I went! Hopefully it won't take me so long to get home this time! I left at 9.30pm and didn't get home until 11.45pm, which is ridiculous, baring in mind I live in London!

The model tonight is a burlesque performer and judging from the photographs on the Life Drawing Society site has a pretty perfect body! So quite good for getting muscle tone right, etc., although it is nice to have all shapes, sizes and ages when drawing from life.

Well I was going to upload some old life drawing images for you, but 'blogspot' isn't working properly today and so my apologies for that. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to share with you some of pictures from tonight's life drawing event!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A trickle of good news

Well the second client I did artwork for at the Bologna book fair seems to be close to securing the deal they wanted for their series of non-fiction pop-up books, that I have been chosen to illustrate.

With any luck if it all goes ahead they will be covering the UK, KS1 and KS2 curriculum for history and that would mean: the Greeks, the Romans, Ancient Egypt and the Aztecs, the Saxons, the Vikings, the Tudors (and of course the infamous Henry VIII), the Victorians and the Second World War! So if they decide to cover all these topics, hopefully I'll be kept really busy. Hooray!

So far the dummy book for the fair covered the Greeks and a pencil sketch for the Vikings!

I hope to hear shortly whether this is going ahead. These negotiations certainly take a long time to happen!

Here's a picture of the Viking girl to remind you (I always like to add an animal to my artwork and so see if you can spot it):

Monday, 20 June 2011

Body painting spoilers...

Yesterday I spent all day painting pregnant ladies bumps. The designs were based on British wild flowers and Valentine's Day. I can't wait to show you the professional studio photographs, but not yet! Not that is until we know which ones - if any - will be in the 2012 charity calendar!

However I can share with you some shots that hint at what I've been painting. Here they are - big close-ups of me painting away on bumps!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bromley Literature Festival - children's art competition

I may have mentioned a while ago that I have been invited to judge the artwork for an art competition? Well apparently they did not get enough entries for it to go ahead, which is a great shame I feel. Are there no budding artists in Bromley?

However they still want me to attend the presentation for the writing competition, which had a far better and bigger response! They want me to give a speech - not my forte at all! Problem is it is all happening tonight, so having travelled from Hereford all day, I've then got to jump in a cab and be whisked over to this special event. Apparently a few famous children's writers are attending and so it could be interesting and so I am hoping to blog all about it tomorrow!

Here's a reminder about it all: 

THE IDEA: A fun competition to get children excited about writing and the opportunity to have their work published and available in Bromley Central Library and in bookshops throughout the borough. We are also inviting children to draw/paint/design artwork to be used on the book cover on the theme of a fantasy library.

THE PRIZE: The best 10 writing entries in each year group will be published in a special anthology to be launched at the Bromley Literary Festival on the 16th June at Bromley Central Library. The launch party will be attended by some special children╩╝s book guests and the young writers will have the opportunity to read their work aloud.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Egyptian pop-up book

It would appear that from the point of view of publishers, pop-up books are my forte, as I am commissioned to do pop-up books quite a lot! I don't mind, as they are great fun.

This is one I did quite some time ago now, which was quite complicated with pop-ups, lift the flaps and pull-tabs - a feat of paper engineering. It is quite cartoony in style, which is what they wanted. 

I do not work out the paper mechanisms on pop-up books, as that is always done by the paper engineer, but I do work with their mock-ups, which I will share with you in a future blog, as I tend to keep them in my plan chest at home.

Here are two images of the jacket cover, which folds open to reveal more artwork:



Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My agent's life drawing blog!

My agent, Peter Kavanagh has started his own life drawing blog. As well as running his agency in Norwich he also teaches art privately and that includes life drawing, which is a real passion of his. With a friend they have set up a brand new blog, where a lot of their life drawing art will be published.

Peter is a very good artist and illustrator in his own right and so the blog will be worth a follow! Here's the link: Life drawing blog

They are basically taking turns being the naked model and artist, and seem to be having a great time!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Hereford here I come...

Today I'm off to Hereford for four days to spend some time with my friends, Fiona and Jeremy. They are staying in a National Trust cottage and are already there! I've never been to the county of Hereford and so am looking forward to it!

Will be taking my sketch pad and maybe some watercolours with me and so if I produce any sketches, I'll blog them for you to look at along with some photographs!

Hopefully when I get back I'll have some good news from Hawcock Books, re., the non-fiction pop-up book history series! I'll be happy to share that news with you good or (hopefully not) bad...

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Black and white

As an illustrator I don’t always work in colour. Sometimes I get asked to work in just black ink line (for that I use an old fashioned mapping pen) and sometimes in greyscale - mind you the greyscale is quite rare for me.
Here is some artwork I did many years ago now for the National Maritime Museum for a novel they published, entitled ‘Run away to danger’, about two children - a brother and sister, who have an adventure on the Tudor ship the Mary Rose! My style has changed a bit since I did these, but I'm a still quite fond of them (mainly because of the black cat) and keep them as samples for clients to look at.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Nudes in a pub!

Hah! Thought the title would get you interested! I am of course referring to last night's life drawing class, which did indeed take place in a pub in Camden, north London. So not only were we working hard drawing, but we all had pints too (mine was a cider and very nice too).

We had lots of two-minute, five-minute and twenty-minute poses and then a couple of twenty-five minute poses and one thirty-minute pose at the end. A very intense three hours and I went home quite exhausted!

It is a long time since I have done any real life drawing and so the sketches I am sharing with you today are far from masterpieces, but at least it has got me started again. Hopefully a few more months down the line I will be able to share more exciting artwork with you.

Two-minute pose

twenty-minute pose (in charcoal)

Twenty-five minute pose

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Camden Town Life Drawing

Short and sweet post tonight. I have set my post up to automatically publish today, because right now I'm on a tube train, heading for Camden Town! I am attending my first life drawing session since joining the Life Drawing Society. 

I am both excited and a little daunted, as it has been some time since I did any real life drawing! The model tonight will be 'rubinesque' in shape and so it should be very interesting. As I am very rusty, I am just going to work in soft pencil tonight and see how I get on. If the results are not a complete disaster I may post something tomorrow! I hope to go once or twice a month, somewhere in London. The venues are everywhere, but most likely in central London. 

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow...

Au revoir, mon amis!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Life Drawing Society UK

If you really love art and live in the UK you must join this society! It is great! They e-mail you with up and coming events and text you to your mobile too, if you want. They use all sorts of models: old, young, burlesque, dancers - you name it! I haven't been to one yet, but hope to fit one in soon and will report back to you and if I feel brave I will post some of the results. However, I am very rusty indeed, which is why I need to get back into it again.

Life drawing truly is the best way to hone your skills of observation as an artist and improve your technique, and is something that everyone interested in art should try, at least once!

If you want to take a look, here's the web address: CLICK HERE. Do take a look. It only takes five minutes to join!

They even do life-drawing classes in places like Paris - what a wonderful idea! 

Monday, 6 June 2011

More bums and bottoms!

My enterprising little friend, Harry (who is only four) has not given up on his quest for me to read “more bum, bum books, please”. So having thoroughly looked for more through the Bromley library service database to no avail, I have turned to Amazon and found a whole host of bum and bottom books aimed at 0-4 year olds and have decided to buy them myself for my story time sessions!
Wait until I unveil not one, but five ‘bum, bum’ books, they’ll be beside themselves with excitement! Every four year olds perfect book! I have decided that I need to make up some bottom songs to go with the books, as they do enjoy singing too! so, watch out I may post them on my blog!
Here’s one i’ve found (the tune is ‘If your happy and you know it). Great stuff:

Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug
Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug
Put your bottom on the rug,
And give yourself a hug,
Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug.

Put your bottom on the floor, on the floor! (point)
Put your bottom on the floor, on the floor!
Not on the ceiling, not on the door! (point)
Put your bottom on the floor, on the floor!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Fairy treehouse...

As you know from my previous posts I often work on pieces for the various international book fairs, like Bologna (children's book fair), Frankfurt, London and New York.

Here's a piece I did for Templar Publishing for the last Frankfurt book fair. Unfortunately potential clients deemed it too expensive to manufacture and publish at this lean time in world economics and so it wasn't picked up. It is a pop-up book that folds out and becomes a whole dolls house - a really novel idea. The publisher has not abandoned the idea altogether and are hoping I think for it to be picked up when people have a little more money to invest. They have a few more in the series that did get published, if you want to look, click here (you'll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page).

However I thought you might be interested in the process. Below is a picture of a mock-up of the fairy treehouse book that I worked on. Isn't lovely?

And this is my artwork for the jacket...

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Japanese Ray Mears!

Well this was a project I worked on, I think last year for a proposed survive outdoors book based on a Japanese publication, published many years ago. It isn’t something I would usually work on and it was certainly quirky. They even wanted to publish it in a traditional Japanese book format. I had to work on a sample spread for it. All the artwork had to be simple line-work that the graphic designer would then add grayscale tones to!
I worked on the spread all about making fires from nothing and cooking outdoors - some of the ideas were quite wacky!
Here are some of the images I produced...