Monday, 28 November 2011

Weekend excitement!!! - Julia Donaldson Picks Fluff and Billy as one of her 'Books of the year'

I still can't quite believe it..... but in The Guardian newspaper this Saturday Julia Donaldson, Children's Laureate and author of The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, What the Ladybird Heard and many more, selected Fluff and Billy as one of her books of the year!!! It's such a nice thing to happen - thanks Julia Donaldson!

I was spending the day at my friends' house when I got a text from Pam Smy (one of my tutors from the MA course in Cambridge) and an excited phone call from my friend John to tell me the news - so big thanks to them too!

You can read the whole article on the Guardian website here.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Banner dilemma!

Well I tried a bright banner to match my website but I wasn't quite sure so I've now replaced it with black and white smaller text. Still not sure so it may well change again soon.......

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Updating my website!

I have been attempting to update my website this someone who is far from technically minded it has been a bit of a struggle for me! There were several things I couldn't work out how to do and I couldn't seem to swap the background pattern so I ended up just switching it off and opting for this multi-coloured text instead!
Maybe I should change my blog banner to match....

...mmmm...not sure now I've done it!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Canvases for SOS Children's Villages

Yesterday I went along to the exhibition of canvases painted for SOS Children's Villages organised by White House Arts in Cambridge. There were many, many paintings on display in the hall including these two by me (see my previous post about the pirate canvas here). When we were packing up to move studios I found a spare canvas of the right dimensions so I ended up painting an extra picture with my favourite blue cars on!
Artists were asked to donate the works for nothing so that all proceeds from sales went entirely to the charity. I was very happy (and a bit relieved) to see that both my pieces had been sold!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cambridge Festival of Illustration

Last night, Quentin Blake was at Anglia Ruskin talking about his work. He showed all the stages of making his latest picture book (a collaboration with Russell Hoban which will be published next year): from dividing up the text; sketching ideas; working out a storyboard; drawing full scale roughs; and making the final artworks. It was great to see and I'm looking forward to reading the whole book when it comes out.....

Tonight is a graduate night at Heffers Bookshop. The graduates who will be there include me(!), my studio friend Marion Lindsay, Nadia Shireen, Rebecca Patterson, Simon Prescott, Ellie Sandall and Marta Altes. If you are around Cambridge tonight please drop by.... I believe there may be a glass of wine in it!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The story of Fluff and Billy Part 3 - Dummy Books

After I'd finished a storyboard I was happy with, the next step was to make a small dummy book. I would really recommend doing this as it is so helpful to see how the pace of your story works and to check that the scale of your characters is varied through the book. As you can see from the covers above I had also started to play around with techniques to use for the penguins but I will talk about that in a later post.
As you can see from these phone pics (please excuse the blurriness), I make my dummies as a concertina. I went to see the marvellous Mini Grey give a talk about her picture books while I was a student on the MA course, and this was a method she shared. It makes it very easy to cut out any pages you're not happy with and replace them with new ideas without having to make a new dummy.
I showed my first dummy book to Pam Smy, a wonderful tutor on the MA course and she suggested making more of Fluff and Billy falling out and the ensuing silence. We then worked out a way of changing the pagination so that there would be an extra page with no text at all, emphasising the break in their friendship. I then changed the dummy book accordingly, and this is how the story stayed until it was published 3 years later!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Fabulous Five on Library Mice

I was asked by Melanie of the Library Mice website to compile a list of 5 books on a theme of my choice. I opted for five of my childhood favourites - you can read about them here.

I really would have liked to have chosen a 'super seven' so that I could have included a couple more books! These are:

Tales of a One-Way Street by Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski
I loved both this and A Necklace of Raindrops by the same duo. I found Jan Pienkowski's illustrations totally magical and as someone who didn't easily make the transition from picture books to chapter books these were a great way to bridge the gap.

The Early Bird by Richard Scarry
Although I have already included one Richard Scarry book in my list, this certainly deserves an honourable mention. Not only is it a great story of friendship with all the funny details you'd expect, it is also a beautifully produced book which I still enjoy looking through. The edition I have is a 1970 Collins Early Bird Book printed on thick, matt paper with a cloth texture cover. It does bear the scars of being well loved as you can see from the picture!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Fluff and Billy review on Library Mice

I am pleased to say that there is a very positive review for Fluff and Billy on the website Library Mice. To read it click here!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Illustration Friday: Stripes!

Stripes and spots are definitely my favourite patterns so I was very happy to see the topic of stripes. I've decided to show two animals of very different scales who both rock their stripes!

A windy day at the zoo!

Last wednesday I went drawing at Whipsnade Zoo for the first time this year. It was very windy - the zoo is located on the Dunstable Downs and is quite exposed to the elements. I felt very out of practice and hadn't managed to find my fingerless gloves before I set off but I really enjoyed the day!

There was a new baby elephant (which I didn't manage to capture properly) but this elephant was foraging on a grassy bank near the enclosure fence.

The lemurs were not impressed with the weather at all and were all sheltering in their house.

The lions slept (as usual)!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Drawing at the Zoology Museum

I felt like doing a little bit of drawing this I did!
I went to the Zoology Museum in Cambridge and drew this model that hangs from the ceiling. I'm not quite sure what it is - I was thinking it was a pterodactyl but I'm not sure the head matches! If anyone has the answer please let me know!