Sunday, 14 December 2014

End of the year... new times ahead.

Here is a little section of new work I did yesterday  ... don't ask why she has a frog on her head! And a monkey character  from a picture book I recently wrote.

I am due to graduate soon from the  MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. It’s been a wonderful two and a half years of rediscovering illustration again, after I took a rather long break from it in 2001.

Back then I was represented by Linda Rogers (Associates) who has  since retired.  She took me on soon after graduating  from the same art school. I can still remember my excitement and buzz  from that meeting. So here I am today, reliving that buzz and excitement as I prepare for our graduation show in London in February and then onto the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

I work in a totally new way now, using lots of texture but you can still see the same characters peeping from the pages. Whilst updating my website last night, I found my old work from the last century! So for fun here it is.  
Looking back I realise how lucky I was to work with authors such as Mary Hoffmann, Edward Blishen, Fiona Kennedy (now publisher of Orion), Dr Pete Rowan to name a few  and some great editors and publishers too.  (click on the images to enlarge)

USA cover.

Sally sky Diver (J.M Dent/Orion)

(The Amazing Voyage of  a Cucumber Sandwich, J. Cape)

But for now it’s a beautiful crisp cold morning herein the UK , reminding me I must somehow squeeze  Christmas in as I work 24/7 finishing the MA. Fortunately I love what I do and feel so lucky to be tutored by Prof Martin Salisbury and Pam Smy plus the wonderful part time tutors up in Cambridge. 

Have a lovely Christmas and New Year.

Monday, 18 August 2014

'Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties' Erich Fromm

It has  been a  busy August  so far.  I set this month aside to  experiment with my work and not worry about  creating an end result.  Over the two years on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art,  my work has slowly shifted under the expert guidance of my tutors.  However, I knew there was still room for  many further changes and picking strawberries kicked started yet another  process!

The fear of letting go of a tried and tested way of creative working can be very frightening, especially  if it has defined one and also led to past success.

When I returned to illustration after years away from it, I was certain I didn’t want to continue working in my old ‘style’ apart from the fact it was dated, it didn’t excite or challenge me. A comfortable way of working can easily become stagnant or a  security that makes us feel less vulnerable. But  playing safe can  also be controlling and self limiting. This is something that really came to light over the last two years on the MA.  It is so easy to become self restricting  due to fear, comfort or fashion.
My comfort has always been my use of line, generally loose and spontaneous.   I have really struggled to completely let go of it but I think the time has finally come to let it evolve or even  say   “ farewell”… well for now!  It comes to me so naturally but equally I am tired by it. I wanted to try something different – so with a week to myself   I set about immersing myself in my work and seeing where it took me. (click on the images below to enlarge)

It was a brilliant week working mainly in collage, creating my own textured papers, cutting, ripping, sticking and layering.  This little cat above being my first image and some of the many leaves created, below.

I loved working  directly with the materials – never knowing what would happen- accidents became interesting ones!  The various papers and patterns shouted out to me how best to use them. I was kept curious and wondering.

 A snippet of a water scene with a croc! 

Often working late into the  night and up early to continue, I was utterly absorbed and energised. It’s a process still in its infancy and I am fathoming out various conundrums. However I feel totally liberated and ignited by the leaps made. I leant so much about what does keep me interested in my working processes and what doesn’t- playing safe doesn't!
I have always needed spontaneity and change in my life or I feel stagnant. The same goes for my illustration work.. as the American author Alan Watts says  ....
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Time to boogie!  

                                                          monkey doodle with collage

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet.....

It’s July my birthday month! Here is a  little character dancing, which  I did today for my new web site currently being designed.

I last posted in cold  wet February and lots of interesting things have happened since then, which I will post about next month.  I also have a new blog address (technical Google issues I don’t understand!).
I had a crazy, yet fantastic time at the Bologna Children’s Book fair in March where I showed my work and came home fired up, with great feedback,  if somewhat shattered. My luggage was laden with visual goodies .. namely Beatrice Alemagna’s new picture book   ‘i cinque malfatti’. This is a stunning  book  with breath taking layouts and colours. Every time I look at it, it brings a smile to my face.

As for me,  I have been told I have become a hermit.. because I am always at home, either  writing or drawing. But I am a very happy hermit as I love what I do!

I am  currently working on two picture book projects for my Masters for the MA in Children’s Book Illustration in Cambridge. One was  inspired by the floods on a three hr train journey from Salisbury to Cambridge, as I looked out at the soaking landscape from the window. Below are Billy and Bob having fun in the endless rain, before things go wrong.

The other project is about a spider  monkey – inspired by my favourite childhood toy monkey (I was clearly not a doll girl) whom I discovered in our attic recently, a little moth eaten!  I took myself off to Marwell Zoo for a day sketching real monkeys – such entertaining creatures to watch. Here is one of my first character sketches, informed from those observational drawings at Marwell Zoo.

 And to end on.. here is another sketch from a summery day in my work room. Have a great July!