31 December 2015

Goodbye December

December has definitely been a fun month. I was thrilled to get through #illo_advent without missing a day. It was a great exercise in idea generation, daily drawing and building my excitement as Christmas approached.

I have had a lovely Christmas holiday filled with family and friends, and as the new year approaches I have been reflecting on what a great year 2015 has been. I have great plans for 2016, starting with some hard work but I'm sure the hours I put in will be rewarding.

For now, let me wish you a Happy New Year, you gorgeous lot, next year is going to be a great one, yes? So wherever you are, and what ever you may be up to, have a bloomin good one folks.

25 December 2015

Happy Christmas from me and my pencil x x x

Wow it's that magical day! 25 illustrations done *hangs up pencil case and buries herself in mincepies*.

I hope you are all spending the day in a suitably festive way. I have loved this daily challenge but for now I'm off to see my nearest and dearest while my other half works. See you all on the other side x x x

17 December 2015

16 December 2015

A quick curly angel

I've not had enough time to tidy this lady up but I don't want to miss a day so here she is.

14 December 2015


Still trying different effects. This is meant to be a rabbit polishing Rudolph's nose, but I worry now it looks more like he is blowing it.

10 December 2015

Bears Bearing Gifts

A quick one with three bears with their Christmas presents. Trying out flat bright colour.

09 December 2015

Do you want to build a snowman?

After yesterday's picture I thought I should post a black and white one, not sure when it last snowed round here in December but if it did I'll be straight out there.

08 December 2015

Christmas Jumper Bears

I was going to colour them in but I decided I liked the texture of my pencil work too much :)

07 December 2015

Little Shy Donkey

He was going to be a reindeer but once I drew that face I new he was a donkey. The farm up the road from me has about half a dozen donkeys they are all such characters, somehow solemn yet cheeky at the same time. And here is my favourite conversation I've ever had about donkeys:

Me - "What do cats say"
   Small person - "Meoooow!" (With claw hand movements)
Me - "What do cows saw"
   Small person - "Mooooo" (Pretends he has horns)
Me - "What do donkeys say"
   Small person, without hesitation - "Donk! Donk! Donk!" (hands on hips, bending at knees with each donk)

06 December 2015

Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Kissy mice, dog in a jumper, mistletoe! I'm getting into this illo_advent lark. Happy days.

05 December 2015

Little Fawn

I had lots of fun with this one, trying softer effects than I normally would. I think I was slightly chenneling Bambi.

04 December 2015

Elves for #Colour_collective Cadmium Red

A double whammy #illo_advent and #colour_collective. These guys slightly remind me of sycronised swimmers, just a little more festive...

03 December 2015

Pink Earmuff Penguin

A quicky today. Trying out a few strong flat colours. You know I love a good penguin at the best of times, well this one has hot pink ear warmers, what could be better than that?

02 December 2015

Ice-skating Fox

A foxy one for day two of #Illo_Advent. I realise now I should have planned a theme or at least a colour scheme to help me through the challenge. Lesson learnt, will make a note for next year.

01 December 2015

Hello December

So this year I'm joining in with #illo_advent over on twitter. I really enjoyed it as a spectator last year, each day illustrators post a new seasonal picture as a fun creative way to count sown to Christmas. I think it is going to be a challenge to keep up but I hope by creating 24 new pictures whilst still doing the day job I can push myself, try out some new ideas and hopefully feel satisfied at the end. Lets see what happens.

Goodbye November

Wow. November was a busy month, as you can see from my Instagram feed:
A big highlight was definitely Offset, two days rammed full of inspiration and my crazy little notebook got a fair few hits on twitter too. I will probably revisit my notes in the new year to give myself a kick start.
Ted has had a good month too, he seems overjoyed with the fire being used again. Some evenings I find him staring into the fireplace as if dropping the hint that he thinks its time for me to light it. I can't believe he's almost three years old. I still call him the pup, t-puppy pup-bags.

27 November 2015

Notes from Yoillo Talks - Merchandising & Licensing

Wednesday night I popped on a train over to London to catch the Yoillo Talk on Merchandising and Licensing. It's so good to get out of my little office/studio and meet other illustrator, plus I don't feel guilty as I'm learning so much at the same time.

Ben and Fi O'Brien spoke about their brand B Goods, I was aware of their work and their product but it was so good to hear the story behind it all. They really are passionate about what they do and it's quite infectious. I like the idea that every design has its own story, and their creativity when approaching things like product shots. They used Air bnb to find their perfect photo shoot location saving themselves a lot of money.

Next up was Sarah Lawrence who works as a licensing manager for This Is Iris. She talked about what a creative licensing agent does, what she looks for and what makes work suitable for licensing. I didn't know anything about this side to illustration so it gave me lots to think about. I'm fairly tempted to go to a trade fair and have a nose around.

Finally, we listened to Ygraine Cadlocka commissioning editor at Simon & Schuster. She spoke about how publishers license work, often characters from films or tv but also heritage brand such as Miffy. And you know I love a good picture book, well Ygraine covered that off too. Kate Hindley, Becky Baur and David Tazzyman were mentioned, plus I spotted Benji Davies on the slides too.

20 November 2015

Things have seemed a bit dull since Offset London

So last week I spent an amazing two days at Offset London. It was a fantastic experience, 18 inspirational speakers all showing their work and imparting great gleaming nuggets of advice. I made lots of notes, scratched in partial darkness, pages and pages of scrawl that was barely legible.

I decided I would reprocess it, go back through and pick out the meaningful bits, the things that were said that I wanted to remember or think about some more. We were given an A5 notebook in the Offset delegates tote bag, it seemed the best place to collect it all together and make something I could keep and refer back to when needing an inspiration top up. Here are two videos of dubious quality showing the out put of my efforts, they were trickier to create than I thought:

02 November 2015

What happened last month?

October turned out to be a varied and busy month. I failed at inktober because I got stuck into a big meaty project that I hope to share with you soon.

I went to a couple of gigs (the Melvins and Zappa Plays Zappa) both super nights out - I like loud guitars, drummers play with lazer precision, and I had forgotten that. It was great to do something away from the screen and sketch book.

I also went to a life drawing evening. It was the first time in about 10 years I was confronted with a live subject, a blank page and the feeling that I had forgotten how to draw at all. But I loved it. After several 1 minute and 3 minute poses I felt the cobwebs blow away, and by the time we did the one hour pose I had found my groove. If you want to draw for any purpose, I really recommend it, it really helps to truely look and draw what you see. I hope to find time to go again soon.

07 October 2015

Little Super Hero - Inktober day 6

Not sure if you remember the little secret super hero (see his first appearance here), well I am still drawing him, and this time he's flying.

Inktober catch-up

Day 2 - Dinosaur
Day 3 - Harvest Mouse
Day 4 - Bears
Day 5 - Tired but happy parents

30 September 2015

September Squares

I love September, I think it's my favourite month - the perfect mix of the last sunny days with fresh crisp mornings and the beginnings of autumn and the jumper season. As you can see from my Instagrams, Ted has had a pretty good month too. He is definitely a character, and working from home I am glad to have him around. He has become particularly fond of burrowing into the duvet when I get out of bed in the morning, I think his motto is 'Never let a warm spot go to waste'. I'm looking forward to it getting a bit colder so we can light our log fire and snuggle in for the long evenings.

The countryside here is pretty spectaular at this time of year too - lots of deer strutting about, hundreds of geese getting ready to migrate and a fair few pheasants running around too. The pheasant are funny, they are generally hidden in the hedges until you get close then they burst out squawking, then they run arround all indignant seeming to forget they can fly.

10 August 2015

My notes from Guardian Masterclass

On Saturday I headed over to the Guardian offices at Kings Cross for 'Getting started on your children’s book with Laura Dockrill and Alex T. Smith'. My overall summary of the day is that interesting people write interesting books, and I say that because there was not a dull moment.

It was a brilliant day with so much information to take in that I decided to go back through my notes and map them out to help digest it all.

First up was Laura Dockrill who got us all relaxed and then asked us to close our eyes and remember what it felt like to be a child. We then did a quick bit of creative writing some of us read there's out (I didn't because I felt like a fraud) but there were some fab stories with lots of details that resonated with childhood - dens, toys 'matted with love', secret notes, getting told off... Laura proved that the best writing is based on what we have experienced and feel, and encouraged us to try out ideas and share them.

Then Hayley Long talked about how you can tackle big meaty issues in children's books, why it can be important to do so and the things you need need to keep in mind. My favourite quote from her about writing a book is 'If it is not impossible, then it's possible, right, so what's the problem?'

Fresh from Claude's window tour was Alex T Smith, who, to be honest, was almost the entire reason I signed up for the class in the first place. Alex talked about what inspired him to become an illustrator (we have a lot to thank his Grandad Sid for) and about how adding humour and not getting bogged down by reality can lead to great stories. We all learnt how to draw Claude with instructions like add a floppy sausage for a beret and half a banana sticking out his bottom for a tail. It was great. Also important - Alex had the most amazing spiky shoes on!

Liz Pichon talked about being an author illustrator too. Advice she gave, that really stuck with me, was about creating the kind of work you want to be hired to do and make sure you are sharing your best work - these things combined lead to more success. Her Tom Gates books were based on doodle style books she loved as a child, an idea she shared with her agent that really took off.

The day ended with James Dawson who was very entertaining although not feeling his best. He talked through planning plots and characters that keep readers engaged - avoiding the murky middle that can happen between great beginnings and ends. He made the acurate point that starting to write a book is easy, it's finishing it that is the challenge. His poor dog was not allowed to join us, which was mean, he had to wait on the other side of security.

On my way home, I sat on the train buzzing with ideas. Every one I met was lovely and I will certainly keep an eye out for some of my fellow class mates to see what they come out with.

07 August 2015

Secret Super Hero

A small boy popped out from behind a display in my local supermarket.
"Shh! I'm a secret super hero," he whispered.
I nodded.
And when I got home, I drew him.

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