Friday, 17 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas to all you lovely people who come and peek at my blog, look at my pictures, leave lovely comments and read my wafflings! I hope you have a fantastic, white (fingers crossed, please,please,please) Christmas and a new year full of excitement, adventures and fun!

Thank you all for looking at my blog and for all your kind words.

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For another Christmassy treat - dash over to my CLAUDE blog!


Thursday, 9 December 2010

What I Wore Today: Visit to the doctors

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Oh croak, croak croak!
I have lost my voice almost completely. I sound like a sad, croaking frog!
Here is what I wore to visit the doctors.

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REMEMBER:
Check out the new blog for my new children's book character CLAUDE and his best friend Sir Bobblysock.
It's the place to go for silly pictures, funny stories, sneaky (pre-release) peeks of the new books and all sorts of other CLAUDE related things!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Waiting...

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A little portfolio piece drawn on my newest discovery - Langton Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper. Lovely - and available in pads rather than sheets.
The image above has ( in real life) a pale grey background, but for some reason that hasn't scanned well...?!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Claude's new BLOG!


My new character CLAUDE now has his own blog! CLICK HERE and be whisked off to a world of berets, bobbly socks, and adventures. Keep checking back for news on the Claude books, events, silly pictures and some of Claude and Sir Bobblysock's musings on life.

Letters to my Nephew - The Polar Bear

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Yesterday we had even more snow! There was a blizzard blowing when I walked my wife to work. When I got back home and had thawed my feet out I wrote a letter to my nephews telling them about what happened when a polar bear came for a visit. All true I promise you (!)

Anyway, here's the picture I drew to go with the letter...


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Bella and the Snowflakes


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Well, I appear to be living in Narnia!
Outside my studio window the snow is falling thick and fast and everything is under a duvet of the chilly white stuff! I love it and I'm not the only one! Bella Boo, our chihuahua/jackrussell cross is finding the whole thing very exciting. She likes nothing more than scampering about outside, nosing the snowdrifts and making patterns of footprints all over the garden.

It's all very cute, but I'm exhausted from having to have a series of tiny jumpers warmed and ready for her to change into when she bothers to come back in! The other two dogs are much more sensible - they are having a brilliant time WATCHING the snow from the snuggly safety of their blanket on the sofa.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

... and she carried her home...


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I don't know where the line '... and she carried her home...' came from. I doodled the lady with the cat and the line of text floated into my head.
Above is the final illustration, taken from my original sketchbook page.



Monday, 22 November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Inspirational...

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Another little experiment in using my original sketches and turning that into a final piece. In this instant I doodled the little girl whilst waiting for a file to save in Photoshop. I drew her quickly and with biro which is something I very rarely use.
I then scanned her in and coloured her digitally in Photoshop. I'm actually quite pleased with the result as it still has the energy of the original sketch which can so often be lost when creating final, 'tidy' pieces.

What inspired me to create this picture is this piece of music from the film The Chorus. I'm quite often inspired by music. I can remember going to see a classical music concert when I was little. I didn't really want to go, but when I was there I just sat listening and enjoying the stories and images the music created in my head. They are often random little pictures, with bits I don't quite understand - why is the little girl above carrying a steaming teapot in her basket for example? But that's the fun of it - getting the drawing down and wondering about the story later!

I do love a good mystery!




Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Circus Girls...



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Two versions of the same picture.
Top picture has be created using my original pencil sketch and colouring it digitally in Photoshop.
The bottom picture is a mixture of ink, watercolour and gouache on paper, scanned in a placed on a digital background.


Thursday, 11 November 2010

Illustration Friday: Afterwards...

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Mystic Maude - Communicator with the Afterlife...


Friday, 5 November 2010

Something glittery and girly for a Friday morning...

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Have a sparkly weekend!

Sketchbook Update 2





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More sketchbook doodles!




Sketchbook Update 1





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A selection of my recent sketchbook doodles.
Mostly drawn whilst on holiday recently - a good way to pass the time on a 10 1/2 hour plane journey!
More to follow....



Friday, 29 October 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Have a SPOOK-tacular time!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Pretty in Pink

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Gouache, pencil crayon and digital.



Thursday, 2 September 2010

Messing about with paint...


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In preparation for my next book I've been playing around with combining a looser drawing style, paint and ink and photoshop. I'm quite pleased with these. I've been looking at the brilliant Madeline books as well as looking again at my favourite, Mary Blair.
Having a lot of messy fun!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The D├ębutante...

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I bought some new inks at the weekend. Just trying them out...

Edinburgh and a Suspicious Group of Suspicious Suspects...



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So I'm back!

Not last weekend, but the weekend before I spent a couple of days up in Edinburgh for the book festival! I should really have updated the blog before now, but I didn't seem to find the time.

Here is what I did up in Edinburgh:

* stopped in a lovely hotel and people watched from the enormous Georgian windows.

*Winced when i saw one of the decorators on the top floor of the building opposite reaching out whilst wobbling about on a rusty old ladder.

* Trotted up and down Princes St dong a bit of shopping and spending far too long in all the Waterstones.

* Did my very first event for my new book ( out today!) The Baddie, which went very well, but being an idiot I forgot to bring my camera so you'll just have to take my word for it that the 3D rockets we made were sparkle-tastic and coloured in marvelously . A lovely group of children and some very nice and helpful grown ups as well.

*Then I met up with the lovely Ellie Parkin from Scholastic and her friendly husband Phil (you can see a picture of them here - thanks Sarah!)who whisked me out for a delicious dinner at Tigerlilly on George Street. It was lovely!

* We then zipped across town to watch the hilarious Idiots of Ants at the Pleasance Courtyard.

*Then we wandered back to the New Town and settled in to Guille Dhu for a little pre- bedtime drink. There was traditional Scottish music being played and then an old actress from Corrie wandered about in a ball gown before bustling up stairs for her cabaret show. We went back to our hotels then...

* The next morning I trouped down Princes St in the drizzle to see the Impressionist Gardens Exhibition which was wonderful. I really enjoyed it and lost myself for a couple of hours amongst the beautiful gardens of France and Italy. There were also some from America which I was surprised by and liked very much. What I didn't like was the number of people wearing waterproof trousers when there was only a light shower going on outside, but that's probably my issue that I need to work through. I did some sketching of the other gallery wanderers (2nd and 3rd pictures above)

* I went for a hot chocolate and a cupcake as I was feeling a bit cold, then I set off for my MY MUM HAS X-RAY VISION event.

* The event went well. Lots of very funny, and very sweet little children who kept me on my toes and didn't mind that I kept forgetting that I was wearing a radio mic and kept wandering to close to the speakers and creating and unholy racket! The children just carried on colouring and drawing and telling me fun facts about all sorts of things. Mainly about monsters.

* I was then reminded by a 3 year old ( 2nd picture) to tell everyone that they could take the pictures they had drawn home with them but if they took the clipboards I would be told off. Thank you helpful girl!

* Then I signed some books and dashed off to meet the amazing Sarah McIntyre and her husband, who I think I might have scared a little bit by being *very* excited when he told me he works at one of the Harry potter filming locations...

* Sarah was lovely, and although I was a bit star struck ( to the extent that I forgot to get her to sign a copy of her brilliant book) we had a lovely chat over a cup of tea and some cookies. If we'd have had more time we would have swiped everything off the table like when Arthur in Eastenders went mad and got out our pens and paper and drawn like lunatics. Next time Sarah!

Then I got the train home and tried to catch up with myself!

Thank you to all the people at Meadowside Children's Books and Scholastic Children's Books for all your help and for making my events up in Edinburgh go smoothly. Special thanks must go to Queen of Organisation at Scholastic, Alex Richardson, who provided me with The Typed TimeTable of Amazingness which kept me informed of exactly what I should be doing and when. Brilliant! And to Ellie and Phil who kept me company and entertained for my time up there.


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The top picture above is a page from my sketchbook of suspects from the MARPLE on tv last night. I am a MASSIVE fan of Miss Marple, and am now wondering if I can get someone to write a mystery novel set in the 1950s for me to illustrate!


Friday, 13 August 2010

Another parcel of Amazingness!

And another shoddy photo by me!

This parcel of wonderfulness arrived today from Hodder Children's Books!
They are the mini Claude samplers which are being sent out to reviewers etc. They are Brilliant and the sock matches the red in the books PERFECTLY!

Made my day and it's only half past ten!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

In which Claude and Sir Bobblysock take their first steps out into the world



Well last week ( 2nd August if you want to put it in your diaries!:-)) it was my birthday and I had a lovely weekend being whisked a way for an overnight surprise by my fiancee. She took me to Alton Towers for two days of rollercoasters and log flumes and being flung upside down and around and around on terrifying rides. We stopped in the hotel there which was so much fun as it's full of quirky features and little oddities (such as a magic mirror in the bathroom which tells you how lovely you look when you stand on a special tile on the floor). I got very over excited by it all and we were in the park at 8.30 am on the second day waiting to ride the rollercoaster called RITA (my favourite!)

I came home and pretty much everyday for a week the postman bought me parcels full of exciting things - proofs of front covers for books I'm working on, advance copies of books I've illustrated and all sorts of other things besides. But most exciting of all was my very own toy CLAUDE!

Claude is my new series of fiction for 5-7 year olds and the first title publishes in Jan 2011. I had heard about this toy that the publishers Hodder have had made and I had seen little photos of him but I thought I would have to wait until I went in for my next meeting with them to have a squeeze of the real thing. I think my editor and art director there got the idea that I was VERY OVEREXCITED about this and decided to send me my very own version. Apparently he is just a prototype at the moment and there a few design tweaks to be made, but to me he is P.E.R.F.E.C.T and I love him!

In the second pic he is making friends with one of my dogs - Bella Boo. She liked him but was a little miffed that he had come to sit on her special pillow. ( needless to say the other two dogs were interested in him and he has now had to be moved well out of the way to a HIGH SECURITY shelf in my studio.

I can't tell you how pleased I am with him and how brilliantly odd it is to see one of your illustrations be transformed into something 3D and cuddleable!

The second exciting Claude thing I received was from the lovely Emma in the Hodder Marketing department who sent me the adorable photo of some sample pages of Claude all tucked up in a giant Sir Bobblysock ready to go to reviewers and booksellers so they can get a sneaky peak of Claude before he hits the shops.
I hope people liked him and, more importantly, I hope he behaved himself!

For more information:

Friday, 30 July 2010

EGG!





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"Of all the suspicious looking houses in all the deserted woods
in all the world, he had to roll up to hers..."


Yesterday this arrived -my advance copy of my new picture book - EGG!

I'm so delighted with it - the colours have reproduced beautifully and the spot varnish on the cover is a glorious, shiny treat.
If you think you might like to read an exciting story - a sort of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?/A Streetcar Named Desire, but for children and with a Fox and an egg - this is the book for you.
It can be pre-ordered here, or here and of course at you local independent bookseller.
(Don't forget about them - they are brilliant.)

I do apologise for the quality of the photos. The light today is truly awful and these are very much the best of a bad bunch!


Thursday, 22 July 2010

IF: Breakfast

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Roger always has a swim before breakfast...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Up in the Air...


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Aaaah bed...

A few weeks ago I found the first picture somewhere online. Shamefully I forgot to note down where it was from, but I think it's an advert for Bloomingdales' home departments.
(If anyone knows do tell me and I'll credit the picture immediately).
I just think it's magical and a realisation of one of my childhood dreams - to live in a tree.

Anyway, inspired by the photo I've drawn my own version. Now, if someone could arrange for a bed to be made up for me in the trees, that would be brilliant - I'm desperately in need of a nap!


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Billy Bongo: chihuahua, muse, icon

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My poor little chihuahua - I'm constantly drawing and photographing him and all he wants to do is play with his best toy - a stinky, very chewed little pink foot one of the other dogs bit off one other their other toys....

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Illustration Friday: Giant

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Attack of the Giant Bunny!!!
( Poor thing - he's trying to step gently and all he wants is a nice cup of carrot tea..:-/ )




Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Tom and Matt: The Baddie and The Horrible Princess


How exciting!
Sarah, the brilliant art director/ book designer extraordinaire over at Meadowside Children's Books, has just sent these photos over.
They show the hot-of-the-press advance copies of my two new books.

(Brilliantly) Written by ( the very nice and tremendously talented) Anna Maxted, they tell the story of brothers Tom and Matt (and their little brother - Baby) who go on two amazing adventures.

THE BADDIE takes place in Deep Space when Tom and Matt find that their parents have been kidnapped by the dastardly BADDIE. Thank goodness the two brothers have their blasters and a cardboard box spaceship so they can come to the rescue and (hopefully) save the day!

In THE HORRIBLE PRINCESS, Isabella (or IS-A-SMELLA) the little girl from over the road, kidnaps Matt's best toy - Baby Dragon. The boys, their little brother Baby and a new, enormous, fire-breathing friend, are determined to get Baby Dragon back. What follows is a terrifically exciting adventure involving knights and dragons, a castle with a deep, dark dungeon, Kung-Fu fighting dolls and lots and lots of enchanted frogs!

Both books were such fun to illustrate and I can't wait for them to hit the bookshops.
The Baddie is publishing at the end of July this year with The Horrible Princess following in September. You can pre-order both books here and here!





Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Murphy

My parents came up to York last week for a visit, bringing with them their two dogs Murphy and Barney.
Barney is a big, tubby border terrier with a sweet little face which looks like he's run very hard into a brick wall and Murphy is a Westipoo - half West Highland White Terrier, half small poodle.
I couldn't resist sketching Murphy over the weekend. He has such a strong character. I don't know whether it's the combination of his long ears and bushy eyebrows, or just the way that he is a big baby (encouraged by my mum!), but I just find him hilarious. He's a massive fuss pot, can't bear anybody playing with his toys, likes to be involved in everything that's going on, loves to be dressed up in ribbons and bows left over from Christmas presents and absolutely refuses to eat his lunch unless it has a light sprinkling of grated cheese over it.

The thing I find most funny about Murph is that when he's had his haircut he reminds me of Anna Wintour! But I think he's a lot nicer...