Monday, April 28, 2008


Sorry I haven't blogged many pictures lately, it's because it's all top secret character design these days.
This little guy is probably quite incidental though and so he's allowed to be online...


I better get going and get this project to a stage where I can show off some more because it is such fun stuff!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ha ha ha haa!

Here's the booktrust news page of the Big Picture Launch, with some photos... we just looked at it and laughed. Alexis wasn't actually at the photoshoot, so they went through all the bother of photoshopping him in afterwards - and it's amazing how they retained the healthy orange tan and unusual shape of his head. You can even read the tattoo he had made across his face for the occassion.

(It's like that scene in Monsters' inc: "I'm on a magazine! I'm on a magazine!!!")

Note: They changed it! No more big label saying NEWS across Alexis' mug! Aaah.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hugs and Virtual Reality


Lovely day, and I am working on some character designs... and here's a drawing I did yesterday in the half-dark while watching BEOWULF, which was fun, but not as much fun as watching the "making of" extras... here they are on youtube - the best bits are quite late on when you get to see some actual scenes with the actors working very hard that they are wearing cloaks and armour instead of neoprene suits and rubber caps, that the pink wire frame thing they are holding is a sacred object or a heavy sword, that the weirdo covered in sticky-dots they are talking to is the King of all Thanes and that they are not stuck in a victorian-looking piece of heavy machinery with technicians turning hand-cranks to rotate them on two angles. Or, in fact, that they are a dragon the size of a house, flying and vomiting flame.
Everything that struck me as a bit weird about the way the characters act and move when watching the film is thus neatly explained, and I suddenly am very fond of it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

No more Bob

Bob the Zebra Finch just died after long unwellness - he'd been sick on and off for months. I think that some bird-illness got into my little tribe when I bought Henry the leftover finch from Pets at Home, ignoring the fact that the place was full of sickly birds. I hope that this is the end of that now, my other two birds seem healthy... it's rather depressing seeing these little guys drop dead like that, but I know I've been treating them well. Oof, now I have to work out what to do with Thingummy the Lonely Finch who is a bit dense and normally just did whatever Bob was doing (eating bathing honking flying beak-fencing cuddling sleeping) to the point that when Bob started just sitting there being sick he seemed to go "Oh is THAT what we're doing now... sitting around... aaah I'm bored! Beakfence! No? Ok, sitting around time it is..." and now he's calling out for any finches in the area. I hope he'll work things out and maybe make friends with the canary.

Anyway, I'm going for a swim now and then I shall make some drawings. I haven't posted drawings here in ages!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Oh! I got a lovely letter, look!

I better write a reply as soon as I worked out the answer properly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is it just me? No!

Haha... this really brings back memories. I used to claim every big box that came into the house when I was a child, to paste the inside with pictures, and sit in and dream and eat cookies... in fact, I made one in my last year in college and kept it behind the sofa to try and write a novel and a musical in. Hmmm, sitting in a box. Cats understand.

It's Getting Warmer!

I spent most of the last two days doing the kind of thing I imagine most people I know back home imagine I'm doing all the time... hanging out in central London, sitting in sunny parks under cherry blossoms and majestic London Plane trees, eating Sushi, and last night I went to the launch of The Booktrust Big Picture Campaign, that is I stood outside the gallery (which is a very lovely gallery indeed actually) and looked inside at the solid mass of people in there wondering why humans get up to this sort of thing. I had some shouted conversations, most of them ending in "I got to go! Sorry guys you're nice but THERE'S TOO MANY OF YOU HERE!!!" - I was very grateful when I finally could run away, hide in a hotel room and just think "blegh blegh blegh blegh oof argh blegh" for a while, or some similar mantra. The room was incredibly cool, a penthouse suite overlooking London in fact that Alexis had been upgraded to by the hotel...

Penthouse Suite

They say it's part of the job to attend events, but I really wonder if maybe if I work very hard I could be a bit less successful and in return elusive and reclusive. I truly, truly would not mind.
Mind you I WANT SNAZZY HOTEL ROOMS TOO! I'd do a lot of mingling for that.

Gallery Crowd

I really enjoyed the rest of the day though, the sun and parks and Sushi.
I guess these things become extra nice if you know you have to squeeze into a small room with a million people in the evening! Huah, I shall have a quiet day.

Do go and look at the exhibition, it's very very lovely, and the gallery (like I said) is absolutely wonderful.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

South London Public Pool, Sunday Service

I was just swimming at my local pool this morning when suddenly people in long white robes appeared, got in at the shallow end and performed some quick baptisms. That would have been a lot less strange if it there hadn't been a "rafts and rascals" session going on at the same time, so there were about a dozen small children floating around them on foam rubber turtles.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Good Bruise!

Just passing through to show of my knee. I re-arranged the studio last night and dropped my work-table on my leg...

And now I shall watch the free Godzilla DVD in todays' paper, because that's EXACTLY what I need for research... am a bit stuck with a monster story you see.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lovely Days

I've been having a lovely couple of days - meeting friends and drinking lots of tea.
And the cafe downstairs is serving me beautiful breakfasts with all the ingredients arranged in a nouvelle cuisine sort of way, except more of it.

Look at this best ever doggie:

he belongs to my blogging friend Laura who I met up with yesterday (you can just about glimpse her there behind all that dog), and he actually smiles, see?
I was pretty jealous and wanted a miniature Schnautzer of my own instantly to run around me in very small circles and climb all over me like I was rigging, looking for adventure (very low natural vantage point a Schnautzer has normally, must be GREAT to be carried around sometimes).

Helga has laid her first egg of the season on a nest made of receipt shreddings and hair. And I'll have my very own broadband connection on Monday already... until then, see you later, world!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

If I Seem a Bit Absent...

It's because my internet connection is being switched over, and I have no idea how long that'll take! So not very much email checking happening!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Clean

Oof. It's that recurring time in life where I need to make a choice between sorting every item in my room and chucking out at least a third of them or moving house. Or at least find myself a separate studio. So I am tidying, and as I hoped at long last the lost library book has re-emerged, I've been renewing it since January or some such, and it definitely is due NOW. It was nestling rather tidily in the cable-box under my bed, where I'd checked at least ten times already because I had this disturbing memory of putting it there and thinking "why? why? why?" at the same time.
Also I decided to stop despairing about having no place at all to put project files and artwork - every time I finish a drawing, I stand in the middle of the room feeling a bit sad before tucking it between some books or in a box under my bed, thinking "if I am a professional artist why don't I have a plan chest or something?" - Surely if there is no space for artwork in my studio, there must be SOMETHING that's taking up the space. Can't be just my bed. Or the double bass. Or the three birds. Or the three desks. Or the old sewing machine. hang on - old sewing machine???

OK I better get back to work here...

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Crochet Plastic Bags

My recycled bag is taking shape, and looking at the stripes I am noticing something surprising: most of my bags are from local shops (blue, black, stripy) - for some reason I am really rubbish at saying "I don't need a bag" loudly and clearly before they've bagged it all up and handed it over already. In the big chain stores they bag more slowly, so I can stop them usually. Hence only one pink Superdrug bag which I only accepted because I rather wanted a pink stripe in this thing, and one orange Sainsbury's from buying more than fitted into my backpack, and some Morrissons' - for the same reason. It'll be interesting if and when they get rid of free plastic bags... I really hope they won't replace them completely with thick "bags for life" for tenpence because people will just buy them, grumble, and chuck them anyway. I'd prefer to see thin recycled "overspill" bags for when you bought more than what fits in the bag you hopefully brought, or when you go shopping without planning to go, for a small charge - and then them being collected for recycling, like paper.

Blah blah... drawings now!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back From The Library

I'm just back from my first visit to the General and Zoological Library of the Natural History Museum - you wouldn't believe what a wonderful place it is!
First I got to go through the back entrance with all the other people who had appointments, and I was collected and led through a maze of stairs and corridors into the actual library, completely avoiding the half-term visitors that made it quite impossible to move about much in the actual museum (as I discovered when I popped out for a bottle of apple-juice for lunch).

I got to look at some pictures I've always wanted to see, huge old books with hand-coloured plates - I photographed some but signed a piece of paper declaring that I wouldn't show them to you (humph) so I won't. One of the books - an illustrated anatomy of the Toucan - was seriously heavy to lift.
I was supplied with gloves and hand-wipes and book-stands and tidily filled in lots of forms and every so often they brought a new treasure I'd requested to my table, and sometimes someone stopped by the table and said "Ooooh lovely pictures!" ... life surely doesn't get much better than this.

And when I came home there was a parcel with two blank dummy-books for the self-same project, so now I'll have a look at my notes and see how to fill those pages.

I think this is the first time I've ever been happy to live in London... just think of all the archives I haven't even seen yet!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


And here's an all new incarnation of Andre the Cat as knitted by Laura Kidd of She Makes War, very kindly finding knitting time in-between brilliant music-makings!

Andre Cat by Laura Kidd

Arrrgh he is CUTE... it really is the strangest thing that I didn't knit this at all, not one bit, and there he is. HUG!

I wish I could have such brilliant things in the mail every morning, I do!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Plastic bags and Cultural Treasures Ahead

I've been a bit nervous, so I've started a new crocheting project... a bag made from bags. Crocheting plastic bags is surprisingly satisfying.


Today I am researching, which is what is making me jittery, I am looking for precious books and items that I can look at in the many London Museums and reference libraries, all those places where one has to make an appointment first and then people bring the items to you, and you're not allowed anything but a sharp pencil, and I wonder if they give you cotton gloves? - I get very wound up in places like that, like the rest of teh world doesn't exist any more, but also very surprised that I am actually allowed to be there at all...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I showed Alexia how to crochet yesterday. We had a lovely day with Cider and wool and pizza, and this morning I find a dramatic scene on my windowsill.

St George And The Dragon

I think it's St George and the Dragon.

I also got a surprise parcel from China, containing a beautiful paper cut flower and some brilliant brush-painted cats (boo Chinese government, yay Chinese art!), and other assorted lovely things from Germany and Italy and downstairs and upstairs, and I got an invitation to a gallery launch event and my official poll card for the London Mayoral Election. Which reminds me: if you live in London, go go go vote!


Lovely Books

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Today I thought: hm, what with all that snow, wouldn't it be a nice quiet time to take a walk along the river?

Typically I hadn't realised that the Olympic Torch had the same idea. So I made a flag out of a page of my sketchbook and joined the protest on South Bank.

Free Tibet

I did not stay for long though because it really wasn't the right place for it - I would have liked to have shouted FREE TIBET at Whitehall (too late for that).
Instead, I found myself watching some unhappy acrobats, and after a lot of dancing a childrens' choir started singing Peace and Freedom, which made the protesters cringe quite a bit, but also prompted more and more shouting back about peace and freedom for Tibet. I suddenly realised I was shouting the right thing at the wrong people entirely, and I shut up and left.

I walked back to London Bridge station feeling melancholy and sorry.
I found out when I got home that I missed the torch by a few minutes, it was carried across London Bridge just when I was on the train home. I think a lady in a wheelchair carried it though, and heckling the paralympics really isn't my cup of tea, so that was ok...

It really is a shame that this event, which so many people care about, is marred in this way, but I truly believe the protests are important, and I would have felt worse if I'd stayed at home. But I do promise to get my stuff together next time I feel like saying something, and shout it at some politician when cameras are running.

ALEXIS - Morstrum Toad

New Gallery!
Alexis did some beautiful ink drawings in the Winter of 2004. They are quite unusual because he usually works in pencil.
They are also the last drawings he did before he had to quit drawing with his right hand due to hypermobility syndrome.

White Morning

I woke up quite early, opened the curtains and SCREAMED.

Then I got up quickly and went out to the park.

Snowy Morning

Almost no one was there...

Park Lantern in the Snow

The flowers looked upset.

Snowy Morning Hedge

I took a handful of snow, and big flakes stuck to it at once. I put it down and started rolling it about.

Then I went home to borrow some gloves and bought a carrot for fourpence at the corner shop.

By now there were people walking in the park... I rolled some more snow. The grass didn't stay green for long, but got covered in new big flakes. I thought: I hope this isn't nuclear winter, but when I passed the radio this morning it just said Charlton Heston had died, so it must be ok.
I planted the carrot.

My Snowman

When I looked up I noticed there were people making snowmen all over the park. I thought about photographing them, but the looked private.

On my way home I passed a family by the park gate. The father had put two snowballs together and was just about to put on the head while his tiny son was watching. "And then... we do this!" he said. The snowman imploded completely under his hands.
"Why?" asked his son.
"Now that didn't really work, did it now", said the mother.

I got home and looked out of the window with my finches.
Two children were collecting all the snow off a car and packed it into a corner in their tiny front yard.
I think today London will be populated with snowmen, most of them looking a bit surprised.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Nameless Potatoes and such

Ah. I have finished re-uploading Alexis' website and it's neat now and shall stay this way. Then I did some googling and for no good reason came across this list of mostly rather brilliant-sounding books that will never get co-editioned here... actually - I feel very inspired!!! I really would like to read the book about the nameless potato, especially.

And now I shall boil some potatoes (all called "salad", I think, going by the bag) and prepare to watch the Grand National since somehow I bet a fiver on a horse called "Cloudy Lane", or something like that. Or was it "Misty Corridor?" - I hope it won't be too horrible. I kind of forgot that it was quite horrible to watch, just kind of handed out the fiver while fiddling out some computer stuff at the same time... huh...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Alexis - MR PUNCH

New gallery over at Alexis's: Mr Punch.

A little penciled beginning, middle or end of a story about being lost (or sausages) (or being found).

The link has changed - sorry! I've rebuilt the gallery thrice in the last few days using different gallery building software, but I think it's well and settled now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Celebrity Knit

Hooray, I say!
Hannah Simpson, who knits dead people normally, has tried out my Moonpie pattern, and look, it works, it works! It's Moonpie, out in the real world! Knitted by someone who knits... I don't know, the world! Gratitude, gratitude and great joy!

Argh, I can't go to bed now, must run up and down until I fall over instead, I am so excited.

Beautiful Breakdown

Here's a breakdown of "Timothy and the Strong Pyjamas" by Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthur A. Levine Books.
I am almost a bit ashamed to link to it because it makes me look so good... but I'm too chuffed not to!

I'm glad she picked up on the idea that sometimes the strength one needs isn't hidden inside oneself, but in the friends and caring people who one has collected in life. That was a bit I cared about myself when working on that book... that and the idea that sometimes when one has a magic monkey, one may lose ones magic monkey, and that is terribly horrible, but at the very latest the monkey is likely to return in Spring or thereabouts, in some way or another, if one can hang on in there. That's the sort of risk and reward that comes with magic monkeys, and really just about everything a person may love.


Ok folks - I have finished to scan and upload the first gallery on Alexis' Website. Go and have a look, it's a special treat - a complete little dummy book called THE YELLOW KING.
This might have been his debut picture book - in a world where childrens book publishers approved of big bouncy yellow men in y-fronts... aren't you lucky you can read it now anyway!

Sorry the scanning is a bit rough-and-ready, I thought it's ok to show it's, well, a rough.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Coming Soon...

I am webmastering a new and exciting site... Alexis is publishing his sketchbooks online. They will appear in stages - whenever I have time to scan a new batch of stuff.
Stay tuned...

Things I Saw Today

Natural History Museum

The Mammal Room at the Natural History Museum


Snakes really went for a particular design feature, didn't they...

London Pigeon

Elephant and Castle Station... an ok place to be for old city pigeons.

Sunny day? Rainy day?

Hmmm.... grey when I woke up, sunny when I decided to take a trip into town to do some museum research, grey again now that I'm ready to go out the door...

I had a lovely worky day yesterday, doing what I think I do best - working out a dummy book. It's the sort of work that I can do just about any time, whether I feel inspired or not, and I always enjoy it. How does a character animate from one page to the next? Where on the page should they be, and in which position, so it feels natural from the last page and to the next? How does time pass from the left-hand page to the right and what is the perfect expression to pick from the range of expressions the character is going through during this scene?

So today I feel like working on a back-burner project, and so I shall... off to the museum with my sketchbook in a min.

Oh, they announced the Big Read ten best illustrators award and Alexis got into the ten winners - Yayyyy!! I got to think of some sort of celebration, I already bought a bunch Beegu-yellow flowers yesterday. I'm not miffed I didn't win - a lot of my favourite people didn't. And it would have been VERY odd to be named best new illustrator for the two books I've got out already... pretty odd and nice to be on the longlist!

Here's the whole lot - Longlist and winners - on Guardian Online.