Friday, October 31, 2008

Sudden disappearance

I just pulled "The Sleepwalkers" off the web - and one page away from the conclusion of the first story, too! How rude of me!!!!
But it's for a good reason... I am working the comic up into a longer story, and once that is done it will return... it just seemed a bit silly to have it dangle around in the meantime!
I'll keep you posted!

Quiet

Gosh, the days are short suddenly. I baked a load of double chocolate chip cookies, which have been very useful in meetings and such, and I knitted a toy for a friend, and now I think I'll carve this year's pumpkin in time for this Halloween evening, which I will very happily spend playing Fallout3 (it's out at last!) and eating roast root vegetables. Seems like a good couple of days, this.
And tomorrow I shall attempt to write the first two thousand words or thereabouts of my NaNoWriMo novel.
Huh...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Moo!

moo

My business cards just arrived!
This is the first time I've had them printed (by moo.com) instead of photocopying them, and I am so pleased!
I like the paper-stock, the matt varnish, and I like that it is from sustainable source, and I like that it comes in a nice recycled box. And I picked different pictures for different sorts of people - crafty contacts and arty contacts and sock-monkey-appreciation contacts- Am I feeling professional right now? Yeah! I'll start giving them to people today!

Writing Approaches...

It's mere days until I'll be staring my NaNoWriMo effort... (and you can still join! Go go go!)
I've decided to write a story about foxes, and have already been doodling and thinking and reading a book that I found in the basement of a bookshop in Charing Cross Road, "On the Trail of the Fox".

fox

My plan is to finish the book within the month, as promised, and then get an edited draft to my publisher. I think it's time to try and sell a novel... might as well be this one! Wish me luck, and I'll be posting bits and pieces as I go! If they don't want to publish it I'll just stick it on my site as a freebie, so any way it goes you'll be reading about foxes from me sooner or later :)

inky things

Some Old Pictures


I just found this picture on the internet - I drew it in college, and it was lingering on a portfolio site I set up back then.
I remember there was a story to go with it, but I never got around to writing it.

Here's another one from the same site:

I think I might look through my college sketchbooks soon again to see what else lurks and lingers there...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Spare Time

Today is the first day in many days that I have time to sit down and doodle. I've not drawn anything for so long that I need to explain to myself again how it's done...

cheers

I ordered a load of Deleter drawing nibs some time ago. They are great! Without wanting to encourage such things: if you don't treat them with respect, they'll work anyway. If they get a bit clogged, you can clean them easily. They hardly ever drip. They are incredibly sturdy, too. Before I discovered them I got through twelve nibs in twelve artworks. These guys seem so far immortal and I really am not very kind to my drawing nibs (poor things). They are a bit hard to get, but dinkybox.com sells them (I feel like advertising them because they are a great little shop, friendly and quick and useful).

nibs

I'm especially enjoying drawing Really Muddy Things, and putting watercolour right on the wet black ink.

kitty

Sometimes people tell me off for that and say it looks dirty and horrible, but I anjoy these more than anything else... I must write a story all about mud some time so I can illustrate it like this.
I opened the window after I'd drawn this and the water-pot got knocked, and the ink ran, so I had to put a patch on it.

kitty patch

Ah well.

Then I went out to buy food for Halloween guests.
There was a rain cloud approaching, but it passed.

sky

On the way back my trolley was very heavy what with all the root vegetables, so I had more time than usual to look around... there are still a lot of fading flowers about, and assorted small seeds and fruit on the pavements.

passion flower

autumn

And in the shop downstairs, the shopkeeper is very meticulously drawing bats on the window with a big black pen. She's probably finished by now.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Free Christmas Card...

I just got ready to send off my order for this year's Christmas cards to be printed... but then changed my mind about the picture I was going to use. I was suddenly struck by the inspiration to paint an all-new one. But now I have a printable image all uploaded already... so if you want a friendly wintery image to put on your Christmas cards, you can have this one! (Just don't print loads and sell them without asking me first.)

winterbeast

Click on here and download the large size, if you like.

Juggling

Oooh I am suddenly tired out. I think it's because I finally finished all my annual paperwork and posted off the bits that wanted posting and sorted the bits that wanted putting in order and punched holes and stapled and finally herded it all back into the paperwork cupboard and slammed the door.
I took some more pictures of images to go in the shop, but noticed when I had it all ready to upload that some of the pictures really need some strands of colourful wool drawn on them, do it'll be a few more days yet.
Here's one of them, pre wool strands:

I think I'll rest my brain a little and drink tea until I need to do another work stint, fixing a few pages of a dummy book before the next meeting...

So how's the peeling gummed envelopes in the dark business going? Anyone peeled one yet? I don't believe you have or else you'd tell me! For goodness Sake, THEY GLOW IN THE DARK, how can you not be peeling already? Maybe you peeled one and nothing happened, in which case it's just the wrong sort of envelope, keep trying!

The Lost World

I am listening to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World' in my studio at the moment, and I am enjoying it A LOT. It's seriously adventurous, and made out of brilliant sentences. Here's the first passage that made me look up from my paperwork and just listen and laugh:

"I'll trouble you to keep your hands off, sir. I'll not stand it."

"Dear me!" His black moustache lifted and a white fang twinkled in a sneer. "You won't stand it, eh?"

"Don't be such a fool, Professor!" I cried. "What can you hope for? I'm fifteen stone, as hard as nails, and play center three-quarter every Saturday for the London Irish. I'm not the man----"

It was at that moment that he rushed me. It was lucky that I had opened the door, or we should have gone through it. We did a Catharine-wheel together down the passage. Somehow we gathered up a chair upon our way, and bounded on with it towards the street. My mouth was full of his beard, our arms were locked, our bodies intertwined, and that infernal chair radiated its legs all round us.
The watchful Austin had thrown open the hall door. We went with a back somersault down the front steps. I have seen the two Macs attempt something of the kind at the halls, but it appears to take some practise to do it without hurting oneself. The chair went to matchwood at the bottom, and we rolled apart into the gutter. He sprang to his feet, waving his fists and wheezing like an asthmatic.

"Had enough?" he panted.

"You infernal bully!" I cried, as I gathered myself together.


And the best thing is - it's a free Librivox recording, so you can have it too! Here you go.
It is read very well, too, by a Mr. Mark F. Smith, despite and sometimes because of very eccentric accents... his Scottish in particular is reminiscent of Indiana Jones masquerading.
Very, very charming.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We could have Launch together...

It's getting mighty close to the publication date of "There are Cats in this Book" and I am wondering if I should have a book launch... there's a lovely local bookshop who would cooperate, and I do have some London friends to invite I think... but I've never had a proper book launch before. I could give out knitting patterns for the cats, and cupcakes... any advice on how to make a book-launch good?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Playing with the sky



I'm playing with my sky photographs, wondering how to make them look just right for the new book. Normally I would disapprove of digitally faking analogue photography, and if I'd already decided that a Lomo camera or a pinhole camera or a Roleiflex is the thing to use, I'd be running around with one snapping away... but I haven't. SO instead I have been trawling the internet for filters and instructions, and it's surprisingly wonderful to have a screen filled with all these strange skies...

I'm also making business cards. At the moment I'm collecting images to print on the back. Have I blogged anything recently that's just the ticket?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Horniman Museum (once again)

I'm just back from a lunchtime trip to the Horniman Museum. I met up with Laura, to talk about the upcoming November NaNoWriMo. We've got good plans! I had more cake (even more cake) and so rambled on, sugar-fuelled, about writing and writing and writing. Is anyone else going to join or writing group, by the way? Come on! :)

Then we swapped cats: I have a knitted Andre now, in exchange for a painted one, look!

ANDRE!

And: in the museum shop they had a lamp made completely out of Sardine tins, which I had to buy. If you know why I had to buy that you've known me for quite some time (if not - I wrote and rewore and rerewrote a novel over the last seven years or so, and the one thing that never changed is that the first scene features a house in the snow lit by a lamp made out of sardine tins). I am insanely excited about it. The lamp, not so much the novel.

We also paid a quick visit to the stuffed walrus. It's important to visit the stuffed walrus in Forest Hill. My friend Ellan first told me about it years ago, but I had to see it to believe it. Whoever stuffed it, over a hundred years ago, wasn't aware that walruses have wrinkles. So they stuffed it smooth. It is majestic. Here it is.

Stuffed Walrus

And I probably posted it before, but I wouldn't want you to miss it :)

The Horniman is a great place, anyway, you can see bees there...

Bees

More bees

...and antique musical instruments, and many, many stuffed animals, and there are events for children rather regualrly (there was something brightly costumed going on today, I noticed) and if you go out into the adjacent gardens you can see friendly rotund goats...

Goat

...and, indeed, London.

Forest Hill Sky

Happy Days

I had the most marvellous couple of days - you know, when all the goodness that you might expect in a month or so comes around all at once.

First I had a lovely day out with Froydis, who was visiting from Norway. We went to the South Bank book market and then the Charing Cross bookshops, and London was doing its best to produce a glowing autumn afternoon.

London View

I don't know why, but it always turns into a different place for visitors, when I walk around here it's mostly being casual, all rattling trains and crowds. Someone nice visits, and the houses turn into huge owls roosting by the river.
We had some cake on the way

Tea and Cake on South Bank

and sat on the Edith Cavell memorial. That is one of my favourite places to sit in London - it's like the stone incarnation of this great lady planted a big block of stone into the road because she knew people needed a place to rest there.

The next morning, I got brilliant things in the post - I mean, really brilliant!

Nostril Stone

First and foremost: a nostril stone in a tiny box, which is now on my display shelf looking curious.

Then I got foreign copies of one of my books, and a new contract. The contract came in one of these envelopes that are gummed shut with sticky stuff, not the kind that needs licking, and I kept it until the evening, and opened it in the dark.
If you don't know why, then you MUST promise me that next time you get a letter with a gummed flap, you will open it in the dark. If you can't wait for the evening, go into a cupboard and do it there.
Anyway, the whole household gathered around it in the dark in the evening and we peeled it open, and it sparkled and glowed bright blue (which is what always happens - you just can't see it in the daylight), and we went WHOOOOOOOOO!!! - and then I switched on the light and signed it. A new book is officially on the way!

Also, a huge spider has built an intricate web in my balcony garden, just where it looks the most boring and wintery otherwise. And I bought a number of beautiful old paperback books in town, which I will read in the evenings so I can hopefully get some real sleep for a change...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time travelling supply shop

Something weird just happened to me. - I've been using Japanese drawing nibs for over a year now, ever since I ordered a batch from a friendly shop on the web. I remember that back then, the email invoice actually arrived at the same second as the postman ringing my doorbell with the box, which was weird.
A couple of days ago I was thinking that it would be nice to have a second pen holder, and I wanted to order one, but I'd lost the address of that shop. I thought I'd look it up some time soon.
Now this evening I was just dressing up as the Ultimate Warrior and making scary faces to distract myself from my tax return when I got an email invoice from that shop, saying that they'd send me my pen holder ASAP. But I didn't order one! I checked the order date, and it's more than a year old... and paid for, too. But I didn't order a pen holder last year, either... did I? So now I am sitting here, just after midnight, with a big bird drawn on my face in lipstick, considering the apparent fact that some Japanese art supply shop is reading my mind and/or travelling in time to get me what I want before I ask for it. I guess that's quite a good place to be in life, really.

I think I'll go to bed now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Together Now!

I've been meaning to do this since last year.

Moonpie Choir

here's all the alternative versions of Moonpie saying "Thank You" in the book, glued together to make one artwork.
A whole choir of Moonpies, just in time for Christmas... that'll be the first picture in the shop!

I got to work on signature placement, that should be about an inch further to the right really.

UPDATE: I arranged a few more, but the daylight's not good enough any more for photographing them... There won't actually be all that many of these collages, I noticed, because I really just want to use the drawings that I would frame myself. And for the sequel there will be even less spares because I won't be painting the cats separately...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Peckham Sky

I like thinking up projects that get me away from my desk.



I went out to take some photos of the sky... I need some for a new book.
I'm very pleased with what I got today, I don't know if it always looks this great or if it got turned up extra for some occasion tonight.



This guy was watching me.

Crow

Balancing



Hmm, it's a Sunday morning, and one of those days that arrive poised perfectly on the tip of their nose, all balanced already, promising some socialising, some drawing, some light paperwork and convenient spaces for nice food inbetween. I'm sure I'll manage to knock it over somehow, but first I'll get out some nice sheets of paper and start drawing the pictures I have in mind.

I just peeled off the huge TAX DEADLINE note off my to-do-pinboard and uncovered behind a number of notes for tasks that seem far more peasant for having been covered up so rudely. I think I'll even add some. I want to try and get my web gallery shop done today, and go to the park and take pictures of the sky, and write about three nice letters...

The day is starting to wobble already. Ah well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peckham Views

I'm hunting skies at the moment, which I'll be needing for collage purposes in a new book... here's the sunset from my window.

London Sky

I think I might have to get out of the house to find some more.

Oh, and here's a picture of a funeral coach I walked past yesterday. The horses had beautiful plumes on the other end. The lady seemed quite asleep, despite the particularly busy traffic pushing past. If the bus weren't in the background there you could see the church, which has neon signs.

Waiting for the coffin

"Teach your Granny to Text"

Here is a book I got in the post this morning:

IMG_1624.JPG

I rather like it!
I used to have a few world-saving manuals as a child. I think they are important, really, because it's good to feel like you have someone on your side when you're starting to think about the world and how best to live in it - because most of the time no one around you quite agrees.
The books I had caused annoyance with my own granny, I remember, who wasn't amused about my sudden passion for water-saving and the like interfering with the household. This book is friendlier, because it also gives you hints on how to keep people so happy that they doesn't mind you turning off taps and radiators and lights all the time, in fact, spreading smiles and happiness is as important here as sorting your rubbish (and rightly so, I think, since it's a whole lot harder to sort your rubbish when you're feeling rubbish yourself). It suggests (with easy instructions) making pizza from scratch as well as writing to the government, and so encourages children to stand up for the kind of world they'd like to grow up in.
So, yeah, good book this! I had a lovely morning reading it for breakfast, and it I spent half as much time as usual in the shower (taking the good advice to do my singing in the rain instead).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interlude (ongoing)

I was kind of expecting to post a picture today but it's been tax receipts and editing work and dummy roughs and coughing all round. Hope you're not getting visually bored to tears, guys!
Also sorry if I am behind with communications and general usefulness again this week. I shall re-emerge ASAP. Am presently very preoccupied with my friend who just lost her lovely cat :( there's not much helpful stuff I can think of saying, it's really just sad to have a lovely cat and then not to.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Outing

Went to IKEA today, on the train. Bought a rug (at last) and a candle and a soap tray and hangers and a big blue bag and a compost bin and a very lovely big soft pillow because my own pillows are flat, flat, flat and so am I now, oof, cough, snot, proud I got out of the house, but glad so glad to be back. I bought a newspaper to read in bed because at last it looked all so happy ('Gordon saves the world') but am kind of too blergh.
Blergh.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Selling...

I just sold my first few pieces of Cat artwork, even before opening my shop. I'll have to mount and sign them properly, and once I've done that, I'll get some more ready to sell here. Any maybe some other things! - Now I am learning why illustrators sometimes do their artwork on these huge big sheets of precious paper instead of (like me) on scraps of mixed watercolour stock. I shall become more respectable, and at least work on sheets big and neat enough to window-frame. Until then, some bargains to be had of lovingly mounted paper scraps with cats on... to be quite honest, I think they look nicer on mounted scraps than on big sheets, big sheets always make me thing "Aw, but I could have fitted six drawings on this!!!"

Otherwise: bah. Just bought a big bag of kale and it was rotten inside. Bad smell, that, and one I've never come across before. But on the good side, we now have a table-cloth on the table, AND a fruit bowl. It's full of vegetables but I don't think that takes away from the concept. This would sound more surprising to you if you realised some months ago we didn't actually have a table. I'm mostly surprised how pleasant it is to have a table, actually.

Recession Plans

So... listening to the radio this morning, the Pound has not collapsed yet. Yayy.
My cold is still there and I am doing some paperwork, finding that my bank sent me another letter offering a loan. Yeah, right. I wonder how many people in the world have been getting offers for big loans several times a month - want a car? A house? Whatever it is, let us get you there sooner! - and how many have taken them on... I always thought: one day I'd understand where all that money comes from, then maybe I'll buy a house or something, too... Heh, I guess now I understand why I didn't understand.

Don't you think it's amazing how suddenly Gordon Brown's no-nonsense sad face looks completely apt? All this time we've wanted him to get his act together, be a bit more glamorous and positive and generally a statesman to show off, and now... I don't know. I wouldn't want a showman in charge right now, it would be frightening.

Also, I am wondering if I should re-shuffle my plans and start on my big fantasy epic before writing the other novels I had planned on, I was going to write something that pitches the balm of the real world against the horrors of the mind, but maybe that's not the best thing to write in a recession - Might be just the time to do a 360 and immerse oneself in a fantasy world of talking animals, which I'd originally scheduled for the next decade. I got maps, I got plans, maybe it's the way to go...

So much for financial crisis from me today, back to drawing hamsters.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Starting up again

I definitely needed a day off yesterday. I just slept late and read things, feeling like something embedded deep in some sort of jelly, with just a mild glow filtering through from the real world. I didn't even have coffee.

So today I have the pleasure to insert a few pages into the latest dummy book - that's always a treat, being given a few pages extra to pace the story.

Otherwise I am thoroughly dull in the head still.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wibbly

I think I caught a cold... everyone else has it, and I am feeling tired and acey and like I just want to curl up for a day. So I think I will. I got a lot of projects to be getting on with, but none needs doing right this minute, I've decided.

The deli down the road just got repossessed - the first shop here to get credit-crunched, maybe. It had been looking a bit sad for ages, actually, I think it would have gone anyway.

I am sorry about taking so long with the final pages of this 'Sleepwalker' instalment, I've started developing it as a longer project, which slowed it down a bit. I'll try and get it done soon!

DIY Baking Workshop

I spent yesterday in Clapham and Battersea, taking part in a DIY baking workshop. In the morning, we went to all the baking shops in the area and bought things... I wanted a real mixing bowl, since I've never had one. I had a vision of a plain red one, and amazingly in the very last shop we went to... there it was. It's mine now. Mine.

Baking Goods

In the afternoon, we baked... I made some cupcakes, which I think had about twice as much sugar in as planned. Fortunately, Holly (who I hadn't met before, but now I'm glad I have) baked some amazing cakes. And she gave me the recipes. Hooray! Now I know that shortbread dough should be frozen, then grated, and that there is never any reason not to put salt in a chocolate dough.

Baking Workshop

And inbetween, we went for coffee. Look at this coffee. Just look.

Cappuchino

And here's a South London Doggie, just so you believe I'm back home.

Doggie

So... I am planning to bake green tomato cupcakes very soon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marzipan

I just got out my folder of Cat artwork to check which ones I'd sell - there are some really nice ones, I think, especially the ones that didn't amke it into the book because they looked a bit too strange. And the development sketches, which are nice and big and done in gouache. I decided to keep this one and have it framed some time:



that's Tiny cat, back when he was still called 'Marzipan'. The original names of the trio were Moonpie, Fish-Hat and Marzipan, but Marzipan was too much like Moonpie, I figured, and 'Fish-hat', while being a great name for a cat, didn't suit Andre as much as 'Andre'. He's named after Andre the Giant, though he is modeled on a lady cat by the name of Robin belonging to a friend. Robin, however, wasn't THAT big. I started imagining his/her lines in Andre the Giant's voice, which helped a good deal with the writing. Moonpie you may imagine as voiced by Dame Maggie Smith. Tiny, obviously, sounds like me.
Except if you're reading out the book, in which case they'll all three sound a lot more like you!

This is the back of that drawing (it's cut from a sketchbook) where you can see that Andre was also 'Tony' for a while, and Moonpie 'Minoushka'.



I had some trouble holding the pen when I painted these because I was ill, so I am especially fond of them - they came out so much better than I would have thought, even though the colour shapes are all over the place. Maybe especially because of that... you never know what you can do until some years later.

Home again

Now I was composing this lovely wrap-up post in my head in Nice airport, planning to write it all down this morning... but then I got on the plane, with eleven other passengers, and off we went, and down we went again, but it took several attempts because of strong tail-winds. Basically we were zooming in and out of a thick soup of cloud with the whole plane howling like a big cat, sometimes London flashed past the windows quite close up, and then we climbed right back again and the captain told us not to worry because we had enough fuel for some more landing attempts, and that the runway was booked for another forty minutes. At some point there I forgot anything else I meant to say about France and when I got on the Docklands Light Railway and passed the Dome, I felt utterly and happily at home again.

Dome sweet Home

The DLR is my favourite mode of transport in London because you can go right to the front and pretend to be the driver, which I did. Then I descended into the tube, picked up a newspaper from the floor and read up on the financial crisis, and then I was back home already and eating a big portion of chips for dinner. Mmmh. All back to normal.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Last Day



It's my last day in France!
We went to look at some beautiful Miro sculptures (but I didn't take photos because photos cost extra and I'd bought a sausage instead to take home as a present) - and then visited the sea (but I forgot my swimsuit, ah well).
There I found a stone with eyes:



and now I am cooking up some Ratatouille (I hope) and artichokes (yesssss!!!)



The vegetables we picked up in the mountains from a roadside stall, except for the artichokes and the lemons... the lemons are local, they had bits of twig still on them and thorns! Do lemons have thorns? Huh. Oh man this smells good, I'll stop typing and start eating :)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rose Ice Cream



We didn't go to the Bonsai Museum. We went to the museum next door, which was for art instead.



I had some ice cream there after looking at the art. I didn't even know Rose was an ice cream flavour... it was so beautiful!
If I went back there I'd try the violet flavour.




When we got home, a cat was guarding the flat.
We got in anyway and cooked some stuffed aubergines in the rotisserie, which came out a bit odd but tasty.

Views

When I looked down from the plane on the way to Nice, I wrote down some amazing things I saw.
There was forest that looked like dust, and red fields with dark veins all through them, and a lake the most amazing shade of turquoise. I wondered if I'd find out what all tehsethings were.
In the last two days my sister drove us along a route she'd worked out, and to my utter amazement I saw all the same sights again.

Here's the fields.



The earth around there is refined into pigments for painting: ligt ochr, yellow ochre, red ochre, brown ochre.



It's a bit like walking in a paint-box.



IMG_1526

We climbed up to a tiny church where I lit a candle.



Heres the view. I don't know if you an see quite how turquoise the lake is.