Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Peckham Rye Planet

I just found some instructions on how to make planets on Laura's blog.
Had some spare minutes before going out, so made Peckham Rye Planet.

Now I want to make Desk Planet. That'll have to wait for tonight though!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Working method

From my diary. Week 13: create a realistic, detailed artwork.

Ah well.


So I had a well-deserved holiday from sanity, caused by a combination of realising that I've delivered the artwork for one book and can start the next, and some sunshine. I tap-danced through the landlady's flat while doing five loads of laundry. I tried on my secret pair of high-heeled shoes and designated all my plain brown t-shirts to charity. I practised the double bass until my hands hurt, and hung my peculiar floaty pink Jane Austen dress on the wall to remind me it's almost picnic season. I made plans for an animated music video and found a video camera to motion-capture it with, but not the right cable.
Then I projected some scenes from films huge onto the kitchen wall until I realised that I was really, really hungry and had not bought any food.

So I slept until ten thirty this morning, and when I've finished yawning I'll go to the shops, and the bank, and the post office, and the park, and there I'll curl up for a while I believe.

Boring Event Of The Day: I gave in and started buying mp3s from Amazon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I am feeling incredibly silly today. I think it's because the sun came out at last... I want to go out, but I better calm down a bit first. I kind of want to roll around on the grass and try and imitate bird-calls. It's not healthy.

Dream Diary

Last night I remembered my dream diary... it's odd that I forget about it for years on end, seeing that it's always next to the bed,just in case.
I started reading it and found that I could not remember any of the dreams in it... I'm quite sure I've done that before.
Here's the end of a long one all about things going wrong in school:

Anyway, now that I've started scripting my dream-themed graphic novel I think I'll re-read the whole lot and see if it's useful.
And I'll also start writing them down again. Here's last night:

Saturday, March 28, 2009


For some reason I felt like looking up the area where I grew up on the internet. I've been away for over a decade now. Anyway... I found many beautiful sentences on the tourism sites, like these:

The Sauerland is the land of 1,000 hills. And it is the land of water. The visitor will come across it everywhere here.

Hikers, nature-lovers, recreational sportsmen and women - all get their money's worth in the Sauerland.

Here, agriculture is a natural leisure pursuit adapted to satisfy the wishes of the very smallest.

Anyone looking for the ultimate kick, should take a trip in the taxi bobsled down the ice canal of the bob track in Winterberg.

(if this got you excited, read more here)
But, but, but, THEY ARE GOING TO RE-INTRODUCE THE WISENT! AKA European Bison. And now excuse me while I run up and down the stairs for a while because I'm so excited.

Spring Cleaning (or something like)

I finished a book (sort of, the pictures still need scanning and putting on pages, and I need to draw a load of speech-bubbles and probably a new cover and such) and I haven't started on the next one yet, and for some reason I haven't got a holiday lined up.
Which makes next week perfect for doing all these things I've been meaning to do for months. Draw artworks to swap with friends abroad. Get back in touch with that nice shop that wants to sell my sock monkeys in Cornwall. Write letters to my nephews and niece about what it's like to not live in Sauerland any more. Start drawing that comic I'm making with Alexia. And get rid of the balls of root that my balcony garden has turned into, and cart back some bags of new compost to plant tomatoes in.

I am very much looking forward to next week, actually...

Friday, March 27, 2009


Just drew this for a stamp in a book. Fun way to spend the day, hatching. Sometimes.

Not quite finished yet maybe... hm. Hard to tell. A bit more shading on the ball I think.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


It's raining and raining, and I can't wear my new old green red dress. And also I feel like I haven't slept properly in a week...
But never mind, today is the day where I get to pick up the artwork to send off for the sequel to "There are Cats in this Book". And if I'm still awake & have some voice after that I'll record a reading on the first book to stick on the web for everyone to hopefully enjoy.

Must stop chewing the rim of my now-empty coffee mug while re-watching the "Where the Wild Things Are" trailer for the third time over. Time to start the day.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


So now I am back home already, and waiting for my camera battery to charge... if the sun is still bright by the time it's charged I shall go out and take pictures of nice brick walls, with bins standing in front of them if possible. All in a day's work I say.
In the meantime I'll hem that dress. Ah, nice afternoon, this! AND I just got a letter from Norway which was a) a surprise and b) folded out of a cake recipe. So c) I'll even have cake soon. Couldn't be better.

Enough with the hatching already

After two days of hatching, we just decided that the picture I've been working on isn't right for the book...
I don't mind at all, because at some point I started to really enjoy the drawing and I think it's just right for a different project - and I wouldn't have thought of that if I hadn't hatched this one.


I rather like the foliage. Not so much the big ship, the jumbled perspective doesn't look intentional on it somehow. And I used a different nib there.

Frog Dress

I did some sewing last night... now my dress fits again. I was amazed how much fabric I had to add, I must have had no hips when I first got it.
I've had this frog fabric for a while, one of these things where you buy it knowing you'll know what to do it eventually... in this case, make frogs burst out of a green dress!

frogs now

Now all I need is a properly sunny day to try it out in the world!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009




So... today I shall attempt to cross-hatch a picture. But before that, I'll try and dye my favourite dress. It's quite scary, because I've had it for well over a decade and I've worn it so much that it's bleached out and very thin by now. It kind of disappears in daylight.

I saw it in a shop, on the "damaged" rail, back in Germany, and wanted it instantly because it was the prettiest shade of green... I spent the whole afternoon trying to sew the torn-out zip back in until my mother took a pity and fixed it for me, and she fixed it so well that it gave me super-powers. It really did.

Sometimes you can still tell how good and green it used to be, but most of the time you can just see straight through it. It's like the ghost of a dress.

So now I have to dye it carefully, and I do hope it will come out a similar shade of green as it once was... I'm a bit worried that it will stop being My Green Dress in the process, and just become any old green dress. - Encouragingly, they only had one pack of fabric dye in the shop, and it was lime green.
Then I might line it, and then I'll put in a strip of Japanese fabric, red with white frogs on it, because I'm not quite the same shape any more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Almost week-end!

The weather is fine, and so naturally I shall... stay indoors and upgrade my operating system from Hardy Heron to Intrepid Ibex, because my Amarok doesn't scrobble properly. I just wanted to write this sentence on the off-chance it gets emailed back in time to myself last year, that'll fox me.

Otherwise I just spent a lovely morning helping film "There are Cats in this Book" as a little video - it's incredible how hard it is to turn pages and read stuff out at the same time when being filmed. Hand-brain-mouth coordination broke down completely at times. Am glad I don't have to do the editing!

Hm, actually I shall walk to the library and pick up some books before I attach myself to this computer for the rest of the weekend (which will invariably happen because SOMETHING will stop working when I upgrade).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some of the World...

...is in my diary. It's because I need to do some collage stuff over the weekend and couldn't think of a better way to transport the fiddly cut-out bits than putting them into my diary. Now I kind of want to leave them in there.


Drinking-tea-at-the-end-of-the-day-time it is.

I painted a whole A3 sheet of catfood (in watercolour) today and photocopied all the photos of important buildings that I could find in the library, to stick them together into one jumbled metropolis of sorts. It's all going well, but I have no brain left to write anything more... um... I can't think of the word actually.
Tea now.

(By the way, may I just say - looking at this picture - that this whole "get a haircut, look my age" thing didn't bloody work AT ALL. What do I have to do, grow a beard?)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bits and Bobs and Stuff.


This is what I'm actually supposed to be working on... the last bits and bobs to go into the new book.

Most of my mind today, however, is taken up by planning to build a puppet theater... I've been meaning to do that for years now but suddenly it seems this is the year to actually do it.

Frogs and Birds

Birds and Frogs

Here's something I painted for no other reason that a) I had paint left over from painting blue and red cats and b) I was waiting for the cat paintings to dry.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brief Forum Report

Hello world! I am back from Cornwall, where amazingly I didn't come across any WiFi hotspots.

I am alive! I did my big talk on "The convergence of Literature, Illustration and design" (in reality about what I've been up to in the last few years) alongside Audrey Niffennegger, Sara Fanelli, John Vernon Lord and Dr Leo DeFreitas, and I did not die. I showed two books in progress and read "There are Cats in this Book" from one end to the other with comments on the design. Apparently I did fine, and I do remember a little of what I said, so that's good. And as usual, even though I was dead serious people laughed a lot. I'll never understand that, but I am glad because at least they are enjoying themselves... quite a few of them said afterwards "I especially liked the funny voices", which is odd because I don't think I did any.

So I got to stay in a nice hotel overlooking Falmouth Bay, with all the illustration celebs there as well, and they were all lovely. And now I have a signed Audrey Niffenegger book, and one by Sara Fanelli - she drew a camel in the front, by request. When she looked at me and said "What shall I draw? Anything!" I suddenly felt six years old again and back then camels were my favourite animals, so I said "A camel, please!!!" before I knew it. I was quite surprised actually. So was she, and she drew it with extra many legs, which was generous. She's very nice.
I bored everyone at every breakfast by going on about Morgawr, the sea monster rarely sighted in Falmouth bay, who isn't famous enough these days I think. I just felt it was very important that everyone knew there was supposed to be a giant monster out there, not just little sailing boats, seeing that the bay was taking up most of the view from the hotel.

After the forum I staid for an extra day just so I could go to Swanpool beach, have solitary lunch at the little restaurant on the cliffs there and then collapse on the pebbles and listen to the sea. I also listened to a couple of teenagers walking past saying "Isn't it just mad how the beach keeps getting longer and shorter?" Which made me break out into spontaneous sleep-deprived cackling. Then I ambled through town and almost got run over by a sudden burst of Morris Dancers.
And now I'm back... the train journey was long but I had my beloved eeepc with me, so I could listen to the Twin peaks soundtrack and write some of the script for my graphic novel.

Anyway, no pictures as yet, will post if I get any.
Late breakfast now, tra la!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Working on Talking

Ah. I think I just finished the written-down-bulletpointy part of my lecture for next Friday. I have no idea if it's 45 minutes long, I'll try it out once I've put all the slides in order. I've re-photographed the books I want to show, this time using a tripod (very organised) and managed about half of them before the battery ran out (less organised). I've got a minimum of stuff to read out, just an introduction to help me get going in the beginning. I know people hate having stuff read out, but I don't care because writing stuff to be read out is my job, so they'll have to deal with a paragraph or two. Yes. I am feeling assertive. Keep that up. Good.

And now I can't do anything more, for the time being, because I need to watch the spin cycle on the washing machine. Not out of fascination but because sometimes it walks and then I need to stop it. Might have a nap. Mm.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Oof... over the last couple of weeks or so I've had the fascinating (to myself and no one else) project of fixing up a small old laptop - it's a Sony Vaio with all external drives, and all I want is to stick Puppy Linux on it. I managed to make it run Ubuntu, then I erased that (ran too slow) and never managed to put any other operating system on again... anyway... I've learned a lot about computers in the meantime, which makes it all worthwhile I say.
I'm very determined to make it work! It's taking up most of my non-art brainspace, in fact...
I really wish I was cleverer about computers, just that little bit.

Darwin on Variation in Ants

Was just listening to a snippet of Darwin's "The Origin of the Species":

...the difference was the same as if we were to see a set of workmen building a house of whom many were five feet four inches high, and many sixteen feet high; but we must suppose that the larger workmen had heads four instead of three times as big as those of the smaller men, and jaws nearly five times as big...

That left SUCH a weird image in my mind just there.

Art of Lost Words Exhibition

Yesterday the Art of Lost Words exhibition opened, in a most impressive venue - the old German Gymnasium, which stands just outside St. Pancras Station. It's big, it's Victorian, it's got hooks in the ceiling, for climbing ropes as you can see above. And this weekend only, it has a Morsicant.

morsicant exhibit

Go and learn a whole lot of new old disused words while looking at nice art! Here is a taster.

There's also a limited edition screen-printed comic to go with my knitted beastie.
morsicant exhibit
You can buy a print online, here!

Boring Event Of The Day:
On the way back got stuck in Blackfriars station. Waited on platform four for some time, looking at the advertising posters thinking: "Tina Turner... wow she looks young... advert for a golfing tournament... with Meat Loaf... in 1988... I don't think trains will come here actually..." and they didn't. Took me two hours to get back home. From central London. AGAIN.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Writing Day

Yesterday I finished painting all the cats for the second cat book ("There are No Cats in this Book", it is called) and I spilled the magenta and dyed my hands. I went home looking like a shoplifter...


Most of it washed off by now.
And I shall spend the day looking just like in this picture, very comfortable in my work pyjamas writing my lecture about "design, literature and illustration". I'll write it all up, then I'll leave it at home because I don't like the idea of reading out stuff for 45 minutes.

Lovely sunny day, this...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wow!! Thanks for help!

Thank you so much for helping me think about duck feet, everybody! I had an amazing amount of suggestions coming in from all over the globe via all my internet channels, and some more from people tapping me on the shoulder saying "about those duck feet"...
My favourite idea was orange felt ukulele picks, which unquestionable are exactly the right thing. If I could get them affordable and orange... so I decided to just get a big sheet of thick orange felt and hope the children's scissors can cope, else I'll help out with my Proper Scissors.
Wooden feet would be nicer, but I don't know how to fix a load of them in a row to drill them safely, I think I'd have to out-source...
Anyway, if anyone comes across 400 wooden duck feet on the cheap, let me know!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Here's a detail of an artwork that I painted today... it's not going to be used, colours are not quite right. I don't mind, it's the kind of picture that's fun to re-do a few times.

cats, again

Anyone going to ask me if I ever heard of Louis Wain... again...?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I am working on a simple pattern that will enable a small child to make a huggable duck from a sock within one hour.
Here's where I've got to so far:

simple duck

simple duck

I think I will try using a dolly peg for the beak instead.

Anyone any bright ideas how to make the feet - cardboard is no good. Is there some easily acquired possibly wooden object with a hole in that would do the trick? Think... think...

Second Boring Event Of The Day:
I ran out of coffee.

What was I doing a minute ago? Hang on...

I don't know what your diary looks like. My diary looks like this.


This is one of the more organised weeks this year, so far.
I'm glad that I have a desk away from home now to go to and paint cats. Sometimes I think I need to have a separate desk in a separate house for every project I'm doing.


Boring Event Of The Day:
I deleted whatever section that boots up the CD drive on the laptop I'm trying to fix.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sock Monkey Workshop Photos!

I just got some photos in my mail from the sock monkey workshop in Ghent, and I'm allowed to post them! So here:

Here you can see me doing some explaining...
sock monkey workshop

some monkey making...
sock monkey making

Gregory doing his bit...
monkey workshop

And some proto-monkeys... not quite finished, but with personality already!
almost finished!