Saturday, September 29, 2007

Home Again

Fooh! OK, I've got a cold now... when I came back home last night and cooked some pasta it felt like the first meal I was cooking in a fortnight. I seem to have been out for coffee and cake every day. My sister took me out for several lunches, and I've been cooked rabbit stew and I've been taken out for dinner in a neo-byzantine restaurant on Piccaddilly Circus. It was French cuisine, so I ordered onion soup and discovered that it is rather difficult to eat decently. I think at some point I had one end of stringy cheese im my stomach and the other end still in the soup and the middle wrapped round the spoon. I was also the only person in the place wearing a brightly coloured striped dress and red tights. Yayy!

I didn't win the "best emerging illustrator" award - which is no disgrace, since Emily Gravitt definitely has done a whole lot more emerging than I have. Bit odd to be beaten by a book featuring a long-limbed monkey and a stripy dress, though. Like being bested by my alter ego!

I was cheering mightily for "Penguin" which won the best book award - I saw that one in a shop some time ago and actually laughed and made cooing noises when I read it. It's brilliant.

Then I spent another day with my sister in wet central London, which was ace, and now I am sneezing and sneezing and sneezing and I'll see if I can find photographs soon... here's one of the shark tank at the London Aquarium.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scrubbing Up

I'm almost ready to go out now... first lunch with sister, then Booktrust award ceremony, then celebration dinner. I got my lovely stripy dress that Alexis gave me in Spring, and some red tights to match, and the new trainers. I even got a hair clip to match. And I went and bought a bra to try and respect the English dress-code, and chucked it out (like I always do) because wearing bras makes me feel homicidal.

Now for some tasty breakfast and then I'm off!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Being Very Grown-Up

Hello! I'm back from tax form mayhem. I filled it all in very neatly and a day before schedule, then I put it in the official envelope, then I put the official envelope in my bag, then I went to the postbox, didn't quite spot a postbox right away, went on to the park, had a pic-nic, and afterwards found that somehow my tax return envelop got soaked, partially dissolved and had big running-ink stains coming through.
I felt melancholy for a moment, then I put it on the lawn to dry and lay down in the sun and concentrated on feeling happy that it was after all filled in at last (and still perfectly readable, just a bit wavy). Then I stuck it in the post-box. Peace for another year, hopefully.

I also went and bought some new shoes to go with my outfit for the award ceremony tomorrow - I'm going in a comfy old dress, so I figured: at least get some clean trainers. Now I just got an after-ceremony dinner invite, and I'm glad I made some sort of an effort, and also glad that I didn't go for the high heels. Especially since my sister is taking me to the London aquarium and lunch before. Busy day tomorrow...

AND I gave in to reality finally, threw the comfy armchair out of my studio-bedroom, lugged the dining table downstairs instead and set up a proper computer work station. Once can't expect to make a living on a coffee table in the corner. Well, not in decency.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More Distractions...

...from sorting all my tax deductable receipts by date and numbering them on the back... I just got given a list of films to put on our online rental list, so I cut them up and re-arranged them to make a poem.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy again


Must Do Tax Now. Have already sorted paperwork from my IMPORTANT PAPERS box and my ACTUALLY IMPORTANT PAPERS box.
I like staggering my important papers so that when I get in a tizz about needing to find one I can work from the top down instead of digging through loads of recipes for my birth certificate. In fact, I can heartily recommend sorting important papers in a way that keeps panic to a minimum instead of order to a maximum. As every year, to my mild amazement the ACTUALLY IMPORTANT PAPERS box contained a very complete record of financial transactions in random order, plus a recipe for Finnish Mustard which I cooked to distract myself from the worst. It's mustard powder, sugar, cream, vinegar and oil boiled into a thick brown paste, in case you're interested. Then I ordered a kilo of therapeutic putty and now I need to start making dinner, which is ham in cherry coke. And inbetween I am worrying about Henry the finch - he suddenly ate so much this morning that he fell off the perch and looked very miserable with a beak full of millet. He seems ok now... sorry I am behind with my communications! So much to do.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm back!

Aaah. I've properly arrived, I've unpacked, too, and I've dyed my hair bright red again - that'll wash out a bit, though, I think.
Edinburgh was lovely... I bought new shoes and had Red Snappers and other gin-based drinks in respectable environs.

I had a lot of time to think about work, too... you know I've never been opposed to editing. I write a thing, the publisher tells me they love it but it needs some minor surgery, then it turns out they mainly want to just keep "the heart of it", then they tell me what they think the "heart" is (which I normally think is rather more the appendix or - if lucky - maybe the liver) and I sit down and re-write and re-rewrite until either it ends up being more or less what I imagined in the first place (hooray in that case) or something entirely else (also ok).
But somehow I unearthed a project now that I really enjoy, and I've started going through the editing process... and I am thinking: I can see this is one of the ones that may well end up being something totally else. So why not just make all the changes that they would like to see, which would take it so far away that I could simply take my original idea back and self-publish it happily on the web. I've got a strong feeling that if I don't take one project I care about out of the editing loop I'll eventually go loopy... And wouldn't it be ace to have a big illustrated story on the web for the whole world to see? Would be nicer to get paid for it, of course, but - a person needs to stretch their limbs sometimes, and really do what they do best. It seems like a very good idea to me... else, how can I ever see what it actually is that I want to do and if I can do it?

So that's all good... but I can see a LOT of work ahead, since I have two publishers to deliver two written-and-illustrated books to in 2008 already.
Sometimes I really wish I could just illustrate other people's texts, then I'd have loads of time to think up my own shenanigans... Ah well, it's a good job as it is.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holidays Are Upon Me...

Whohee! Time to catch the train suddenly!
Back with the virtual world on Tuesday!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monkey Business

I'm re-starting my day by looking at this picture of a levitating cat.
Aah, better now. I started my day before by waking up with a headache and realising I forgot to do the washing up and grunting at it all trying to locate the instant coffee. Then I realised I have to pack for my holiday (YAYY) and I don't know if I've done enough laundry (NOO) and I have to finish a load of illustration samples for tomorrow (Hrrrwhw) wich I penciled yesterday (YAY) but didn't ink or colour as yet (Hrrmph).

Here's some sketches for you. New book features amongst other things a monkey, so I spent some hours penciling monkeys and holding each one up to Alexis asking "like this??" while watching A LOT of "Monkey Magic" on youTube. Since I've set up my computer work-station I've learned (by accident) how to watch TV on the web, and now Sailor Moon and He-Man keep me distracted from the real world so I can concentrate on the world of little drawings. Some days that helps a lot - this weekend I was mightily distracted from drawing by a friend's birthday party on Saturday where I helped present the surprise present - a lovely DVD projector - which I had to secretly set up above everybody's heads on a transparent landing. Why would anyone want a transparent landing? I guess it's airy. But if I'd considered it properly I wouldn't have worn a skirt. Which was all for the best because I think no-one looked up, and I would have missed the best opportunity to show off my home-knitted skirt to a whole roomful of artists. Ha.
Anyway, the projector is great, I'm almost jealous, not that I had anywhere to keep one - we watched "North by Northwest" on it yesterday after eating loads of party leftovers and it was absolutely amazing. But also the reason why I started the day grumbling and grunting. Arf, could do with another hatful of either sleep or coffee.

OK, time to work!

Friday, September 7, 2007


If I'm being quiet it's because the days are packed - there's a big party tomorrow and I'm helping with the preparations, then I've got a meeting on Tuesday where I've got to present all that artwork I haven't done as yet and then I am shoveling all the stuff back into place that I just dropped all over the flat while I had a cold - books, blankets, mugs, packs of tissues and so forth. I'm so glad that there's a mini-holiday in Edinburgh ahead...
I'll blog some pictures soon though, as soon as I've drawn them, in fact. I hope I'll get this poject contracted soon so I can blog some drawings - I never like to show much when it's the pre-contract phase, feels like bad luck!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

3D birds

I couldn't resist trying if I can make a 3D image in colour, and I can! What fun...

3D experiments

Just when I'd said that today I'm not doing anything but character drawings:

I'm experimenting with anaglyphic 3D... here's a bear that Alexis drew a couple of days ago, which I turned into 3D. To be looked at through red/blue glasses, then it turnes into a strange paper-cut thing - I just did it roughly to see if it works at all. It does!

Oh man, I feel rotten. Am going back to bed now to sneeze.

Inbetween Sneezings

Hfaah. I feel a bit like I'm getting a cold. I'll take it easy today and just do the work I'm supposed to do, that is, some character drawings...
I'm always fiddling with other things - this week I already made a new jacket for a Luke Skywalker action figure. His old one got ripped, so I had to work out the cut and stitch a new one - I used the pocket of a white linen shirt. It came out well and gave me time to contemplate costume design... there's something that really annoys me about the prequels. If you look at the original episodes you notice that there's a certain style of clothing that people wear on Luke's home planet. Cloaks and loose jackets and the like. Obi Wan has this brown cloak which goes perfectly with it, makes sense, he lives in a cave in the desert. But in the prequels it suddenly appears that brown cloaks are the Jedi master outfit, and so all the Jedi wear one, even if they live in the city. I suppose it's what people expected to see, but it seems a bit lazy to me.

Yes, this is a good example of how I tend to spend my spare time and brain capacity.

Monday, September 3, 2007

New Scanner Joy!!!

OOOh man... I AM HAPPY.

The new scanner arrived, and I scanned an ancient ink drawing - it picked up every bit of grey and after seperating out the line I ended up with exactly what I'd imagined. This isn't a great picture now, but it was just to try out the colour seperation... Look! Black line! Blue shadow!!!


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Old Sketchbooks... welcome home!

Matthew just visited and dropped off my old sketchbooks which he was still storing...
Here's a nice page.
Sleep Sleep
Lots of glum diary entries and strange research in those! And tiny little brush drawings... Mm!


... I'm doing one of my Least Favourite Things today. Actually it wound me up yesterday so much already that I didn't sleep much. I'm setting up a computer workstation. As opposed to having a laptop that I sometimes pull out to communicate with the world, now it will ACTUALLY TAKE UP LIVING SPACE with cables and screens and all that. :(
I can't quite express how annoying this is, but maybe you can just about imagine if you think that I'm already sharing my room with two huge drawing desks, four finches and a double bass, alongside the usual (wardrobe, bed, comfy chair, library). And that I got it all set up so it exactly fits together WITHOUT a computer work station.
One day I'll have a studio... but to earn money for that, I need to get colouring now. On my coffee table, blocking half the wardrobe.


Also have to fill in a book promo form and start thinking about tax returns. Bah bah. Bah.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Virtual Studio Joy

Aaah the miracle of the virtual studio!
Not an hour after I decided I needed a new scanner and some colour seperation knowledge to get this project going I already had a Photoshop tutorial over SKYPE from Davide, master of harnessing the computer into doing beautiful things, and also advice on which scanner to get.

Which reminds me, now that Facebook has started to become un-cool I decided to join after all, so poke me if you're on. Spread the virtual Studio! Lalala!


New colouring technique is easy and adequate. If I do it like this I can produce "real" ink artwork and the colouring (which I'm not excited about anyway) can happen completely seperately later - done by me or a colourist. (Have checked comic books in collection. Have noticed that almost all of them are not coloured by the artist billed on the cover.)

Old scanner, however, is beyond the pale. No calibrating I can do gets usable greyscale scans out of it. Maybe it's time to upgrade after all... It was the cheapest one in the shop, a couple of years back or so. Sigh.

Here's a fuzzy monkey.

Would be a crispy monkey if I'd had more than £40 to spend on that scanner.

Craft Thoughts

I can tell it's Saturday because at breakfast my mind was off work and on craft projects. I've got a number of favourite dresses to mend and a number of favourite collected fabrics to use to that end, and I can't stop thinking about making a giant Jabba-The-Hutt beanbag to replace the sofa. I won't really. But I can't stop making plans... leather or canvas? Face embroidered on or stencilled? Or modelled? Does he need a wooden platform base? - It's somehow unlikely that no one else even embarked on this particular project, so I looked it up, and someone has.

I'm thinking more of a big classy more abstract solution that sits two people, but this shape is also rather ace.