Friday, March 28, 2008

Old Stuff

I am just backing up the vast archive of stuff on my computer, project by project.
"Shark and Lobster" has a huge lot of files to it... including a lot of things I hardly remembered, like my own colour tests. Here's me starting to colour in the big deep sea monster - I captured a set of swatches from a picture of an anglerfish, because the colours I picked without any reference were all to garish (I imagined it bright orange with a blue nose in my head, which looked AWFUL).


I was very insecure about my colouring abilities at the time. I think I would have needed to spend a long time on working it out, which I didn't have back then, which is why the publisher agreed to have it coloured by someone else, and every time I look at the published book now I am surprised at how sophisticated it looks. When I am drawing, I imagine bright colours - I remember it was a strange experience to draw all these stripes and dots and think "yellow, red, orange, bright blue" in my head and then when I got the coloured files back they were all classy tasteful mud colours.

Now I'm gearing up for doing my own self-coloured comics and I really wonder what they are going to look like - this here monster suddenly gave me a lot of confidence because I remembered it being totally hopeless, and now I think: hey look, I CAN do muted colours, too! It's... quite nice actually!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here's a nice long interview with Alexis (if the link works).

Catching up, catching up...

I took a day off work today to catch up with the world...
I must go to the bank, the post office, make thank-you cards, send birthday presents, find that lost library book, give nice feedback on Amazon, dye my hair and send emails to everyone I am meaning to communicate with, more or less...

My lovely new shoes!

But what I did already is rub boot wax into my new walking boots which I am going to wear all the time now so they will be nice and comfy when I go hiking in Scotland next month - oooh, I can't wait. I'm totally fed up with London greyness, yesterday I went out and when I looked up the sky was like a sulphurous yellow lid on the city... no rain, no wind, just an evil sky over a grey skyline which was all around.

Oh, I must feed the canary, she has just started dismantling my studio, foraging on the ink shelf and pulling out all the q-tips.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monster research

I am researching international monsters... if anyone knows of some good reference books let me know!

Here's a great website about Japanese ones... have a browse, they are really wonderful.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Test Knitters Wanted


Would one of you guys out there like to try out a knitting pattern for a toy cat? It's very simple, I just need it tried out by a few people before I send it off to the publisher and find out that I mis-counted the stitches and it makes a headless monster...

Desk Monkey


I moved his eyes a bit and now I think he looks lovely. Here he's reposing on the work I actually have to do.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Monkey

New Monkey

I meant to go into town today to buy buttons and paper and hiking shoes and a weatherproof jacket but while i was drinking my morning coffee I started making a new sock monkey, and ended up deciding that I'll go shopping some other day because it's lovely and peaceful making monkeys in the morning.
You can't quite see his hair in that picture... I planned to make an old Yoda-like white-haired little martial arts monkey but he came out looking a bit like one of my ex-boyfriends so I had to improvise, and now he just looks surprising.

Now I have to draw some knitting instructions on shaping cats' ears, but first I'll take a nap.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Yesterday I took the train to Croydon to have coffee with my friend John (who lives there) and look at some very grey buildings and go craft shopping.
I bought some very hairy fake fur, some fabric glue (never tried that before) some tools and a Hellboy Lunchbox to take out on drawing trips.
Going to Croydon when the sky is grey is a strange experience, especially when one is wearing very colourful clothes.

My New Lunchbox!

Here's the lunchbox.

My mother emailed me some lovely craft instructions from Germany, and I think I have a busy week ahead now... making things, thinking things, drawing things in museums and re-writing the Hamster story with some added Pizazz. Huh!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grey Sunday

It's a beautiful rainy Sunday... I had the window open in the morning as usual, and when I closed my eyes it was just like anywhere else in the world I've ever lived. No one was talking yet, and the cars were going by slowly, pssssht pssssht on the wet road.

Today I am making a knitting pattern for this guy...

Tiny Cat

...and some more. I've been looking at children's craft books, thinking that I would love to make a book that makes you want to make something. I thought about that so much yesterday that I had to go to the Tate Modern, where they have a dedicated artycrafty children's section, and I looked through all the books and thought: This is nice. This is dreadful. This only looks good. This is good but is explained terribly. This is great. - that was a strange way of thinking for me, because I normally only think "I like this, I don't like this" instead of 'This is good, this is bad". I notced and bent my thought around to "I'd do it differently" and then thought about how to do it for hours. I sat in the member's Cafe and must have been staring at some children who were having lunch there, wondering what they would like to make from cardboard boxes and paint and feathers and old socks, because they came running over suddenly and shouted at me in a most delighted, energetic and probably insulting way (I didn't understand what they were saying).

I'm glad it's raining today because I want to stay in, put on the new Goldfrapp album and make knitting instructions, and finish a late birthday present for my mum... and I have a short story going around in my head, too, which I might write down more-or-less.

The last few times I went to meetings with editors I went away with sample copies of other people's novels, and they were inspiring.
Good thinky grey Sunday this is!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Odd Jobs

Yawn. I'm up! Slept like a log. I'm dressed completely in red for some reason. Todays' work will be measuring some dolls to make knitting patterns, which will hopefully be available online ASAP - joy!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh dear...

Hmmm. I just presented my re-worked draft, the one that I carved out of a story that was completely different over the last couple of weeks by getting to the simple emotional core message, I thought. It didn't go down so well because someone else wrote pretty much the same story before, for the same publisher. And illustrated it. Very nicely, too. They had a copy to hand, I leafed through it and couldn't believe it.
"So... lets go back to the original idea then, huh" I said. Ungh.
So, lovely simple story of caring for your pet out. Giant robots back in. New meeting scheduled in two weeks' time. Giant robots are better anyway. Fuh.

On the way back home the tube got stuck and I walked through the City in the rain - I mean the part of London that is basically made out of banks, by Bank station, where everyone either wears a suit or is lost. When I found London Bridge station in the dark I couldn't find the fork to eat my salad dinner with, even though I emptied all my bags twice over, so I ate it with my hands, bean by bean, which I had ample time for because the train was standing in the station for almost half an hour.

Sooo... I think I'll just put on my pyjamas and watch a stupid movie.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And what do we learn from this?

I am writing and re-writing a picture book... different phase now. It's the "message" phase, which almost inevitably comes around. Every little story has a message of some kind, can't be avoided, except with lots of hard work, or enormous luck. In novels, I guess one can present so many thoughts that the message becomes multi-faceted. In a picture book, there's just not the space for facets.
The baffling thing is that the challenge doesn't seem to be just to decide what the message will be and then write the story to suit, but to do that and then realise how the whole thing is about something completely else - and much better and worthier and more obvious - and then swing it all around, missing all things wrong and perilous on the way.

The swinging-around part is rather hard, I find - there's so many dreadful things one can suggest with a story by accident... It mostly comes from the discrepancy of the real world and the world of picture books. I mean... imagine a scene with a little girl walking down a country road eating a nice beef sandwich, and then she meets Mr Cow and has a nice chat with him.
How many mistakes can you detect in that?

Anyway, once it's pointing at the right message somehow everything else seems to fall into place, I find.

This one's going well, I might finish it tonight!

My new face towel is so good I have to share it with the world... but with nobody else!!!

My New Little Little My Towel

It's My Little Little My Towel!

More Cats

Some more cat sketches...

Cat Sketches

Cat Sketches

Cat sketches

I'd brought a camera, too:

Stray Kitty

This one was head-butting my sketchbook a lot.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Here's the first page of a comic project that's on the back-burner.


If I ever have the time I'll make it into a thing... this is the first page of a first issue that I pencilled experimentally to see if I could, and the whole episode exists, it's quite messy though because I tried out so many things to learn about pacing. I ended up with a lovely set of characters which I really want to use one day... I sort of planned to finish the comic at my leisure and stick it on this website in instalments.
It's a prequel to a projetc I am working on for a publisher which ahs by now changed so much that this actually wouldn't be a prequel any more... very confuseling.

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist Sketch

Oliver Twist

I watched the Roman Polanski film of Oliver Twist last night and thought it looked great... I sketched along a bit.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Drawing Cats

I went walking around sundown and met the local cats.
Here's a big one who stared at me very quietly.

I drew all the others, too, maybe I'll post some more tomorrow.

Then I went on to buy a pack of Lebanese cinnamon pudding powder and cooked it up, and now it's dark. Good Night!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Drawing Kids

Hooray! I went for a walk looking for a nice place to do some drawing, and went to my favourite tree on Peckham Rye - and found that they put a lovely busy family cafe in the park! So I ordered a cappuchino and drew many children...
Here's my favourite. Such a good hairdo.

Tortoises and Turtles

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Paperwork Again

How is it that I keep spending my mornings doing paperwork and making phone calls? I must have the best-ordered life in the world soon, at this rate.

I think that for a treat I will watch nature programs on TV today and sketch crocodiles and turtles off the screen.

And maybe spend some time looking at tunnels and abandoned buildings at The Vanishing Point.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Hooray! I have set up my Playstation after leaving it to gather dust for a year or so, and bought ICO... So far it's just about my favourite game ever, except possibly Shadow of the Colossus. I don't understand how they could make these games so wonderful - much time is spent just running around, and nothing happens, but it's all so wonderfully designed and animated that I can happily just run up and down some stairs, or ride across parched earth and rolling hills on the best horse ever, following some mysterious birds. For hours. And then something happens which is invariably the most amazing thing...

But am I working? Where are the pictures? No pictures I say! I am still re-writing my Hamster book. That's what it looks like. There...

Actually, I think I may have cracked it today. Might be time to switch projects and bind a new dummy for the new novelty book...
No, some more writing now.