Sunday, May 31, 2009

Swapping tomatoes

I just swapped some of my tomato seedlings that I grew from a tomato (I'm so proud!!!) for some different tomato seedlings, golden tomatoes apparently. Very exciting!
It's so nice to have a neighborhood bookshop with an outside area for things like this... here you see plants waiting to be swapsied...

plant swap

Saturday, May 30, 2009


I've been digitally colouring an artwork for the next book most of today... just to see if it wants to be digitally coloured.
In the end, it came out nice, I think. So I coloured one of the warm-up drawings I did some days ago, just for fun, because it's sunny.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tooting Bec Lido, a bit early in the year

Tonight we're having a dinner guest,and I was supposed to clean the house... so when flatmate said "I'm going to Tooting Bec Lido, want to come along?" of course I said "YEAH!"
It's a very fab lido, a million gallons of freshwater and an aerating fountain that looks like an powder blue iced layer cake.
And ducks.

Of course HE has a wetsuit...

I tried very hard not to swear in front of children when I got in. We swam two lengths together, flatmate floating along like a happy otter asking "So? How you doin'?"
Me: "I think I can taste blood. I think something's happened to my lungs."
Passing duck: "Honk!"
Then I staggered out and almost got decapitated Omen-style by a surfboard, since for reasons of interesting landscaping decisions (let's keep it really cosy and enclosed except for an entrance at each end) the whole place is a bit of a wind-channel, and every so often all the floating toys lift out of the water, hurtle across the pool-side at amazing velocity and smash into the fence. It's really rather brilliant, especially when you're sunbathing and suddenly a huge inflatable dolphin soars overhead and goes THUD into someone just behind you.

Anyway, my face feels really exercised now from grimacing. And it was very, very funny watching other people get into the water, just the moment when they are over the gut-wrenching shock of it and pleased because now it'll be fine, and then they realise it's STILL TOO COLD. Hehehe.

Better go and tidy now...

Strangely busy unplanned day, but great!

Ah! I am awake.
Yesterday was an odd day. The one thing that I was sure would happen didn't - my new glasses weren't ready at the opticians.
Otherwise - I started looking for a studio to share with Sarah McIntyre and Gary Northfield, somewhere in South East London. If anyone has recommendations for spaces, let me know! It's a sudden flurry, we only had the idea the day before I think... or the same morning??? It's an excellent plan, anyway.

Then I felt inspired to cook a chicken in wine, and got a bit depressed because even though I chucked in a big handful of all the herbs from my balcony garden I couldn't taste any of them. My sense of smell is still down after that stupid cold.
Then, suddenly, it was time to go to the Illustration Cupboard and meet Shaun Tan - except that I didn't, too crowded! I just listened to his brief talk and thought he seemed very nice. Flatmate braved the dense crowd and high temperature to get our books signed, which resulted in my copy of "The Arrival" getting accidentally signed to him. Fair enough, serves me right for standing outside in the cooler air chatting to people and drinking elderflower cordial.

Here we are, in Sarah's write-up, and I note I am always wearing the same jacket and scarf in public. Hm!

All in all, the day was so much unlike planned that in the end I decided it was the perfect night to impulse-buy an ipod. Which means now I've spent the money I had earmarked for a new outfit. Expect more sightings of me in mud-coloured little jacket and Watership Down scarf.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Surprise Post


art book

Just got this in the post. It unfolded from an envelope sealed with wax.
It's from Jason Matherly in Georgia, and I was most definitely not expecting it, or anything like it.
I mean, look at this! When'sthe last time you got a letter like this on a Thursday afternoon?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Serviette Monkey

I just found this in my handbag... serviette sketch from the cafe next door.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sketching with shapes

And now to go completely school tv. Hooray! I enjoyed this one.


This is actually something my flatmate made me do when I got very stuck with drawing cats, while I was developing characters for "There are Cats in this Book". It got me to interact with the characters as creatures rather than just drawings, and so get to know them. I've been drawing sheets like this one ever since, in varying degrees of finished-ness.

I still repeat poses, like outstretched arms, crouching on the floor and throwing tantrums... hey, well, better than always just standing around.
Mind you, a bit of standing-around is needed, because if you really know how someone stands around, you already know a lot about what they are like otherwise. But it easily happens that a sketchbook just becomes filled with a load of people waiting for... what? The bus? Waiting for you to finish the drawing, most likely. Well, let them try and stand around doing nothing while squished into a weird shape. Ha!

I might post some more tricks I've come across some other day, this is fun!


So... here's a typical warm-up session. It always takes a while for me to remember how to draw at all. Especially when drawing people.
Today I'm mostly trying to remember how to draw faces, so a lot of this is me copying photographs of friends.

I think I'll raid the fridge now and then I'll do some character drawings.

I should really add some sort of old fashioned kid's TV tune to these videos.

Drawing people, past and present

Today I'll practise drawing people. I badly need to, because there will be some people featured in my comic... and drawing people is one of the things that I feel least confident about in my job. It's rather scary actually.
So I made a plan... I'll draw a practise comic for myself featuring actual humans. I'll use a simple grid and draw it as quickly as I can because it can't interfere with all the work I have to do already. - But before that I need to work out how I actually do draw people, ideally and when it's working out I mean. I am not quite sure. So I dug up my box of college sketchbooks from underneath the guest bedding in the wardrobe and found my visual studies notes from the second year BA illustration. Mostly scraps and samples of other people's work with Too Many Notes, but also some of my own drawings.

I like looking at those blind drawings because they make me feel like somewhere in my head there is some actual information on how to draw stuff from observation. In fact, the second blind drawing to me is the Single Most Awesome Thing I Ever Drew. I remember looking at the paper after very honestly drawing blindly for nine minutes and thinking I'd gone mad. I jotted down a quick "map" of what's in the picture underneath, so you can decode it. - I've never managed to do anything like that before or since, it's a total fluke. I mean... it's got four discernible people in, and I can even recognise who they are! Huh.

Anyway! I'll get some pens and paper together, and some biscuits and tea, and I'll try and find a good way of drawing people quickly in a way that goes with the sort of stories I want to tell.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Screen Cat

Just found this screen background I made for someone's computer some time ago. Maybe I blogged it already then, but in case I didn't, have it if you like.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Very Quiet Song

Hooray! I have bought a stop motion animation program. I have straightened out my DeskCam. I have re-activated my youtube account.
So now you get a very quiet song, and some very fast scrawly inky fish.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Colouring In

I didn't draw this. I just coloured it in. It's by flatmate, for charity.
Just blogging it because I think it's strangely hilarious.

If you do dress them up please mail them back to us for laughs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Time Lapse Drawing No. 1

Ah! This is working!

That's not me drawing, but my flatmate. I am just hitting the return key.

He also says the bean jelly is a treat for me to eat, not for cooking. That's why it's on the desk. Well! The Miso sachets were on the desk also, were they not?

Anyway, this is fun!
And while this was uploading I found the perfect software for this: Gawker. So now I can draw stuff too and no one needs to press buttons any more. Oh Joy!

So I'll keep this switched on next time I do some actual work...

Eyes, organic and otherwise

I've set up my desk-cam!

Well, not really, um, not really very well yet let's say. And there's nothing going on on my desk today. Except flatmate has been to the Japan Center again and will be cooking with sesame flavoured bean jelly, I predict from this.
But anyway, I shall straighten this out and then get some time-lapse animations going for your entertainment, when I'm actually doing something interesting next.

This morning I had my eyes examined because I keep being unable to see properly - the middle of my vision likes to turn into one seething pool of white light blotting out people's faces, or whatever else I'm trying to look at, drawings and books and such. And when that's not going on, people keep having weird halos around them, making them look far too spiritual for my taste.
So I had three different sorts of stuff dripped into my eyes and after staring at me for a long time through a microscope the optician announced that all is well. I just need to stop spending hours looking at computer screens.

So now I keep looking out of the window blankly, wishing I could script this comic without blinding myself temporarily... it's very weird that the most adventurous fun thing I can think of is done sitting down staring at a screen for hours. Hm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Burlesque Life Drawing...

I just got back from a fun evening of life-drawing at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The idea being that life drawing is more fun if the people you're drawing have some sort of entertaining reason for taking their clothes off. Or at least, some strategic tassels and music.
After every drawing, we got to hold up our pictures and show off...

Dr Sketchy

... and maybe get a prize... I got a box of pencils and a matching notebook for my blind drawing of Miss Slinky Sparkles. I was kind of hiding but someone behind me shouted CUPCAKE! CUPCAKE! And pointed at my drawing until it got given a prize.

True enough, she was wearing a cupcake on her head at the time, which maybe you can tell, or not.

Dr Sketchy

All organised by Dr Sketchy. And it's not easy to get me life drawing... it's so disheartening normally! They never give you a free cocktail for the funniest drawing. Not the life drawing classes I've been to before, anyway.

Monday, May 18, 2009

At Last.

I have a Mac. It's tiny. It's lovely. And when I plugged in a webcam, not only did it not crash, it let me make an animation.

A very tiny one because I really must go and grab some food. But HOORAY! I will be making THINGS soon. Lots and lots of brilliant things. Heh. And hopefully it won't take me nights of trying-to-get-anything-to-work any more.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Aah. Good morning, world!
I feel so much better! In fact, I shall do brilliant things today, I am rather sure. Still a bit wobbly, slightly deaf and can't smell a thing, but! I can walk in a straight line.

Yesterday I did some surprise designy work, very small scale, but I am pleased... turned some type into an animal shape for a friend's very worthy website (hope it goes up soon so I can show you).
And for the first time since starting to write the new "Sleepwalkers" script I got the hang of the software AND the story at the same time, and in fact I could hear the theme tune while I was writing, and I didn't even know it had a theme tune. It's going to be so brilliant!!! No, honestly! The whole thing! It'll be completely awesome, I tell you! Aweplenty!

Hm, also I'm having fun moving furniture about and clearing my desk for the new computer which is supposedly arriving tomorrow. Hooray! Am writing this from a side table, in fact, where the old computer is set up, and will be until I'm sure I've moved all my files and settings across. I think I shall clear and dust and polish the desk.

Boringly: I'm having email trouble. My mail looks like spam to spam filters because I can't send it from my own SMTP server. My host tells me there's nothing that can be done and I should switch ISPs. - No way! Somehow I am not at all inspired to sort this out, it's simply too boring.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sydenham Arts Festival - Sock Beast Workshop

sock beasts

Guess what! I'll be doing a Sock Beast Workshop at the Sydenham Arts Festival this summer. It's free and all, here is the link.
For some reason right now it claims to be a Sock Cat Puppet Workshop, which would also be interesting, maybe I'll work out how that could be done one day. - So if you live in the area and have some children with spare socks, watch that space.
I'll be reading the Cat book as part of a Special Storytime Event as well... More about that closer to the time.
I'm really looking forward to this, looks like an excellent festival!

I am slightly frightened of this tea pot.


It contains half a chopped up ginger root, loads of eucalyptus honey, a package of extra strength lemon flu powder (couldn't find a real lemon) and two bags of tick tock rooibos tea. All infused in hot water. I don't know if it's a good mix, I just know I'm really thirsty...

Hey, it's Kind of all Right!

Oh good.

You know how there are some people who when they have a cold will just not stay in bed, but pop up and start working as soon as they can stand up at all?
Well that's not me. No way sir. No. When I get a cold it's time to call the Exorcist. If you see me walking through the house at all it will be backwards on all fours making horrible retching noises. I'd be embarrassed about this, but in fact I have fond memories of really annoying my (then)boyfriend with that sort of thing.
But anyway, I got too bored, and now I am up. Writing my comic script as I am supposed to. Sitting next to a bin bag full of used tissues. He looks kind of like a slumped person by now. I might consult him on script writing matters, he looks like he knows something about life.

(Am just wondering whose chequebook that is in the photo.. I must tidy my desk some time)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Oof. This is quite definitely the most boring cold I've had in years. I don't know why... I started reading some books, and tried to do some drawings, I even installed Celtx on my eeepc so I could do some scriptwriting in bed. But somehow I just feel dull in the brain.
Especially the writing is hard. I'm kind of used to writing loads of rubbish in novel-form and then editing it back down, but scripting is something new and disturbing. I hope I'll get used to it soon. For some reason the unfamiliar format makes it awkward to write, having to switch between image descriptions and dialogue in this odd way... I have a feeling that it'll be fun once I got over that though.
Funnily enough, every time I drift off to sleep I dream exciting fantasy adventure scenes, all fights and crows and flapping coats and that sort of thing. Also unusual, for me.

I think I'll crawl upstairs now and demand to be shown some old Doctor Who episodes...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Good day at work.

I just sneezed my way home from work. I think the plane trees are pollinating or something, I notice everybody else is sneezing too.


Had a rather brilliant work-day making up new names for my comic book heroes, delivering an artwork of which I have no idea what it will turn into (which is fun) and drawing monkeys.


Here they are wondering what they are called. (I know by now, hooray!) I think the monkey will lose that top tuft, she looks a little bit too Astroboy that way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Tomato Seedlings

Some time ago I ate a tomato that was so nice I kept some of the seeds... Now I have a windowsill of tomato seedlings. Hope they'll grow.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Dark Side of Toast

Forbidden Planet Catalogue just arrived.

Now look at this...
A Darth Vader Toaster. It's shiny, it's black, it does this for you.

I think actually it would be more authentic if it just, you know, burnt toast. Every time. Just one setting.

There's also a sonic toothbrush with a Supreme Dalek handle...

Talks and Goodies

So! I went to CILIP yesterday and did a short talk and signing. Lovely people. I was particularly impressed with Jan Fearnley's talk (she had knitted toys as well, hooray).
I had a bit of a fight with the remote control at my presentation, and managed to muddle up my English in unfortunate ways (especially saying "It's fun at this point when the children cry" - completely wrong message!!! "Shout" was the word I was looking for), but all in all I hope people enjoyed it.

Then I went to the Paperchase Mothership around the corner and bought a protective pencil carrying case for my tinted charcoals (which always shatter)...

New Pencilcase

...and when I got back home, my new moo business cards had arrived. Hooray!

New Moos

I think I can do with a quiet weekend, no computer fixing, no staying up late, just some nice food and maybe potting out some tomato plants on the balcony.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New Plans

No pictures! Ever! I am sorry. This will change soon. Next week my mac will be delivered, and there shall be ARTWORK. Just you wait.

Today I'm going out to the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals to read them a picture book and talk about it and show them some of the bundles of odd scraps that picture books may rise from. I got the book on a memory stick, and I shall drink down this here coffee and then find a plastic bag for the show-and-tell items because it's raining...

This morning Alexis and I talked through the "universe" of the graphic novel I'm working on. The rules of the world outside the actual story I am writing, in case of sequels, and also because one needs to work these things out sometimes. I'm glad I kept notes of my various epiphanies over the last few months. And I am glad he agreed it all made sense! I know it does, I'm just not sure I got it all in the right order yet.

Also... when I was sitting on a shrubbery bench (it wasn't quite a park bench) yesterday I realised that I have another graphic novel story in my head. That is, the novel I started writing in November really should be a graphic novel. That would solve most of the problems I'm having with it. - Wouldn't that be something?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Ow. Ow. Ouch. My head hurts. I made a mistake. I remembered how my computer used to work better before I upgraded it, and I remembered how last time I installed that old system it took me about an hour because I've been keeping notes of all the settings. So I backed it all up and downgraded. But oh! Oh! Weird things happened. Basically, I think it's showing that this computer was bought from Aldi, and when it stopped working was posted to my house (via royal mail) where I had to be very kind to it until it remembered it wasn't actually born a toaster. Basically, the parts are misbehaving. It's wheezing. Sometimes it forgets that it has a screen.
Anyway, the reason I got this was mainly that back then I couldn't afford a mac. Now I've saved up for one, and a mac I shall have. - I'll keep using a good lot of the open source software, though.
I do love this computer, I really enjoy using Linux, but I can't really spend many more nights like that. And while I normally enjoy tinkering and making things work, right now I quite want to tinker with some words and pictures and sounds.

So! I wonder what sort of Mac to get? I hope this headache will pass quickly so I can do some research. And I also have to put together a quick slideshow for a talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Water and Webcams

I'm painting inky waterfalls and huge blue fish while backing up my computer (again), so I can change the operating system (again)... "Intrepid Ibex" is turning out to be intensely annoying, so far precisely NOTHING has worked without at least a day of faffing about. - I spent half the night trying to get my webcam to register me, in any way, as a noise, a motion, a pattern of light... anything... some awareness hiccuped into existence late at night and then winked out again...

WARNING: Contains extremely mild swearing and violent flailing.

So. I am fed up. Downgrading the operating system to what-it-was-back-when-it-worked, and if that doesn't help I'll buy a mac because this box is taking over far too much of my life. This morning, too, thinking about it. And most of the afternoon.

I did leave the house though, and read a book in the park for a bit.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ramblings, and chicken

Oh hum ho, I'm having a funny day. Thankfully there's a picnic planned for lunch, probably indoors. I'm in the sort of mood that results in list-making, or is meant to in any case. I am contemplating sticking up a sign to myself that says "You're not doing it wrong, you're just an introvert". I do forget this periodically and find myself fretting that maybe people are right and I should try a bit harder to be some sort of electrifying dazzling life of the party sort of person, for else my future is doomed doomed doomed doomed. Then I remember and I am annoyed that I didn't tell them to buzz off.
I often try and work out the perfect reply to suggestions to that end, and spend far too much time thinking about it, and in the end I always come to the conclusion that extrovert people must feel a deep horror of the sort of quiet existence that I would find really rather pleasing. Probably the same way that having to be out there rattling and socialising and being switched on and witty and charming every day is my idea of hell. Sadly, it seems to be socially acceptable to say "I'd hate to be you" only in one direction. Extroverts somehow get to assume that you're LOVE to be one too. Especially if like me you sometimes like to pretend you are one. I also like to pretend I'm a tree sometimes, doesn't mean I want to BE one. I'd just like to know what it's like sometimes.

That's me done rambling, sorry, I just felt like it... I think it's to do with starting new books, always makes me think about how the world works, and also makes me look inside my head for new characters, and of course what I find there is mostly myself going: "Hi? You want anything? Well, let me tell you about my life..."

Wow, the chicken I'm cooking smells GREAT! - Oh, I've wanted to have a picnic for ages, and I'll get to use my birthday picnic set, hooray! - I better go and wash up the plates.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Hmm. I am really, really enjoying this Sunday. NOTHING to do today but whatever I like, which happens to be some more river drawing right this minute.

I think I'll take a break and think about what to draw next, I think there should be more things by the side of the river...

After the weekend I'll start on the first artworks for the new book, which is called "HOME", provisionally. It's fun thinking about it, especially since I have no real concept of Home at all, in a geographical sense, or really in any sense other than home is where I draw and write and think. - Today I was thinking of being in school in Germany and other children asking me when I'd go back home to my own country, since they mostly assumed I must have come from somewhere else. I was wondering that myself, and spent a lot of time imagining what that place was like where I was supposed to be. Now I think that imagining that place was going home already, and so was imagining any other place, or drawing it or writing about it.
Which is nice.

Hm, I'll stop with the river for now and try out these tinted charcoals - I just got a whole tin full of them, yay.

I like the way that everywhere I look in this studio there's another current project, on a shelf, in a box, on the computer, in a folder...

P.S: artworks isn't really the plural of artwork, is it :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

But I'm Scared!!!

Just got this through the mail from Fiona at the Upper Norwood Joint Library... together with a whole bunch of pictures of children having fun drawing brilliant things (hooray!)

Some reading-out-action from me.
This sheet was one of the fruits of the Crystal Palace Children's Book Palace Comic Jam.
I like the way you can actually see what I'm saying there. Nice.

I hope this is the reaction shot.

Some Paintings

So my parents will come around to celebrate my dad's birthday in a bit. I finally managed to finish the green dog painting which I started as a present for him last year (huh) - it came out a bit odd, but then all my paintings do. I'm not a painter by nature (or education).
Here are some of my paintings, see what I mean...

I do enjoy painting them, though. And no, I have no idea what that mini bunny is doing on that phone box or whatever it is.

I'll give him the Moon Lady too, but not the donkey. Although I think the donkey is quite good, and maybe they could frame it somewhere by the phone, and whenever they think it would be a good idea to remind me that I can still study to become a qualified primary school teacher they could look at it and see how I feel about school: sticks, carrots, mad grinning donkeys. - Not quite the right thing anyway.
Actually, I do like schools. If I'm just visiting. I really really spent enough time in school as far as I'm concerned.

Otherwise... I'm trying to understand how to collaborate on projects over the internet, with all the files being swapped about on servers. I hope I'll be able to work on short films and such with my creative friends abroad. It's rather exciting. Also got a program for scripting comics. Seems useful.
We'll see!

Saturday at last

Gee I am tired. Hello!

I believe I have most of the day off, except for tidying the flat and preparing to host my dad's birthday do in the evening, but that seems not to bad. The last week or so has been full-time illustration work plus parents visiting, so I should really have loads of things to show you but I didn't take photos. Ah well.

The main thing I want to say is if you are in London, go to this exhibition in the Royal academy. It's my favourite thing I've seen this year so far (probably a good bit longer than this year), a huge collection of prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. I think I'll have to go again, because it's hard to take in everything that's amazing about it in one go. I talked to a friend yesterday and she said she went back because at her first visit she just looked at the colours, and how they were achieved. I'd just looked at the stories, and the way water was represented. She said "did you look at the amazing feet?" - No, I had not. - I feel a bit like it's an exhibition where you want a sheet with things to look out for, like on a school trip, so you can write short essays on what you've learned.

Otherwise... um... oh yes, otherwise I am kind of blank in the brain because I've been catching up with illustration work most nights, drinking Red Bull and last night even taking ProPlus caffeine tabs, which I haven't done since writing my dissertation in college. But it looks like life will go back to normal now. Or better than normal. There's even a picnic planned for Tuesday.

In any case, I can't believe how brilliant the projects are that I get to work on at the moment. The picture book is too funny, the graphic novel is too exciting, and then as if that's not enough I'm doing some smaller projects with friends - these are especially pleasing because they'll be finished a lot sooner than the big projects, and I'll be sticking them on the web ASAP. Hooray!

Now excuse me while I drink my coffee in bed.