Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Today's colouring effort...

Doodling Jumblies

I didn't have much time to work on the Jumblies today, I just leafed through my reference books for the diving scene I'm planning and drew some Jumblies in while thinking about what to do.
These are from "The Private Life of Animals Series: Animals of Oceans and Deep Seas" published in 1971, fascinating book actually, full of odd little scenes that might or might not have happened somewhere under the sea. I bought it on Deptford market for 50p last week.

Now it's time to colour a spread of the graphic novel, wish me luck, I hope I drew the linework well this time. I'll see.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yet again

Have you seen this image often enough?
No you haven't, I just re-coloured it because it looked to flat.
Still a bit digi, but better than it was. I shall re-colour it again when I've got the hang of how the whole comic is coloured, but I think it's good for now.
Tomorrow I shall re-draw the comic pages I drew before, and then I'll colour them in for the rest of the week. That's the plan anyway.


I staid in bed yesterday, pretty much. That seemed the reasonable thing to do. The day before I got suddenly so tired that I could hardly talk and not at all think, which is very unsurprising seeing that everything good that I could imagine happening happened all at once, including things I've been quite patiently waiting for all my life (for example a beautiful empty house to furnish and live in). Basically, I got the bends from surfacing from stress very suddenly, I think. Today I'll stay at home, too, and do some colouring work. I need to get some spreads of the graphic novel and the cover ready for presentation.
I was supposed to go and search charity shops for interesting cutlery and crockery and food packaging today because I need some more drawing reference for the Jumblies, but by some freak chance I just got to visit the house of a cookery writer, and it turned out he had a vast collection of all those things, including very particularly a collection of vintage honey labels, so I figure I can skip that assignment. I can't quite understand the mechanics of how everything I need is turning up very suddenly in rapid succession, but I won't complain.
I'll post some coloured artwork when it's done. But first I shall drink this here decaf coffee and be stupidly happy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mouse Bite

I think it's starting to work. I drew page 3 today, with a whole lot less shading, and I think it's almost right now.
Here the white sheep is contemplating a mouse bite on her arm. I figured I should draw her less equine. This looks like her now, I think.

It looks like I'll be able to draw at least one page a day like this, I have another book to finish in parallel, so I'll work on that most of the day and just finish up with a page of Sleepwalkers before I go home.

I also seem to have gone on a date yesterday, which is a new thing for me, and actually it was rather nice. Life is a little strange this week.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I just found my new home... that was a shock.
I went to look at a house nearby, not expecting much, and it was just what I'd imagined when I was a teenager. Modern, small, with big windows, somehow cosy and bright... the bathroom is tiny, and there is a garage which I will turn into a workshop. The garage was it, really. I've been wanting a place to make things for such a long time... of course I won't have much time to make anything when I'm working to afford the rent in the first place, but there should be weekends, and also maybe I can paint there. Selling paintings would be good. I wish it had a balcony, that's the one thing missing, but I will get an armchair to put by the window.

Oh my goodness, I am feeling dizzy. Not really happy yet, or relieved, just in shock. But I know that a few hours ago when I was inside the house I felt completely happy and at home. None of the other places did that. It's also because it is in an area I know and love. I will be able to keep going to all the same places... there's still the direct train to town... there's still the lovely food shops and the library and the cafe and the bookshop... and the park... all still there!

Oh dear... I think I shall fall asleep on the spot.

But anyway! I will be needing a housemate, so if you are interested or know someone who is, get in touch. Double size bedroom, own bathroom and - if wanted - a shared workshop.
I'll advertise properly soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Living in London, and some sheep

This is quite a busy week.
I'm working on the comic every afternoon, and the mornings are packed with appointments - viewing flats, sitting at estate agents explaining how I'm going to pay my rent as a freelance artist, meeting with people who would like to have me run sock monkey workshops... today I arranged to house-sit a nearby place for a couple of weeks. I hope that was a good idea. I got a little bit depressed when I was being shown around the place - it's such a big old family home, with welcoming rooms for several generations of family members. I felt the old envy again for people who were born and raised comfortably here, and who don't have to fight the city and feed it all their money just so they don't have to live in a basement bedsit under a betting agency and watch other people's feet going past all day. Or if they do, at least they can visit their family for the weekend. And they probably have loads of old friends who would set up a house-share with them. - Ah well. - I am sure I'll find a nice place to live soon, and I am also sure that I'll have to work like stink to afford it, and I am happy that I love my work. Just every so often I get rather tired, and wonder what it would be like to move back to Germany so I can have my sisters round for coffee on a whim, or have my dad help me with fixing up the kitchen, all that stuff. Then I remember that I have a job here making children's books, and how hard I've worked to get to where I am, and I'm proud. If a bit tired.

Today I drew a second page of comic, in a slightly different style - I wonder how many pages I'll draw until I got it worked out. I also did some colouring, here's a cropped panel.
I still think pencil on oiled paper is the way to go, even though it's impossible to erase anything. It's hard to get the contrast right, maybe I need to use more different grades of pencil.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Too Many Mice

Didn't finish colouring the page in today, but here's the first panel. I think I'll add highlights and some texture.

First Page Drawn and Scanned

Hepp! Today I drew the first actual inside page of the graphic novel. Here it is.
Well, it's a photocopy. The actual artwork is a bit too fragile to carry around on the bus, so I left it at the publisher's.
Quite obviously I am not in a high gear, drawing-wise. It's clumsy stuff, but I'll just keep drawing until I've worked it out. I'm having trouble deciding how much to shade, how to draw outlines, how to render different materials... I'm just doing it as it seems right and hoping that it'll settle into something right.

I'll try and colour it up tonight, that'll help me decide on questions of detail and shading. Won't bother dropping in the speech bubbles yet. I handed in a few lettered alphabets last week, so there should be a font soon. That'll be the first book I don't ahve to hand-letter! Yayyy!

I really enjoy drawing these friendly sheep.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gosh I'm tired.
I'm getting up at 7:30 every morning, and that feels great. However, somehow I can't ever sleep before 3 in the morning, no matter when I go to bed. I hope this will settle soon, because as it is I am practically sleepwalking in the day.

Today I found myself in a sprawling tower block in Battersea, which felt very much like a science fiction set, especially the endless dark corridors with plumbing snaking along the ceiling.

I had a barbecue there with some games designers, and kept myself awake by drinking strong coffee and talking about interactive picture books and improvised theatre, and games of course. I always talk a lot when I'm getting too tired. Then I had to leave because I feared I'd fall asleep on the spot (we did try keeping me awake by sprinting through the park but it didn't help), and I lay down on the sun-warmed wooden floor of Battersea train station to read Tove Jansson's "Traveling Light" which I'd picked up o the way from my local bookshop.
I'm sure by now I want to stay in this area, find a flat here... I love my little bookshop, the cafe, the pub... I might start to help out with little family events in the pub, drawing workshops, toy-making, that sort of thing. I like this neighborhood. It's my home now.
I looked at a room in a local house shared mostly with musicians, which means I could get double bass lessons as well. Not a bad option. I'm also by now unable to pass the estate agent's without taking down notes of new properties for rent. I think I'd really like to have my own place, even if that means working three times as hard as I have done so far. Especially so, actually, because I have started to enjoy my work more than ever, and it really feels like it's time to switch gears.

Mentioning improvised theatre: yesterday I went to see something utterly astonishing. It was a show called "Lifegame", conceived by Keith Johnstone and performed by Improbable. A member of the audience is interviewed about their life on stage and the actors dramatize scenes from it - some plain, some in song, and some involving the interviewee in a different part talking to themselves portrayed by an actor. There are musicians and technicians helping with lighting and sound, and a good deal of props to be used as needed. It was seriously funny, and incredibly moving - at one point I looked around and saw that many people in the audience were crying quietly. A minute later there was a roar of relieved laughter, and in the end some people seemed to glow as they walked out into the foyer. It was the bravest and most skilled piece of impro performance I've seen, I think.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Improved Heroes

I just spliced some new parts into the preliminary cover image for the graphic novel. Much better already.

And I decided to allow myself more colours after all - I had a very strict scheme in mind, similar to the one I used in my last book, where every chapter is only allowed variations on one single colour, but now I decided that'll look too pretentious and flat. I'll make a more varied palette for each setting.

First Panels

I started drawing the graphic novel for real today.

That is, I prepared some paper, traced some boxes and started pencilling them in, without quite knowing how to do it best - consequently, it mostly looks bad. But I am planning to keep going for a couple of pages until I work it out, and then redo the bad ones. That's the kind of thing you have to do if you spend more time writing and planning than actually drawing! I always need a few days of warm-up before I work out the way to draw a new book, and during that time I produce some weird things...
Here are the roughs:
And here some actual drawings. Sorry, I used my mobile phone camera again, I should really keep a better one by my desk. The first panel is just right, the second one is awful, the third one you can't see but it's no good, the fourth one might be okay, although quite obviously the part of my brain that deals with anatomy hasn't finished booting up yet. Check out the weird arm on that girl. Sheesh.
No worries, it always starts like that. Am expecting to have got the hang of it by end of next week.

Otherwise: I'm still looking for a place to live, am now looking in East Dulwich and Camberwell as well as Peckham. I saw a nice place in Nunhead this morning, with double bedrooms that actually fitted more than a double bed, transparent windows above ground (if you don't know to appreciate transparent windows above ground you haven't been flat-hunting in London), but again it was too far away from anything lively. I need to live close to a main street with cafes and pubs and bookshops and all that. Especially cafes. One good cafe would be enough actually. But I just can't hack quiet residential areas (except for the very outer edges thereof), they give me the fear.
If anyone has a nice room to let, or a cheap two bedroom flat that I could share with a lodger, or thinks they'd like to live with me and want to go flat-hunting in the same area, please do get in touch.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Sleepwalkers are coming!

Hello World! I've been busy.
I didn't blog for a while because all I had in my head was where to live next - flathunting is not boring for me, far from it, but rather dull for you I should think. So I shut up.

But it's time for an update, because as of today I've started on the artwork for my graphic novel - here is my first attempt at a cover illustration, and I think it'll do for now, I'm handing it over to the designer to make something clever of.
Here's my desk today, with different designs all scattered over...

Tomorrow I'm starting on the insides, I need to get a few spreads ready for book-fairs.
This is brilliant fun! Although my drawing is still not quite warmed up. I hope I'll get to draw another cover once I'm really in the groove.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beans, and wishing for a new friend to live with

My balcony garden gave me some beans today... okay, I should have left them on for a bit longer really, but they smell so nice. And it's always sad when they get stringy - I wanted to make sure the first lot is tender. There will be more.
I love my balcony garden, and I'm sad I'll have to leave it when I move... I want to move somewhere with space for plants again. And a bright kitchen with a table to sit at. That's my idea of comfort.

Flat-hunting has been interesting, but I haven't seen anywhere just right yet. I know there are places in London that would feel instantly like home - some of my friends' places do!
Tomorrow I'll look at a house with a spare room that I could sub-let. I wish I knew a creative person, maybe a designer or another illustrator, who would want to move in with me, then we could put shelves and desks into the lounge and have a shared studio right between the garden and the kitchen... that would be my ideal home!

Monday, July 5, 2010

AM Gallery's Tiny Exhibition opens!

I have some tiny work in a tiny exhibition Curated by the Am Gallery London team... it will be set up in the boot of a car, and open outside 68 Wickham Road in Brockley between 14.00 and 20.00 this Saturday, the 10th of July, so come and have a look.

There will be other tiny things too - some work is in response to issues of scale and space, some of the work is just small.

The Gallery will then travel to other parts of London later in the summer...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I won!

He he. Look at this, "There are Cats in this Book turned out to be the Greenaway Shadowing Favourite!
Okay, I am incredibly proud of that.

I am also sorry that I couldn't do my shadowing event.
I was really unwell (that's the first event I missed, I think, and I really didn't like missing it). I will make up for it by drawing an original artwork for every school that would have sent children there, and I'm also really happy to answer questions over email.