Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Watching the other illustrators at the South Ken festival draw, I noticed how enjoyable crayons are... Kitty Crowther and Marc Boutavant both used them. It was especially charming to see Marc's normally flawlessly rendered creatures drawn in scribbly crayon.
So today I tried drawing my rats in crayon, tos ee if that's the look I'd like for my new book.
I'm quite pleased actually, that's the first drawings I really enjoyed for this project!
The mouth placement is still weird. I'll work it out.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Astonished Platypus.

I survived the South Ken Children's Book Festival!
Four days of visiting schools, drawing on stage with famous illustrators, giving talks and workshops and signing books and drawing things on demand.
I did a bit of "tell me an animal and a mood" improvised drawings on whiteboards and flipcharts as well, it's a nice way to show ways of expressing emotions in drawing.
Anyway, somehow the first request is always HAPPY CAT, and then after several other ones (more often than not including SLEEPY GIRAFFE) the one that always happens is:
This is because, as you know if you've ever improvised anything on stage, the audience will always assume the idea is to trip you up. They think that's funny, when actually it's much more enjoyable to see perfectly obvious things work out well.
Due to this, however, I have become reasonably adept at drawing astonished platipodes. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

I also did some improvised drawing-on-demand together with Marc Boutavant, and with Stephanie Blake. As one would expect one of the resulting works depicted a princess on neptune who was brought 8 toilets by assorted superheroes and cute animals because she needed a wee. Another was titled (after the mayhem of drawing it had passed) "Harry Potter and The Dolphin In Striped Pyjamas". You can't blame us, the children made us do it. I did enjoy drawing Voldemort with a machine gun though.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Drawing Cats with the Bilingual

I spent the day in a couple of impressive French Schools in the fancier parts of London, along with Axel Scheffler - we got a class each for an hour at a time and entertained them with drawing and chats. He had a bit of a headstart, I noticed that when he walked into his classrooms the children all went "AIIIIEEE AXEL SCHEFFLEEEER", in my rooms they all just went "Bonjour".

Anyway, we had fun scribbling wool and drawing cats and gluing one to the other, and the children asked very good questions. I decided that they were probably future prime minister material because when I was drawing on the whiteboard they liked to get up and correct it. In the last session I got a little bit self-conscious about all that and they ended up shouting : "IT'S NOT A CAT! IT'S A HAMSTER! IT'S NOT A HAMSTER, IT'S A RABBIT!" and so on whatever I did. These were also the first children of any age who complained that my workshop was too easy. I told them they could draw all the hairs on the cats if they wanted a challenge. One girl said she wasn't drawing hairs because she was drawing aubergines, not cats. I agreed that it would be weird.

Of course I also had to draw a cat about to throw up, and a horse. I kid you not. If you ever tried drawing a horse on a whiteboard in front of a class of extremely bright children who laugh at you in French, you know what I'm talking about. Yeah. They did applaud me for that one because I had told them it was difficult.

Tomorrow I have four more workshops for classes of different ages, and some sort of a big talk on stage which I shall attempt to prepare right now.
The main thing I have concluded so far is that French schools have superior canteen food (eight different starters and a cheese course).

All considered, best workshops I did all year. I hope they'll send me some photos, not of me, but of the cat art that resulted. The children really could draw, they were all like: "Un Chat, phwah, trop facile, voila!" - One boy asked: "Do we have to draw like you?" I said: "Well evidently it would be a bad idea, everyone would be shouting at you "IT'S A HAMSTER!" - He nodded seriously and got on with drawing some excellent cats.

It's also the first school visit ever where a child asked me what percentage royalties I make. He was, what, seven years old? What do they feed them? Pure Awesome.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Getting a new NOBROW issue is brilliant...
Getting a reversible one that's half full of beautiful comics is even better...

Seeing one of my own illustrations in it is the best.

Here it is again, flat:

This is the first time I supplied an artwork with separate colour layers, and I'm happy it worked. I want to make more pictures like that, and hopefully have some printed up for sale.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I coloured in some of yesterday's rats. Here's the one I showed you earlier.
I don't often do the cartoony-eyes and bendy-limbs style, but this books seems to want it.
I'm not sure about the shading/highlighting yet, might want to be more subtle, I want the rats to looka bit grubby though. Maybe I'll texture them all over.
I'm drawing with my medium sized Namiki Falcon pen, it's rather a joy...

AHA! Yes, this is better.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rats in the Fog

It's foggy in London.

I just walked back from the studio, having drawn some rats.
Here's one
A good day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's a peaceful Saturday. I did some novel writing on the train, and the end is in sight, it really is... I'll do some more in a minute.
Most of the day I spent playing with a borrowed ipad. I haven't really liked them so far, but it seems like it's the platform of choice at the moment for interactive literature and art, so I ought to get one to keep track of things. Personally, I'd much prefer an android tablet, but all the big cutting edge apps are still for the ipad.

So far...

  • I worked out how to synch my Scrivener data over to it, so I could actually work on my novel without lugging my work computer around. That's excellent.
  • It's easy to locally save reference pictures off the web. Yay! That'll be incredibly useful, since my laptop takes too much space on my drawing desk, and is unwieldy.
  • I'm not very excited by any of the art apps I've seen so far, but then I haven't seen many because I don't want to buy them on this borrowed pad.
  • I really don't fancy drawing or painting on the thing.
  • Surprisingly the first really exciting thing I stumbled across was a typewriter app. It was wonderful to use, reminded me of my first novel writing attempts... I'll be enjoying sending people typewritten email jpgs. Heh.
  • The keyboard is awful. But then a bluetooth keyboard will work with it. Fair enough.
I'm almost convinced of the usefulness. I'll be completely convinced once I start making my own apps.
Apparently one of Tove Jansson's classic picture books is being turned into a tablet app. I'm generally against turning existing novelty books into apps (what's the point exactly) but I'm looking forward to seeing what they'll do.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've got things in a rather fancy exhibition!

Some of my images are in a beautiful children's book illustration exhibition in Sarmede, Italy! And in very good company. See here.
I wish I could have been at the opening.
There is a very shiny catalogue, look:

I'm in Plymouth, teaching, and on the train I drew some rats... I'm doing a picture book about rats, and I am still working on the best simple funny way to draw a rat.

Now I'm at the B&B, writing bits of novel. It should be finished soon...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Noisy and prestigious Roald Dahl Event

I don't know if I mentioned that "A Place to Call Home" was up for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize. here's a video of a lot of yelling at the venue. It was a lovely event.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Aw, I'm tired.
I'm still not allowed coffee, and so sometimes I go out to one of my favourite cafes and ask for a small decaf latte, so weak that it smells of coffee but really isn't. They kindly make them for me, and I pretend that it wakes me up. It doesn't though.

Nevertheless, I'm getting things done... today I'll write some more novel, and tomorrow I'll draw an artwork for the new picture book I'm doing with Alexis.

Oh, and today the best patch ever arrived in the post for me, from Liz Lunney. Look!
Not sure where to fix it yet. Prominently, in any case.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

App recommendation: TAROT OF THE MUNDANE

The Tarot of the Mundane! It will not change your life. It may just make you feel slightly better about it.
If you have an iphone, go get this (free) app. It's a complete set of Tarot card for you to consult, and every reading is as wonderful as it is dull and drab, predicting vague mishaps and slight events of mild insignificance (a bit more or less so if inverted).
The beautiful and witty cards are designed and written by my friend Sarah, and the app is made by the excellent people at Knifedge.

Do you worry about minor inconveniences? Do laundry concerns keep you awake at night? Would you like to know if The Nutter will sit next to you on the bus?

Worry no longer: here for your mildly occult pleasure & edification is.. Tarot of the Mundane!

The Countess can answer all your trivial queries about what your very dull future holds. She knows all about your embarrassing illnesses, crap parties and domestic appliance tribulations. Her tried-and-tested fortune telling techniques will ASTOUND and AMAZE, sort of. Simply download Tarot of the Mundane onto your Electronic Device, then shake it about to get Your Daily Prediction. Guaranteed some percent success!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nothing in particular...

It's Martinmas today, the holiday I miss most since I moved away from Germany. It's about looking after one another as the winter begins. I'll light a lantern and drink sweet hot tea.
My latest book is getting to artworking stage, and I'll be spending a lot more time in the studio. My teaching spell is almost over, and I'll happily concentrate on bookmaking.
I also asked for an ipad for Christmas so I can get on with designing some narrative apps. There is much excitement ahead...
I decided that the old novel draft that I've been editing needs another part, several chapters long, to wrap it up. That's what I'll be working on tonight.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Paper Tiger

I finished my accounts! After finding a box full of receipts just when I thought I'd finished them the first time around. And then ordering some more statements from the bank. It's all triple checked and in the envelope and I drew a cat on the envelope and tomorrow morning I'll send it to my accountant.

From My Dream Diary

I'm very tired in the mornings. Here's why. It's like that pretty much every night.