Thursday, October 30, 2008

An 'Orrible Week

Well, I originally started this blog post a week ago and called it 'An 'Orrible Day.' I think you can guess what happened. One day of extreme ugliness turned into another and before long I had a grimy and gruesome, carnivalesque collection of the little blighters. I can truthfully say that the highlight of it was the dog walk on Tuesday- yes, I remember it with clarity.

I was taking it slowly, admiring the fetching Autumn coats the trees were wearing, and generally minding my own very non-muddy, clean and dry business. I don't quite remember the moment of certainty creeping up on me but, alas that moment came with great squelching gusto; A moment when the error of my previous actions was henceforth undeniable... The world slowed down.... I gulped loudly... and then I descended gracefully, arse first, into the world's biggest boggle (part bog/part puddle). Yes, Siree. I went down and I darned nearly went under.

It was one of those full body slides that you play back again and again in your mind's eye. It started as a child on a waterslide and finished as an obese hippo squelching sedately into a waterhole and got funnier with each play back. The whole epic journey from forth-standing, world watcher to buttock-sloshing, mud be-decked, sky-gazer gurgled about inside me. The comedy of the matter burbled around my navel, grew in force about my oesophargus and then, when I could no longer take it, spewed forth from my mouth in giant hysterical hiccups. Of course, being a lone female in the middle of a field, in the middle of the mother of all boggles, I tried to stifle my increased mania, stuffing a fist in my mouth to staunch the flow... as if the fact that I was laughing to myself was the embarrassing factor in this picture. I had leaves in my hair, for the love of Pantene!

The dog looked at me in a disgusted, 'You're only s'posed to blow the bl**dy doors off!' manner.

When I'd finished wallowing (literally), I flapped my way home... looking much like I'd scuba-dived in a sewer and interspersing my 'serious' face with great guttural guffaws which generally escaped me when the nearest person was in spitting distance.

Since then;

  • I broke my computer
  • Lost an afternoon's work (non-related to first computer incident- as far as I know- but does back up my feeling that computer 1 and computer 2 are in cahoots and may be plotting to assassinate, or at least mildly inconvenience me...)
  • Re-did the work, only to find it was the one bit that Hodder didn't like...
  • I lost my house keys in the very same boggle-ridden park. This time uniquely increasing my misery by donning complete 'jogging gear' in order to do so. I was locked out of the house for no fewer than 3 and a half hours... and as every one knows, the very best items of clothing to go jogging in... are one's pj's. I'm not sure my dog will ever respect me again.
  • Dog got runs and left chocolate puddles all over living room floor... Quite possibly a protest?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Well, I feel I've accomplished a fair amount this week and yet it's zipped past again and somehow I feel like I haven't done enough! I know that doesn't make much sense. I'm somehow quite frustrated at how long things take... or more to the point, how little time there is left for anything else after.

I've started my third final piece today and as it's only a littlelun, I hope to finish it by Tuesday. This actually puts me ahead of my plans by a little and I'm not sure what results I'm creating, but I'm loving the process.

However, I think the problem is, all the looking ahead... wondering if I'm on schedule to finish a book by February (to me that feels like a tight deadline!), knowing what the next project will be and letting my mind wander to that occasionally. Planning my own potential texts efforts and then looking at publication dates in 2010. It all makes me feel quite impatient. I feel like I've spent so much time thinking about this project and planning for it, it should be finished by now, dagnammit. I'm having trouble not believing it's December too. I keep wanting to send everyone Christmas cards... I'm as bad as Woolworths and Argos for trying to cram Yuletide cheer down people's necks on September 1st.

At the same time, knowing all the things that I have to do up until next August (!) is helping me not waste my time nearly as much as I used to. It looks like a mammoth and exciting list. I think I just have to remind myself to stay in the present a little more.

Here are some of the non- workrelated things I've done this last week and felt chuffed about.

1. found a new favourite cafe and spent some valuable cake-eating time catching up with a dear friend.

2. Learnt how to cast on and started making myself a scarf from squishiest purple wool I could find.

3. Met 3 fabulous new people.

4. Listened to 'Eat, Prey, Love', by Elizabeth Gilbert. Amongst all the new-ageyness that made me cringe was a lot of fun stuff and feel-goodness that I'd recommend. Elizabeth Gilbert reads it herself with a lovely soft accent.

5. Bought some comfy monkey pants!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A fleeting update

Crikey! Time's gone fast! I shan't appologise for having been away, as I'm pretty sure I'll be fairly notable by my absence in the next couple of months and I'd like to save my appology for when I'm REALLY lax! If you haven't spotted me for a month say, I expect you'd probably better prepare for a major grovelling session.

Okay, well, update.

I'm in the middle of my first final piece (it having taken longer than I suspected it would- of course!)

I had thought I was over my jitters about my work. Apparently not. I still found myself hurtling wildly toward it paint brush in jousting position, hand over eyes. Attack! My footfall slowing though with the ever-increasing proximity of duh-duh-daaaaaah... the 'easel of doom'. The resulting meekest of paintbrush taps barely reached its' target. Much mopping and then frantic slewing of said work then occured in order to ecxordise the work of the vaguest hint of a tint. Now I know how Lady Macbeth felt! 'Out damn spot!'

Well, anyway, it might have a way to go, but I'm hoping to have sent it Hodder bound by Friday. There we go, I've uttered the words. Now, it won't be just me I'll be letting down if that doesn't happen!

Other news

I've been selected for the second time for the Cheltenham Illustration Award Show. I think it's on until the 31st of October, so if you find yourself in Gloucestershire with nowt to do, please pop along. I think it's a particular honour this year as my work will be exhibited alongside the rather marvellous Shaun Tan's. I think they had entries from all over the world this year so I'll have to really pull my socks up for next year's entry.

Yesterday, I attended a SCBWI meeting in Manchester. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has branches throughout the UK and I urge everyone interested in either area to go try them out.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Whoop! Whoop!

It's becoming one of those rare and ellusive days when things just go right and you feel near untouchable... I mean, I'm not saying I'm going to play russian roulette in motorway traffic any time soon, but it is a nice feeling.

The author has seen my layouts and is apparently very happy. The publisher is pleased with how I've resolved my backgrounds. A couple of small changes and I'm away to do my final pieces. *does a little dance* I'm really excited about it too, which I thought at this stage might be impossible!

Right, I shall work on some thing to hopefully post here later.

In the mean time, have a look at Simon Wild's website. The man is a don with colour and a fiend with the ol' b+w. He's also more productive than a family of chimps with the runs too, so there's always something new and exciting to look at.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monster Mash

Well, I'm feeling slightly less icky. Huz *splutter* zah!
However, my head still feels slightly full of cushions. Especially when it comes to my work.

I'm still trying to mesh the different elements of my Hodder colour studies together. It seems ridiculous to be having such difficulties as the backgrounds are quite minimalist. I'm not sure now whether there are problems, or I'm just not used to working in such a way.

Anyway, here's another experiment >
I think it's currently looking too computery (technical term, stay with me!) and the lighting is wrong, but as a first attempt, I'm quite pleased.

As an aside, does anyone have a comfort angle? As you may have guessed, I tend to draw a character first off in profile. I find once I've drawn them in profile, I have far less problems tackling them from other angles.

This (and you may also have guessed it) is the 'little boy' character I instantly tend to think of. I'm working with multiple characters at the moment, but he's my sort of default. He greatly resembles my brother as a child- what can I say, we were a fugly family...!

I'd be interested in knowing if other people have 'default' characters and where they think they've come from.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Gosh, this blogging lark is hard to keep up.

Somewhere between working on a project that I can't show and having been a big snotty, monkey, I have lost a good few days on here. Maybe you enjoyed the respite. Maybe you haven't even noticed. Perhaps I've just blown my own cover as well as my dribbly red proboscus...?!

During that time, I have made no work I can air and made no thoughts other than, 'squelchety, squelch! Arooooooooooooooooooooooooog!' (That's the sound of my nose-blowing resonating through brain cells).

Therefore, I shall tell you that the background style of the book seems to be going well, but I'm still sussing out how to draw the foreground inanimate objects. So far, the elements of the picture are going together like an anchovey chutney and bakewell tart... I will try to resolve this little problem today (the demand for anchovey chutney and bakewell tart trifle being shockingly low). However, I will also make a point of trying to get some sort of doodle to add onto this blog. I'd also like to cover another picture book too and put up a link to a fabulous article I found online the other day. I'm holding up my hand now in a firm promise (well, a gesture of affirmative that I shall try to, anyway...) that I will get that sorted this afternoon sometime.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Feeling

I'm having a rather sleepy, snuggly type of day... after a very good, but hugely adrenaline-inducing week of layout tennis with my art director.

I hope (I initially put 'think' but realised it might be tempting fate!) most things are now sorted, but I keep having minor heart attacks regardless. During this project, I fear I may have turned into a less witty, more neurotic Woody Allen...! I 'fear?' Yes, I've almost certainly turned into the wooly one!

I worry that if I look at the book plans again I'll suddenly see major glaring mistakes popping up all over the place... how, without noticing, I've accidentally replaced my main character (a small girl) with a yetti or something equally as inappropriate... or perhaps, I've somehow worked out the whole book back-to-front (not quite sure how that works, but if it DOESN'T, I'm sure I've done it!)

I think I might be experiencing the illustrator's equivalent of that awful dream where you turn up to work...naked... except of course, that most of us illustrators work at home so it's our prerogative to turn up to work naked! Huzzah!*

Right, I'm simultaneously trying to finish designing my backgrounds, do thumbnails for my new story and try and talk round a couple of misbehaving characters for the Hodder book, so I suppose I had better get on.

Apparently, I actually have some readers now, so I hope the both of you have a lovely weekend!

Here's a doodle from one of many ideas I'm pootling away with.

*As a children's book illustrator, I might add that I opt to remain be-clothed at all points. I can only illustrate in pyjamas and fluffy slippers, mind...