Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An Old Friend


I have several ideas on the go at the minute. One is far more ambitious than anything I've done before, and is tying me completely in knots.
I'm trying to take babysteps into fiction, you see. I've bitten the bullet and I'm attempting to write my first chapter book- but with pictures that work like a picture book. So, not just an ordinary staggeringly hard task, but a mixture of staggeringly hard tasks. Neither of which I've really done before. Good one, Cass!
Anyway, I've come to a bit of a standstill, and I'm well-aware I've been working the old procrastination rituals over the last couple of days. I think it's time to take an official break, rather than starting to beat myself up about it.
I've decided to re-visit Quentin Fox for a bit instead. You may remember that Quentin proved to be popular with the publishers as a character, but I couldn't find the right story for him to make both me and the publishers happy. I didn't want to sell him short, and a lot of the stuff I came up with was either too old for the publishers or too twee for me.
When I come up with a character I really like, I find it quite hard to confine them to a story. It feels like I'm limiting them somehow. Perhaps because a lot of the time I'm trying to squash them into a story that doesn't quite fit. I'm desperately trying to learn the art to story-writing at the moment, and I think part of it for me, has been to learn patience. You hear about people rustling up a story in their lunch break (one Alex T Smith springs to mind) but I think I have to learn that for me, although ideas come easily, whole stories are blimmin' hard work!
A while ago, I started playing with this cut out technique for background. I was trying to remedy another one of my bad habits- the fact that I tend to overcrowd scenes. I wondered if I was to create a background without drawing whether I'd still have the same trouble, as it really is my pencil that allows me to get carried away. If I worked more purposefully (creating each individual piece) would I still be so free and easy with detail? Whilst I love detail and will go to any lengths to defend it (despite the fact that it's SO out of fashion at the moment), I think this quieter result does make you appreciate the little bits of detail more. Weirdly, since it's so different from my normal stuff it still feels very me too.
I find some images grow over time. I've had this image sat around for a while, and slowly, slowly, slowly it's been growing a story somewhere in the background of my mind. This afternoon I thought I'd find out whether this story is ready to be put down on paper yet. I feel a bit nervous, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Authors for Japan

I was lucky enough to go to Japan and South Korea in 2004. If I could go back and re-visit any time in my life so far, it would be those 4 weeks. Both country's are so rich in their storytelling and visual cultures that I am embarrassed to say they leave Britain lagging about their ankles, like a snotty, spoilt younger sibling. I had no choice but to leave part of my heart in each country.

This 'Authors for Japan' Auction is a fantastic way of supporting the aid work that will be desperately needed in the next weeks, whilst tipping your hat to its' honoured tradition of storytelling.

Alas, I found out about the auction too late for George, Ghost, and Elizabeth to help out, but I'll definitely be fighting you all off for some of those kids books!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A bit of fluff...

Here's my latest efforts at colouring fur. This is an old image, but I wanted to have another go at colouring him up without getting far too excited about the actual drawing part!

I think he probably needs some more highlights now I look at him again, but I think I'll leave it for today and have a closer scrute tomorrow.

I reckon this was why I was rubbish at colouring books. Colouring is so much more boring than drawing!

In other news, myself and 22 children from Ash Grange School had a whale of a time for World Book Day. We took over the kiddies section of WH Smith, and coloured and treasure-hunted, yelled at Lively Elizabeth (hugely fantastically, everyone knew the words!), and (very importantly) ate biscuits! Was a great celebration, and WH Smith were kind enough to give a few lucky prize-winners book vouchers too, so hopefully there'll be plenty more book lovin' in future. Thanks to everyone that made my World Book Day fab!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Julietta Grown Up

I'm still messing around with this upside down picture. I've tried a different colouring technique, and I've added in some more detail to the original Julietta drawing. I really like the results, and it's actually a lot simpler than my normal gazillion layered technique. It does have a more sophisticated, perhaps slightly 'older' finish though, and I'm not sure if that's a particularly commercial way to go when approaching picture books. We'll see.

I've also worked into the monster a bit with the same technique, but as he was originally coloured pencil and the fur is much looser anyway, it's had a very different effect. I think it's quite successful, and I definitely like it better than the previous attempt, but it's widened the gap in styles and techniques between the two characters. It's made them less successful as a pair.

I know it sounds batty (in more ways than one) but I think part of the issue is that the characters ARE upside down. I think I need to have a go at uprighting them, and then carrying on experimentation.


In other news, I went to a brilliant needle felting workshop yesterday, held by fellow illustrator, Sophie Allsopp. She's amazing at it. You can see her fab artwork and creations here.

I am now completely in love with needle-felting. No, really! Remember my inability to have a hobby? Remember my stupidly restless mind, making endless lists and demands? Needle-felting is the answer to everything. I may just make it my new religion and worship at the alter of my local wool shop. In fact, scrap that, I'm going to get myself my own sheep. I'll dye them different colours and arrange them in rainbow formation in my front garden.

I'm stoked. It's the first properly, officially crafty thing I've done in years, and I may just be a little in love with my woolly fugly creation. No, he doesn't yet have eyes, and he may only have two paws... one of which is markedly bigger than the other. But the point is, I GET it! I can see myself very merrily making many more mutant creations. Yes, they'll possibly cause optical bleeding and children across the world to cry out for their mothers. But, and this is a big but, they will make me h-a-p-p-y! I may create a whole village of fuglies, and just move in.
I shall post pics of my efforts when I can work out how to get my fabulous creation off the camera... and no he did not crack the lens...

Anyway, thank goodness it's weekend. I'm ready for a two day snooze... Have a good one, all.