Memento Mori

I found this dead juvenile Blue Tit in the garden. Barely fledged and either just out of the nest or nearly so, it was lying on the lawn where it had been dropped. Maybe a magpie got it and was scared off before it could eat it or something. I don’t know. It looked so perfect and poignant that I wanted to photograph it.

In my studio I have a kind of deliberately neglected window sill, behind a tatty curtain that came with the house, which I will replace someday ( yeah right ). This window sill is the repository for all sorts of odd stuff picked up from the garden or just accumulated. Shells, leaf skeletons, acanthus seeds, a dead hornet, small bits of blue and white pottery, fossil shells, a red rear light lens from a Morris Minor and even a few bullets from the battle of Omdurman in the Sudan that a friend gave me years ago. That sort of thing, all overlain by a drift of cobwebs.

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I laid the small corpse down on that window sill and took some shots of it, influenced by a book of John Blakemore photographs that I got recently probably, and just because it felt right.

Then I noticed that one of the larger shell fossils was shaped just right to take the dead bird. So I took some shots of it lying in state on it’s fossil shell.

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Technical stuff – I have a 49mm to 46mm reducer on my X100 which allows me to use my Nikon WC-E68 wide angle adaptor (as I mentioned in a previous post). It also allows me to use a x1 and x3 macro attachment, though not at the same time as the wide angle thingy obviously. . .

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I used the x1 and x3 together for these shots with the X100 set to macro mode. The depth of focus was pretty shallow, but the results were sharp enough when I got the distance right.

Processed in ‘Raw file converter ex powered by silkypix’. Which I have only just discovered and is brilliant once you get the hang of it. I wish it was compatible with non Fuji cameras too.

New post at Picture Book Den

http://picturebookden.blogspot.co.uk/

About how my illustration technique has evolved etc. Including a dodgy video. . .

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Not a Lot I Can Say. . .

It’s all very well having a fancy blog and intending to post a lot about what I do and all that, but it turns out that the main thing I do, Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating, isn’t something that lends itself to sharing.

I can’t really show you what I am working on right now, as that would break confidentiality with the publisher. So no ‘in progress’ pictures. . .

I can’t really share ideas I’m working up with a view to publishing, as somebody might nick my idea. . . So no ‘I had this great idea for a picture book!’ posts. . .

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I can show you stuff I have just had published, but that isn’t going to keep a blog going for long 😉

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It’s a bit frustrating. But I guess I can write something more general about picture books and my approach to them etc, but I have to avoid at all costs being like all those earnest websites with endless tips for would be authors who want to ‘realise their dream’ and publish a children’s book. . .

Call me cynical, but tip one would be ‘Lay off the inspirational websites and start doing the necessary hard work!’

Tough love Dude. . .

I’ll address the issue of what feels right to post about and what doesn’t, and hopefully come up with something worth reading, but in the meantime I drew some more cats. . .

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I’m a Denizen

I did a guest blog post for a site called ‘Picture Book Den’ a couple of weeks ago. You remember. . . hah, course you don’t 😉

Anyway, the post went down well, and I have been asked to join the select band of eminent and widely published Children’s Book writers that make up the site’s admins and regular posters. I have graciously accepted the offer of course.

So now, and henceforward, if you visit the site you will see my name on the important list just under the banner at the top, and if you click on said name you will be spirited straight to the ‘about’ page where you can marvel at the wonders there revealed concerning who I am and what I do. That is, if you weren’t fully clued up on my wonders already.

It will be nice to feel like part of a community of writers. Writing and illustrating is an isolated profession, we all beaver away in our own little bubble.  (which makes me want to draw beavers in bubbles but I shall restrain myself) This relative isolation does have it’s advantages of course, like not having to commute anywhere, and not being required to deal in or with office politics etc, so it can be a perfectly pleasant way to exist, but not all the time. It can be isolat-ing as well as isolat-ed. 

So being able to connect with people who know what I am talking about because they do the same thing as me will be a refreshing and valuable thing too. I’m pleased 😉

That being said, as I will be posting there four or five times a year at least I had better start working out what to post about. . . hmmm. .

Oh well, if all else fails, draw rabbits. . . in shades. . . that’s what I say.

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The Wonders of Old Book Covers – Trash in The Attic

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I’ve been sorting through the boxes of comics and books in the garage with a view to sticking a lot of them on ebay. The idea of photographing them all and listing them one at a time is daunting, but if I divide the task into manageable chunks it should be doable.

Who knows, I might get a bob or two out of it. Considering a lot of the stuff I bought was in the region of ten or twenty pence I might just get me money back 😉

I’ve started the process anyhow and so far I’m enjoying it.

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You see, the reason I accumulated a lot of this stuff in the first place was for the artwork on the covers. You know the kind of thing, hand painted dramatic scenes from cheesy, hard boiled detective fiction, based on cheesy American films. Garish and overblown, but often beautifully drawn. It had a sort of kitsch value for me at first, but now I have a much more genuine admiration for it. And if I don’t admire some of the genre, I have an affection for it. It’s stuff that my parents would probably have thought of as a bit naff, and therefore not something I would have been exposed to as a kid. Which is probably why it had an impact on me when I did discover surviving examples lurking in junk shops and suchlike places when I was a feckless Art Student.

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I love the boldness and the often clichéd, but unashamedly so, drama. As time goes on I like these book covers more and more. At least if I photograph them all I will have something I can look at on screen, which makes the images a darn site more available than them being in a box in the garage or the loft. And it means I can share them with you lucky people!

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As you should have noticed by now, dotted throughout this post are some great covers from a really cheaply printed series, The Sexton Blake Library. Captured before they completely fall apart. No date inside, but looking on ebay at similar ones they might be from the thirties and forties. The clothes and hairstyles seem to suggest that.

Anyway, enjoy. . .


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I want to be a Commercial Artist. . .

And ‘I Want To Be. . . An Eagle Book of Careers’ is here to encourage me. from about 1962 I would guess. There is no date in the book. There are all sorts of careers featured. I will scan and post requests 😉

‘I want to be a Miner’ being possibly the most ironic. . .

careers1careers2careers3I must develop my personality and try to make my designs more splendid. . .

A wonderful word, a Valerie Singleton, Blue Peter word. there are not enough splendid things in the world these days.

My old art teacher at school used to wear a velvet jacket and a bow tie, maybe he was at Art School (approved by The Ministry of Education) with young Adrian here.

And when was the last time you called anyone ‘sir’?