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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Picture Book Den

The Picture Book author website that I wrote a guest post for a few weeks ago, called Picture Book Den has an interesting post from author Pippa Goodhart, featuring a character I invented.

In my post I mentioned how sometimes I come up with a drawing of a character that arrives with no story attached. Usually the concept and the character arrive in my head together, as a kind of package, or the drawing of the character suggests the story. I gave an example, a cute character called Small Bear, who I just couldn’t get a suitable story idea for.

Pippa, with my blessing,  based her blog post on the thought process she would go through to create a story based on that character. The post is a very interesting insight into how a writer’s mind works, and into the creative process involved in producing a story for a children’s picture book.

Here’s the direct link – The ‘Small Bear’ Challenge

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Small Bear

111th!

I put a design into the Spoonflower monthly fabric design contest last week. The theme was Baby Animals, which I thought was just up my street. I repurposed an existing drawing as a simple repeat and sent it in.

Kind of like this mock up.

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Anyway, I came 111th 😉 Out of about 500 though.

I should have made it more of a design I think, it’s just a drawing set to repeat, which isn’t much of a cleverly worked out surface pattern at all really. I thought it was fun though.

Fat Cat book went down well. .

Feedback from the Bologna book fair re the large moggy pictured below was good. My publisher now has to firm up arrangements etc, and seeing as it’s the London Book Fair at the end of the month as well I don’t expect any sensible conversation about it until after that. But it looks like it will go ahead, which is good news.

Hoorah! and Pip Pip! etc. . .

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