Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas.  A couple of Christmas presents from me to you.

2018-12-14 16.02.52

Click here to download and print out the skiing bear.  You can print it out on card, or print it onto paper and glue the pieces onto thin card (an empty cereal packet would be ideal). You’ll need brads (also called split pins or paper fasteners) to fasten the pieces together, but if you don’t have any you can just glue or tape them in place, or you can thread some wool or thin cord through the holes and tape it either side.

cardbearsm

Click here to download and print these free gift labels.

2018gifttags

For personal use only. My copyright

Sketchbook

Went to Dulwich Picture Gallery today (more about that later).  Managed a few quick sketches while I was out and about. Not sure I’m comfortable drawing strangers in case they notice…

dulwich9
Waiting for the train. There’s a ghost platform opposite. I don’t remember it being in use since I lived here.
dulwich
The Rubens are exquisite. I also admired the frames in my professional capacity.
dulwich8
Very leafy indeed.

 

I rarely take a sketchbook out with me.  I used this very small one because it fits in my pocket or bag and feels unobtrusive. I drew without worrying about the results and was pleased with how loose the drawings feel. I started to notice a lot of things I would have liked to draw if I’d had time.  I forgotten how doing this makes you look at things differently.  I will get back into the habit.

Two Exhibitions

Last week I visited two exhibitions of illustrators’ work. The first exhibition was at Mottisfont Abbey 7th July – 2nd September 2018 of original illustrations from ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ and the Mog books.  The exhibition was organized by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books

Great to see the originals of these books that my daughter grew up with.  Admiring the 29362735967_86774819d0_osimplicity of Kerr’s characters and the very expressive faces, feeling of movement and ‘catness’ she achieves.  Much more simplified characters than Kathleen Hale’s (which I have been looking at this week).

IMG_6618

My sketch

He’s such a kindly looking tiger. I’ve just noticed how the stripes over his eyes give him eyebrows.

The short film of Judith Kerr at the exhibition was interesting. She showed her sketchbooks and talked about drawing things a lot of times before she got them right. She also mentioned drawing tigers from life at the zoo and using the internet to find images when she needed to draw tigers yawning (as the real ones don’t keep still with their mouths open).

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 12.01.38Shopped.  Bag and postcard images are from “The Tiger Who Came to Tea.” (Kerr, J. 1968). “Bombs on Aunt Dainty” (Kerr, J. 1975).  My photo.

(Above) Doorway image from “Mog the Forgetful Cat” (Kerr, J. 1970). My photo.

 

A lovely exhibition if you are anywhere near.  Got home and listened to Judith Kerr on Desert Island Discs, which is available on iplayer if you’re in the UK.

The second was Edward Bawden. Dulwich Picture Gallery. 24th May to 9th September 2018

I went to see this exhibition yesterday. I wasn’t very familar with the work of Edward Bawden but several people recommended (raved about) it.

key-25_brighton-pier-large-banner

Fig 1. Brighton Pier 1958. Linocut on paper.

The range of work was beyond what I had expected.  Some of my favourite pieces were the large lino prints of Brighton Pier and of Lindsell Church.   I loved the large amount of black and strong overall feeling of these.

 

44290055582_865b24e7d0_o

Fig 2. Map of Scarborough (detail) 1931. Pencil, silver foil, watercolour and paper.

 

In contrast to these were finely drawn copper plate etchings and delicate watercolours. I loved his use of collage.  The Map of Scarborough was another favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new favourite artist.

 

x

A Few Edinburgh Bears

 

CattravellingEarlier this month I managed to pack my bags and head off to Edinburgh, with my daughter, for a few days.  Naturally, I was on the look out for bears.

The signs were there. 37438782952_56f11d5916_o

 

 

The first bears we met were a bit on the stiff side to say the least..

37158884561_bb95a4d22a_o

 

..and this was not at all what we’d expected from the famous Edinburgh pandas.  IMG_4657

 

 

Those are in the National Museum of Scotland which is lovely and well worth a visit. It also serves excellent cake.

 

We did catch up with a real live panda at Edinburgh Zoo, but I didn’t manage to get a photo. These chaps were more co-operative IMG_4691(and more terrifying).

37158905501_b1dd0c9d89_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think my last Edinburgh bear is my favourite.   It’s the memorial to Wotjek, the WWII ‘Soldier’ bear, in Princes Street Gardens.  You can read about him here.

IMG_4586

There was also whisky, getting wet, history and tales of body snatchers in the kirkyard after dark, but you should go and find out about those for yourself.

I’ll be back soon with needle felting, new drawings and other things I’m making.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to look at the new things in my shop.

Pasta Machine Printing

I love prints as an art form, but apart from some basic lino printing and screen printing I haven’t done any myself.  Print making seems a bit of a daunting thing to try, requiring expensive equipment and space. I’ve always particularly wanted to try dry point etching, so I got really excited when I saw an artist on Twitter talking about PRINTING AN ETCHING WITH A PASTA MACHINE!  Gosh.

Naturally I rushed out to buy one. Luckily my local cookshop had a modest one on sale and I got some sheets of flexible clear plastic from a nearby model shop.

This is what I did:

6

The plastic sheets I bought were A4, so I cut them up so that they were small enough to feed through the pasta machine. They don’t need to be clear, but it’s handy if you want to trace over a drawing. I scratched my design with a pointed implement I found in an old box of tools. I’ve no idea what it’s really for. Any pointed tool you can comfortably hold should work.

3

I used block printing ink as it was available. It worked fine. I’m going to try printing with acrylic paint with a drying retardant mixed in. I found the best way to ink the design was to rub the ink into the scratches with a cloth, then rubbing of the excess with a dry cloth.

2I printed onto cartridge paper, as I had some. Soak it in water for a few minutes first and pat dry.  You’ll need to experiment with how wet the paper needs to be.  Put the paper onto another piece of paper and some felt and place the inked plate face down on your paper. Fold the other side over. Be careful to hold the plate and paper together as you feed it into your pasta roller.

5

 

Wind the handle! You’ll need to guide the bottom end so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the machine as it emerges.

 

 

This is what I made:71

There are several demonstrations of this by artists on YouTube. Worth a visit.

I’m looking forward to experimenting and printing lots more 🙂

A Brief Ramble about the 2016 SCWBI Conference

I’ll keep it short and incoherent. For those of you who don’t know SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (British Isles). Last weekend they held their annual conference in Winchester (and have lots of other exciting and interesting activities the rest of the time).

This was the 2nd time I’ve been to the conference.  It’s so fabulous I just have to tell you about it.  It’s also very intense, and fabulous.  I’m still mentally digesting all the wonderful fabulousness and remembering odd bits of fabulous stuff at odd times, so this is a very garbled account of some of the bits I did.

3The Sketch Crawl.

Drawing out and about in Winchester with a bunch of other illustrators and non illustrators. I drew skaters, buildings and other things.  Then we met up to compare sketches and chat over a mulled cider.  Here’s one of my sketches in progress:

Roman glass in Winchester Museum

Being inclined towards art the best thing about the conference for me is the opportunity to 8listen and talk to proper illustrators with books out in the real world…

This year Leigh Hodgkinson (she’s @hoonbutton on Twitter) was one of the keynote speakers and I also attended a break out session with her.  It’s completely fabulously fabulous to find out what goes on in the head of another artist. I love all her making different things and ideas, and came away with ideas of my own about collaging things and ways of working to try.

Viviane Schwarz gave an amazing picture book workshop. Lots of fast drawing, cutting up, stealing other people’s drawings and making a group picture book.  I learned a whole new way of thinking about ideas and creating characters.  You can follow Viviane on Twitter.

2One of the other things I did was to dare to put my portfolio out on a table where people could see it. That won’t be scary next time. It was brilliantly educational just seeing my work alongside other peoples.

10And there was so, so much more. So many people, opportunites, interest, books, pictures, cake.

The weekend was a lovely bubble of talking about writing and illustration.  I learnt so much and met so many lovely people.  I made friends.

You can visit the website of the SCBWI here.

Thanks to Dom Conlon for letting me steal some photos.