Monday, December 31, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Process

I thought I should post this because sometimes
a) people ask me about my process and how I make my pictures look effortless
b) students tell me they have drawn something "loads of times" to get it right and that turns out to be about four times
c) people get scandalised because I "cut up my artwork for no reason" and ask me why I don't work on nice clean sheets of paper that look great framed up.

So here's how it goes.


If I find a pose hard to get right, I paint about three sheets of it. If it's easy, I'll just paint two sheets.
Sometimes I feel really sure of what I'm doing, then I'll just paint one sheet.

Next, I cut out the versions that strike me as good in some way...


...and put the rest straight in the recycling.
Editing improves most things.

I sort through the "good" paintings and pick the one that works best in context. Sometimes there isn't one that's good enough, then I make a note, get on with something else, and redo the whole thing the next day.
In this case I picked the dog at the bottom. The rest goes in a box. Sometimes I pick particularly nice characters from the box and collage them into original art for sale, but really only the best. The rest I might make into gift tags or some such.

This really works for me. I could pretend that I just meditate and then do it beautifully right the first time, but I don't think that's helpful to other people trying to make art. Sometimes it's just a case of trial and error.

Flexible Inking Nibs

I just replied to a request from an illustration student who wanted recommendations for drawing nibs that produce a flexible line.
I thought maybe someone else would be interested, so here's my reply:

Deleter G nib: A very sturdy, easy to clean nib from Japan, flexible
but stiff, doesn't scratch at all. Very easy to use and control, makes
an assured line, doesn't leak. It's pretty much perfect if you want to
do a lot of neat, lively linework. It doesn't have much personality of
its own. You can buy it in a set with two other useful Manga drawing
nibs. Dinkybox sells them in the UK. 
My Favourite Nib For Getting The Job Done. 
Mapping nib: there are a number of these, they are all similar and
I've been using different brands interchangeably. (If you buy a set of
Deleter nibs, there will be a Japanese version included called
'Maru'.) They are wonderfully scratchy and splattery if you put
pressure on them. You can do fast, swirly, jittery, experimental
drawings with these. Buy a whole bunch because if you use them with
pressure and make them splatter they stop working quite quickly. They
are very cheap, and fun, and you can just walk into any art shop and
pick up a bunch.
They need a special pen holder because they are smaller than standard.

Gillott nibs are easy to get in the UK, so here's a list:

Gillott 303: A soft, vey flexible nib, sturdy enough, but it feels
fragile. The line varies from hair-thin to almost brushlike. It picks
up every jitter of your hand. It's full of character. I think once you
work it out it could be easy to use and really expressive. Lovely for fiddly hatching, too.

Gillott 404 has a lot of authority, somehow. It's fairly stiff and
good for decisive lines rather than swirls, and makes you feel like an
important artist Making A Statement In A Few Lines.

Gillott 1950: a tiny crow quill that's nice for hatching and doodling
and noodling about.

Other brands and stuff:

Hunter 100 nib: I've never used one but I want one. People really love
it, apparently it's sensitive and has huge variation in line.

If you want to try doing linework in brush, get a kolinsky sable round
watercolour brush, size 2, 3 or 4. They seem expensive but it's worth
it. Invest in one and keep it really clean. I was given one as a child
and it changed my life. Really good brushes are awesome.

I love Chinese brushes, especially wolf hair ones. They are really
cheap. I have a separate brush for colouring in each of my characters
because they are all so different. That's what I use for gestural work
- a brush pen doesn't ink as expressively and messily as a real brush.

You can make your own brushes if you really get into it, and even use
things like q-tips or broccoli for effect. I tend to put a lot of
fingerprints and smudges on my work.

A great tool to carry with you for sketching is a Noodler's Ahab
Fountain Pen. It's no good for scratchy drawings but it has a
beautiful varied line, and you can fill it with Noodler's Black Eel
Ink which dries waterproof, if you want to do watercolour washes over
it.
I generally use Winsor and Newton black ink, and for colour washes Dr Ph Martin's radiant concentrated water color.

Friday, December 28, 2012

London Wildlife

Here's a nice thing to watch: a BBC programme on London Wildlife. It has footage of extremely unexpected gutter-dwelling scorpions, hedgehogs hooked on coffee, falcons hunting around very familiar buildings, some dancing grebes, ducklings launching themselves off a high balcony, a Pelican swallowing a pigeon whole, and foxes hunting seagulls on a rubbish tip. And sparrows. I like sparrows.

Warming Up

It's high time to paint the new cat book. I decided to paint all the characters first this time because they will have to be sent off to be drum-scanned. The rest of the book I can scan myself on my flatbed scanner at home, but the characters are painted on rough watercolour paper, and that doesn't scan right unless done on industrial grade equipment.


This is a photo of my first notes of the rules for painting the new character - a rather lively violet puppy. It is harder to paint than the cats because its body is more jointed, and it needs to be very cute, so its head is bigger and rounder than I'd normally paint it. More than half the time it goes very wrong. So I'll fill a few more sheets with dog exercises before I start on the actual artwork, otherwise I'll just use up all the good watercolour paper on lumpy puppies.
Puppy painting ongoing
The puppy is painted with two different brushes and my fingers, which is another complication. All the cat characters have their own brush and that's that, but brushwork looks too sophisticated for the puppy. It needs to be a bit smudgy and clumsy. So my fingers are going to be dyed violet for the next few weeks.


I'll go off to Australia for a month in late February, and I need to finish this book before that.
It should work out... I just need to get back into painting. Today I made some warm-up paintings of dinosaurish beasts. As you can see, I'm a bit stuck on boring poses and all the parts don't quite hang together yet. That'll settle within a few days, as usual.

I do actually have an idea for a book about dinosaurs, by the way, but it's unlikely to happen any time soon, I have other plans for 2013.

dino

Sunday, December 23, 2012

HAVE AN EXCELLENT TIME!!!!!!!

YAY!
Keep scrolling down for a treat ------

And here's something for you to watch: "Flyboy and The Haunted Snowman", a beautiful little musical puppet show by Matthew Robins.
PART ONE:
... now have a Christmas biscuit and a cup of tea, then watch PART TWO:




Friday, December 21, 2012

Plans for 2013

Here's a list of new things I have planned for 2013.

A SHARED STUDIO
I've been working at Plymouth Uni as an associate lecturer for a while, and I noticed how much I enjoy having a workplace to go to. I also like having colleagues, sharing cups of tea over work, and seeing a variety of work going on.
So this coming year I will get my dream studio - I started by renting a table in a lovely shared studio in central London, let's see how that goes. It certainly seems wonderful, with really nice people, a courtyard, paint stains, an old-fashioned image enlarger... I can't wait to start work there.

A NOVEL
I finished writing a novel some time ago, and I am working on another.
It's always been my dream to be a novelist, and this year I will work towards getting one published.

A CRAFT BOOK
There's one coming out soon. I am really pleased with it.

A GRAPHIC NOVEL
This is very officially going to happen very soon indeed: the graphic novel I completed some time ago is about to be published. I put a lot into this one, work, care, dreams, memories and ideas... Sometimes I have a chat with some of the characters when I wake up in the morning, before I open my eyes.

MORE PICTURE BOOKS
Of course. I'm just putting this here so you don't worry. There's one coming out soon that Alexis Deacon wrote, titled "Cheese Belongs To You".

It'll be an exciting year.


Culture Street Review

Here's a great video review of "There are No Cats in This Book" by a bunch of kids, filmed by Culture Street.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Square lizard

Square Lizard is an unexpected guest in an upcoming book. He is perfectly happy where he is, which is wherever you least expect him, as long as it's a cuboid space.
He's very happy to be discovered, and happy to go hide again. He'd eat you but he's worried about his figure, so no need to worry, really.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Today Things

Today's treat: Moomin coasters. Just got them.

 Today's challenge: how to make three cats pop out of a paper piano. (I finally solved it, this picture is halfway through the process).


Friday, November 30, 2012

Recessky TLR Contacts

I finally got around to getting the film from my Recessky TLR developed, the little toy camera I built from a kit of many parts some time ago.
Here's the first contact scan... they are so lovely!
I really didn't expect anything from this (you can tell from the way I filled the film up with random snaps in the park) but now I actually prefer the pictures to the ones my old Diana takes. 


I'm hoping to illustrate my next picture book using toy camera photographs, and now I'm undecided - do I want to use the larger pictures the Diana takes, or the lower-ress fuzzier but beautiful ones from the Recessky?


It's a nice problem to have.
I love my cameras...
Here's my friend Matthew with his own camera - we built one each.





DAMN that scratch down the middle - construction flaw, if you grip the camera too tightly while winding the film, as you do every time, this happens. Grumble.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Very Early Work Indeed

I sorted through a lot of old stuff at my parents' house and we found all my earliest works.

Here is a jigsaw puzzle I designed, my dad cut it out of wood.


There are a LOT of stories...

I was very serious about my own stories. At first I dictated them. There is a whole folder full of those, together with some comic strips I drew later, and an index that I wrote up myself at some point.


But the most exciting thing is my first novel which I wrote in a huge book that my parents bought me in Paris. I was determined to make it epic, and wisely chose a protagonist that was easy to draw: a hoop.

Well, a mouse an a hoop. It's a love story.



When I did the drawings, I could not write yet, so I always left the left hand side blank to fill in later when I would have learned to write.
And I did!



I seem to have gone back over it several times over the years.


It's a very thick book, hundreds of pages, years of work in there. it's just a mouse and a hoop but it goes on FOREVER. See how thick that book is? It's almost full. I'll read it all tonight. Maybe I'll even add a chapter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vase

Wow, I'd forgotten how hard it is to work out these silly cat books... deciding on how all the objects are rendered and building them out of paper and making them look messy while still fitting them EXACTLY on the flaps... My easiest task today was drawing this vase. My hardest one is ongoing: building a crude paper piano that opens up. And it all has to look good!

Talking about the vase: I decided that this book will have more detailed drawings, like that vase. A bit like the fish in the first book. I think it might help contrast the animal characters and the inanimate objects. It also helps me, because the area I live in doesn't seem to have as many nice bits of paper to pick up in the street as the last one, and I threw out most of my paper scraps last time I moved house. So I am doing a little bit more drawing and less collaging. Thus, vase.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moonpie, unhappy

I just painted a batch of Moonpies for a page of the new cat book, and just for a laugh put them all into  one animated gif.

As you can see, every time I paint a character, I paint them several times and pick the most suitable one, but in theory there's a little animation of discaredy-cats hidden in every scene.




That sofa, by the way, has by now been chewed, scratched, stained and patched up with Japanese sticky-tape. I'm planning to spend that much time building and distressing every bit of furniture in this book, and there's a lot of furniture.

This is where I realise that I ought to have scanned all the discarded attempts for the other two books instead of selling them off, then I could have handed them over to my publisher to make a cat app... ah well.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spare Time

This is me, having purchased "Waking Mars", an Xbox360 controller, and some drivers that make it work with my macbook. Yeah, I was planning to work on my novel in the B&B, but it turns out teaching is tiring. No idea how proper full-time teachers do this, as opposed to "associate lecturers". I just have nothing left after a day of re-calibrating my brain every twenty minutes to talk to a new student all day.
Waking Mars is lovely. You are a scientist exploring mars, planting and watering and herding whatever life-forms you encounter, tweaking eco systems and crawling through beautiful retro-rendered caves. My favourite bits look like they were painted in gouache and collaged.


Then I just watched "Skeletons", somehow I'd managed to not hear anything about it, so it was a complete surprise.


So, yeah, no, no writing done. I tried, and I fell asleep in the armchair by the fake fire.
I don't mind though. Sometimes one just needs a break.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nice Hat.

Honestly, who cares if people make sarcastic comments about my hat.
My mother knitted that hat, and it's ace, so I'm damn well wearing it.
Like he does.
Yeah, I care, actually. I care about those few people who every now and then speak up and say:
NIIIIICE HAAAAAT.
VERY ATTRACTIVE SHADE OF LIPSTICK.... YOU KNOW MEN PREFER NATURAL BEAUTY, RIGHT?
YOU HAVE SOMETHING ON YOUR... OH NO THAT'S MEANT TO BE THERE, MY MISTAKE.
ARE YOU SURE YOU SHOULD BE WEARING THIS?
EXCUSE ME, BUT I AM SOMETHING OF A CONNAISSEUR OF WOMEN AND LET ME TELL YOU: YOU SHOULD NOT BE WEARING THIS.
Not just to me, it's the kind of thing you overhear every day, because IT'S ALL IN CAPS. And I do remember how grating and upsetting it can be at times.

Everyone has opinions about other people's dress sense. Most of us privately tease our friends about this stuff, or sometimes check that they are sending the right signals. Parents feel a need to make sure their offspring come across well, it's part of the whole parent thing.
But only a few of us feel they have to publicly critique strangers.

Some people understand the concept of wearing clothes that you like, while others think clothes are what you wear to BE liked - or disliked, respected, feared - by others, and that's the exclusive reason to wear clothes (besides decency and weather and maybe useful pockets).
The second lot of people cannot fathom that someone might not have calibrated their outfit to appeal to a particular group of people, and so if they find that they do not like said outfit they believe that this can only mean that it's meant to offend and outrage them.
To those people, clothing is nothing but a means of communication, always on, aimed at them personally.
An unusual outfit is confusing. I'm not talking offensive slogans or public nudity, but something on the oddness scale of unexpected knitwear. It gets their attention, therefore that was the intention. It is a signal to THEM, as surely as it would be if someone had shouted LOOK AT ME! DO YOU LIKE ME? DO YOU?
Therefore they must reply!
They must reply aggressively, to match the aggression of this outfit that courts their disapproval.
They must reply loudly, because they are speaking for everyone around who has to look at this loud outfit.

What do they say, then, loudly, aggressively and publicly?
I find it hard to decode their message, which is unsurprising since we disagree so profoundly about communication. It seems to be something like: "Hey complete stranger, you have succeeded in repelling me! This is a bad loss! I would help you out with constructive criticism about every aspect of your life ALL THE TIME!"
I don't aim to repel those people, but honestly, I don't mind it. It's a pleasant side effect of wearing exactly what I like.
There is a school of thought saying it's a great idea when looking for love to pay special attention to attractive strangers who tell you what to wear because it's a sign that they care.
Well.
Try putting a bit of fluff on your shoulder and see who picks it off discreetly = someone is either paying attention to you, or really hates fluff on shoulders.
Try wearing something you really like and see who tells you loudly at a party that you look bad in that = HOORAY you eliminated one from the list right there. Unless you love fighting, or get off on being told what to wear (it's an option).

Anyway.
There aren't many people like that left in my life, and I don't feel the lack of them. I've managed to build  a life that's happy without trying hard for social status. My status comes from things I make, not interaction with other people. No one is going to not buy my books because they hate my shoes. No one is going to decide against commissioning me to sit in my own home and draw stuff just because they hate my hat. I realise this is a fortunate position. I aimed for it, and getting to be myself is an important part of my plans and ambitions.

But sometimes I come across those unwanted commenters outside my happy filter bubble, and then I feel sorry for them.
Surely statistically there must be at least one major thing in their life that they feel really tortured about liking even though it's deviant from their perceived norm. Or maybe their sense of satisfaction in life comes from the approval of others to the extent that they wouldn't even try anything that's not been pre-approved. Both seems sad.
I also feel sad for those who would like to wear what the heck they like but their circumstances forbid it. Sometimes I guess they do the shouting at funny hats of strangers.

I think we'd all be happier if everyone would at least understand that it's not all about attention of others, no matter how striking someone looks.
Yeah, of course some people court attention. But there is more to this. - Every time I see someone with green hair or a beautiful tattoo or even just a bright red coat on a grey day I am that little bit happier, because I believe that most of us don't look different from the norm to be in some club of fellow deviants, or to annoy anyone. We look the way we do because we like to remind ourselves what makes us happy in the easiest way we can: by carrying it with us wherever we go.

If you are someone who hasn't considered this before, give it a think.

Maybe this baggy jumper isn't to hide anything from you, it's just really comfortable? Maybe it's so big because it's borrowed from someone?
Maybe the blue hair simply means they really like blue, they feel it suits them, and they don't work a job that disallows blue hair so they are doing this while they can?
Maybe those tight trousers are great to run and climb and dance in, not to show off?
Maybe that tattoo is to commemorate something important and not intended as a sexy sex signal at all?

Or maybe that particular baggy jumper is indeed a portable hideout, or it signals that someone has a boyfriend (or at least wants people to think so), and maybe that particular bunch of blue hair is to annoy people exactly like you, and those tight trousers are to attract a mate, and the tattoo makes that person feel very sexy. It's a tattoo of a stick insect and a hammer, and carefully designed to be irresistibly erotic to a very small number of specially initiated people. Yeah. Who knows? You don't, that's who. They do. And although it may well be an attempt to communicate something, it's never a request for a critique by strangers.

And even if you are 100% right and someone is actually trying to annoy the heck out of you with the way they choose to look: why take the bait? If someone goes and installs antlers or shaves off half their beard diagonally with the exclusive and pre-meditated intention to make you angry - think how annoyed they'll be if you just ignore it!
Come on, do it. Ignore them. Chances you'll be happy imagining that they are unhappy, and then we can all be happy in the world OUTSIDE your head (except those fools actually just trying to provoke others, they'll be frustrated, haha). - Yeah, it's confusing. Makes you want to shout at silly hats. Well, take a breath, count to ten, the silly hat may pass, carried away on the warm and happy head of a total stranger.

And lastly, consider this:
Maybe, just maybe, if you suddenly were a respected and loved global celebrity millionaire with a bunch of stylists to advise you, and you would absolutely know they are right - maybe you would still want to keep that favourite pair of trousers, because they are comfortable, and dang it when you look at yourself in the mirror you like the way you look, and then someone would say "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL US BY WEARING THOSE SILLY OLD TROUSERS" and you'd say "Nothing, they are just my trousers"...

Is that so unlikely?

Plymouth Myst - report

More locations discovered/photographed:



ARMADA DIAL
A fountain that is also a sundial. There are pennies in it, but those may not be retrieved because they are local tokens of faith. HANDS OFF.
It is surrounded by numbered markers.




THE FERRIS WHEEL
inactive


TERRACES
this is probably more than one location. Very intriguing. Found a rubber band.



DOME
boarded up


---

INVENTORY:
Funds: zero
RUBBER BAND
SKETCHPAD
PEN

Plymouth Myst - the rules

THE GAME
Every now and then someone is quietly walking around real-life Plymouth, exploring it as a game environment, mostly avoiding real-life people. They are taking commands given by other players over the internet and report back what happens. The game is ongoing, every new session picks up where the last one ended.

THE PLAYERS
Anyone can play PlymouthMyst.
You can send commands to the avatar on Twitter with the hashtag #PlymouthMyst.
If they are executed, you will receive a short report. This may happen within moments, within an unspecified length of time or never at all.

THE GAME AREA
The game are is Plymouth, UK, at the moment centered around the Hoe.
The avatar expand the game area, look for public areas with a sense of mystery.
Only the avatar can expand the area, people can't send the avatar to places they know of in the real world if they haven't been discovered in the game.

THE AVATAR
The avatar must physically be in the game area.
There can only be one avatar at any time (one team can stand in for that avatar). They must announce the beginning and end of their session. If they don't end the session, it closes automatically after 12 hours of inactivity.
The avatar can refuse commands and also do their own thing (report back all interesting developments).
The avatar is fully responsible for their actions while playing - refuse things you don't want to do.
The avatar must report back about actions taken to the person who sent the command (also try to cc whoever was the avatar when the command was sent if they didn't execute it at the time).

INVENTORY
Any found object can be added to the inventory.
Before the beginning of your session as an avatar you may want to find objects that duplicate or approximate the inventory physically.
You can't use objects to advance the game if they aren't in the inventory.
At times of great need, the avatar may pick up objects "symbolically" (just touch them and leave them there) but only if it is ok to touch that object in real life, and if it could be moved.
Your cash card is not in the inventory. Funds are logged online.

BE RESPECTFUL.
This game is played in the real world, and there are real people around who are not playing. You cannot involve them by surprise and in confusing ways, games can only be played by people who agreed to play them. Consider what will upset people, even slightly, and err on the side of doubt.
NEVER act disrespectfully towards places of cultural importance - you can't walk into a church and "find" a candle. Things like love-locks, lost pet posters and ornamental flowers are put there by people who want them to remain in place, so you may only pick them up symbolically. Even that can get hairy, if people see touch you a thing for no apparent reason they might assume you're trying to nab it and won't believe explanations. Avoid confrontation.
Consider wearing a Hi-Vis tabard, that will make strangers feel you have some reason to poke around seemingly at random and pick up bits of rubbish.
There are also many war memorials around, they may be treated as intriguing architecture but not re-invented to be alien artifacts, or climbed around on. Respect is more important that gameplay at all times.

LOGGING PROGRESS
The avatar may put reports and photographs online and link to them.
The avatar must at the end of the session log the inventory somewhere and link to them so the next avatar can find the information easily.

THE OBJECT OF THE GAME
The object of the game has not yet been discovered.

Disclaimer: This game is non-commercial and in no way affiliated with the real Myst. It just looks similar. Anyone who plays it is responsible for their actions. Real-life Plymouth is a great place and deserves to be treated with respect.

---to be updated as needed---

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Plymouth Myst

Today I went for a walk by the seaside. It was cold and bright.

I couldn't help but notice that the place looked like MYST, so I made it a game, decided to be an avatar for whoever would give me instructions and wandered about trying to find puzzles to solve.

So far, nothing has happened at all, but I found a number of promising locations.

I'll go back tomorrow with enough coins to climb the LIGHTHOUSE, and maybe I will find out how to turn on the FERRIS WHEEL by the STONE LIONS...

If anyone feels like sending commands, the hash tag is #PlymouthMyst


Rules:

  • I can start a new session any time I enter the game area (Plymouth). The game may go on over days, months, who knows. Whenever I start it up I will check the list of commands I have accumulated, execute them and report back online.
  • I will make up my own commands as I go along, but prioritise other people's.
  • I can only be commanded to interact with locations I have discovered already while playing PlymouthMyst, so commands assuming prior knowledge of Plymouth or giving information are invalid.
  • I can only communicate in writing (or drawing) with other people in the game area. I will carry a writing pad and a pencil.
  • Any funds/objects needed in the game must be discovered in the game.
  • I can refuse commands for any reason.
The object of the game has not been discovered yet.
I will continue to report my progress.



DISCOVERIES SO FAR:

HARBOUR
with creature

LIDO
inactive

Marker (there are many)

CITADEL HILL LABORATORY
I don't know what happens here.

STONE LIONS
A war memorial.
Other locations I didn't photograph are THE DOME (it is boarded up and has a golden fish on the top), THE FERRIS WHEEL and THE AQUARIUM. There are a whole load of stairs, terraces, green hills and even a dark mysterious island out in the bay.

---

UPDATE:
I have collected some commands for tomorrow: I shall try to locate the Lighthouse Keeper, ask for a map, and raise funds to pay entry to climb the LIGHTHOUSE by selling drawings at the HARBOUR.
Also I shall attempt to eat the DOME.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Digital Dogs

I am working on the third cat book.
So far, there are three main innovations of the series:
1) there's a dog.
2) there are even more flaps. I'm not sure that's an innovation, actually. But for the other books I tried to minimize the flap count to keep the production costs down, this time I just went for it and lo, it seems the finances were there for a metric ton of novelty flaps.
3) I'm allowing myself to use the computer this time.
I expect people are mainly excited about the dog. It's a nice dog, as dogs go.
It's not a secret that I don't like dogs. They stink of old meat, and they pump all the air in any given room through their bodies very fast to spread that smell. Their hair makes me sneeze (I'm allergic). I've been repeatedly bitten by small dogs and knocked down by large dogs - their owners found it hilarious and told me off for getting attacked. And the drool... viscous stuff that smells of dead meat and glues dog hair to everything. Ugh.
I do not enjoy meeting dogs.
That said, whenever I meet one that doesn't stink, bark, attack, glue body fluids to me or make me sneeze, I am completely delighted and I declare it my best friend forever on the spot.

This book is pretty much about my ambivalent attitude towards dogs. I don't think it could have been written by a dog-lover. I'm sure that people will read it and assume that I love dogs and own a bunch, same way that they assume I have cats and children (absolutely not) and horses (what??)...
Anyway. As you can see, the dog in this book is kind of adorable. I think you'll like it.

The computer thing is, to me, the most important innovation. I have been using photoshop for all my other art, it's only those cat books that I have been keeping completely "traditional". But this time there is a lot more scenery involved, mostly furniture, and I really want it to look coherent. So I'm texturing, shading and colour-correcting digitally this time.
That sofa up there is collaged from paper and then colour-corrected to a shade that allows the purple dog to pop - it's just an experiment to see what the best combination of traditional and digital media will be.
The "fabric" pattern is one I drew myself, inspired by Victorian wallpaper, the bottom part is the same as for my fox wallpaper, but I added a load of broccoli. It amused me to use broccoli instead of flowers.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Haunted Playhouse

I'm drinking Earl Grey tea and looking at the new pretty flickering electric candles on the windwosill. Last night, they represented the souls of lost children in a Halloween game I helped to set up and run at a warehouse near Tower Bridge. The warehouse is the same that they film "Dragon's Den" in, it's a wonderful venue, scuffed wooden floors and beams and old brick walls. I spent Thursday building a playhouse that filled a whole floor, using a huge roll of cardboard, assorted sheets and ropes and things from my own collection of toys and illustrations. I really got into it, picked a soundtrack and made a ghost costume from a sheet and a white mask which succeeded in frightening people a lot from what I could hear.
Friday night I dressed up in a crocheted bearskin, and spent all night telling a never-ending crowd of visitors the tragic story of these lost children, and how they could rescue them from the haunted maze. I had a magic frying pan that I banged to give signals, and my main discovery that evening was that if you dress up in a bearskin and bang a pan with a wooden spoon it really helps with getting people's attention.
"These children built their playhouse in a very very very unfortunate place... on an Indian burial ground or something - I'm actually not sure what's downstairs but you're probably safer up here. Well I say safe, that's not true, I mean it's teeming with ghosts. Teeming. - Excuse me" (bangs pan) "You will learn to love this sound. It's the only thing keeping us safe. I try not to use the magic pan too much because to be honest it's pretty weird that it works in the first place, I don't want to break it. Anyway, you are the only ones who can save these children. Or what's left of them. If you find one, pick them up gently... carry them one at the time back to me. ONE AT A TIME! Do NOT put children in your pockets! IT IS WRONG!" (bangs pan again) (screams from the haunted playhouse) "So. Did I tell you what happens when a ghost touches you?"
... and so on. It was quite a strange thing to do, I am not sure where I got that impromptu persona from, and I don't think I would have taken that part of the show on if I hadn't still been in performance mode from doing a two hour workshop for Nintendo.
Here are some of the results from that workshop by the way:
I think they are the print-outs that people didn't pick up at the end of the day, I think they are brilliant but there were some seriously wonderful ones that I didn't get pictures of, I just snapped the leftovers when people had mostly left already. Nintendo Art Academy is actually a lovely bit of software, if you have a DS I'd recommend getting it to turn your console into a digital sketchbook.
Anyway, I'd already been doing a good lot of talking and presenting and explaining, so dressing up as a strange person and banging a drum while making up ghost stories wasn't too hard. Maybe someone will send me a photo, all I have is a picture of myself sitting around with a cold glass of red wine, here:
Anyway, today I have no voice, my legs hurt, and I don't want to communicate with anyone for as long as possible. I watched "Moonrise Kingdom" and read some ghost stories. Tomorrow it's back to work, I have a picture book to make...
But tonight I'll just sit on this sofa by the little flickering fake candles.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dandy Fox

I'm working on a wallpaper design... this is a small part of it. I actually designed and drew all that Victorian-style swirliness. It's really not my kind of thing, but I got into it eventually. As a private joke for myself I made it a stone arc growing out of a plant, hoping it would look a bit absurd and cobbled together.
It's a good exercise to copy a style now and then.
I think this particular swirliness will be useful for parts of my next book about The Cats, which has many more items of furniture in than any other book I've done. I might put in a huge sofa with victorian patterning.
Anyway, this pattern has a fox in it. The request was to make it look a bit like fantastic Mr. Fox, I hope the client will like what I've done with the brief.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NINTENDO DRAWING EVENT

Next Friday at Cass Art Islington, come along and draw cats on the lastest Nintendo DS!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I FINISHED MY ACCOUNTS!

They can go to the accountant now in this fat envelope to make sense of whatever I did there.

Notebook Doodles

Mostly from attending Playful Conference while being way too tired.