10 May 2012

St Brides Talks

I will be taking part in a day of talks at St Brides Library, near St Pauls in London. The conference is called Illustration: Making Pictures. I have decided to travel there and back on the day, as I have lots of work on. So I will have 8 delicious hours of reading and knitting! I am especially looking forward to hearing John Lawrence talk. I'll be talking about the importance of play, particularly drawing from life, in my work.

It promises to be a fun day, you can get tickets here.

This is a drawing from a sketchbook that inspired me to write The Big Adventure of the Smalls.

‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ Scott Adams
Other speakers include Ben Flynn, John Lawrence, Linzie Hunter, Kai and Sunny, Nic Rawling, Peter Schrank and more to be announced shortly.
Conference illustrator: Mike Nicholson
Demonstrators: Paul Antonio, Helen Ingham, Richard Lawrence, Peter Smith

8 May 2012

Artwork Swap

When I first moved to Berwick I joined a knitting group because I thought it might be good way to meet people. And it was, one of the people I met was Sarah Chappell, she's a photographer. She was telling the folks at the knitting group that she'd been taking some photos of an author that day. My ears pricked up because, over the years, my publishers had been asking me for photos of myself to use in articles or on websites etc, and I always gave them pretty poor quality snaps taken in our back garden. I was always reticent to have some proper pictures taken because I'm not that comfortable in front of a camera, and didn't want to pose in a studio. Anyway, I liked Sarah, and decided I'd ask her to take some photos. She did, and they were fab, not too posed, not studio shots, just what I needed. You can see one on my website.

This is a very long way round of telling you what we did next. She asked if I'd like to do an artwork swap, where she would take pics of my 3yr old, and in return, I would draw her littl'un. It sounded like fun, and this was the outcome. I am so happy with my photos, Sarah has really captured her bright blue eyes. I chose this one along with 5 or 6 others.


The drawings I did of Sarah's little girl (these are very similar to the actual ones I gave Sarah, I forgot to take copies) have actually inspired me to write a book. She has a very self contained, happy manner, and a very funny wobbly toddler walk. I haven't started yet, the ideas are developing in my mind at the moment, when the moment is right, I'll put them on paper. Watch this space!


This is a picture of Sarah's little girl doing something I didn't actually see her do, but have seen lots of toddlers do: fighting with all their might over a favourite toy.

Cute faces, dirty fighters!




I was so pleased to be asked by the Library Mice blog to pick my Fabulous Five.
They said I could choose my Fab 5 from any subject I wanted: 5 Fab books from my childhood, 5 Fab books about dogs... whatever 5 I fancied talking about.
I decided to gather together some of my favourite picture books and go from there. I quickly realised that nearly all of my favourite books are mad, bad or sad, hence my title, 'Fab 5 Mad, Bad and Sad Books that Make my Heart Sing'. (Also, they are nearly all author illustrated too, that is a subject in it's own right, I might talk about that another time on my blog.) Anyway, this is what I decided to talk about:

We all want to protect our children from difficult things, so maybe we shouldn't read mad, bad or sad books to our children. But even little children have difficult feelings, perhaps more so than us, because they don't have the mechanisms to calm themselves yet. I read all of these books with my three year old, and they lead to some fantastic philosophical conversations. There is something very exciting and rewarding for a child about exploring difficult and scary feelings in the safety of a picture book.
You can read the full article here.




7 May 2012

Shortlisted for the Dundee Picture Book Award

The Night Iceberg has been shortlisted for the Dundee Picture Book Awards 2012. Fleabag won a few years ago, and the award holds some special memories for me.
Frieda was only a few months old, so I took her with me. We flew from London and stayed in a hotel in Dundee, which felt like a big adventure with such a little baby. Frieda cried behind the scenes, and had to came on stage with me, which was lovely, she got a big 'ah' from the audience. Then, to top it off, I won! I'm going alone this time, but am very excited. Straight after the ceremony I am flying down to the Hay-on-Wye festival, so it will be a lot of travelling but I don't mind because  I'll be taking my knitting. It's very rare that I have a lot of time to knit, so I relish these long journeys to book festivals.