New Beginnings!

It has been several months since my last post and so much has happened!
In this time I have well and truly re-established myself in Bristol. I have a new house and a new job with Sustrans! – a perfect follow up to my cycling trip!
Since my new job does not, (as yet…) have a particularly artistic selection of duties, I have been working non-stop to accommodate a couple of exciting new creative projects outside of it. So I shall give a bit of an over view of work from the past 7 months
New Illustration project!
I have teamed up with the wonderful writer Kate Green who has created an imaginative and adventurous tale of environmental heroism! I have been working on the development of characters to illustrate her fun, rhythmical prose. I can’t give away the storyline for obvious reasons! but here is a taster of some of the characters involved.

This is our sad but friendly Eucalyptus tree in the first stage of his evolution.He cheers up as the story progresses!


And the sleepy main character

What most people are blissfully unaware of as they look at a children’s picture book, is the massive number of draft layouts, rough sketches, dud character designs, and clumsy composition attempts which lie behind every finished piece. Maybe other illustrators would say different but in my case these are drawn and redrawn and drawn again in an endless and sometimes downright disheartening process towards reaching a composition that does justice to the narrative, the mood and the characters and is rendered to the best of my skill. I often find myself feeling that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and I just haven’t got the talent or vision to create the right picture but I keep plugging away and eventually I come to something that I can settle on.
There are lots of encouraging you tube videos and other blogs around that can help with technique and moral. One of the most encouraging ones I’ve seen was by Quentin Blake. I remember him saying something like: ‘Every time I finish a book I think that I will never have an idea for another one. But, I go to my desk, get out some paper and I try’
So simple! Just try. Even if you have no idea how to do it. Even if you think there’s no way you could come up with an idea. Just try. So that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s been working. I’m happier with some over others but in some I have even exceeded my expectations! I never knew I could draw boats, or the sea or walking trees or pillow houses but it turns out I can!

Boat copy

Full page layouts are the next stage, making the compositions and characters work with the text. Making sure that the flow of the story moves logically over the pages in the right rhythm.

There will be other questions too, which we can predict now but which we’ll know more about when we approach publishers such as, how many pages will we be forced to make the book in? Are we going to be forced to edit and cut the story to fit? But for now we can at least head towards making a dummy book at the very least it will showcase our work. Who knows where it will lead from there? Watch this space for more pictures and updates from this adventure in children’s book illustration! For now, on to the next adventure in art …