Yesterday I had the absolute joy of experimenting and getting to grips with photoshop. I was motivated to reproduce a pop-up piece I did for The 52 Week Illustration Challenge last year. It came together surprisingly quickly.
It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I set myself some mad projects and seem to have miraculously come through it. I’ve been promising to decorate the middle child’s bedroom for quite a while as she chose the powdery purple colour on the walls when she was four. Never let a four year old choose their wall colour. So here it is, much more suited to a twelve year old.
And of course there’s been cake making. My first attempt at shaping a cake and covering it in fondant. And it tasted great too!
We’ve had tragedy as well with yet another fox attack. RIP Bonny, Cilla and Annie. Not sure if we can handle any more sadness, so we’re holding off on getting more chickens for a while. I really miss visiting them twice a day and hearing their happy clucking noises.
Week 3 ‘Retro’ The inspiration for this was 50s dress pattern covers. i’m not sure it’s very successful because it was hurried a bit.
This is today’s effort. Week 4 ‘Insect’. My youngest has been enjoying reading Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’. This is taken from the scene when Arrietty experiences the garden for the first time: “An ant came hurrying in a busy zig-zag. She danced in front of it to tease it and put her foot out. It stared at her, non-plussed…”
And here is one of my favourite pictures of my two older girls many years ago when the oldest was about to start school. The younger one would never admit it now but she still watches her older sister very carefully.
A few weeks ago I watched a video by an illustrator. It was a talk on her work practices. She bordered of being OCD but her approach was something I feel I’d like to adopt. It centred around systematically and routinely creating according to rules and commitment. Sounds really boring and not at all artistic but the results were often very beautiful and led on to unexpected discoveries.
It made me think of the last time I approached something in this way, unrelated to creating a book. Last year I took part in the Sketchbook Project. Despite having other work that needed to be done I somehow fitting in creating a pop-up book by hand. I had no plan for it before I started, just a set of rules. It was a diary, and by the time it was finished I was very happy with the results. It’s now archived in the New York library and I’m hoping that one of my kids will go and look it up sometime. On Tuesday this week I met an old friend who is now working in a local gallery and she said she’d printed off some examples from it for use in gallery education for kids. I don’t know how it worked but I was thrilled that it had been used in this context.
So it’s Sketchbook Project time again! The book has been sitting on my desk for quite a while so I’ve decided to impose some rules;
1/ Deadline in 8 weeks. 10th Sept.
2/ At least 2 pieces a week, sometimes 3.
3/ 18 double page spreads.
4/ Don’t overthink it. It’s a sketchbook.
5/ Use random selections of words and phrases from a favourite novel as inspiration and page titles.
6/ Each page must include collage.
7/Copy and post each page before constructing the book
Whenever you read or listen to advise from wise old artists and designers who have ‘made it’, top of the list is “Know what you’re worth”. That is; don’t sell yourself down, quote what you think your work is worth and never ever ever work for nothing. I totally agree with this to some point. When I did my second paid job as an illustrator I was sold the ‘big opportunity’ line and I did the job for peanuts. It was a physically painful experience. The client was rude and pushy and the project was ludicrous. So I learnt from that experience. However, lately I’ve found myself in the position of having a couple of long deadlines. It’s probably a good thing as I can really get into experimenting with different styles to get the next books just right. But, I’m finding myself watching the in-box a bit. I like having deadlines that are screaming at me to be finished.
A while ago a dear friend spoke to me about the possibility of doing some work for a book she’s writing. It’s a project I think is really worthwhile but the budget is uncertain. Now I have a bit of time to fiddle about with some ideas I am finding it really liberating. I’m enjoying the creative freedom but I’m approaching it in the same professional way I do with any project because it’s important to me to do a good job for my friend.
That said if anyone does write to me out of the blue stating they have a fantastic book that they’d like me to illustrate for nothing because the publishers are bound to accept it straight away! (It happened again this week) I’ll be hitting delete and taking the dogs for a walk on the beach.
Every Tuesday I have a box of market fresh veggies delivered to the door and a cheerful wave from Scott who delivers them. This week I had a message to say that the veggies wouldn’t be delivered as his wife had had a baby. So I thought that required a congratulations card.
It’s that scary time again. I’ve just finished one book and now have two more to complete in the next six weeks. I know there are real scary things happening in the world (like this and this) and I am being a bit of a woos. All work is good . I’ll be alright once I get started and stop being distracted by all the fabulous stuff the internet has to offer. But;
Will I keep my ink lines loose without messing up on the fingers?
Can I maintain a light sketchy feel with out it looking a shambles?
Will my colour choices be right, bright, beautiful?
Will I overshadow?
Can I get it all done on time?
Unbelievably this is all stopping me from starting. And when written down sounds outrageously self indulgent. Time to get on with some work!
But first; acrylic, ink or watercolour? I’ve decided that no one can really tell the difference when they used in a certain way. Here’s a little sketch I did using all three.
I only have 2 more pop-ups to go before the book is finished. The deadline for posting it is next week. I’m feeling rather pleased with myself. I’ve been getting things done medically that I’ve been putting off for ages. I had a filling and had my ear cleaned out so my hearing aid works – urgh, I shouldn’t mention ears here. I also finally decided to get an in-growing toe nail removed after months of putting up with it. I too along my dearest friend who is a theatre nurse. She held my hand and chose to wait until hours a later before she told me how horrified she was by the doctors practice. But I survived and I still have a toe so it’s ok.
The middle child had a sleepover onesie party. I survived that too.