Studying for an MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art....a wonderful place with lovely people!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Horses in the snow

Silly stuff still hasn't gone yet!

Poor Tia was sadly put down...miss her big shadow at the window looking for carrots! Tutors have been encouraging me to use inks again so had a go...horses in the snow near my mum's garden.

Weather permitting, at Pam's suggestion off to a children's farm tomorrow!

Christmas Shopping

In persuit of line plus tone plus colour...(!!!), had another go at drawing in Stamford.

Forgot to post about the wonderful lecture we had by the Children's Laureate Anthony Browne on the last day of term...(how did I forget to do that!!!) Fantastic lecture..particularly fascinating when he talked about the symbolism in his illustrations.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Coloured sheep

After the crit' on Wednesday, I decided to add colour to the sheep so that the light and tone were stronger. Much prefer the picture now.

Spent my free time doing my essay this week but hoping to get more pictures done next week. The children's farm is not looking a good idea for is awful!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Henry Moore and the ballpoint pen

Had a few false starts this week as it has been so cold! After an hour standing and drawing in Stamford market, I never thought I would be warm again!Not a very good drawing to show for it either...and given up drawing in my just can't see enough!

Found a super book in the uni library which made me chuckle! Henry Moore's Sheep sketchbook ....a sketchbook full of sheep!Some have been drawn in biro...thought I'd have a go and finally came up with something worthy of adding to my blog. All the ewes are in the sheds sheltering from the snow so a unique opportunity to draw them up close.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

More snow!

Well, it's still here! Really enjoying painting with stops me concentrating on the detail and it is good to be working with colour after so many black and white drawings. As the snow has fallen so early this winter, the Autumn leaves are still on the trees so created this really unusual scene.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Life studies

First attempt at a life study in and quick to do!

Let it snow!

I hate the snow...anyone who knows me, knows I HATE SNOW! ...But it's lovely to look at so I'm looking on the bright side and doing some pictures!

Early in the morning there were some very dramatic skies. Painting white geese on white snow was a bit of a challenge!

A little bit of colour

Last week Jane brought in some of her sketchbooks and prints to show us. Her work is so colourful and very simple in style.

Went out in the car (it has been so cold!) and tried some watercolour landscapes.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Drawing at the Botanical Gardens

Went on a drawing day to the Botanic Gardens. Really enjoyed it as I was much more relaxed than when we first all went out drawing. It makes such a difference now we have all got to know one another and are not so scared or making a bad drawing.

As usual I embarked on an epic drawing which would have been great to finish but did not include any people. Fortunately Pam came to see my work early on and suggested I use the day to draw my fellow students so I made four quick drawings. I would like to go to again or to a similar place another day (perhaps in the summer!) and make a detailed study /watercolour when I have more time.

Would just like to give an honourable mention to the brave souls who sat outside for two hours a sketched! I took the easy option and drew in the glasshouses!

Had a very interesting presentation from Egmont Publishing who have a strong connection with the MA course. The recommendation to build a promotional website was a good one I think!

Working for a change

I have had a few small illustration jobs in's one I worked on this week. Have been finding the illustration jobs easier since I have been working on my drawing so that's good news!

The first two images were for children aged 5-6, the next two for ages 7-9 and the last ones 9-11. The customer only requested one change which is very unusual....I would have expected at least one change to each illustration, so maybe my drawing is helping there too!

Dark and Creepy

After an interesting but very confusing tutorial last week I thought I would stop trying to do everything that had been suggested and concentrate on one recommendation per week. This week I tried drawing tonally on a smaller scale. Beth and Chris said they were very creepy!

Monday, 8 November 2010

What a mess!

Had another good day in the studio this week. Always come away so tired though!
Think I may be going back to too much detail with my work.

Had done one drawing with inks and dip pen the day before. What a windy day! Crows and leaves flying everywhere...inks tipping over. Wasn't too sure I liked that way of drawing but the feedback was that generally everyone preferred the inky drawing to my painstaking pencil drawing of Beth. I persevered and did some more...still think its a very messy way to draw and hate having black fingernails!

Watched a very interesting film called Picture Book at the end of the day...featured our tutor Martin Salisbury and my hero Shirley Hughes!

Monday, 1 November 2010

My Beth playing the piano

A really busy week and 'artist's block' combined so that Saturday arrived and I hadn't made any additions to my sketchbook. Beth was home this weekend so decided to sketch her playing the piano. Sketch turned into marathon!

Had a fantastic day in the studio last Wednesday and had so many ideas from looking at everyone's work. Unfortunately circumstances meant I had to miss the lecture this week, but studio time with Jane and Alexis was fab as usual.

Although I have been trying to get away from detail I felt a real need to hone everything I have been learning about ie composition, tone, context. Alexis suggested I needed to now be more careful with my mark making when suggesting tone and this led me to make a more careful rendering of the scene.

I am waiting for some inks and a dip pen (suggested by Pam last week) to arrive ...think this will speed up my drawings but this weekend I had to make do with my soft pencils.

Really enjoyed it, but after eight hours drawing, felt exhausted!

Started to photograph my work for the Blog, although they are not as clear as scanning. I am worrying that the scanner is smudging my work. Well and truly fixed this with several layers of now my sketchbook smells lovely :)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tone and composition

I have been trying to pay more attention to darks and lights this week and also to composition.Went back into the shed and sat right at the back. Much happier with this picture than the one I did last week.

Uni tomorrow...have a 'crit' ; will be talking about my work and also seeing how everyone else is getting on with their projects.

Drawing in the dark again!

Had another go at sketching outside again...took a torch this time which I propped up in the hedge beside me (I am the big shadow on the left with my sketchbook!)...and was able to complete more of the drawing outside.


Came back from the pub (hadn't been drinking....) and there was a full moon. Very cold but still ...had the urge to draw outside! Sat and sketched, but couldn't see the marks I was making on the paper. Indicated where the lights and darks were and tried to remember the scene, then went indoors and finished it off!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Good news!

Had a wonderful presentation from our tutor Pam Smy today. She brought in some of her sketchbooks (in a backpack!) which put us all to shame and showed us all what hard work really is.

Pam has a really refreshing approach to her illustrations, scanning images straight out of her animated sketchbooks to print. Every time we see work from other illustrators it is both inspiring and demoralising!

Her latest book 'Lob' has just been published and is based on sketchbook observational and imaginitive work. Really enjoyed looking through the many sketchbooks and asking questions.

The good news is that she looked at my work and was really encouraging is good to know I am making progress. Helpful suggestions from both Pam and Jane so I have bought some darker drawing materials and will concentrate on making stronger tonal contrasts and better composition.

Fabian Negrin

Fabian Negrin gave a sumptuous presentation of his work yesterday. It was such a shame that there was not time to go on longer. Winner of the Bologna International Award for illustration, for an adaptation of Red Riding Hood, his work is innovative, colourful and unconventional. There were so many ideas for making illustrated books so exciting both from a design and an illustrative point of view, and he appears to break all the rules to amazing effect...I was amazed to see how he combines illustration styles in the same book ...and it works!

Being brave

Made some more sketches round the farm ...getting braver with my mark making and allowing myself to make mistakes. Think I need to get more darks into the images.

Catching up!

Have been feeling a bit poorly this week so it has been hard going with drawing but surprisingly have done quite a few bits of work so am falling behind with my blog! Won't scan everything in or people reading this will lose the will to live....just the interesting bits!

Spent a couple of evenings drawing Beth and Chris ...and Bronte. Really enjoyed it but took about three hours altogether.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Farmyard watercolour

Janet had asked me to paint a picture of her house and the farm a while ago.
Rainy and cold so had time to do it today. A bit whimsical as I popped all of her favourite creatures in the front garden, but she seemed pleased with it. Fun to do a watercolour even if it is a bit of a digression from my project.

Fellow students

We had a lot of free studio time in between lectures. I have had a re-think about going to life drawing classes and realised that this won't give me the practice I need.
Drawing the people in the market last week was much better practice...getting a likeness down on paper of a moving person is difficult but more interesting.
We all passed the day sketching each other...perfect!

David Jury

We also had a lecture today from David Jury. I know a little about typography and letterpress from my graphic design course, but it was interesting to hear that there is still a market for handpressed books.

John Lawrence

Yesterday we had a tutorial with a super chap called John Lawrence. He was so humble but so talented...
He works in a very traditional way, engraving on wood , and has illustrated for some famous names, including Philip Pullman for the Folio Society.
John's work is truly beautiful and he was very generous with his time explaining his craft. It was wonderful to see his sketchbooks. Everytime I look at illustrators' sketchbooks I get more and more inspired (although sometimes it can be quite demoralising !)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Drawing's hard work!

Two more of the farm...trying to let the drawings gradually walk round so that it becomes a real place in the images. Realised I have just been picking out the nice things to draw and leaving out everything else so nothing fitted together on the page. Also trying to work in a less constrained style.

On Sunday I stood in front of the farmhouse ....unseasonably scorching day! But still hard work standing for an hour and a half...makes me wonder how I'll get on when it is really cold!

Yesterday I walked further round to the yard and sketched everything I could see. Was very windy so I had to stick the pages down with masking tape! But sun was out and still warm Couldn't resist drawing the washing.........

Found myself getting bogged down in the detail again...must watch out for that creeping back in!

Studio time tomorrow, so hopefully will get back with lots more ideas and enthusiasm!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

What is Hardwick Farm?

Today I decided that I have been doing it all wrong. I felt quite emotional when I got home yesterday but am so grateful to Pam for taking the time to help me understand what is required. We talked about Hardwick Farm. She pointed out that in the drawings I had made so far she had no sense of where or what Hardwick Farm was. She explained that each image I had created was like a finished piece without context. I have decide to start a new larger sketchbook and work in a more relaxed style, not aiming to produce finished pieces, but a coherent body of work which really describes the subject. I sat and sketched at the bottom of the driveway looking up towards the farm:

The penny drops!

Had a fantastic but exhausting day yesterday. Went to the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge for a drawing day with two of our tutors, Pam Smy and Jane Human. It was a wonderful place to go and draw...but we all were a bit overwhelmed! Did one quick sketch in pen....was concentrating so hard I had drawn half of Emma before I recognised her!
Edding fine liner
Jane and Pam were so helpful. It is the first time that someone has actually taken a pencil and shown me how to draw! Something I have wanted whenever I have been studying and which until now people have always been reluctant to do. Pam took a soft pencil and told me to ignore lines and lay down tones. Watching her draw, the penny dropped and I couldn't wait to try.

Found a spot at the top of a staircase and had a go. Pam had said that the aim is to convey a sense of time and place and to 'contextualise'. Also try to give a sense of scale. This is what I came up with :
Although exhausted, the sun had started to come out so we all marched down to the market and sat and sketched there. I tried the same method, creating the setting and then adding the figures as they came and went. Such an exciting and liberating way to draw!