Monday, 29 September 2014

September Highlights

Well where do I begin!! What a fun month September has been, a tad chaotic hence no blog entries, but muchos funos!! So many lovely things have happened so I thought I would dedicate this blog to my September highlights. It’s been a whirlwind of celebrations, catching up with family, meeting new friends and off course lots of painting! So where to begin….
Completion of Animal Stories For The Young Bk 3

I guess it would have to be the completion of Animal Stories for the Young Volume 3…. Woohoo!! After three and a half months or painting pretty much every day the book was completed. This time around I submitted all the illustrations digitally, a different approach to what I have done before. Usually I let the publishers scan everything their end but this time I wanted to edit the images myself. I was a little wary about sending the memory stick off, waiting for the email saying “it’s no good, you need to redo it all”. Thankfully a few days later I had an email saying that they were delighted with the illustrations and that it should be published next month! Happy days.
The plan was to take a break from the pencils and brushes but it doesn’t seem to have happened, I have since worked on landrovers, squirrel balloons, fallen angels and very fluffy critters. October’s plans are to carry on with my own picture book Animania plus a few other bits and pieces I want to squeeze in. No doubt it will be a random mix of subjects again. Plus I want to build a website purely for my illustrations.

Mum visiting from Oz

It has been a year now since I saw my little munckin. She came over from Australia for 4 weeks at the beginning of September so there has been a lot of fambo time this month. We had a lovely day trip to London where we saw the London poppies and then the London dungeons after. If you haven't done it yet you have to see the poppies, such a moving piece of art, you can't help but be moved, I am so pleased we went to see it. It's going to be sad saying goodbye again but it will just be another 5 months before I get see her again so will keep telling myself that, plus skype makes things much easier.
Meeting Karen Emma Hall, founder of Kid Literature

The biggest highlight has been meeting some really lovely peeps off twitter. I was lucky enough to have a cuppa with the lovely Karen founder of Kid Literature Authors while she was visiting family. It was so nice to meet up with her and I will be popping in a date on the calendar next year to go and visit. She has done some remarkable work with the kid lit group and its growing from strength to strength. I feel very blessed to have been a part of the group when it first started out and really respect and admire Karen for what she has achieved. The group is a resource for all kid lit enthusiasts, whether you are an author, illustrator or avid reader, the group is a must to join and be a part of. It will be an invaluable tool for me when I come to promote my own book when I am ready. I have learned so much from them already and built some lovely friendships. Do check out the links below to learn more about them, they are always on the lookout for new admins to help run the site.  Facebook  Twitter  Website
Interview with Success Skunks

Another friendship has been formed with Paul Cody, the founder of Success Skunks. At the beginning of the month I was interviewed by Success Skunks and am doing a couple of illustrations for their new website. They are a charity who’s aim is to inspire children to pursue their passions by interviewing all manner of professionals, from sportsmen, musicians to authors, artists and much much more. Do take a look at their site to learn more about their charity. They are also currently running a donate a book scheme for the charity If you would like to be a part of this community or donate a book or colouring pages then please contact them via these links: Facebook  Twitter  Website

Squirrel Balloons!!!

I have also been having some fun and giggles with fellow tweeting buds and have to give a special shout out to two of them for putting a massive smile on my face in September. First up is Jon, who specialises in humorous comic style cartoons. If you fancy a giggle is well worth a nosey. After one of our random conversations one afternoon we some how side tracked into a conversation about squirrel balloons. I can’t even remember how or why but I hold Jon entirely responsible, he has an overactive imagination! Anyway after discussing what a ridiculous concept it was we then agreed that once I finished my book and once Jon had finished all of his comic strips we would celebrate by drawing each other some squirrel balloons. I was chuckling away the entire time I drew mine and from what Jon has said, he enjoyed doing his part too ;) We both agree to post our drawings on twitter the same day. What tickled me was how without discussing what we were doing (other than inflatable animals), between the two of us we came up with a little story board. Here is what happened….
 Follow Jon on Twitter

My very own flamenco dancer by artist Sean Ashton
Another dear friend and someone I find a true inspiration is Sean. When I first met Sean I was really taken with his figurative studies. His work bought back memories of how I used to enjoy working in the fine art area. I do have a soft spot for fine art and seeing all the work Sean is doing lately is really making me want to have  another crack at it. I asked him if he had ever painted a flamenco dancer as it is something I have always wanted to paint but never attempted it. The next thing I know he sent me a few photos of flamenco dancers and said he was going to give it a go. The photo I chose was in black and white but I asked for the dress to be in red against a very dark background. Passionate, intense and striking was my brief. Well I thought he might not speak to me anymore at one point as I had picked a very hard subject and coverting black and white to colour is no easy task but he did it and I absolutely fell in love with it. The most touching thing though was that a few days later it was popped in the post and I am now the luckiest girl in the world with my very own flamenco dancer. 
He has inspired me to try another fallen angel painting again. I haven’t painted a canvas for over 3 years now, can you believe it! The books have kinda taken over, not that I am complaining, I love working on children’s illustrations but there is always an itch to paint a canvas.
Do follow his work on Facebook and Twitter To be at the level he is after just 2 years of painting is quite remarkable….. watch this space, this one is gonna go places!!
Ok I will stop rambling for now. All I can say is September has been a fun one! Oooo just remembered another thing. I bought a WACOM tablet so I am venturing into something I have been petrified of trying…. Digital hokery pokery! I shall dedicate my next blog to this new toy of mine.  It’s certainly opening my mind to new possibilities. On that note I shall be on my merry way.
Over and out for now

Friday, 5 September 2014

Blogging From The Heart Tour

I was recently asked if I would like to take part in this blogging from the heart tour and not one to say no to new experiences I readily agreed. I am still a newbie to this blogging malarky but figured it would be a great way to get my feet wet in the blogging world. It seemed like an ideal way to network with others and to hopefully learn a thing or two along the way, so why not eh!

So what exactly is involved in this blogging from the heart tour? 

Well the jist of it is...
  • Meet Blogging from the Heart sponsor, children’s book author Cat Michaels.
  • Meet fellow creatives s on the next tour stop, who will post their Blogging from the Heart Tour on 19th September.  
  • Then I answer four questions from the heart about my work and why I put myself through this he he.

So first bit, everyone please meet my lovely sponsor Cat Michaels

Blog Sponsor Cat Michaels

I have met Cat on good old twitter through the Kid Literature group where a bunch of us creative types support / inspire each other and have a little chin wag along the way. I thoroughly enjoy reading Cat’s blog posts and am usually nodding in agreement with her experiences she has with the fun world of social networking. 

So a little bit about Cat… After earning an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas, she spent two decades helping students from kindergarten to college reach their potential. She also managed communications and staff development programs for an international high-tech company. She then returned to her education roots, serving at a community college as a writing coach for students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities. She writes illustrated chapter books for young readers and the young at heart. Cat's books can be viewed on this link: Amazon linkTo connect with Cat and learn more about her books, please visit her website and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Step two I would like to introduce you to my nominated peeps who I will pass the blogging torch onto

Blog Sponsor Leigh Shearin

Leigh Shearin and her husband are new farmers; transplanted from a suburban existence in search of a cleaner, more independent lifestyle. Leigh has two blogs that cover their adventures in their new exciting way of life with the aim to encourage others who think that farming and living a sustainable life is beyond their means. Her blog is full of delicious recipes and certainly made me hungry going through it! The other blog gives you an insight into their farm life. You can also follow her on Facebook 

Blog Sponsor Sherri Gaillard

Sherri Gaillard is an introverted optimist, artist and writer of short stories and prose poem ramblings on deep emotions, personal growth, and coping with depression. She belongs to the Holly Springs Writers’ Guild and has 2 published books Scribbles, Grumbles, Rambles & Rants and Break the Surface You can follow Sheri’s work via her website and facebook  

Blog Sponsor Sandra Harvey

Sandra Harvey grew up in a house overlooking the sea, with a Russian fortune-teller for a mother, and a Irish storyteller for a Dad, it is not wonder that Sandra was naturally lead down the path of being an author. She writes stores for children with a Gothic twist and in here exact words " I write because I just can't help it, I seem to have a vein running through all of my stories of loss, loneliness and sadness as key. There is always a happy ending but a wee melancholy" On top of her writing she is also a  fashion designer, designing elegant fitter apparel for women chef and cooks, quite the talented lady I am sure you will agree.

You can connect with Sandra at:

Now the bit where I answer a few questions… 

What am I working on?

I have just completed the 3rd Volume for Animal Stories For the Young, written by Mr Herbert C Burrow. This is a delightful little collection of animal stories for the younger readers. You are introduced to a wide range of different animals and he throws in many fascinating facts about them throughout the book. He has a great love for animals and his aim with these books are to teach children to respect animals and to be kind to them. The remarkable thing about Mr Burrow is that he will be 100 in December, can you believe it! A remarkable man and it has been a very interesting experience working with him. I have dedicated a blog to him if that’s of any interest out there. 

As from next week the plan is to take things a bit easier and to focus on being a mum again. I have been working flat out for the past 4 months and my poor children have had the words “when the book is finished” said a few times now. My son wants me to teach him how to cook and my daughter how to draw so it’s time to give them some mum time back. Off course I will still be drawing, the main focus will be to complete my own book “Animania”. This is an utterly ridiculous animal alphabet book in rhyme. It is very silly, colourful and very me. Not sure if that is a good thing or not he he. There are other projects coming up but this will be the main baby. Here is a sneak preview into what the book is about.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

The main thing I have noticed is that I seem to dabble in most areas of art and constantly flitting between different styles. I am always told that my portfolio looks like a bunch of different artists rather than all being painted by the same person. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not. People are always saying find one style and stick to it, I don’t really do that. Experimenting is what keeps the passion alive for me. Saying that my illustrations now do have a style of their own and I don’t think this will change much more but who knows with me. One thing that will never change is my use of colour, I can’t get enough of it! 

Why do I write/create what I do? 

Get ready for the cheese…. I do this because I love it but the main thing is to spread a bit of happiness….pass the bucket lol It’s true though, I think that is why I have naturally been drawn to illustrating childrens books. I remember the joy I got as a child reading books and looking at the illustrations, they were so magical…. I want to be part of that. To know someone is smiling or even better giggling because of something you have created or said is what makes me do this. I also want to make my children proud of me and to inspire them that they can be whatever they want to be in life

How does my writing/creating process work? 

The usual process to my illustrations is that I will read the manuscript given to me and then jot down the scenes that immediately come to my head. The publishers tell me how many pages I have to work with so I come up with an appropriate number of illustrations to fill the book. I will present my list of illustrations to the author and we will discuss what needs changing / adding etc. Once the illustration ideas are agreed I then crack on with doing a pencil draft. Once I have the thumbs up for that then I will proceed with the colour work and do this one by one until all illustrations are complete. A book usually takes me around 4 months to complete. I then send all completed illustrations over to the publisher. I would love to fully design and lay out a picture book one day as the layout of the book is something I haven’t been involved with before. 

Well that's all folks, hope you enjoyed my attempt at this. I am slowly getting there. Please do stop by again to read Leigh, Sherri & Sandra's blogs.