Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Book blog - Week Two - A Rabbit’s Tale by Rob Bounds

We were all very excited to see what was in store for us this week with our new picture book assignment. This week we have read A Rabbit's Tale by Rob Bounds. This delightful book is about a young rabbit’s adventure after a few narrow escapes on our busy roads. He takes us on a little journey meeting some lovely characters on a quest to find out how he can avoid these dangers. 
The story has been used by the illustrator Neil Hunt's school to promote the message  "be bright to be seen"

After last weeks teething problems I decided that I would get more sense out of the children by reading it to them all individually as it took a good 15 minutes of mucking about last week before they started settling down. I hold my hands up…  we were not the most professional of book groups! What with the girls giggling and Dylan making faces it turned out to be a rather long affair. We cracked it in the end though.
So we started with my daughter Felicity aka Flic who is seven years old (going on 18). Well the first thing that was pointed out to me was that I needed to work on my expressions! Apparently I need to practice my story telling skills, cheeky moo! After a stern telling off she said that she really enjoyed the book and liked the fact that it was in rhyme.  She liked the story and pictures very much and would like to read it herself (obviously with more expressions lol).  She is a very keen reader and writer and later that evening I had seen she had been writing her own piece of poetry so she was obviously inspired by our little story time session.
Next up is our latest recruit Phoebe, our next door neighbour. Phoebe is nine and is full of constructive criticism and I must say has taken a very keen interest in our weekly story time sessions. She enjoyed the story and said that this would be a great book for schools and to be used as a teaching aid as it teaches you about road safety.  She also commented on how bright and colourful the illustrations were so would appeal to younger children.
Then we have my son Dylan who is ten (going on two).  Now he loved the rhyming, both of my children have a thing for poetry. He said that the rhyming made the story have a nice flow to it and made it nicer to read. I might add, at this point this was my third attempt of reading this out loud so I was quite the story teller by this time he he.  Another point made was that he liked the concept behind the book and how it was not only a good story but had an important message behind it too.
So from the kids we have another thumbs up.  From the grown ups point of view…. Well I too have  a soft spot for stories in rhyme so was very pleased when I started to read this. The illustrations have been done by Neil Hunt and have a very retro feel which instantly took me back to my childhood. Anything that makes you go back to your inner child is always a good thing in my eyes. The illustrations are created using bright bold colours in a sketchy style that I am sure children would enjoy. 

The story itself is lovely, and I agree with the kids I do like the message behind it. It is important to know road safety and I like that you learn this as the story goes on. The words flow very well and engage the reader, leaving you wanting to know what happens on the next page. Yes I agree with the little people this is another fine book for our young readers out there and should be a book in every schools library.
So all in all a lovely read.
From all at the Holyoake Homestead, it’s over and out for now. Be sure to pop by again for the next installment.
Sweet dreams xx

Weekly picture book blog for http://www.kidliteratureauthors.com/

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Step by step process to my illustrations & some great vids thrown in

I thought I would share the step by step process I take with one of my illustrations. I personally am fascinated watching other artists work and love looking at videos and pictures of their process. I remember taking my poor Mum to one of the art workshops run by the Bognor art club. The first session is spent watching the artists work for 3 hours and then the next session you get to have a go yourself in the workshop. Now I personally loved it but poor mother dearest…. well it’s literally watching paint dry, bless her! She never did come to another session with me he he

Anyways the point to my waffling is that I find it a fascinating process seeing a picture come to life so I thought I would show you the steps I take for my illustrations. These have changed quite a lot over the years but this process is something I seem to be sticking to now, the only change is I am incorporating more digital effects. I do however personally favour traditional art, call me old fashioned but there is something magical about a piece that has been hand painted. So as wonderful as modern technology is I don't want to go over board with it.

AnaBelle Stamps

My medium of choice these days are water based coloured pencils, the inktense range being my absolute fave. In fact it was this video that made me want to try them out. As soon as I saw this I ordered a box of pencils and the brushes and I haven’t looked back since. They are so lovely too blend and the colours really pack a punch. I have never tried pro markers but I would imagine they have a similar effect. I now use a mix of pastels, inktense and watercolour pencils and coloured pencils on Daler & Rowney's 220gsm heavy weight paper.

So the first step is to roughly sketch out my initial draft. I then use carbon graphite paper to redraw the image onto the heavy weight card. I could draw straight onto the card but I find that by redrawing an image I really get a feel for it which makes everything happen much more naturally.

Once I have the final pencil sketch ready to go it’s the fun bit of colouring in. I block in my base colours using unison pastels. I use to do this with all of the background but lately I have been experimenting with mixing this with digital backgrounds.

Then I colour in everything but the grass with my inktense pencils. Then, my fave bit, going over it all with a wet brush. The watercolour pencils never blended as well as these bad boys do. The inktense pencils really do blend very well and you don’t need to add much more to them after.

Then I get the coloured pencils to add all the finer details and extra shading. The grass is made up of layers of little strokes, usually made up of four to five different shades of green. I also go around the characters in black coloured pencil. I did use a pen originally but prefer the black pencil as it just seems a little softer. I want the characters to pop out more than the background so only go around them.

Then I do the final editing on the computer and voila job done.

I am completely self taught with my illustrations so I can’t comment if this is the right way of doing things but it works for me :)

Here are a few of my favourite artists videos that I have watched over the years. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.....

This one has been watched over and over, I just love it and is probably my most fave art video out there. Absolutely love his style. The artist is AlfieAlpha  Follow on facebook

Huge fan of this talented ladies work. Her work is very illustrative and decorative. I have seen a few of her pieces now and you really need to see them in person to appreciate the true beauty of them. I could stare at these pieces for hours, so much to look at. Artist Kerry Darlington 

And another of my faves Leonid Afremov. If you like colour you are going to love his work!! I don't think there is one piece of his I haven't liked.  

Last but not least, the talented artist Karl Andrews. His landscapes are stunning, take a look at his work at  www.kadesign.co.nz or 
Follow on facebookThis video is one I studied when I first attempted to paint my fallen angels on canvas. He makes it looks so effortless here! Great soundtrack too...

Friday, 4 July 2014

First Picture Book Blog for KLA - The Fun Begins by Sandra Stoner Mitchell

So last night was story time in the Holyoake house. I rallied the children and our next door neighbour Phoebe and what started out as a ten minute story turned into a 40 minute chit chat.

We have started our picture book blogs with Sandra Stoner Mitchell's http://sandrascapers.com/ the Fun Begins, the latest addition to the Hedgerow Series. Timmy and Tommy are household names for us as I illustrated the very first Hedgerow book so the kids were very excited to hear the new story. This is a wonderful introduction to all the characters and leaves you wanting to know what fun they will get up to next.


So the children's verdict was an all round thumbs up. We had a long chat about how awesome it would be to go to school in the bus, they all thought that Timmy and Tommy were very luck to have this privilege. Phoebe then went on to tell me how the book would be great for younger children just starting school and how her brother George is starting in September. After a later than usual bedtime it was all agreed that we were looking forward to the next picture book review so I now have my official team of reviewers for this weekly blog recording.

From the grown up point of view, well I am familiar with Sandra's writing and this is yet another little gem she has created. This story is a lovely introduction to the Hedgerow gang and goes through a story about them all playing hide and seek in the haystack and then venturing into their first day at school. The characters are endearing from Millie the Mole the more quieter character to Reggie the rat, the groups clown and we can't forget Millie the Mole and Cyril the Squirrel.  This story will be a joy for any younger reader as it is told in a way that they will relate to, covering topics that they understand and day to day adventures that children have.

Oh and off course the illustrations are great lol ( well I would say that wouldn't I, considering I illustrated the original illustrations for Hedgerow Capers) he he

Here are Sandra's links:
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From all at the Holyoake house......sweet dreams world xx

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Loving Daily Doodles theme this week for Roald Dahl

I was having a little chat with one of my twitter buds last night about his entry to the daily doodle theme this week of Roald Dahl. We were discussing what were our fave stories and it inspired me to write my 2nd post. For those that haven’t heard of Daily Doodle, it is one of the groups on twitter that encourages people to pick up the pencil and get doodling. It’s a great way to share your work and be inspired by others not to mention meet some lovely peeps. They pick a topic each day and all you have to do is draw it and post it with their relevant hashtags. 
Daily Doddle picked a great topic this week, I would imagine all the illustrators had an absolute field day reincarnating some of these stories. Sadly I have been swamped with Animal Stories For The Young Vol 3 so can’t participate in the fun, booooo. But here are some of the doodles that caught my eye that I had to share.
Illustrator Jamie Briggs:                    Lucy's Illustrations: follow on twitter
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Amanda Pike:  follow on twitter          Steve Brown: follow on twitter
John Esparza:  follow on twitter             Will Petrey:  follow on twitter                      
Now like most people out there I was a huge fan Roald Dahl’s books, the man was such an inspiration. Lucky old Quentin Blake getting to illustrate his books! I would have been extremely excited to illustrate these stories, such an extraordinary imagination!
Looking at the doodles for this weeks theme got me reminiscing of times when I was a little girl reading his stories and I was trying to remember what my favourite was. You know what, I honestly don’t think I have one, there were so many. These are the ones that stuck out for me…
BFG, The Witches, Georges Marvelous Medicine, The Twits, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda.

click to buy                       click to buy                        click to buy

click to buy                             click to buy                         click to buy

I know there are any more but these are my favourites, I wonder what everyone else’s was. I am off down the library this weekend and taking a trip down memory lane.