Category Archives: illustration

Leonard Doesn’t Dance: A Bird of Character

In between racing around madly organising for our auction this coming Saturday, (I refrained from using hysterical capitalisation there. Did you notice?) I have REALLY enjoyed (emphatic, enthusiastic capitalisation) doing a few character sketches for Leonard.

Leonard is the main character for my upcoming picture book with Frances Watts, to be published by HarperCollins next year. Just to put you ever so quickly into the loop, Leonard started in my head as a little fellow with a disastrously swishy tail, inspired by our Australian Willy Wagtails, who swish their tails from side to side constantly.

Leonard Doesn't Dance

The colour sketch I drew for a spontaneous cover, the first day I received the manuscript

Leonard doodles2 judywatsonart lores

further tail wagging doodles drawn during a HarperCollins Author workshop

Then I found out that Frances had only one request: that Leonard be a bigger, galumphing kind of bird, and not a little tweety-bird type. So this sent me off in other directions and I did some galumphing doodles over a period of time while I was finishing Thunderstorm Dancing.

I continued with my doodles while I was travelling in Italy during April.

In the back of my mind there was a memory of a wonderful, lanky bird from Africa called the Secretary Bird. I looked him up and found him to be wonderfully elegant, wearing short black breeches to below the ‘knee’ and a fancy headdress (from which he got his name) and a wonderful set of wings for flying to bird parties.

His beak is quite different from the one I had imagined. I thought I might alter him to make him a unique bird bearing only a partial resemblance to the Secretary Bird. But as sketches continued, I found I enjoyed him very much, just the way he is.

Leonard

Leonard  1 Leonard  2 Leonard  3 Leonard  4 Leonard  5 Leonard  6

If he won’t work on the page for me with all those smaller birds, I may have to re-think him, but I am quite attached to him already.

More on this process soon, and I will tell you about the decisions about my medium.

Illustrated Envelopes

Betty Birthday lores

Betty’s birthday letter

Pa Ray birthday letter

Ray’s birthday letter

Hugo bugs and chickens

Hugo’s letter, just because he loved this envelope so much. What could I do?

I’ve always loved illustrated envelopes and illustrated packages. For an earlier mention go here. But now I am lucky enough to own a book full of them, thanks to my friend Geri Barr who gave me one just because I like them…

Or was it because she has a secret agenda? Perhaps she buys them for all of her illustrator friends and is right now amassing a HUGE and VALUABLE (requires all caps) collection of illustrated envelopes addressed to her. Aha! That’s it!

I wonder if it’s too late to copy her… Geri, you devil.

If you don’t have lots of illustrator friends who are willing to be duped, you can buy a copy of the book, and I’ve just now found another one that I will have to buy! Oh my goodness!  Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer

Some interesting things I was able to confirm while I experimented with illustrating standard (yes, cheap) envelopes:

• Wet media make your standard (cheap) envelopes buckle in an alarming way (but pencils and felt tips are great and very portable)

• Home made envelopes would be really, really special and you could make them from thick watercolour paper and use whatever media your heart desires.

• Illustrated envelopes look okay when they are drawn (and coloured – optional) but look so much better, after the address goes on. Unfortunately I can’t publish them on-line with the lettering intact because that would be rude to recipients. But you can take my word for it. If you want to.

• Choice of stamp can be crucial to success. If you live with a stamp collector, you’re set. If you don’t, you have to go to the post office and ask the people behind the counter to show you their REAL stamps which are hidden in a drawer. They will look a bit annoyed. Be prepared.

• All this is just dandy until you realise that you can’t send an empty envelope. After all the time you spent laboriously illustrating an envelope for your friend, you now have to write a letter! Or send them a cheque if you have more money than time. But do this quickly, cheques will be extinct even before  REAL stamps.

Enjoy envelope decorating, and letter writing if you can find some time, because it is very satisfying, and ever so much fun to receive one.

 

Leonard Doesn’t Dance and Trudy loves Dodds.

I’m excited to have two new projects to work on over the summer. One is another picture book with Frances Watts called Leonard Doesn’t Dance. The other is the beginnings of my own picture book with the working title Trudy and Dodds.

I’ll be posting here about both of them as I go along. Leonard will be about birds… something I shouldn’t have too much trouble loving! I’ve posted a couple of very early ideas about Leonard already. And you can follow the images alone if you want on my Pinterest page here. The more wordy stuff will be on my blog. (…rambling, rambling…)

Leonard Doesn't Dance

Trudy and Dodds was a concept I had just come up with at the time I was offered Thunderstorm Dancing and to my surprise, I received a grant from the Australia Council to get the project started. But I found I could only focus on the one big (Thunder) project, and so Trudy and Dodds was put on hold. Now is the time to revisit it, and I’m really excited to be booked into a masterclass in mid February with editing maestros Jane Godwin (Penguin) and Erica Wagner (Allen & Unwin) along with book design maestro Sandra Nobes. I’ll be taking my dummy book and manuscript along to that masterclass as a part of my grant project to get some feedback and help.

So, in the meantime, on with birds and…. dog-monster-thingees. Probably.

Pecking Order

I’m feeling rather exhausted this evening. So I drew our chickens to give myself a lift. I started the beginnings of a pecking order diagram. I’m quite fascinated by how this might be done, because the order is not linear in any clear sense. Below is the Official Order. But there are weird aberrations in the middle where certain chickens are scared of other chickens. And there’s one vicious triangle… Hmmm.

Those two devilish looking youngsters at the bottom will grow larger than all the rest. I have therefore introduced them to the flock as babies so that their elders can keep them in their place before they grow unwieldy in size. (According to what I have read, pecking orders rarely change once established… unless the circumstances are unusual and special and particularly particular…)

But according to what I have read, pecking orders follow a simple linear hierarchy.

In my experience this is not the case.

chicken pecking order colour flat

On a secondary note, I’m sure you will be pleased to know that I have now had all my chickens expertly colour analysed by an image consultant. So they will never, NEVER be seen looking anything but their best when they go out to parties. I can vouch for this without a doubt.

Vita, surprisingly, is a summer. But we did not establish which kind of summer. This is because, as Annabel pointed out, the rules of colour may be different for chickens! Well that’s awkward! Now we’ll have to write a book about it!

Hilda is a deep winter, Poppy is a warm autumn, Stella is a deep autumn, Storm is a soft summer and so is Nora. The Terrible Pteranodon Twins are cool winters. Their legs are green and so will be their eggs one day.

Sewjourn (part 2) – Bird Mania

I doodled, sketched, painted and chopped many birds at Sewjourn. Here are a few.

The jacket was time consuming and almost took one full day in the studio (bearing in mind that the culinary arts are also a big part of our Sewjourn weekend, so there is a fairly lengthy lunch-break in the middle of the day).

Choosing projects is a big decision when the time is limited to 2 precious days. A big project can be satisfying but takes a big slab of the time. Doing many small projects is also very satisfying. The important thing for me is to make some decision, because staring in confusion at a list of projects is not at all satisfying!

The Doodle Birds were a quick little play and very small, but I also had a lovely time preparing for them, by embellishing book pages with a range of inks and paints to make the patterns for their plumage.

Apologies for the poor photographs. I was so focused on creating that I didn’t take the time to set up proper photos, and much was not photographed at all. In fact I didn’t even make it to the wonderful book shop on the Lancefield main street, and I usually love to support them and buy a few treats for myself or others while I am there.

collage doodle bird

Bird collage doodle

collage doodle birds

Bird collage doodles canoodle

jacket - painted bird

A white jacket I have been meaning to paint or deface in some way for over two years. Now well on its way with a back panel full of painted birds

jacket- painted bird 2

My favourite jacket bird. I like the simplicity of outline, form and colour.

 

Another little collage bird

Another little collage bird. Actually the creases are not obvious in the real thing. It doesn’t like to be squished in the scanner though.

Week 38 – Giraffe

giraffe judywatsonart loresA quick watercolour giraffe for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge.

I’ve since Tomi Ungerer-ated hiim. It had to be done.

Tomi Giraffe contrasty head judywatsonart lores Tomi Giraffe judywatsonart lores

 

Dog with balloon

balloon dog judywatsonart lores

Inspired by one of my greatest illustrator heroes, Tomi Ungerer. Indian ink and watercolour. With digital string as a bit of a cheat. (my last little offering for Week 37: balloons)

Two more balloons for Balloon Week

Train trip home from the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show with balloon and show bags.

Train trip home from the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show with balloon and show bags.

Overlooking the country show with a stray balloon found in the hills.

Overlooking the country show with a stray balloon found in the hills.

Experiments with Blobs in a Moving Vehicle (part 2)

This is the second page of blobs that I worked on in the train last Friday. In this case, I was deliberately turning them all into dogs. I think that if I draw enough blob dogs, one of them will begin to emerge as a repeating character who could star in his own world. The nature of blobs is that none do exactly repeat themselves… they are new and special in their own blobby way, but there are recognisable types and that is enough for my purposes.

Only about half of the blobs on this page were in a state worth posting. Two were accidentally sacrificed on the McCrae Beach on Saturday as I tried to colour them with borrowed art materials and sea water. The results were worse than you are imagining now.

Yes, they were.

As far as repeating types go, one thing is apparent already. I have a fondness for whiskers.

This is Angelina the Bearded Lady. (Miniature Schnauzer) She has been looking for circus work for a while, but so far has only been offered work as a rat catcher.

bearded dog lady judywatsonart lores

 

This is Hamish. (Border Terrier x Dandie Dinmont Terrier) Hamish is going to let the chickens out on a blustery spring morning. He never chases them, because he knows they don’t like it. HIs favourite hen is a Light Sussex named Leonora Carrington.

blustery boanket dog judywatsonart lores

 

 

This is Toby. (mostly Foxhound but his great grandmother was a Poodle) He’s a country dog. He left the foxhound pack when the others made fun of his moustache. Now he wanders the hedgerows and picks up a bit of work here and there. He is courteous to passing foxes, and they are sometimes courteous to him.

country dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Theo. (Wire-haired Fox Terrier) Theo is in a hurry to pull on his coat as he has to pick up the kids from puppy school. There are 14 in the litter so he is taking a truck.

dressing dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Gabriel. (Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier x English Pointer) Gabriel runs a delicatessen, and is renowned locally for his skill with making tarts. Once a fortnight he goes fishing and takes a picnic lunch with him which is made by his partner Phil. He enjoys taking a little time off cooking on those days. But if he catches a fish, he returns home with renewed vigour and invents a new fish dish every time. All of them are simply delicious. fishing dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Phil. (Irish Water Spaniel) Phil lives with Gabriel and is an indifferent cook as he gets very little practice. However he is a keen gardener and drives a lorry during the week. He’s also a bird fancier, but sometimes when he is watching birds too closely he has an irresistible urge to yap, which he finds mortifying. garden gate dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Madison. (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Cardigan Welsh Corgi) Madison lost her tail in an accident when she was only 3 months old, but she is wagging on the inside. girly dog judywatsonart lores

 

 

This is Adrian (Scottish Terrier) Adrian loves listening to Jazz FM on his new radio and has been known to bite the vet. radio dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is Jean-Paul. (Irish Wolfhound x Cairn Terrier. His parents separated due to irreconcilable differences.)  You needn’t be alarmed for Jean-Paul because he is demonstrating for 25 young pups at puppy swim school, and is not really in any danger as long as he stays in the water. SOS dog judywatsonart lores

 

This is one of the puppies at Swim School. I can’t remember his name. He has just smelled a fart and is checking to see if it is his.

spooked dog judywatsonart lores