Tag Archives: books

Bookplates – just for fun

A few weeks ago I noticed on an artists’ noticeboard that there was an Australian Bookplate Design Award coming up. Not being sure what a bookplate actually was, I read with interest. I quickly concluded that it was just my cup of tea. Books, cups of tea and small, quirky collectible artworks go together perfectly. If you’re interested, try searching the internet or Pinterest with the search terms ‘artist bookplate’ or ‘ex libris’. There are some amazing ones out there, and they are so wonderfully varied in style.

Best of all, there were several categories for entry into the competition, including one for primary school students. We have two of those in the house.

Arthur (12) drew his bookplate about ten minutes after I flagged the idea, without any preliminary work apart from a little research into the meaning of his name and his sun sign. In keeping with the traditional model of a bookplate (the coat of arms of the book owner), he came up with a kind of avatar for himself; a heraldic creature with roots in the notion of courage, and I suspect some DNA from Chewbacca of Star Wars fame. See below.

Arthur's heraldic beast bookplate

Arthur’s heraldic beast bookplate

Hugo (10) decided at the last minute to join in, and only because he was home from school with a cold at the time and looking for a quiet activity. His process was admirably logical, beginning with a warm up, and ending with a bookplate. See below. 

hugo bookplate working 1

Stage One: loosening up, exploring ideas 

hugo bookplate working 2

Stage Two: brainstorming birds and books

Hugo working drawings Bookplate award 3

Stage Three: I love this. From top to bottom, working out the composition and the gag.

Bookplate Hugo Watson

Stage 4: The final bookplate.

I made my two entries in a rush on the final day as well, thereby cleverly avoiding thinking out what my perfect bookplate design would be… ahem. I’ll show you my bookplates in the next post.

We sent them off to be digitally printed and trimmed, then raced them to the post office the next day for last minute delivery into the competition. This involved the boys signing each of their bookplates with very sharp pencils in very small writing at the post office; a fun and exciting process in itself!

Finally, on the weekend, we tested out our bookplates on real books! Which was SUPER fun, even though some were a bit crooked, and as you will see below, some interesting questions came up about the hierarchy of ownership. For instance if your big cousin wrote her name in the book in 2002 with silver pen on the right hand side, do you trump that with your own hand designed bookplate pasted into the left hand side in 2015?

And does that depend on how big your cousin is?

IMG_6630 IMG_6633

Federation Square drawing and chatting tomorrow (13th June)

I might see you at Federation Square, if you are Melbourne based. Please say hi, if you are in the area. I’d love to see you.

I’m bringing a small number of limited edition prints to sell at the book stall along with signed books.

Below are some prints from the actual book, that will be for sale. And following them you’ll see some altered book prints which show the inspiration for the medium that was used in the book. But they also show the difference between the artificially created cream and the natural vintage book parchment.

My chance to sing lores JudyWatsonArt Ready Set Go lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder imprint page boat lores JudyWatsonArt Thunder opening spread seascape lores JudyWatsonArt

The parchment is naturally a much dirtier colour… which appeals to my inky nature, but the Allen & Unwin book designer Sandra Nobes very rightly recommended a clean cream for the book itself, and this is where PhotoShop was my ally. Thanks Sandra and PhotoShop.

tabby kitten lores JudyWatsonArt Cornish library tick cat lores JudyWatsonArt

Book Signing Phobia

Here’s a lesser known part of the job of being a drawing machine. When we sign books for people, it  is a nice thing for them if the signature comes with a little doodle, drawn for them, right before their very own eyes. And it’s nice to be able to do that for them. It makes us happy too. If it works.

But the inscription is done in pen and can’t be rubbed out or corrected.

And when we draw during the usual course of our day, we usually do many drafts of any illustration before we get it right.

And if we mess up our inscription doodle we have the problem of either sending a deplorable doodle out into the world defacing the otherwise pristine title page of a newly purchased book, or replacing the book with a new one… which we might also mess up.

Now remember that some of us are very temperamental drawing machines, the kind whose engines won’t start unless the key is turned in just the right particular way, may never run very well on a Tuesday, and if the oil runs low we are likely to smoke. You will now realise that the aforementioned anxieties at the back of our minds can cause a little fumble in the fingers; a wobble in the wrist; a twitch in the felt-tip… and then…

Doom!

That is why I am practising my book signatures today.

With Best Fishes

With Best Fishes – practising my book signing today and this is page four. Ahem. 

I have spoken to illustrators who say they won’t do it any more. They will write anything but won’t draw. (And I’m not even going to discuss the issue of spelling difficult names correctly… or easy names for that matter.)

I have spoken to illustrators who say ‘it’s important to make the mark.’

I have watched with awe, some illustrators who sign and doodle with ease.

I have watched with awe, one illustrator who was CLEVER enough to get a rubber stamp made up in advance! (Yes, OtherJude, that was very clever!)

And I have used my bookmark giveaways to circumvent this problem with some success. (It’s much less stressful to draw on a bookmark, than a $25 book.)

photo 1

Anyway, see you at the next book signing!

I’m ready.

I think.

Enjoy your bookmark!

Enjoy your bookmark!

Meet me at Federation Square

If anyone is in the vicinity of Melbourne on Sat 13 June, I’ll be drawing at the Books Illustrated stall in Federation Square Book Market and the fabulous Ann Haddon will be selling signed copies of Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein, illustrated by me. Some of my other books will also be on sale.

drawing and signing at Bologna Children's Book Fair

Drawing and signing at Bologna Children’s Book Fair (In front with the green scarf, the lovely Sonia who has been attending the fair every year since she was a child.) 

Come and say hello. I’d love to meet you! I love people to talk to me when I’m drawing… not sure what I’ll be drawing… but it’ll be something. And I’ll try to bring along some stormy craft sheets for you to take away and use to have some arty fun with your little ones… or by yourself. I’m all for that too.

Sketch for dancing scene with Poppy, from Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein

Sketch for dancing scene with Poppy, from Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein

At this stage it looks like I’ll be starting at around 1pm and drawing for a couple of hours, but I’ll try to remember to update you on that a little closer to the time.

Catching up

Hello! I’ve been a bit absent! Thunder is finished and off to the printers! I’m looking forward to seeing an advance copy in early January. It’s taken a few weeks to just get myself into drawing again. That’s not something I anticipated. And there are a lot of other things that I need to catch up with now that I’ve finished that mammoth project… including Christmas!

I had a great day with Ann James and Justine Alltimes last Monday, designing a poster for Jackie French, our Australian Children’s Laureate. Her project Share a Story will revolve around the ideas on the poster/calendar which will be available for free download by Christmas.

Ann James is a well known and skilled Australian children’s illustrator. Justine Alltimes is one of the hardworking and capable Laureate Project Managers. When the three of us get together, the ideas ping about like pinballs. After Ann had drawn and painted some images, I was able to alter them digitally to make new, and hopefully intriguing combinations, that will work well together on the poster and spark the storytelling imaginations of children, teachers and parents. The challenge was to avoid the literal interpretations of words like Slurp a Story and instead to come up with images that were open-ended or suggestive. We want starting points for stories, not stories in themselves.

More on Share a Story when the poster is released.

Other work in progress includes an illustration of Phar Lap for the front cover of a colouring book for the Melbourne Museum to match the dinosaur one I did a couple of years ago. As always with work done for Museum Victoria, I learn heaps along the way as I research the topic! Glad to find out that Phar Lap was probably not deliberately or even accidentally poisoned. Not that it made much difference to the poor horse, but he most likely died of colic related to a rare disease of the intestinal tract.

MMDinoColBk_FRONT.jpg

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge forges on towards the finish, but will return next year. I wasn’t feeling like drawing for this either, for a couple of weeks. So I’ve missed Week 47 New York, but I may go back to that. Although drawing New York itself holds little attraction for me, the New Yorker and its famous cartoons hold enormous appeal for me. So I think I need to do a New Yorker style cartoon. But of what?…

Tim and Tig New Yorker

A page from ‘Tim and Tig’

Above is an illustration I did for Aussie Nibble – Tim & Tig many years ago. I illustrated Tim and Tig just after receiving a copy of the Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker; a fantastic book that had a powerful influence on my drawing! Many of the illos in Tim and Tig, I’d wish to do again and much better, but this one I still like.

Now that I think of it, I did do some quick doodles for Week 46 Circus. (Oh dear. What a rambling post.)

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

The Twisted Princess tidies her tresses

This doodle was on the bottom of a Thunder illustration. You may see a wee peek of the washy water top right, and it ran completely off the page. It started as a doodle and then I got mesmerised by the leotard pattern. Actually, this led my mind off in the direction of a series of paintings I’d like to do…

This brings me to last week’s theme. Week 48 Fox. In a shocking twist of fate, I found that the topic had long ago been changed from Chicken to Fox! Horrors!

I did some fox doodles while I was waiting for the kids to get out of drama class and below you can see them.

Deadly Maggie

Deadly Maggie

This was a fennec sketch in an old book. I added some digital colour experimentally (even though fennecs are creamy in colour). It’s not entirely successful but there are elements of it that I like, including the scratching into top layers of colour; a Thunder habit that may continue for some time. Perhaps lead into interesting new areas.

fox cub judywatsonart lores

A very innocent young blob fox.

By contrast, this little blob fox is not deadly. This was my protest on behalf of my chickens.

Contortionist fox

Contortionist fox

I liked the tail hatching on this one, and also the two tone retro feel, but it was certainly rushed. Not what you’d call finished work.

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

The Fox with the No.6 Tattoo

Lastly, this fellow. The fox with the No. 6 Tattoo. I liked his eyes and expression. He seems to have a canny and sophisticated air about him. I added some very flat colour panels in Photoshop trying to keep it sympathetic to his stylised and simple form and I like the result.

 

 

 

thundercloud in progress

Working hard, drawing and painting Katrina Germein’s picture book Thunderstorm Dancing. I might post some random weather fragments occasionally but can’t show you much until it’s finished…. and I’ll come out from under that cloud ;-)  hopefully very soon.

Wish me luck! 

Books read in 2013

I had a few more completed books yet to add. It’s not the end of the year yet is it?? But Goodreads seems to have wrapped it up for me with an email showing me all my listed books from this year in a splendid array. Here they are.

Books 2013 part 1.jpg Books 2013 part 2.jpg Books 2013 part 3

It’s rather lovely to look at them all lined up like that in ‘cover view’. There are some happy highlights that catch my eye, and bring back memories:

• The very first book on the list (at bottom) The King of Slippery Falls – a gentle American coming of age story with a subtle magical element

Soonchild – a sophisticated swan song from Russell Hoban with illustrations by Alexis Deacon;

The ACB with Honora Lee – which was shelved at the library as young adult but was really a charming junior fiction novel. (I kept waiting for something gritty to happen. It wasn’t gritty, but nevertheless told some touching truths.)

The Children of the King – thanks Kezza for this recommendation. Beautiful writing doesn’t come much more beautiful.

• Re-reading the two Alan Garner Tales of Alderley, and then unexpectedly, the new release third book! Golly, that was exciting!

The Sunday Books – a written narrative for Mervyn Peake’s drawings made for his children.

• Anne Fadiman’s At Large and at Small – grown up literary delight

• Re-reading The Shrinking of Treehorn – subtle irony and social comment in a visual format

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat – Hugo recommended it. I finally got around to reading it. So glad I did. Life of Pi meets Waiting for Godot as junior fiction.

• Bob Graham soars the heights with A Bus Called Heaven – what a brilliant, positive social comment. So much to think about and discuss. So much to look at.

• Caught up with the boys on Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon books. Up to speed. Waiting for the last book to be published! Aaaah!

• Discovered Isabelle Arsenault via Sally Rippin with Jane, the Fox and Me. Lovely!

• Got around to tackling Lloyd Alexander who was languishing on my shelf. What a wonderful experience! Chronicles of Prydain are a tween / young adult delight, and I loved his autobiographical The Fantastical Adventures of the Invisible Boy.

On a Beam of Light, A story of Albert Einstein – picture book splendour and inspiration for budding young scientists, non-conformists and thinkers.

Count Karlstein – Phillip Pullman’s novelisation of his own early play written for his students to perform at school. A gothic ripping yarn, brimming with humour, personality, drama and… brimstone!

Jackie French’s Chook Book – from a woman with a big heart. An Australian guide to keeping chickens with humanity and thoroughness. It’s not easy to find good Australian back-yard poultry keeping books. (Our climate and other particular challenges require local information, not overseas info, and the available breeds are different.) I have since been lucky to be given a new book from ABC Books The Contented Chook. The combination of these two books should clear up most questions about keeping chickens at home. The former is honest and detailed, and the latter is sumptuous, with many lovely photographs and condensed, practical text.

• Some terrific graphic novels, including The Gigantic Beard that was Evil, and Hope Larson’s version of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

• The pleasure of re-reading my old fave, Whispering in the Wind by Alan Marshall.

• And the delight of reading the work of another vintage Marshall – James Marshall’s George and Martha: the Complete Stories of Two Best Friends.