Tag Archives: children’s book illustration

Bear’s campfire story

Here’s Bear with Boy.

Bear and Boy came about when I was working on the Share A Story poster with the team from the Australian Children’s Laureate.

bear campfire temp

Ann James and I were initially scribbling away at the same time, tossing ideas around for ways to illustrate themes like ‘grow a story’, ‘hunt a story’, ‘hear a story’. We had few preconceived ideas about how we were going to make the poster concept work and we were playing for all we were worth. During this process I drew Bear and Boy, which I later coloured, because I liked the sketch, but I didn’t bother finishing it off perfectly.

But I was primarily the designer for this job, and it quickly became obvious that for the sake of visual cohesion, Ann’s illustrations would look better throughout; not mixed with some of mine. I moved to the computer and started colouring and experimenting with pattern, until we found something that was starting to work. Justine Alltimes and Ann Haddon provided invaluable insight and art direction.

Asking Ann to produce all sorts of obscure drawings on demand was like popping coins into the Best-Ever-Slot-Machine, and watching exciting and unexpected treats pop out. At speed. So much fun!

While from Ann’s point of view, it was fun to watch her drawings merge with colour and pattern and start to form a composition on the poster.

Ann James' Red Riding Hood and friend wolf (with mysterious dark figure looming behind!)

Ann James’ Red Riding Hood and Friend Wolf (with mysterious dark figure looming behind!) © Ann James 2015

Add classic vintage Australian Stamps

Add classic vintage Australian Stamps

Merge using a bit of digital magic along with some V&A pattern.

Merge using a bit of digital magic along with a V&A pattern in the background. Voila!

Being a fan of blobs, I liked the original inky halo around Mr Wolf. But the consensus was that there was not enough contrast to identify his shape against the background patterning, so he had to have a digital bath… or perhaps shave.

If you’d like to download the Share A Story free poster-calendar, conceived by Laureate Jackie French and illustrated by Ann James, go here. It is a great, open-ended way to engage your children with stories.

Share a Story poster final art web

Japanese ceramics in a baroque Italian city

Here’s a wee snippet of my trip before I forget everything!

Unexpected sunshine in Bologna was followed with unexpected cold in souther Italy. Francesco, David, Ann and me.

Unexpected sunshine in Bologna was followed by unexpected cold in southern Italy. Francesco, David, Ann and me.

Francesco - one of our gracious guides in Puglia. Guaranteed to be able to chat to anyone and get you in to see treasures.

Francesco – one of our gracious guides in Puglia. Guaranteed to be able to chat to anyone and get you in to see treasures.

One of the cities we visited in Puglia was the baroque city of Lecce, which features roman ruins and plenty of over-the-top baroque architecture, as well as some hidden artists’ studios, which you may be lucky enough to visit if you have a local tour guide to introduce you.

On our way in to Lecce, we noticed some colourful ceramic fish set to ‘fly’ above the doorway of a little studio on a corner. The door was closed and locked, the interior dim. But when we knocked and waited a few minutes, what treasures were revealed to us!

This cosy and crowded cavern is the studio of a Japanese ceramics artist Nagase Hiroko, who moved to Italy with her husband many years earlier. She speaks Italian, English, Japanese and is currently studying Chinese at night school. She is lively, loquacious and clearly has a love of knowledge and human interaction.

Hiroko alone

Hiroko wraps treasures for us

Hiroko wraps treasures adn chats

Crowded quarters as Ann Haddon and Ann James talk with Hiroko. David (right) takes up a lot of vertical space but not much horizontal space thankfully :-)

I wish I had taken more photos, but I was afraid both of being rude and of knocking things from shelves, laden as I was with backpack and bag. There were five of us visiting and the space was narrow.

spotty ceramic birds

spotty birds, sugar bowls, little heads, in bloomsbury colours. (I feel certain Vanessa Bell would have loved them.)

Nagase Hiroko

Hiroko kept up a constant stream of delightful conversation, some in Italian (with Fran) and some in English for us. Here she is looking for a particular treasure to show us.

I bought several small items as souvenir gifts for friends, but the one thing I wanted to buy for myself was this bird (below) with a blue head and splashy pink back. I was by no means certain it could survive a trip home in a packed suitcase, but the choice was not mine to make. Hiroko would not part with it. She loved it and did not think she could replicate it, due to the the inconsistencies of the making, firing and glazing processes. She has never managed to get those particular shades of colour again, or make the beak just right. Each piece is fired four times, first to bake the clay and then to get different glazes to do different things. I really respect her for this refusal to sell. She said she has sold some of her favourite things in the past and has always regretted it.

my favourite bird

The bird I wanted (rear). Too precious for the artist to part with. On the shelf below are little owls that hoot charmingly when you blow into them. 

If you wish to see Hiroko’s studio while visiting southern Italy, or to contact her, here are her details.

Nagase Hiroko ceramics- frontNagase Hiroko ceramics- backLater I’ll post photos of the papier mâché artist’s studio that we visited on the way out!

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.

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

Blob Doodles in Bed

I took some blobs to bed with me last night and a black felt tip. It being bed time when I painted my blobs, I wasn’t quite on the ball enough to remember to do them on watercolour paper so the paper has buckled and they lack the nice gravelly edges.

But it was a meditative and relaxing (but also kind of stimulating) thing to do, propped up by pillows in bed. Turning my page this way and that trying to find the hidden creature in each blob.

doodles composite levels judywatson lores

I found a few dogs who weren’t pleased with either their hairstyles or with each other. And one that has slipped on a banana skin.

wolfhound x poodle - whoodle judywatsonart lores

Whoodle (poodle x wolfhound)

beehive dog judywatsonart lores

Beehive Hound

bouffant dog judywatsonart lores

Bouffant des Flandres

bulldog judywatsonart lores

Bulldog

cranky dog judywatsonart lores

Bulldog’s buddy

wiry dog judywatsonart lores

Schnighlander – (Giant Schnauzer x West Highland White Terrier)

oops

oops

I found an overexcited squirrel.

Didn't quite work

Didn’t quite work

I found a princess escaping a fate worse than death, cloaked and riding on the back of a miniature elephant in the dead of night. (with faithful wire-haired miniature dachshund x schipperke – also known as a Whipperke-Dipperke)

princess on tiny elephant judywatsonart lores

I found a very surprised budgie on the head of a cranky sheep.

surprised budgie

surprised budgie

I found a frisbee catching dog who needs to see an orthopaedic surgeon about his front legs.

This will not end well

This will not end well

I found a pug in a bad mood. I think he’s trying to tell me something.

grrrr

grrrr

And I found a range of the usual birds and monstrosities.

rabbit-elephant judywatsonart lores

What the? Elephant x rabbit…

deer thing judywatsonart lores

So normal! What are you doing here?

bird of woe judywatsonart lores

Bird of Woe

bad tempered chick judywatsonart lores

This is the unmentioned chick from  ‘Owl Babies’   (‘I Want My Mummy… NOW!!!’)

goosy dodo bird judywatsonart lores goosey bird judywatsonart lores

And I found an overweight chick eating play lunch in the school yard.

munch, munch

munch, munch…. munch.

That reminds me, it’s lunch time.

I’ll add colour to some of these when I get a chance.

 

 

 

Week 32: PSYCHEDELIC

 

Cat trouble again

Cat trouble again

I don’t know if the cat is directly responsible for this little dog’s trippy bad dream, but she is certainly doing her best to mozz him.

Scribble Blobs (experiments with blobs part 7)

Just so that you know what those mysterious scribble blobs look like… here are a few.

One of them is caught in mid-mutation; turning into a poodle.

Not sure what I’ll do with that blob at the bottom of the page… Man! That’s what I call a tricky-messy-multi-scribble-blob.

scribble blob sample

 

poodle scribble blob judywatsonart lores

Here’s Miss Poodle. She likes red.

She’s a digital sketch working from the scan at top. I like the effect of watercolour, but sometimes a quick doodle poodle is a good doodle poodle.