Tag Archives: illustration process

Leonard galumphs into bookshops

I nearly wrote ‘Leonard dances into bookshops’. But then I remembered that Leonard Doesn’t Dance… or does he?

Leonard doesnt dance detail.jpg

I’m very fond of that great galumphing bird. I relate to him very much. The initial enthusiasm, the self doubt, the impulse to hide away in a thorny tree, the desire to be with my friends that usually draws me out of the tree. And like Leonard, I have some fabulous friends.

My thanks to the team at Harper Collins and to Frances Watts, for patiently waiting for Leonard as he put one lanky leg in front of another (tripping over several times) and eventually became finished art; now a book.

This lovely cover was designed by Hannah Janzen.

I had been initially drawn to a white cover, because black ink on white paper was a signature part of making the artwork. There was a lot of ink involved. Brushed on, drawn on, printed, wiped and smudged onto white paper. Big broad strokes, and fine textured marks. So my original idea was to have an inky black and white cover, with a pop of red on Leonard’s face, and a scattering of brilliantly coloured birds flung around it like a double handful of lollies, and wrapping around both covers.

The team at Harper Collins didn’t think the white design was indicative of what was inside: a rampant world of jungly colour. This was perfectly true, and is why editors are so great! and Hannah did a fabulous job of designing something rich and celebratory.

Here are some of the lolly birds from the white cover design. Some of them found their way onto the new cover anyway. Perhaps you can spot them.

I visited the Grade Sixes at Derinya Primary School a few weeks back and we had a great time talking about Leonard Doesn’t Dance, story arcs, tension and making storyboards for picture books. There is just so much to talk about! A two hour session went by in a flash. I will be signing up with Creativenet Speakers’ Agency very shortly, so if any schools or groups of lovely librarians within Cooee of Melbourne would like to book a workshop and talk with me, that will be the place to go.

I have another book released this month as well! A very leafy book about cicadas. More on that soon. Enjoy your week!

Doodle Galumphers at the Swimming Pool

I’m not sure why my book projects seem to happen at the swimming pool. Pippa who modelled for Thunderstorm Dancing was at the pool, and many of the sketches I did at the pool while the boys were having swimming lessons fed into the book.

Here are some from that time, that have been posted before.

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drybrush sketches in the bombing zone of the local swimming pool. Ink on vintage book page.

Today I took the boys to the pool because it was pelting rain and they were stuck indoors. And there I happily began doodling for Leonard Doesn’t Dance, my new picture book project for HarperCollins, written by Frances Watts.

In truth, I set out to re-read the manuscript and ponder layouts, but I got as far as the first two lines and found I had to turn over the paper and doodle birds on the back. I think it was because Leonard was groaning. ‘Groaning’ is a very suggestive word. It conjures all sorts of pained expressions, and it wouldn’t wait.

Galumphing bird doodles judywatsonart lores

The first bird at the top is about to groan. Or has just groaned. He may have been groaning for some time. But after this, the others became more cheerful. I’m not worrying about style at the moment. Just going for Galumphing. That is my brief. It’s a brief brief.

It’s not hard to see the inspiration for these particular Galumphers.

Rose in the foreground... just in case the camera is edible.

Rose in the foreground… just in case the camera is edible.

Lily looking for something to step in

Lily looking for something to trip over

Here are Rose and Lily, the Terrible Pteranodon Twins (Araucanas) and Lily in particular, is the most impossibly clumsy bird you could ever meet. If you were to put a champagne glass in the middle of a football field and let Lily go and graze in that field, the first thing she would do would be to trip over the glass and spill the champagne. Here she looks like she is marching, but she is really galumphing.

My Leonard bird will, I hope, not be any species of bird in the real world. There will be plenty of those in the book, but Leonard I think may dispense with such restrictions.

In the next drawings I started to exaggerate the trousers on the bird, a thing that I’ve done before with my blob birds. It occurs to me now that if we choose to make Leonard a young bird person, his trousers might be shorts. These three fellows seem to be older bird persons.

Galumphing bird doodle2 judywatsonart lores

Here is a younger bird person wearing short trousers. And that is not a codpiece. (The bird tails might be tricky in some instances…)

Galumphing bird doodle 3 judywatsonart lores

And this drawing raises the question of whether Leonard ought to be more of a Bird Person, or a Person Bird. He will have to fly at one point, but he prefers cupcakes to cockroaches. He’s a multi-layered Bird Person. I’m sure there will be many more bird doodles in the coming weeks.

By the way, my advance copy of Thunderstorm Dancing arrived on my doorstep while we were at the pool. How appropriate, given that the rain had been bucketing down all day. We have all been looking through it with pleasure this evening. It is a very advance copy though. The book won’t be in the shops until April, I believe.

A Thundery book in the cloudy evening light.

A Thundery book in the cloudy evening light.