Tuesday, 3 November 2009

garden view

The joys of illustrating and the mystery of the stairs that go nowhere... Who knew a degree in architecture would have come in handy for this book? Unfortunately for me I do not possess such a qualification.

I've 'flipped' the rough for this next version. I want to head out to the garden in the next spread so this way round makes more sense. However, I still need the boy on the stairs and a door out to the garden and at the moment, despite my best efforts (including constructing a wall outside!) I cannot see where these stairs can possibly lead! Time to get out and about with my camera for reference, methinks!
Aha, or maybe the addition of a landing midway up the stairs...

Monday, 2 November 2009

sprouting again

I haven't forgotten about my little growing boy, he's just been a bit neglected of late. I found time to sketch some tiny, tiny thumbnails, trying to work out the stairs spread. It's proving trickier than I thought, as you need to also be able to see out to the garden somehow...

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Forgot to mention it on here too - I'm giving away a print over on Scribbles in Ink. The detail above (currently my profile pic) comes from the bigger illustration. If you'd like a chance to own it, hop on over!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

garden waste

Well they say 'write what you know'... I know exactly where this particular idea for the book comes from. Kenzie the husky does more poop per day than any other dog I know and, with a four year old sharing the garden with her, I do spend an inordinate amount of time clearing up after her. Like the Growing Boy, I too am forever engaged in a gardening battle I cannot win - I'm hoping he will triumph where I do not! That's artistic licence for you, if only real life was as simple.

Here I'm demonstrating the convenience and lucky happinstance (is that a word?!) of illustrating while making a cup of tea - in a moment of inspirado, that teabag came in handy for added 'mess'!

In an exciting garden update: I have one red tomato!!! I'm so excited, I may even post a picture!

Monday, 3 August 2009

a new furrow

After much procrastinating, the first new illustration visual is finished! The one on the left is the old one, on the right the new illustration for the same bit of text. I'm being inundated with design work when all I really want to do is paint. Unfortunately, the design work pays the bills, but I'm managing to squeeze the book in at the end of each evening (then I have to try and make myself go to bed instead of getting carried away with the illustrating!). Next up, the pooing dog...

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

can you dig it?

The thumbnails are coming thick and fast, I'm finally working out the exact details of how the beginning gets to the middle and the middle to the end...! It seems obvious I know but, while the bare bones of the story have been quite clear to me for some time it hasn't always been so clear how to say everything I want to in each spread. Although the text is quite minimal, the pictures have to convey much more than the words themselves.

Plus, I have a tendency to go to the dark side, I blame all those fairy stories from my childhood when Grandmama actually did get eaten by the wolf... It's probably why I love Maurice Sendak's work so much too. I like being a little bit scary with my work and I think kids like being a little bit scared, but in this case portraying the situation too realistically (as in the old visual above) was beginning to resemble a story of child neglect. I think adding a more surreal reason for his family being disinterested (with the line up of daredevil portraits on the stairs) works better.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

slow growth

It's been a crazy week, finding time to finish the first illustration is proving difficult. Hopefully it will not be long now and I think it is working better now than before. My head is buzzing with ideas - I have to rush to the sketchbook these days to record everything before I forget it!

Monday, 20 July 2009

beginning to bloom

The first colour visual is underway - not really enough done yet to see how it will turn out, but it helps me to see it on screen too... The muted colours are important at the start of the book. As his environment changes and grows, I will add more colour. Next stage to follow...

Thursday, 16 July 2009

preparing the ground

I'm finding lots of inspiration for the Growing Boy in the garden, especially in my little greenhouse, perhaps that's why I have suddenly found the enthusiasm to look at the book again. Looking forward to a weekend of sketching tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and onions...
Meanwhile, I have a literal blank canvas prepared to work up the first visual. I deliberately used the board which the old spread languished on for a year - a clean slate.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Now I've started again almost from scratch, it has become much easier to see which parts of the book were not working - and how to fix them. I'm not nearly so unhappy about losing spreads that I had become attached to (and stuck with) and I can see already how the new pages have become so much more lively. The book had clearly been stagnating for some time but the changes have renewed my enthusiasm for it!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

sowing seeds

Sketched this new thumbnail spread down quickly last night, before I forget it! I've decided (after a year!) that it works much better if the boy starts from seeds (rather than being given a seedling as in my original text). I'm being inspired by my own little greenhouse I think, so although I don't feel like I've been producing much in the way of roughs, I guess doing the actual growing is helping me get a feel for the book...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

green shoots

I'm finally finding time to work on this and I think this blog is going to be extremely useful for me. Having a space (less cluttered than my sketchbook!) to organise, collate and review my ideas, combined with a 'diary' of my thoughts - very handy. It will also be interesting to see how long I can keep the gardening references going for the post titles!!

My first thoughts for the boy character are above but, having procrastinated and struggled with it for nearly a year, as posted earlier I eventually had to admit defeat. The book wasn't working and definitely not developing as I saw it in my mind, so I have started again. The decision, once made, was something of a relief!
What I have in my head is much cleaner, with simplified lines and very expressive body language. I want to concentrate on the changes to the character's environment as it develops and not get bogged down in irrelevant detail.

My 'Wind' illustration was done fairly quickly and as a very personal response to Wordsworth's poem, Surprised by Joy - Impatient as the Wind. I was very moved by the poem and its expression of loss, and I think that's one of the reasons the image works.

One of my weaknesses as an illustrator (and this has always been so), is my tendency to overwork things long after I should have stopped, losing the immediacy and emotional power of the original roughs. So, now I will try to keep the immediacy for the Growing Boy illustrations - tricky when I've been living with them in my head for so long!

Thumbnail and first roughs above. The devil will be in the rendering of the final artwork! I have to work up one spread at least, to find the best medium and style to achieve what I am seeing in my head. Will post the progress...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

poor neglected seedling...

My poor little 'growing boy' is being neglected at the moment as I'm still working on the Latvian illustration for the Italian exhibition. It has to be in Italy by 30th June!!! However, somewhere in the back of my head I'm garnering lots of real life inspirado for the book - I'm growing tomatoes, lettuce, peppers and spring onions (not to mention a pumpkin and a gourd) and all in freezing grey Scotland... and when I'm finished using them for reference, I get to eat them!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

from tiny acorns

the growing boy, take two...
I've begun the new roughs for the growing boy book. Tiny, tiny thumbnails to start with, trying to get a feel for how the book is going to work as a whole. I'm not sure I want to stick with realism though, I have a feeling it might yet be quite everyday with a hint of the fantastical - my favourite kind of mundane.

Friday, 20 March 2009


I've decided to give the Growing Boy his very own blog, partly because Scribbles in Ink has become a kind of free for all for me and is not really dedicated to the development of my books at all, but also because as the idea begins to take on a life of its own, I thought it might help to chart its growth from the first seed to (eventual!) completion.

The germ of the idea for the book came from something far too obscure and personal to go into here, but suffice to say after an initial flurry of enthusiasm last summer, the first piece of artwork (I will not call it finished artwork for obvious reasons!) has languished untouched for almost nine months. It has gradually dawned on me that the main reason for this is... that I hate it! Basically what I see in my mind is nothing like what came out on the paper. The more I've thought about it, the more I've come to realise there's nothing for it but to start again - depressing in one way but actually, now the decision has been made, it verges on something like relief.

I've been working on the first new roughs and will upload these shortly, meanwhile here's how it could have looked... but now won't!