Monday, May 31, 2010

update 5 on sam's book

Sam looking at the tractor, illustration, Vivien Blackburn

Well I more or less managed the tractor! lots of only half seen machinery there that I have no understanding of whatsoever, so I hope it makes sense.

Sam was very interested in it but a bit wary of all the noise and the size :>)

Tommy is the farmer/owner of the cottages we stayed in.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

update 4 Sam's book

Joie de Vivre, Sam jumping down the steps. Vivien Blackburn
watercolour, pencil and coloured pencil

And another illustration for Sam's book done :>)

The tractor still looms! shall I tackle drawing that today or ... not?

I've been reading a very good book on illustrating for children .

It's full of good tips - some of which I'd done instinctively in the books I've done so far, some that I'll employ in the future.

Things like:

  • different scale and viewpoints - In a previous book I'd done things like looking down on a tiny Sam playing on the beach, from the height of the kite he is flying. Or as here, looking up a flight of steps at him jumping down.

  • showing more in the drawing than is shown in the text - like the book I did for him when he was very young where he is looking for his toy giraffe - which is peeping out from behind elements in each drawing, a visual in-joke for the child

  • balancing text and image - I do always try to do this, treating the block of text as if it's an element of the image.
and lots more.

It gives some gorgeous examples, one of which was called Bob Robber and Dancing Jane by Andrew Matthews. Oh to have those writing skills!

Bob Robber was a thief.

He could steal honey from the bees and the scent from flowers. He could steal the truth from a promise and make it into a lie.



His hair was black as bats and his eyes were the colour of the new moon. Bob Robber could stand so still that spiders didn't notice him and spun webs across his clothes. When he moved he was quieter than moss. His thieving fingers were as nimble as fish and he could run faster than morning to be back in his cottage before the sun came up.

lovely cadences and mental images :>) the illustrations by Bee Willey are wonderful too. If you have any young children to buy for - rush out and buy it!

Another useful and generous resource is the blog/work of Lynne Chapman. She discusses work in progress, ideas, research, methods. the practical side of commissions and deadlines etc A fascinating insight.

book update 3

Sam playing football on the beach with his Dad and Grandad

I'm working on the illustrations that feature Sam. In this one I've re-used a sketch I did of Sam playing football in the summer. I scanned, cropped and printed it, coloured it, removed the grass, substitued sand and added the legs to suggest his father or grandfather.

Yet to tackle are cows, Farmer Tommy on his tractor and Sam jumping down a flight of steps ..... mmm ....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

book update 2

Sam and Lucky at Bosworlas Cottage, illustration Vivien Blackburn

I've done a couple more illustrations for the book - this one is of Sam outside the cottage he and his parents were staying at (ours is 20 yards to the left) and Lucky the farm cat. His parents are peeping out of the windows.

Sam collecting shells, illustration Vivien Blackburn

And this one is him collecting shells on the beach.

Both are watercolour with touches of coloured pencils, oil pastel and pencil.

Loads more to go ......

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Update on Sam's book

Sam feeding chickens, Pitt pen and coloured pencil. Vivien Blackburn

I've done the above sketch of Sam feeding the chickens for his book and the pencil drawing below, that needs colour adding (with watercolour/mixed media) of the house they were staying in - just a few yards away from 'ours' shown a couple of posts back. I've including Lucky the farm cat, his parents peeping out of the windows and a bird on the wall.

Tomorrow I might get the colour added.

I need to keep a balance between the cartoon figures and the style of sketching.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

cover update

cover update - this is how it's looking at the moment - front


cover opened out

The text box and underlining in the title are just Publisher stuff that won't print

better? I think so

Another book for Sam

Sam goes to Bosworlas, initial design for front cover, subject to change :>) Vivien Blackburn

back cover

I think I'm going to make a book for my grandson for his birthday about his holiday with us there. I'm using the painting of the farm as the cover and I'll include the painting he did.

Now I need to do sketches of his activities there, like jumping down the steps, the farm cat, the farmer and his tractor, the chickens and cows, the beach .......

The painting wraps around front and back covers like this

screenprint of opened cover for Sam goes to Bosworlas. Vivien Blackburn

I think I need to move it up slightly on the page before printing. Unfortunately I can't take images right to the edges - unless I print A3 - or design the book a little smaller and cut it down when printed. I don't think I like the vertical type with the image when seen folded either ..... all is subject to change at this very very early stage.

The font is based on my handwriting.

mmm ..... I think I may do that - it will give me the option to sometimes have images bleed off the edges. What do you think?

You can see an earlier book I made him here and here

Friday, May 21, 2010

Digital manipulation of photographs

Pendeen Lighthouse, Vivien Blackburn

I've been looking at the photographs from last week, to assess their potential for painting from - I simply didn't have enough sketching time being away with extended family but I'd like to get some paintings done.

The simplicity of the image lent itself to posterisation/find edges techniques, with some erasing and tweaking and use of layers to combine the edges/posterised colour.

This photograph, below, is ok - but I really like it above - simplified and made cool and airy (though it was a vividly blue day). I think it has potential for development - printmaking maybe?

original photograph

I need to work in pastels today to get some work ready for an exhibition so maybe not this image..

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Farmhouse from the Cot Valley

Bosworlas, watercolour, coloured pencil, pencil. Vivien Blackburn

I didn't have chance to sketch the farmhouse from the valley below while we were there. so this one is done from a photo shown here, along with the photo below of the stream running through it. It's about 12 x9 inches.

Yesterday's image was looking out through one of those windows

I need some time to work on some larger works - pastel or oils - but I'm doing long hours again this week :>(

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick sketch in coloured pencil in moleskine

Sketch of the farmhouse kitchen window - the walls are about 30 inches deep - coloured pencil, mainly polychromos and Lyra, in moleskine sketchbook - 'large' size.

I did this sketch of the window in the kitchen at the farmhouse early one morning. The stone walls are very very thick so the windowsill is about 30 inches deep. The warm light, shown by the yellow, is a little more subtle in the original - the scanner exagarates it.

I love these old stone buildings and the way they nestle into the landscape - but realise that for living in, I actually want large windows and light flooding in. And stone walls make for a very cool house! temperature that is .... not fashion. :>)

Much as I loved the farm, I realised how much I missed waking up to the sea view of other properties we've stayed in - links below.

views from window of the house we rented a previous year

Next visit I'll perhaps move back to this view - it's fantastic to open the curtains in the morning, whatever the weather :>) though the views across the farmland/edge of the moor, towards the sea was lovely this time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Back at last - photos of Cornwall

Sorry for the long absence - a mix of not being well, work being absolutely hectic and then being on holiday.

This is where I've been - a lovely farmhouse up on the moor, just above the coast in the far south west of England - only a few minutes from Lands End.

and the lane to the farm (above and below) just one car wide and lined with wild flowers in the hedges ....

the stream that tumbles down through the valleyby the house, comes out at Porth Nanven below, less than a mile away.

Back later with sketches