Friday, December 03, 2010
I've been busy making lots of pegdolls for the school Christmas Fair. Then it snowed, the school closed, and the fair has been postponed until next week. Hmm... maybe there's time to make something else as well. Or perhaps I'd better finish the last Horse + Pony that's sitting half finished on my desk under a pile of other things.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I have donated an image to be used as a charity Christmas card by the charity Rett UK. You can find out more about the charity and their work, and order the cards (£4.50 for a pack of 10) at www.rettuk.org.
Friday, October 08, 2010
The covers are all coloured in 'period' liveries like old cars of the 30's and 40's. I have a lovely new set of pantone CMYK samples which I pore over endlessly. I once borrowed a set of old BMC paint sample chips when we were restoring the van, and tried to chose the paint colour from it. I had a terrible time deciding as they were all so lovely. It even had the lilac paint used on the Minor Millions in it. In the end we went for Pale Primrose. Not a Morris colour, but one used on early MG Midgets. It matched a set of 40's teacups I'd found in a charity shop. Cars nowadays are so dreadfully boring.
We've also been developing an iPad App with Jonathan Hills and John Bowring based on Tom's treated Victorian novel A Humument. This is a very exciting thing. The last published edition of A Humument was in 2004. Tom has since made 39 brand new pages and we've used all the tiff files from the 2004 Thames & Hudson edition, many scanned then for the first time since they were created. It should be in the App store in a few weeks and an iPhone version will follow. It's a lovely, fun thing, and seeing the pages in the iPad screen in full luminous colour is a real joy.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I've been seriously fretting about my website for months. It's a very old-fashioned set-up and a total nightmare to edit. To my great delight I've found a website hosting company called Other People's Pixels who run a content managed hosting service for artists. Their templates are totally brilliant, easy to edit, and just what I'd been dreaming of! Cool. Check it out at www.alicewood.co.uk
Monday, August 09, 2010
A Friend In Need by Sue Howes, part 3
Gemma waited on Pip behind the barn. She was sure that Mrs Feather would search the woods, once she had phoned Gemmas’s parents to tell them what was happening. Gemma reckoned she had about twenty minutes before her parents arrived to join the search, and she hoped the first search party would leave soon so she could get away. Within five minutes she saw Mrs Feather and Jess leave the yard on two of the school ponies, and head towards the woods. As soon as they were out of sight, she hurried Pip out of the front gate and was soon threading her way through the back streets of the town.
She felt bad sneaking off like this, especially without telling Jess, but she was certain that she would not have been allowed to do it on her own, and to be on her own with her pony was what Gemma desperately wanted. She hadn’t really been alone at all since her accident and she was hoping for an hour or so before she was caught. Her head was filled with Jess’ description of the little valley on the moor, and she decided to see if she could find it.
Jess and Mrs Feather had each taken one end of the track through the woods, looking carefully between the trees. When they met in the middle they were both disappointed, there had been no sign of girl or pony.
“We’ll have to go further afield,” decided Mrs Feather. “Have you got any idea where she might have gone?”
“I did wonder if she might be looking for the place I found the other day,” said Jess, “only it’s a long way away. I don’t think she realised how far it is.”
“In that case, we’d better go back to the stables and change ponies. These two are too old for an extended ride. You can have Otter, & I’ll take Briony. You can show me where but we must stick together, I don’t want two of you missing!”
While Jess tacked up the two ponies, she could hear Mrs Feather talking with Gemma’s parents who had arrived, white-faced and frightened. They were imagining Gemma, fallen from her pony somewhere, unable to move and helpless. They were going to look round the roads nearby, and had already talked to the police.
Jess led Otter out of his stable. If it hadn’t been for the seriousness of the search, she would have been thrilled to be allowed to ride the sleek brown pony. He was the youngest in the yard, at eight years old, and was very keen. Only the most experienced were allowed to ride him. He bounced a little under Jess as she checked her girth, and led the way out of the yard at a brisk walk.
They had been riding for about half an hour when Mrs Feather spotted the first signs that a pony had been that way – a pile of fresh droppings. They hurried on at a trot, the feeling of urgency driving them on. The path cut across the side of a steep hill, and there was a sheer drop down on one side of it. Jess looked down, hoping she wouldn’t see Gemma lying in the bracken below, but thankfully there was no sign of her there.
“It looks like we’re in for some nasty weather,” called Mrs Feather, pointing to the darkening sky to the west. “And Gemma’s coat is still hanging up in the tack room.” She frowned, her face drawn with worry.
As they reached the top of the slope, the wind hit them. It was much stronger than they had expected and Jess shivered, wondering how Gemma had coped with it as it was quite unbalancing. It became hard to talk, with the wind snatching the words away, so they continued in grim silence.
It was then that the rain began. In no time at all it was coming down so hard that Jess lost sight of Mrs Feather. Otter fought Jess, he wanted to turn his bottom into the wind and they struggled on into the storm. She must find Gemma. Just at that moment, a pheasant flew out right under Otter’s hooves, and the pony shied in fright. Saddle slippery with rain, Jess slid out to the side and hit the soft ground with a squelch. She could just make out the pony’s wet brown quarters disappearing into the rainstorm. How would she find Gemma now?
Part 4 to follow shortly.
Friday, August 06, 2010
The proof copy of A Bird's Song has arrived back from lulu.com and it's looking quite good. The printing is digital so the colour matching isn't perfect, but for that you need proper CMYK printing presses and thousands of pounds. The binding is secure and well put together. The paper is a good weight with no show-through. I managed to send the pdf file without the bleed setting, because their job option file didn't include it, so there are small white edges on the trimmed sides. I will have to change that next time, but it's only a small thing at this stage. The best thing is that the production cost is reasonable enough to sell it at a market price. All in all I'm pretty pleased with it!
Now I have to do the missing illustrations, and then get another proof. It seems that they only allow the option of selling directly on amazon for certain sizes of their available production options and this one, 9" x 7", is not one of them. I'm not sure why, or if, it matters but that's another thing to think about... anyway - back to work.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I've come to the conclusion that whichever way I do it I am extremely unlikely to make a penny out of it, so I might as well please myself! The liberating thing will be the creative freedom. No more changing this-that-or-the-other to please somebody else's idea of how your work should look. No more waiting for feedback and getting frustrated because all I really want to do is scribble, draw and paint all day.
I have so many stories and ideas which will never see the light of day if I rely on finding a commercial publisher for them. They are officially 'uncommercial'. So here goes... Maybe they will be rubbish! Maybe they would have been better with a publisher's art team behind them, and maybe this is an act of fantastic folly. The worst I can do is fail, and as an artist I do that every time I make something, so what's the worry?
First up will be A Bird's Song as a 32 page full colour picture book. I wrote this story years ago, and it's been in many forms over the intervening years. It's lyrical, poetic, obscure and lovely. I need to finish the artwork but I am aiming to have it ready by the end of the year. There are a couple of self-publishing websites now which offer fairly reasonable full colour printing, blurb.com and lulu.com. I am in the process of researching isbns, pdfs, bleed sizes, spine width calculators and generally getting confused. I'll be ordering a proof to see what the quality is like.
I will post more news as the venture progresses...
Thursday, July 01, 2010
There can be a little research involved when trying to date the cards, so when Tom came across this card of a little boy holding a Morris Owner magazine he gave it to me to investigate. As a long time Morris Minor owner I was excited to find the card and sent a scan of it to Nicola Parkins, the new editor of the Morris Minor Owners Club magazine. When I enlarged the card I discovered, to my great surprise, that the cover featured two military tanks!! I wondered to Nicola if Morris had built tanks. She came up trumps and in this month's Minor Matters there is a fantastic article about the magazine the little boy is holding (from May 1927) with the history of the one-man Morris-Martel tankette, a colour reproduction of the original magazine cover, AND I get my name splashed about all over my favourite subscription!
Meanwhile, my 'tankette' has failed her MOT on some worn out bushes. Nothing serious but I'm not sure I'll be fixing them in the spare room...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I heard today that BPG Publishing who produce Horse+Pony magazine will not be renewing their license to publish it from Bauer Publishing, who own the rights to H+P. The magazine has been going for 30 years, and been published by BPG since 2005. I have worked as the short story illustrator for the last 3 years, and loved it.
The August issue will be the last, and this story (A Friend in Need) will end half way through!! Argh!! When I get a minute I'll do the two final illustrations and see if the writer, Sue Howes, will let me post the two final installments of the story here on my blog. The magazine was going from strength to strength and I enjoyed my time working on it. What a sad day :-(
The drawing competition will go ahead and I'll be sending out book prizes when the winners are announced. Thanks to everyone who was a true H+P fan! Ponies rule forever!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Yesterday I visited the Foundling Museum in London. I had wanted to go there for several reasons, but mainly because I had heard about the foundling tokens. Not wanting to give too much away, but the 'Secret Locket' in my children's book is a foundling token. Our heroine is found, as a baby, in a basket on the steps of the Big House and taken in. She has nothing in her basket except for a golden egg, and a golden locket. The egg hatches into a musical golden bird who remains her constant friend and companion, but no one can explain the significance of her locket... until much, much later!
So many childrens' stories begin with the orphaned or abandoned child. It's a terrific device for taking all kinds of liberties with the adventure, and the opportunity to cut out all kinds of parent-imposed health-and-safety concerns!
The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, London's first home for abandoned children and of three major figures in British history: its campaigning founder the philanthropist Thomas Coram (who was from Lyme Regis), the artist William Hogarth and the composer George Frideric Handel. The museum is now in a building adjacent to the original site of the Hospital, which was demolished in 1928.
Sometimes, when a mother gave her baby over to the care of the Hospital, she left a token by which her child might be identified should she ever return to claim them. There were also plea letters, and the Hospital would take a swatch of the baby's clothing or blanket, again for identification purposes. Each child would be re-christened so they lost all contact with their previous identity. The Hospital kept the tokens in its archive. They were never given to the unclaimed children in case it compromised the identity of the mother.
The little objects are heart-breakingly sad. Some obviously made with such care, and no small expense, that one wonders how the mother could not afford to keep her child. Illegitimacy was such a stigma at that time that poverty was not the only reason a woman might not keep her own baby. Some are just curios, of no monetary value, but unique in their form so as to be perfectly suited to their purpose. Half a coin, a strange seed, a tiny fish made of bone, a thimble. Each one hides a story.
Monday, June 07, 2010
If you'd like to win a signed copy of my new book Princess Dolly and the Secret Locket you can enter the drawing competition in Horse + Pony magazine this month. The July issue has full details (see pictures) but the competition is open to children, and all you have to do is send in a drawing of your favourite pony. There are some examples shown here.
Send your drawing and contact details to: H+P Princess Dolly, 33 Broad Street, Stamford, Lincs PE9 1RB by 5th July 2010. Happy pony drawing!
I illustrate the pony short story each month so here's one of mine...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The lights were all aiming back towards us (for the benefit of the auditorium), so my view was mostly backlit, and very bright. The visual acrobatics of looking into this and then, blinded, down to a little piece of paper were a bit demanding, and I couldn't really see what I was doing. I abandoned the fine pen for a thick black brush pen, and it just about made enough of a mark in the dark to get some idea of what was going down! The action of drawing while watching/listening is very rewarding as it commits music to memory in a very anchored way, the two activities performed together demand proper concentration and coordination. One's mind is prevented from wandering about.
There was a drummer, a guitar/banjo/recorder player who did the arrangements on the new record, a trombonist and two violin players (I should have written down their names). JN played the piano and the harp. She started with '81, alone on stage, just her with the harp. Lovely, and my favourite song on the new LP, then they went on with Easy, Good Intentions and Have One On Me. A couple of older pieces made it in, Bridges & Balloons, and the Book of Right On. I particularly enjoyed hearing Monkey & Bear live for the first time. I liked the way her hands were reflected in the shiny black polish of the piano as she played, like a duet in a mirror.
Roy Harper, one of my favourite, proper songwriters played first and he was brilliant. An amazing guitar player. Just great to hear him sing Another Day after all these years. We had to stop ourselves calling out for Hell's Angels though and giving ourselves away as proper old gits. I was struck suddenly by the similarity between J Newsom's album cover for Have One On Me to that old hippy classic Flat, Baroque and Berserk. She likes Roy Harper, but then he is a poet too. The thing behind him in the drawing which looks like a giant oven glove is the harp in its cover!
As we left the Festival Hall, and people turned on their phones, the news slowly crept through the crowd that David Cameron had become Prime Minister while we weren't looking. There was palpable disappointment. To quote Roy Harper...
How does it feel to be a voter?
How does it feel to be a voluntary heel?
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Princess Dolly & the Secret Locket has finally hit the bookshelves! Complete with pink cover, a little gold locket and the most complex endpapers ever published! Priced at £10.99 on amazon & waterstones, or lovereading4kids where it's a little bit cheaper.
Dolly and her friends are so excited! The Duke and Duchess are coming to town, and they have announced a Grand Ball for the Royal Princess. But who is the princess? As the friends get everything ready for the royal arrival, they wonder about her. How graceful she must be, with lots of servants to clean and sew for her. How wonderful! But when they do meet the princess, they are in for a big surprise!
I've designed a cover and toy theatre for the release of Rachael Dadd's new EP on broken sound music. Every record sleeve will enclose a pressing of the Moth in the Motor mini-album on limited edition 10" vinyl and include the free digital downloads.
There are 5 limited edition Toy Theatre kits each with a unique moth badge and the vinyl record for sale for £38.
Go to the broken sound website to see all the covers in the project or place an order. For more information about Rachael Dadd see her myspace page.