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1. Sketchbook people live in a cafe this month

Some of my sketchbook characters decided to spend the month in a wonderful cafe called "Ninas Café Klatsch" here in Hamm, Germany. I took them there last night so they can watch Ninas guests having delicious cupcakes and soups for the next 4 weeks.

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2. BLOOM 8th - 14th May




































This lovely image is the poster for an upcoming exhibition I'm involved in this May entitled BLOOM. The show is taking place at the beautiful Gardens Gallery in Cheltenham, where I have previously exhibited with the lovely GradGallery collective.

The exhibition will showcase the work of five creatives including myself, Sophia Bloxham, Liz Clayton, Emma Ridgway and Katie Thomas (who designed this fabulous poster!). Please click on their names to visit their websites/blogs to check out their work. There will be a variety of illustration and design on show and, as always, there will be lots of lovely prints, originals, postcards and greetings cards for sale!

Hope you can make it along to the exhibition, please pop in and say hello if you are in the area!

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3. Tokyo Wrap Up

I'm finally back home after a successful show at Space Yui in Tokyo.

Japan was wonderful for both daughter and myself, though it was very much a 'working holiday' for me. For the first month I was largely focused on meeting deadlines, producing work for the show and other such business, so not so many opportunities for socialising and enjoying the summer break. However the hard work was all worthwhile in the end, the exhibition at Space Yui was a tremendous success. My deepest thanks to Kimura-san and all the other staff at the gallery.

Setting up the show in the gallery (photo courtesy of Space Yui)
In addition to the artwork from 'Jack to Mame no Ki', limited edition prints and the original images drawn for the show, Space Yui also produced some T-Shirts from the unfinished artwork to my next book The Stone Giant. Although the artwork is yet to be painted in colour I had some scans of the ink drawings in black and white stage, which were perfect for the T-Shirt and made a very big impact on the show attendees.

In Space Yui Gallery modelling the t-shirts produced for the show
One of the numerous drawings developed from sketchbook images sold during the show
Legendary zoologist, TV personality and author Mutsugoro (Masanori Hata)
I didn't take many photos, but I've posted a very few snapshots of the attendees and more of the displayed work on my Facebook feed

Finally the exhibition was over and daughter and I were able to finally relax. Straight after the exhibition we were invited by my editors at Fukuinkan to the Nagano mountains to stay in a Besso (country cottage) and research our next book. It was a wonderful tonic after the stifling heat of Tokyo!

Seren in Kobuchizawa with Roa and Yuriko
Finally back in Tokyo I was just in time to enjoy the release of Jack to Mame no Ki on 10th September!

Fukuinkan section in the Tama Plaza branch of Yurindo Bookshop. Jack gets centre stage!


1 Comments on Tokyo Wrap Up, last added: 9/18/2012
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4. The Willow Foundation: Encounter with an Anaconda!


Last year, I was invited to create a small piece of artwork for a charity auction and exhibitionStars on Canvas, in aid of the fantastic Willow Foundation. They sent me a little blank canvas last December but, since they didn't need it doing until June, I tucked it away on a shelf and... you guessed it: completely forgot it was there! They emailed me a couple of weeks ago and I felt really guilty, but luckily it turns out I am not too late.

Last time I did one of these, I had a bit of a disaster, because pastels don't really work on canvas. I ended up using oil pastels, but it was still not ideal. As it happens though, I recently bought myself some acrylic paints: I've been fancying having a go for a while.

Unfortunately I couldn't leap into action when I got my e-nudge from Willow: I was still frantically trying to get my Swap! artwork done, ready for Gullane to present at Frankfurt. That deadline has now passed and, though I am still working hard to get the rest of the artwork finished ASAP, I was able to steal a day this week, to get my little canvas done:



I chose an illustration from Class Two at the Zoo, as I thought that, since that book's been around a while and been on telly a fair bit, on Bookaboo, it might just be an image people would recognise, and so maybe fetch a bit more money at auction.


I decided to use the edges of the canvas to let people know what it was all about, but I have to say, painting the lettering took almost as long as the picture!! The project was really handy for getting a feel for acrylics though - it's my first try with them.

The idea is to sign the canvas and they sent a black marker pen, but I didn't want to put a great ugly signature across the front, so I initialled it in my normal way and signed the top edge instead. Hope that'll work for them.


There will be around 300 canvases in the auction, not just by artists and designers, but also by well known faces from the worlds of sport, music and entertainment. Bidding will open on 22nd November and closes on December 2nd (good timing for interesting Christmas presents perhaps..?). The auction culminates in a public exhibition at Maddox Arts, London W1, from November 29th until December 1st.

This is the 3rd Stars on Canvas auction. The first 2 events raised over £100,000 towards providing memorable experiences for people living with life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and motor neurone disease.

3 Comments on The Willow Foundation: Encounter with an Anaconda!, last added: 9/19/2012
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5. SketchDrool: Drawing and Eating!


Yes, following on from the regular SketchCrawl, then our SketchJam idea, we SketchCrawl North sketchers have coined another new term: the SketchDrool. It combines two of my favourite pastimes - drawing and eating!

Last Friday night, despite unbelievably torrential rain, a small group of us met up to go to the preview of a new exhibition of screen prints by Mick Marsten, at Pete McKee's A Month of Sundays gallery in Sheffield.

It was really nice stuff. We thought that the foul weather might put people off though, but the show was packed. It was nice to bump into several people we knew and chew the fat over a glass of wine and some nibbly things.



Afterwards, we crossed the road to Otto's restaurant, where we had booked a table for a drawing evening. I took along my Inktense watercolour pencils, my trusty waterbrush and just a tiny A6 sketchbook. I managed to grab one sketch for each section of the meal. 


Serious food-sketchers, like sketch-buddy Matthew Midgley, did their drawings before they ate, but I couldn't resist getting stuck in while it was hot, and only stopped to draw half way through.

As soon as my main course arrived, I realised that mushroom risotto was not the wisest choice... 


It tasted delicious but was mainly white, not to mention consisting primarily of impossible-to-draw rice! I was happy to stop and sketch though, as it was very rich and I was getting seriously stuffed.

While we waited for our food to settle, we had some more wine and moved places, so we could chat to new people and have new angles to sketch from. This is Moya, who I met at my clay modelling evenings:


After a bit, the waiter came to try and tempt us with the desert menu but, though puddings might have been fun to sketch, we all groaned and took the sensible option of ordering coffees instead.


It was great fun to try something a little different and worked especially well for having a combination of stalwarts like myself, Andrea Joseph and Matthew, but also some first-timers. 
It was a lovely evening and an idea I'm sure we will repeat. 

2 Comments on SketchDrool: Drawing and Eating!, last added: 9/14/2012
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6. Harmony Exhibition: Private View!

We had our private view last night for the Harmony exhibition in Cheltenham. Here are a few photos from the evening, we had a great turnout! You should also check out the lovely Liz Clayton's blog for more photos. The exhibition will be staying open daily 10-5 until Tuesday 17th July.




1 Comments on Harmony Exhibition: Private View!, last added: 7/16/2012
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7. Harmony Exhibition: 11-17 July 2012

The GradGallery exhibition is currently open at The Gardens Gallery, Cheltenham. There's a variety of work on show, ranging from illustration to photography. There are originals and prints for sale and lots of lovely greetings cards and postcards to purchase.

Thank you to everyone who has visited so far, we have had some great comments and met some lovely people! Please pop in and say hello if you are in the area. I'll be there most days, we are open 10-5 until Tuesday 17th July.

These are a few photos of the exhibition:





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8. Meeting my Publisher




I got up bright and early to catch the 7.30 train to London on Tuesday morning, to meet my brand new contacts at Egmont (publishers of A Lark in the ArkBaby Goes Baaaaa! and Baby Can Bounce!). 


They've had a big change-round over the last few weeks. By coincidence, both the editor of picture books and the pre-school editor left within a couple of weeks of one another, so Egmont took the opportunity to have a rethink. Instead of 2 parallel editors, managing different titles, they've rolled the 2 lists into one under the control of a new Editorial Manager, who works to assist an equally new Publishing Director.


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9. come a little bit closer

My poor little blog has been rather neglected of late. I do have a good excuse though; I have been very busy. Last weekend I was exhibiting my work, along with some other local artists, as a part of the Derbyshire Open Arts weekend. It was a great weekend.

We turned Catriona's little barn into a lovely exhibition space, sent out the invitations and waited to see if anyone would turn up.

I was amazed by how many did. A huge thanks to everyone who went off the beaten track to find us. They came from far and wide (hey Louisa!) to see the arty loveliness our little barn had to offer. I'll post some photos when I get them back from Snappy Snaps.

Before the event I assumed I'd have three days to do lots of sketching. But, no chance. We were busy throughout which was great because there's nothing that makes me happier than sharing my sketchbooks with people.
You know up until quite recently the only artistic community I've been involved in is an online one. Being a part of that community has been amazing, and life changing, for me. It has enabled me to set up a blog, encouraged me to keep drawing, supported me in becoming a professional illustrator and always been there for advice on all sorts of things.

I had not, however, been involved in a local community of artists. In fact, for a long time, nobody even knew I was drawing like a maniac at home. It was my exhibition in Buxton, last summer, that brought me to the attention of a local audience and then everyone knew. Joining Sketchcrawl North a little while later made me realise the great things that come from being part of a group.

Exhibiting with this group of talented and generous artists over the weekend was a joy. I'm so happy that I've connected with a local arty community because you get good things from being with people. People who share your passion. So reach out because we are, after all, just chubby babies floating in a sea of tissue paper.

Check out the amazing work by my exhibtion mates; Catriona Hall, Sandra Orme and Rob Wilson. And a big big thanks to the photographer, and my friend, Lynne McPeake for everything she does.

8 Comments on come a little bit closer, last added: 6/9/2012
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10. Traveling Art & Material Girls


Wow, it’s been a minute since I’ve blogged, but I’ve been busy, busy, busy. WHITE WATER debuts in 3 days! I’ve been working on a promotional material for that, including a shiny new trailer for my youtube channel (coming soon) ;-) . School starts in a week and I’ve been obsessing over my syllabi, meeting people on campus, and getting to know more and more about my new city (which I adore). It’s going to be a great year! In awesome news – The Ashley Bryan Traveling Exhibit of Illustrated Africana Children’s Literature is now on display in the Barrow Media Center! This exhibit is provided through a collaboration between the Auburn Avenue Research Library and the National Black Arts Festival. The exhibit will be at Barrow until September 27th when I will visit the school.  To support the exhibit, Barrow has copies of six books that accompany the exhibit, a curriculum guide to inspire lessons using the texts and artwork, and a school-wide subscription to Literacyhead. Woot Woot! You can read more about Barrow and the exhibit here:

Chakaia Booker and The Fatality of Hope

I visited the Reginald F. Lewis Musem today to see Material Girls: Contemporary Black Women Artists and was blown away, specifically by the work of Chakaia Booker (New York, NY) who sculpts using old rubber tires. Equally inspiring was the work of:
Sonya Clark (Richmond, VA)
Torkwase Dyson (Brooklyn, NY)
Maren Hassinger (Baltimore, MD)
Martha Jackson Jarvis (Washington, DC)
Joyce J. Scott (Baltimore, MD)
Renée Stout (Washington, DC)

AMAZING. Sadly, I wasn’t able to buy a copy of the catalog because the gift shop was closed…on a Saturday afternoon *sigh*. It’s worth another trip to collect the catalog and see the museum again. There’s so much to take in from the permanent collection. If you are visiting B-more, I highly recommend seeing the exhibit. A huge THANK YOU to Dr. Leslie King-Hammond for recommending this.

6 Comments on Traveling Art & Material Girls, last added: 8/23/2011
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11. Book Talk

Barrow Elementary Exhibit

This Tuesday, Sept. 27th, I will be speaking with students at Barrow Elementary School as a part of the Ashley Bryan Children’s Literature Award’s traveling exhibition. My work has been on display at Barrow for a month and will move to various schools throughout Georgia.

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12. Four Widows and an Opening


At tonight's opening of a group show at the Swains Lane Gallery, London N6 6 QX, where I'm exhibiting four watercolours from the Scottish Widows series.

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13. The Twins of Wu


These lovely twins popped in to the gallery today, out of simple curiosity. They were bubbling over with enthusiasm for art, so I couldn't resist asking them to pose with a couple of my Cards of Wu (now available from me in a boxed set). 
They are holding The Chariot and The Cloud Doctor.
Click to enlarge.

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14. The Robes of Wu

After this evening's rehearsal for Friday's 20x20 presentation at ASC Open Studios, I got the call that my Robes of Wu were ready for collection. The bespoke hat and gown were made to my specification by the redoubtable Zoë Cobb aided by the Gnomes of Dave. I could not be more delighted with the garments which will no doubt boost my clairvoyant powers. Click pic to enlarge.

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15. Children's Illustration Competition: Winners...


Remember the children's illustrations that were created as a response to my exhibition? Children were asked to create there own picture book character, inspired by the show.

Well, after much deliberation, I am finally ready to announce the winners (drum roll.....)

First Prize goes to Eloise (who is just 4 years old!) for Rose the Monster Princess:


I really like all the details, especially the pink hairspray and the green, slimy hand-prints on her pink dress from her green slimy hands. I think a monster princess is a fabulous idea and a great character for a story.

Second prize goes to Emmy for the Purple-Lipped Snapper Firetail:


What a great character and so unusual. I like the colours: the blending to create the fire  1 Comments on Children's Illustration Competition: Winners..., last added: 11/28/2011
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16. Illustration Exhibition: Giant Children's Jigsaws


Sadly, my one man show in Salford, Llamas in Pyjamas, has come down now, but the mixed show, Picture This!has just opened at Gallery Oldham - hurrah! Things have been so crazy-busy that I haven't been to see it yet, but Anna, the curator, has sent me a couple of photos of the huge, vertical jigsaws they have created from a couple of my illustrations.

The first is my hairy friend Big Gorilla from An Itch to Scratch, written by my slightly less hairy friend Damian Harvey:


On the other side of the board, is another jigsaw, created from a spread from Giddy Goat by Jamie Rix:


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17. Excellent Exhibition of Children's Book Illustration



Saturday was the official opening day of the Picture This! show at Gallery Oldham. I am so proud to be part of this show and so impressed with the job curator Anna Simms has done. The shiny, ultra-modern space is great to start with, but her design and colour choices have made it even more gorgeous and they set off the work perfectly. 



It is the variety of styles and techniques in the work on display that really makes this show special though. Katie Viggers's printmaking, Kazuno Kahora's bold, limited colours, Jez Alboroughs's soft paintings, Shirley Hughes's blend of sketchy line and colour - there is just so much to see. The choice of illustrators is really interesting too, from old-hands like Shirley, and of course our ex-laureate Anthony Browne, through to exciting, relative new-comers, like Joe BergerViviane Schwarz and Chris Haughton, amongst many others.




It is hung in an interesting way too, really pointing up the breadth of approach that's possible in children's publishing. My 1 Comments on Excellent Exhibition of Children's Book Illustration, last added: 2/3/2012
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18. Public Talks about Children's Book Illustration


People sometimes ask me when I am doing events which are open to the general public, rather than in schools. Well, I have several coming up really soon: on Tues Feb 21st in Oldham, on the evening of Fri Feb 24th in Batley, and two on Sat Feb 25th: in Holmforth in the morning and then Huddersfield after lunch.

At 1pm in Oldham Library, I will be giving a 1hr lecture, 'A Life in Pictures', on children's book illustration and how I starting out. I'll also look at some of the other illustration work I've done before finding my way to books, and look in detail at my recent book Bears on the Stairs. It's like an extended version of the short film on my website. 

This event is linked to the exhibition of children's book illustration currently in Oldham: Picture This! If you would like to attend, please contact Oldham Library on 0161 770 8014.

4 Comments on Public Talks about Children's Book Illustration, last added: 2/18/2012
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19. Memorable Sculpture Festival – Gold Coast

SWELL Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach celebrated the unity of nature and art under a shining Sun. September 18th 2010. Spread wisely along the Currumbin Beach, the contemporary visual arts exhibition of sculptures, by artist from around Australia, is rapidly gaining huge popularity among Gold Coasters and tourists from all over the world. This was my first visit and I can only thank my friend Olga for inviting me there. The frustration of being unable to find a parking place was a clear sign of the growing popularity of the SWELL Sculpture Festival that started seven years ago. The impact of each unique sculpture integrated into the natural landscape is a quite powerful experience.  Nature seemed to like it too, with the Sun shining down and a friendly breeze from the blue Pacific Ocean seemingly inviting viewers to stroll along the beach from one sculpture to the next. My favourite was #02 by John Dahlsen from NSW. Photo ... Read the rest of this post

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20. chris brown's alphabet of london

I keep having this ideal for my blog, that every day I should post a new drawing. It's tricky, when I spend all day drawing stuff my publishers don't want me to show you yet. But here we go, a pub drawing from last night. Viviane Schwarz did the bottom half, and I did the top half, upside-down.



Viv and I met at St Pancras station and walked over to the new Central Saint Martins art college building. It's ENORMOUS. High ceilings, vast slabs of concrete, reclaimed brickwork, huge panes of glass. You can just see it in the background here, behind Viv swinging in this rather quirky little pavilion in the middle of the Kings Cross building site.



We started off the evening at the party to launch Christopher Brown's new book, An Alphabet of London. I've been excited to see this book, because Chris was one of my visiting lecturers on the MA Illustration course at Camberwell art college, and he loves that luscious, heavy, solid look you can get with lino cut prints, and I do, too! His publishers, Merrell, also had an earlier book on sale that he'd illustrated, A Pack of Dogs, and both books are very yummy. Nom Nom.



Here's a little peek at the page for T; Viv and I got a laugh from T is for Trepanning. It took us awhile to remember where we'd seen that carved wooden tiger mauling the colonist. I thought it was at the British Museum, but in the back of the book, it says it's Tippoo's Tiger at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Ah yes. And it's from 1793. If you've been to London, you'll undoubtedly recognise the art museum at the top of the page. The others are harder to guess: Trinity Buoy Wharf Lighthouse in Poplar, Temple Church in the City of London, oh, and there's a tourist in the corner.



At the party, we got to see his original lino cut prints on display, so lovely! It's a great conversation piece, trying to guess all the letters. This book will make a perfect London souvenir for people visiting London, a Londoner's gift for friends abroad, or a book for a Londoner to have on a coffee table to give everyone something to talk about at awkward dinner parties, ha ha.




I just had to get a photo of these lovely chappies. There were more than a few excellent twiddly moustaches present. (I have no idea who they actually are. Chaps, if you read this, please identify yourselves!) :)



Besides the alphabet, Chris gives us, in the back of the book, a big of a description and photos of how he set about making the prints. I'm itching to do a book of lino prints, starting with the trees in Greenwich Park, but I don't want to approach a publisher about it yet because I want it to be something I do for the pure enjoyment of it, not be freaking out about a deadline. Because making lino cuts

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21. Caffeine fueled

Some caffeine-fuelled thoughts:

  1. new designs for the bride and groom.
  2. when will the weather finally run out?
  3. the price of cigarettes must inevitably rise
  4. free spades for all
  5. it's hard keeping track of time nowadays

Pen and wash with digital colour. A4 size. Click to enlarge.

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22. The Great Sheffield Art Show: Selection Process


On Sunday I woke up to glorious sunshine. Despite that, the edges of the pond were frozen and the wind was really cold. I was (rather selfishly) glad it wasn't too nice, since I was spending a chunk of the day indoors, as one of the judges helping select artwork for this year's Great Sheffield Art Show



The exhibition is 25 years old this summer and shows a massive variety of work. Professional artists with a large body of work can rent a space, but the main body of the hall is giving over to the 'open show: a great opportunity for emerging artists. 


The selection process is really interesting. It's done at the weekend, so the organisers can borrow a local school (it needs an awful lot of room). Would-be exhibitors deliver their artwork first thing. A team of volunteers carry it all into the school hall and prop it up against the walls, or on chairs and tables, so everything is visible, but anonymous. When it's all set up, the judges walk round and colour-code the work as 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'. We work in pairs, starting at opposite ends of the room, so that, when we cross over in the middle, we can moderate the other pair's decisions, drawing attention to anything we strongly disagree with and nudging their 'maybes' one way or other.

Once we have finished, the organisers go in and do a count-up, with an eye on the numbers they need to fill the exhibition space, adding back any extras they think might be especially saleable or popular with the public.

Once the selecting is finalised, we all get treated to a lovely buffet lunch (and a naughty, lunchtime glass of wine): a great opportunity to have a good natter with like-minded people. Last year I stayed and helped al

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23. Amazing Restraint

Pen and ink 8cm x 15cm. Click to enlarge.

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24. "SAIL" Exhibition
























Hello everyone!

It's been a few weeks since I've stopped by here..! I've been busy organising work for several upcoming exhibitions, the first of which is "SAIL". It's taking place over a couple of weeks in May at galleries in both Cirencester and Cheltenham. There will be a huge variety of different creatives exhibiting and should be an exciting show! There will also be plenty of art works, prints and cards avaliable to buy if you wish! If you live locally, please pop by and say hello!

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25. 1973

A letter to SGJ, circa 1973.
Pen and ink 13cm x 18cm. Click to enlarge.

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