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Viewing Blog: Cassia Thomas - Illustrator, Most Recent at Top
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UK children's book illustrator working with Hodder to produce two picture books to be published in 2010. Work, ramblings and rants!
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1. Look who's back...

Oh dear... um... it's been a little while, hasn't it? Ahem, four itsy-bitsy, teeny tiny, YEARS to be precise. Well, this is awkward, hm? What can I say? Any chance we can put this down to a blip? A missed stitch in the fabric of time....? Perhaps one buried in a hidden pocket of a barely worn suit...?! Next to a fluffy Murray Mint, a coin for some distant land you've never been to, and a receipt for Hemorrhoid cream (clearly you've nicked someone else's suit, you monster!) No? Ah well... I guess an explanation it is then.

When I last signed off, I had no intention of leaving this blog doing its' own thing. I thought I'd just patted it fondly on its' head, with a cheery 'Run along now, Kiddo', and popped out for milk. Things just got kind of busy...

So, I when I THOUGHT I'd merely popped out for milk, I kind of, sort of, ended up having a baby and leaving the country instead! Big oops!

Whilst in Deutschland (for this is where I ended up) I met a fair amount of fabulous people. See Nikki's amazetastic blog for one. I also attempted to play 'Mummy' (it's a game a bit like Tamagotchi, but it turns out you ACTUALLY have to feed a kid- CRA-A-ZY!) Good times were had. However, eventually wishing people a 'Gute Fahrt' grew old. Oh, I'm just joshing with you, that'll NEVER get old! Well, alright then,  you know what really happened? It was the darnedest thing. One day, in Germany, I went out to buy milk...

So I left THAT country behind (careless) and had ANOTHER baby (ill-advised. Do you know how much feeding these things need??? And they totally NEVER power up either!!!) And, now, some time later, I stand before you, yes, it's true, quite a different person. A person who's long forgotten what sleep is, or what it is to know that the voice inside your head IS the voice inside your head... and not the voice outside your head which FEELS like the voice inside your head... if the voice inside your head only ever liked Power rangers... and yogurt... and POWER RANGERS!

Whilst away, I had some lovely messages over the months asking how I was... not all from debt collectors and Nigerian princes. I was really touched. Although, it took me a good 15 mins to remember where I could find the 'create new post' button, and even longer to try and beat my brain into shape to write this, I'm happy to be back. Pleased to pat my blog on its head and tell it how much it's grown. Mostly, I'm extremely grateful to be back drawing... and that you seem to have returned to have a read, after all this time.

0 Comments on Look who's back... as of 6/4/2015 1:18:00 PM
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2. And now for something completely different...

As promised, I bring you, 'The Baby.' This is spec work I'm doing for a potential, and yet un-announced project. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

It'll be back to the animal kingdom next week though. Am thinking... oooh, knitting elephants, perhaps???

3 Comments on And now for something completely different..., last added: 9/10/2011
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3. Never work when you're tired...

I've been wondering all day why the image I've been working on doesn't look crisp- turns out I've somehow been working on it at a low resolution. Doh!

Ach well, good job it's just a bit of an experiment... I think I might officially pop my brain to bed for the night.

9 Comments on Never work when you're tired..., last added: 9/9/2011
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4. One of those weeks.

I don't know what I did to the universe last week, but it clearly decided I deserved a bit of a slap upside the head.

It all started with a bush of suspicious being. I believe this bush has been lurking in a sinister fashion at the bottom of our garden for years. However, since we only moved in in May, I have no proof. It could very well have sidled in through the back gate last week. To be honest, I wouldn't put it past it. It's sneaky. So sneaky, it's actually hiding behind another altogether more friendly bush of similar description. I wouldn't have known it was there, save for the fact that last time I was in the garden it smirked and rubbed its' branches together smugly. Oh yes! It knows what it's doing!

And, not content with tarnishing the good name of our garden, it appears world domination is its' principle aim. Its spikey little tendrils have begun to straddle the neighbours wall. It leers down at nextdoors' children. It's a bad, bad bush, I tell you.

Anyway, it turns out that this bush, a Yew Bush, is highly dangerous (incase you were preparing to ignore my warnings and give it the benefit of the doubt). Indeed, it's one of the few plants that can kill in the UK. Whilst I'm sure a daisy with a rifle might be scary, the lack of trigger finger means we can all sleep easy. It turns out that THIS bush can fell an army of horses without even trying. Cue abject panic on my behalf. Dogs, the neighbours kids and this bush should NOT hang out together. Anyway, after a long. thorough and stressful investigation; involving kids, dogs, and the odd passing cat being told to, 'stand back, there's nothing to see here.' And a very firm talking to from yours truly, it's sworn to me that it's only the seeds of its' berries which are truly a problem... and it'll keep those pretty much to itself. Phew! Thank goodness.

However, the latter part of the week was fairly desimated by; a large computer virus, a follow-up spat between said computer and my scanner, a dismal grinding sound coming from the washing machine (probably feeling mal-treated- Liam's socks HAVE been particularly volatile the last couple of weeks!) a telephone line that decided to give everyone the silent treatment, AND the ongoing saga of my rogue estate agent (yes I WILL name and shame- Kelway Law, you ARE absolute PANTS)

So, this post (and this picture) is slightly later in getting to you than I planned, but touch wood (or perhaps not, in light of previous paragraphs...) all SEEMS to be well now. Although, I couldn't be sure, but I THINK I hear a deep, leafy-sounding, laughter coming from out the back door...!

2 Comments on One of those weeks., last added: 9/6/2011
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5. *insert some kind of lion pun in here* A Roaring Great Post, perhaps?

I forgot to put my lion character sheet up, alongside the colour piece yesterday. Not surprising, since we are talking about a day during which I managed to burn my tummy with the steam from a microwave meal. THAT is the level of success I expected from yesterday.

Not to worry, mind; I shall post today, kindly ask you to view both posts together, forget what you've just read... and NO ONE shall be any the wiser!!! (Not quite sure about the punctuation there. Feel free to re-assemble that sentence as you see fit!)

Have also (for your enjoyment only) stuck a fox up a tree... TWICE, no less!!! Mainly because I haven't quite finished the image yet, and I'm not sure which I prefer.

I thank you. Good day!

0 Comments on *insert some kind of lion pun in here* A Roaring Great Post, perhaps? as of 8/30/2011 4:05:00 AM
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6. Dagnammit...

... I finally remembered that idea. Turns out it wasn't GENIUS!!!

... But it might still be useful... *strokes chin, thoughtfully*

4 Comments on Dagnammit..., last added: 8/30/2011
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7. A dog day afternoon...

... well, morning, actually. It's 5.28am to be precise. And I can't sleep. I have one, single, stuffy nostril, and it's ruined the flow of my, 'Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's'. Currently they're more, 'Zzz-insert noise like a balloon being deflated beneath a medium tog duvet-zzz.' I'm sure you can appreciate the difficulty.

And, to top it off, I've just remembered I had an idea for a story the other day, which was absolute GENIUS!!! I know it was GENIUS!!! because I now can't remember for the life of me what the jiggins it was! I have an empty little gap in my brain, be-decked by red, velvet curtains, which still echoes with the cheers of close-to brain cells. Honestly, I do. If only I could remember that idea, you'd all be gobsmacked- GOBSMACKED, I tell you...

... But I just... can't... remember...

Anyway, that's pretty much sealed the deal on sleep. So...

... here's Jam instead.

5 Comments on A dog day afternoon..., last added: 8/30/2011
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8. Twit taaa-woooooo!

More feathery fun for the weekend.

I shall now go and hoover the stairs. Such is my rock n' roll life-style (don't try this at home, Kids!)

And, remember; dogs, foxes, and babies still to come! Same bat time, same bat channel!

3 Comments on Twit taaa-woooooo!, last added: 8/22/2011
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9. Hooray...

... you came back!

Have a coupla kiwi's for your troubles!

6 Comments on Hooray..., last added: 8/22/2011
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10. Heaven's to betsy...

... I need to put up more work. Here's Higgins the reindeer.

What else? Well I think, since waking up at 5am yesterday, I'm slightly delirious, but this completely unrelated clip cracked me up.

What can I say? I have to admit sleep deprivation doesn't treat me well...

Also, it's been a while since I've done a book recommendation, so I think everyone should read this. (And don't worry, I read it before I fell out with the sandman).

Stay tuned folks, for; fox, owl, dog and baby illo's over the next few days!

2 Comments on Heaven's to betsy..., last added: 8/22/2011
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11. Thistley Hough Summer Book Fayre

Recently, I got to spend a fantabulous day amidst a wonderful bunch of people at the Thistley Hough Summer Book Fayre, in Stoke.

Thistley Hough High School had taken it upon themselves to celebrate books of all types. I feel incredibly lucky to say I was one of a handful of book people invited to take part in such an important event.

In the morning, I had a splendid time with year 10 and 11, doing character workshops. The work each student produced was hugely impressive. Though the outcomes were so wonderfully varied in style, each took to character design like many creative ducks to water. It was exciting to see how bold they all were, and it made me think I need to loosen up again in my own work.

I confess, I ran the risk of instant humiliation. I almost shed a tear (or two) of pride when all the students spontaneously decided to stay in over their breaks to finish their designs. They also asked their teacher if they might start up an illustration club next term! I really could not ask for a better compliment *beams with immense joy* and I can't wait to see the work they produce then.

In the afternoon, I was introduced to 60 primary school children, in a huge, big-top tent. All the kids were incredibly patient and enthusiastic, despite good ol' Blighty providing the ever predictable, torrential rain, lapping at the sides of the tent.

I'd like to thank; all the students that took part for being bleedin' brilliant, (you honestly all made my day) Kirsty Hicks and Holly Hartley (their amazing teacher's), and Claud Everest and Zac Barrow (for the extra help, and the marvellous write-up). It really was a thoroughly cockle-warming day (whatever 'warming one's cockles' actually means!)

On a serious note, I was gladdened (but not at all surprised) to see that the students rose to the challenges of the book festival, and that there seemed to be lasting positive effects long after the the big-top had departed. After a week of riots in the UK, (largely involving young folk) it makes me more convinced than ever that there needs to be more links between; industry, community, and schools- especially secondary schools. Students need to see their dreams (whatever they may be) in action. They need to believe that there CAN be a bright future out there. Surely we need to be increasing; time, energy, and most importantly, funding into these sorts of ventures. Education isn't just about 1+1 and long-dead authors. It's certainly not about targets. It's about life, and living, and as soon as that's understood, perhaps we can REALLY move on.

1 Comments on Thistley Hough Summer Book Fayre, last added: 8/13/2011
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12. You might recognise this one too... from many moons ago.

Still not finished, mind!

BTW, just incase you hadn't heard, there's an Egon Schiele exhibition going on until the 30th June, in London. Details here. Am bouncing about like a small child in anticipation of a visit. Eek! I may have to snog each of his piccies!

3 Comments on You might recognise this one too... from many moons ago., last added: 6/28/2011
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13. FINALLY finished this drawing...

...Just the small matter of colouring it now.... ah BUM!

6 Comments on FINALLY finished this drawing..., last added: 6/23/2011
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14. Location, Location, Location...

Arg. This weekend marks a trip to pastures new. I've spent the past 3 days selotaping life as I know it into boxes.... and I swear the boxes are a helluva lot bigger than a year and bit ago when we last moved.

Today it was my poor beloved studio's turn. Always the most emotional part of a move for me.

These tiny cubby holed spaces have consumed so much of my time that I always feel sad saying good bye.

One of the nice things though, is that I finally get to the bottom of the piles I've been putting off sorting. I always find pictures I've forgotten all about. Here is one of them. I have absolutely no recollection of doing it, so I suspect it was a 'front of TV evening special' done on a whim.

Anyway, my next post will be from a different location... a whole 2 roads away!!!

As an aside, I'll be making an appearance at The Grayshott Children's Theatre next Tuesday the 10th May. Penelope Keith will be doing a book reading of a Julia Donaldson number, and I'll be doing some drawing activities and book signing with the kiddywinks. All are welcome for fun frolics.

4 Comments on Location, Location, Location..., last added: 5/6/2011
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15. What I worked on today...

So, you know Pooshnoozle, already, but I can't remember if you've met Molly. Molly was Lively Elizabeth's predecessor... or I suppose, older role model- hence the goggles. So, she's been around years now, but it's nice to spend some proper time with her again.

Anyway, I've gone back to using my pencil full-on in much of my recent work, as it's what I love most, but I've added in some darker ink lines too, which I hope has added some punch.

This isn't finished yet (obviously). There's going to be a goofy vulture on the left arm of the chair stealing Molly's lunch. I'll probably 'flesh out' the top of the chair too, as I quite like the way it looks like a frame for the characters. I'm not really sure whether to add colour or not either. Opinions on a postcard, please!

Oooh, I also made my first cheesecake; strawberries and cream. If I'm not dead by tomorrow, I'll know it was a success...

5 Comments on What I worked on today..., last added: 4/26/2011
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16. Some young rogue's stolen all my Easter Eggs...

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17. Working for Nada!

I just wanted to draw your attention to this brilliant post by the very talented (and smart-talking) Sheena Dempsey. It's on illustrators working for free, and in turn, it references some very good, very funny, very gall-making articles and vids that are definitely worth a watch too.

My take can be summed up like this, 'If I were a dentist, would you ask me to work for free?'

However, you know I'll never be able to leave it at that, so in addition to what Sheena's said...

My advice to people serious about breaking into illustration is, never work for free. 'Good exposure' is the reason the client will give, but here's how I see it, the only time you might, might, might get good exposure out of something is if it's a huge campaign for Coca-Cola or Mars- someone astronomically mega huge like that... And if that's the case, do we really think they can't afford to pay you???

The arguement I hear from illustrators is, isn't it better to be working for free than not to be working at all? Short answer is; No. My gut, heart, and every fibre of being adds, HELLLLLLL NO!!!!

If you don't have work, it's better to work on honing your technique/developing your portfolio than to work for free. Working on technique and portfolio development is work that's never finished, and has more chance in benefitting your overall career, and getting you the sorts of paid work you would like to do. Far better than doing a brief that's not 100% you... for nothing.

Any contact that won't pay is not worth having.

I might also add that the smaller the job, often the bigger the stress from the client. And why should this not be true. They've already proved they don't value you by asking you to work for free, haven't they???

Work on spec is *slightly* different. I've been asked by a number of publishers to provide character sketches or work up an idea more before they commit. As the equally lovely, Faye Hanson, remarks (in reply to Sheena's post) we deal in idea's, and sometimes it's often necessary to provide tangible evidence that you not only get a brief, but that you're also 'the man' for the job. Often times in publishing, even if your editor/art director believes in you, the project will be passed by folk who don't know you or your work (and who may not even be hugely visual) before it gets the yay or nay. Working on spec i.e. for free is part of the process of getting commissioned (unless you're Quentin Blake, I'd imagine...?)

Although I recognise working 'on spec' as a part of the process, I recommend exercising caution. And this is where things get slightly hazy. There's a big difference between doing a couple of quick character studies, or marking up a clear storyboard, and doing months of work for free. However, you do have to set your own limits a little.

When I start to worry a line is being crossed, I ask myself two questions;

1. Do I think the client is being reasonable i.e. did I deviate from brief in what I offered/was I not clear enough with what I produced? etc. or do I think they're taking the p*ss?!

2. Am I doing work I'd be able to use to send out to other clients/put in my portfolio, or do I essentially feel I'm going around in circles without creating anything new or useful?

I feel I should point out that the designer/editor you're working with often does not deal with the mo

6 Comments on Working for Nada!, last added: 4/23/2011
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18. The Topiary Dragon

Let's gloss over how long it's been since I wrote anything on here, shall we? Quick, look, here's a dragon! Happy Easter, All!

9 Comments on The Topiary Dragon, last added: 4/24/2011
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19. Protect the Libraries.

I'm not going to write much. This speech by Philip Pullman gives you the wider picture in a far more knowledgeable and intelligent manner than I ever could.

However, I do want to share a memory.

It was one of those Summer days that measured out, as only a childhood Summer day could. i.e. it was YEARS long. The window was open and I distinctly remember thinking that there couldn't possibly be a better occasion, weatherwise. I felt like Goldilocks. The breeze and the sunshine warmth were 'jusssssssssst right.' Dust bunnies danced in the sheaves of rays, like they were at the best day-time disco. Can you describe sun rays as being 'sheaved'? I'm not sure, but they felt like they were, since they sort of fanned out evenly, as if they had a paperclip on top. I sunbathed in my room. I love sunbathing inside. Outside, the light always seems to hurt my eyes too much, and I can't stand how sunglasses alter colours.

We'd just decorated my room and laid a new carpet and the bare floor was as comfy as grass is always described (but never actually IS!) There was nothing in my room apart from me, the sun, a packet of Tutti-frutti's and a cassette player.

I'd just discovered Norton Juster's, 'The Phantom Tollbooth' and was completely in love. Not only with the characters and the story, but also with the audio narrator's rich, slow drawl.

It was the first time I remember appreciating that a non-illustrated story could be AS full and as encompassing. Juster's tale was perfectly bundled and matched by its' production and the world they'd conjured came completely alive for me. I still remember it came in one of those hardbacked, 2 cassette cases that always smelt of the place they'd be stored; in this case it was The Hornsey Library. It had a yellow cover, and a picture I thought highly uninteresting. I'd got it out because it'd been from the library. At the library you didn't have to spend your pocket money or beg to a parent. You could take risks. And some paid off SUPREMELY.

I've been searching for a copy of that audio book ever since. I don't think it exists anymore. I've only once, in all my life, seen any format of, 'The Phantom Tollbooth,' on a bookseller's shelf. I did finally concede defeat in my audio search and bought a copy in paperback a couple of years back. It was nerve-wracking opening up that first page. Would I ruin my perfect memory?

As luck would have it, unlike many of the things I remember from childhood, this stood the test of time. It's a BRILLIANT book. One that's inspired me along the way, first as a memory and then as a re-read. I've loaned out to many of my adult friends, who have loved it equally.

So, thank you, Mr Juster, and thank YOU, local library. You both served me well.

And incidentally, the only time I saw it on a bookseller's shelf was last year. I ordered it into Waterstones, whilst I worked there. Though not the same edition, this copy also had an old-fashioned cover and an author no one was familiar with. It didn't sell well. Some books are meant to be discovered, I think, and this was one. Too bad there won't be so many opportunities for this kind of serendipitous happenstance in years to come.

Wander down to your local library today and take out a few books. Dig out something new and shiny, but also something dark and dusty. You never know, you might find a gem or two.

1 Comments on Protect the Libraries., last added: 2/6/2011
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20. More bleedin' bears...

Well, I *think* it's *hopefully* MAYBE safe to say, that I've finished with Goldenhair and the Three Bears.

It's been a great project for experimentation, and I think I've learnt a lot from it. As per usual, there are things I would do differently, but I think that's healthy, and it's given me a lot to move forward with. It was a tight deadline, (the tightest I've ever worked with) and I'm really pleased that it turned out well.

Since then, I've continued working a bit more mixed-media on this new image below, and it's been refreshing to steer clear from photoshop quite so much.

It's very much a love/hate relationship that I have with photoshop. I love that it allows me to try stuff without ruining my original image, but I think recently it's become a bit prison-like. Ironically it seems to have made me MORE precious about images; taking MORE time, not less over my work. Spending ages over one image is confidence-destroying if that one image still doesn't look right. And outside of photoshop, I might have been able to create 5 finished images in the same time frame, which means 5 times the learning, even if I STILL don't have something I'm pleased with.

Anyway, this image is only the start, as I'm hoping to take myself on a bit of a colour journey. I've become afraid of my work again recently, and I need to conquer some of those fears and go back to 'school'. By that, I mean methodically working through problems, rather than skipping about all over the place and not really solving anything.

I recently read an interview with Amanda Wood, of Templar, where she said,

'(it's) often more about trying to find the story that an artist wants to tell themselves and then coaxing it out of them!'

This really struck a long-forgotten chord with me. Of late, I've been concerned that I NEED to author to be able to illustrate what I want to illustrate. I've been so keen to find a story that works that I've forgotten the key issue about writing stories I actually want to tell!

I need to re-learn how to concentrate on the actual work, and not the pressures behind it, which let's face it, are pretty enormous and (if you let them be) totally overwhelming in this market.

Anyway, the word is 'methodically,' Cass. Let's approach these issues one at a time. Although, I can't help but think if I can sort out one problem, the rest might start to assemble themselves.

Hope you like these guys though. They're my new favourites. It's just a colour rough, but even so, I always feel far more free at the start of a project, and I think (hope) it shows!

5 Comments on More bleedin' bears..., last added: 3/23/2011
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21. Booksniffing.

I want to draw your attention to a truly scrumptious new blog. It's by a rather cute, and hugely well-read, pug I know, called The Book Sniffer. You can't fail to be impressed, not only with this canine's knowledge of books, but also just how goshdarned well-connected she is!

The only downside being the Book Sniffer has had the thoroughly bad taste to interview me as well. Well, she is a dog afterall, and dogs do lick their own- er, well, never mind...

However, the puglicious one also interviewed my dog, Sheba The Bear. And, let's face it, as far as dynamic duo's go, The Bear is definitely the brains of the operation, so go check out her barks of wisdom here.

In other news, it is a sad, sad week. The beautiful Emma O'D is leaving our fair Hachette. Emma is truly one of the rare gems of publishing, if you ask me. She has, as you know, looked after me at my events, and has gone above-and-beyond to sort everything needed, and to calm frayed nerves- often on a Saturday! She's also just a blimmin' lovely person. Every author/illustrator I know that's worked with her at Hodder or Orchard adores her, and will be gutted to see her go.

Before too many tears are shed, mind, Emma is leaving to a brank, spanking new position at Templar- huzzah! I'm sure she'll be just as well-loved there. Emma, I wish you the very best of luck with it all, Lovely! Three *thoroughly over emotional* cheers for the marvellous Miss O'D!

2 Comments on Booksniffing., last added: 2/28/2011
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22. Julietta Grown Up

I'm still messing around with this upside down picture. I've tried a different colouring technique, and I've added in some more detail to the original Julietta drawing. I really like the results, and it's actually a lot simpler than my normal gazillion layered technique. It does have a more sophisticated, perhaps slightly 'older' finish though, and I'm not sure if that's a particularly commercial way to go when approaching picture books. We'll see.

I've also worked into the monster a bit with the same technique, but as he was originally coloured pencil and the fur is much looser anyway, it's had a very different effect. I think it's quite successful, and I definitely like it better than the previous attempt, but it's widened the gap in styles and techniques between the two characters. It's made them less successful as a pair.

I know it sounds batty (in more ways than one) but I think part of the issue is that the characters ARE upside down. I think I need to have a go at uprighting them, and then carrying on experimentation.

In other news, I went to a brilliant needle felting workshop yesterday, held by fellow illustrator, Sophie Allsopp. She's amazing at it. You can see her fab artwork and creations here.

I am now completely in love with needle-felting. No, really! Remember my inability to have a hobby? Remember my stupidly restless mind, making endless lists and demands? Needle-felting is the answer to everything. I may just make it my new religion and worship at the alter of my local wool shop. In fact, scrap that, I'm going to get myself my own sheep. I'll dye them different colours and arrange them in rainbow formation in my front garden.

I'm stoked. It's the first properly, officially crafty thing I've done in years, and I may just be a little in love with my woolly fugly creation. No, he doesn't yet have eyes, and he may only have two paws... one of which is markedly bigger than the other. But the point is, I GET it! I can see myself very merrily making many more mutant creations. Yes, they'll possibly cause optical bleeding and children across the world to cry out for their mothers. But, and this is a big but, they will make me h-a-p-p-y! I may create a whole village of fuglies, and just move in.
I shall post pics of my efforts when I can work out how to get my fabulous creation off the camera... and no he did not crack the lens...

Anyway, thank goodness it's weekend. I'm ready for a two day snooze... Have a good one, all.

4 Comments on Julietta Grown Up, last added: 3/4/2011
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23. A bit of fluff...

Here's my latest efforts at colouring fur. This is an old image, but I wanted to have another go at colouring him up without getting far too excited about the actual drawing part!

I think he probably needs some more highlights now I look at him again, but I think I'll leave it for today and have a closer scrute tomorrow.

I reckon this was why I was rubbish at colouring books. Colouring is so much more boring than drawing!

In other news, myself and 22 children from Ash Grange School had a whale of a time for World Book Day. We took over the kiddies section of WH Smith, and coloured and treasure-hunted, yelled at Lively Elizabeth (hugely fantastically, everyone knew the words!), and (very importantly) ate biscuits! Was a great celebration, and WH Smith were kind enough to give a few lucky prize-winners book vouchers too, so hopefully there'll be plenty more book lovin' in future. Thanks to everyone that made my World Book Day fab!

1 Comments on A bit of fluff..., last added: 3/9/2011
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24. Authors for Japan

I was lucky enough to go to Japan and South Korea in 2004. If I could go back and re-visit any time in my life so far, it would be those 4 weeks. Both country's are so rich in their storytelling and visual cultures that I am embarrassed to say they leave Britain lagging about their ankles, like a snotty, spoilt younger sibling. I had no choice but to leave part of my heart in each country.

This 'Authors for Japan' Auction is a fantastic way of supporting the aid work that will be desperately needed in the next weeks, whilst tipping your hat to its' honoured tradition of storytelling.

Alas, I found out about the auction too late for George, Ghost, and Elizabeth to help out, but I'll definitely be fighting you all off for some of those kids books!

1 Comments on Authors for Japan, last added: 3/15/2011
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25. An Old Friend

I have several ideas on the go at the minute. One is far more ambitious than anything I've done before, and is tying me completely in knots.
I'm trying to take babysteps into fiction, you see. I've bitten the bullet and I'm attempting to write my first chapter book- but with pictures that work like a picture book. So, not just an ordinary staggeringly hard task, but a mixture of staggeringly hard tasks. Neither of which I've really done before. Good one, Cass!
Anyway, I've come to a bit of a standstill, and I'm well-aware I've been working the old procrastination rituals over the last couple of days. I think it's time to take an official break, rather than starting to beat myself up about it.
I've decided to re-visit Quentin Fox for a bit instead. You may remember that Quentin proved to be popular with the publishers as a character, but I couldn't find the right story for him to make both me and the publishers happy. I didn't want to sell him short, and a lot of the stuff I came up with was either too old for the publishers or too twee for me.
When I come up with a character I really like, I find it quite hard to confine them to a story. It feels like I'm limiting them somehow. Perhaps because a lot of the time I'm trying to squash them into a story that doesn't quite fit. I'm desperately trying to learn the art to story-writing at the moment, and I think part of it for me, has been to learn patience. You hear about people rustling up a story in their lunch break (one Alex T Smith springs to mind) but I think I have to learn that for me, although ideas come easily, whole stories are blimmin' hard work!
A while ago, I started playing with this cut out technique for background. I was trying to remedy another one of my bad habits- the fact that I tend to overcrowd scenes. I wondered if I was to create a background without drawing whether I'd still have the same trouble, as it really is my pencil that allows me to get carried away. If I worked more purposefully (creating each individual piece) would I still be so free and easy with detail? Whilst I love detail and will go to any lengths to defend it (despite the fact that it's SO out of fashion at the moment), I think this quieter result does make you appreciate the little bits of detail more. Weirdly, since it's so different from my normal stuff it still feels very me too.
I find some images grow over time. I've had this image sat around for a while, and slowly, slowly, slowly it's been growing a story somewhere in the background of my mind. This afternoon I thought I'd find out whether this story is ready to be put down on paper yet. I feel a bit nervous, so wish me luck!

5 Comments on An Old Friend, last added: 3/25/2011
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