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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: giraffes, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 17 of 17
1. this makes my heart happy....

seeing my work hanging in a child's room. the joy never gets old. 


commission for Collin
11x14 acrylic on canvas
©the enchanted easel 2016

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2. a bit of a challenge....

custom painting for collin
11x14 acrylic on canvas
©the enchanted easel 2016
this last commission was for me. i don't usually paint in silhouette nor do i pant graphically (for a lack of a better word). however, when the client gives you carte blanche, well life is a whole lot easier. :)

below are the reference photos i was given, my sketch and the finished painting is above.

{i think i did ok....never met a challenge i didn't like. ;)}

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3. HAT WEEK: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Elephant’s day doesn’t get off to a good start. He wakes up GRUMPY.

When the doorbell rings, it only annoys him. When he thumps downstairs to see who it is, there is a mystery present waiting for him and this unexpected gift – a most spectacular hat – turns his day around and puts a great big smile on his face.

Keen to share his good fortune Elephant visits his friends. They too have woken up out of sorts but Elephant knows a great way to spread his happiness: by sharing his present and giving each friend a fabulous hat to wear.

hoorayHooray for Hat by Brian Won is a wonderfully up-beat and joyous ode to friendship, the good things that come from ‘paying it forward’ and teamwork. It perfectly captures the transformational magic of hats; a little bit of frivolity and exuberance bursting out of your head can indeed do wonders to how you feel!

From the deftly humorous grumpy facial expressions in a range of animals, to the appealing candy colour palette beautifully set off against stark white pages, Hooray for Hat‘s illustrations and design are a delight. The dapper carnival procession of animals are sure to make young readers giggle and banish any blues, helping us remember how little acts of kindness in life can make all the difference. A treat, pure and simple!

In response to Hooray for Hat we set up our own millinery studio, using old lampshades as bases for our hats (we were able to source lots of old lampshades from a local recycling centre).


Lampshades, ribbon, paper, hot clue, sequins and a whole lot of imagination and craziness later we had our hats:



As you can see, they made us feel very happy!


Whilst making our hats we listened to:

  • I Wanna Hat with Cherries played by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
  • Top Hat Ramble by Big Country Bluegrass – great for dancing to, but the only free recording I can find on YouTube isn’t great quality.
  • The Tinfoil Hat made both girls giggle

  • Other activities which would go well alongside reading Hooray for Hat include:

  • Playing with the activity sheet Brian Won has created to go with his book. You can download it from here and it includes bunting, different paper hats to make and colouring in.
  • Checking out this Pinterest board with lots of hats kids can make themselves. I like the tissue paper hats and the peacock hat.
  • Choosing to make and deliver a surprise gift for someone, just because…
  • Are you a hat person? If so, I’d love to hear about your favourite hat!

    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of Hooray for Hat from the publisher.

    3 Comments on HAT WEEK: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won, last added: 10/29/2014
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    4. Jolly Jungle Nursery Papercut

    Personalised nursery papercut!

    Papercut of Jolly Jungle Scene
    George and the Jolly Giraffes

    0 Comments on Jolly Jungle Nursery Papercut as of 6/11/2014 3:25:00 AM
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    5. Giraffes Galore… the journey of a book – Dianne Hofmeyr.

    Excuse the light-heartedness. It's Spring after all. So pop the champagne corks, blow the party hooters… today a picture book story I wrote 15 years ago is being launched at The Illustration Cupboard in London. The timing seems right. Everywhere I look there are giraffes galore – in the windows of Kath Kidson, in the Louis Vuitton ads ...

    ... but best of all on the cover of my new book, Zeraffa Giraffa.

    In my notebook I found the date when my story started taking shape – August 1999. 

    I’d just read the historical account in Michael Allin’s book Zarafa of the giraffe that was sent to Paris by the Pasha Muhammed Ali in 1827 – the second giraffe ever to be seen in Europe. But my fascination with giraffes began as a teenager when I’d come up really close to them in the wild on horseback in Zimbabwe – that graceful walk, their necks stretching out above the tree-line like exotic flowers, their lolloping gallop, their bizarre stance when drinking and their stares of curiosity.  

    So why did my manuscript take 15 years to be published? 

    Take heart those of you who have texts in your bottom drawer. Some stories are often just not right in a certain market – the perfect illustrator can’t be found… the economics don’t work. Then in 2004 I saw the magnificent life-size puppet performance of The Tall Horse based on the same story I'd written, produced by the Handspring puppet company in South Africa (it went on to tour in the US and Europe as well). The Handspring is the same company who much later produced the horse in War Horse. Their 5 metre tall giraffe of my story was made of carbon fibre rods, with two puppeteers on stilts inside the body frame, operating the turn of the head, the twitch of a tail or ear and the swaying, graceful gait. I was so mesmerized by the poetic performance that I still have the program and ticket. I can tell you that on Thursday 9th Sept 2004, I sat in seat N1 at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town.
    the giraffe puppet from the production The Tall Horse
    Zeraffa Giraffa is essentially a story of a journey of a giraffe who travels from Khartoum with her keeper Atir, down the Nile to Alexandria and across the sea to Marseilles, and finally walks to Paris… not as easy assignment for an illustrator. Who better than Jane Ray? She has captured brilliantly a sense of Africa as well as France in her wide double-paged vistas. We sense both the heat and shimmer of the desert and the contrasting softness of the French countryside without the book losing its fluidity. 

    Her palette is strong, her colours intense, the detail sublime – tiny dots of gold highlight the texture on the giraffe’s horn, a sinuous, long, black tongue entwines the curls of the equally black French railing, an inquisitive monkey on the dhow, strange boxes with Arabic font and measurement ... what do they contain?... scraps of maps embedded in the sea suggesting the journey – wonderful, tiny, visual codes that will be picked up by an astute child. (perhaps even by an adult?) 

    While I was writing Zeraffa Giraffa, I went to the Jardin des Plantes alongside the Seine in Paris to see the building of La Rotonde where the giraffe was housed together with her keeper, Atir. He slept up on a platform close to her face and remained with her for the rest of the 18 years she lived. I tried to imagine the bond that must have existed between them … two exiles from Africa… a boy who had never been further than Khartoum and a giraffe who had lost her savannah ... both alone in this strange, foreign city. What memories did they hold on to? 

    Then a few days ago I saw an article in a newspaper about Mario, a zookeeper who has a brain tumour and can no longer walk, whose last wish was to see his beloved giraffes he’d looked after at the Rotterdam zoo. He was taken there by the Ambulance Wish Foundation. The newspaper shows a photograph of a tall giraffe bending low over a fence and nuzzling the face of the zookeeper as he lies strapped to his ambulance stretcher. What greater bond than that?

    If you visit La Rotonde on a quiet day, close your eyes and perhaps you’ll feel the hot wind of Africa and imagine yourself standing there with Zeraffa and her keeper Atir, while he whispers stories to her of a land far away.

    My giraffe and I have been on a long, long journey together. The giraffe’s journey took two years, mine took fifteen. Thank you Jane you’ve made the story come alive. Let’s pop those corks and blow the party hooters. Perhaps like the bakers of Paris, we might even celebrate with giraffe biscuits!

    Zeraffa Giraffa, by Dianne Hofmeyr, illustrated by Jane Ray, published by Frances Lincoln, April 2014, translated so far as well, into Danish, Swedish, Korean and Afrikaans.

    0 Comments on Giraffes Galore… the journey of a book – Dianne Hofmeyr. as of 4/2/2014 2:09:00 AM
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    6. Friendship up on high

    ohdeargeoffrey_frontcoverOh Dear, Geoffrey! by Gemma O’Neill is a tale of friendship, finding out about yourself and what suits you best.

    Geoffrey is a giraffe, keen to make friends. But when he reaches down low to say hello to the meerkats he stumbles, when he tries to make friends at the watering hole he slips and slides and makes a huge splash. Needless to say, Geoffrey hasn’t quite found his niche. Fed up with being clumsy and unappreciated, he sets off to find some comfort in food, with a nibble of his favourite leaves in a tall tree.

    And here, where giraffes are at home, with their neck high up amongst the branches, Geoffrey is able to find friends; monkeys and birds, who also love tall trees, where “You can reach as high as the sky…and see as far as the stars!


    This is an easy book to enjoy reading aloud, with lots of sentence internal rhyme, and great use of onomatopoeic words. Both the text and the illustrations reminded me somewhat of Catherine Rayner‘s Solomon Crocodile (which I reviewed here); not just the theme of finding the right friends, but also the use of scale and splatter in the illustrations. In one spread, we only see the lower half of the giraffe’s legs, so tall is he that he can’t fit on the page. In another the giraffe’s nose manages to peer over the edge of the page, again giving us readers and viewers a sense of just how large the giraffe really is. Compared to Rayner’s illustrations, O’Neill’s pictures are glossier, with more intense jewel tones (rather than softer watercolours), and may appeal more to those who like crisp edges and a digital aesthetic.

    Seeing as we’re starting to warm up for the forthcoming Edible Book Festival we set about baking some giraffe biscuit, taking inspiration from the patterns on a giraffe’s hide.


    Ingredients for giraffe biscuits

  • 150 g plain flour and 60 g cocoa (for brown biscuits) or 110g plain flour plus some yellow food colouring (for yellow biscuits)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 60 g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g icing sugar plus either some cocoa (for brown topping to go on yellow biscuits) or yellow edible dusting colour like this (for yellow topping to go on brown biscuits)
  • 1. To make brown biscuits with yellow patterns, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sugar into your food processor’s bowl. Add the butter and mix in the processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

    2. Add the egg and vanilla to the food processor bowl and mix into the “breadcrumbs”. The ingredients will come together to form a sticky mass. Put the bowl into your fridge for 30 minutes or thereabouts to firm up.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

    4. Sift the icing sugar and yellow edible dusting colour into a bowl. After 30 minutes in the fridge, shape the dough into walnut-sized balls and drop into the now yellow icing sugar, tossing until well coated. Place on the baking trays, leaving about 5 cm between each. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until just set when lightly touched. Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

    Although the dough goes into the over completely covered in icing sugar, it “cracks” as it cooks and cools, and so when the biscuits come out of the oven they have this pattern that is a little like that you find on giraffes.

    To make the yellow biscuits with brown patterns, use 110g of flour instead of the flour/cocoa mix, but add yellow food colouring (preferably the thicker paste like this) to the food processor bowl to get the desired yellowness of dough. When the dough has set a little, roll it in a mixture of icing sugar and cocoa.

    We were delighted with the results, both visually and gastronomically!




    Whilst baking and munching we listened to:

  • Joshua Giraffe by Raffi
  • Gertie the Giraffe (not the greatest song writing ever but somehow it will get probably get stuck in your head)
  • The Giraffe by Rockin’ Rocky
  • Other activities which would be fun to do alongside reading Oh Dear, Geoffrey! include:

  • Putting a giraffe sandwich in your kid’s lunchbox – take inspiration from this post by bentoriffic
  • Raiding your washing line to make a giraffe out of clothes pegs, like this one on Parents.com.
  • Building a giraffe out of recycled boxes and tubes, as per this idea from the National Wildlife Federation.
  • And if you work for the council, perhaps you could persuade them to install these giraffe swing powered lights at bus stops – I think this would do a lot to encourage people to get out and use public transport!

  • Do you have a favourite fictional Giraffe?

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of Oh Dear, Geoffrey! from the publisher. I was under no obligation to review the book and received no payment for this review.


    3 Comments on Friendship up on high, last added: 1/21/2013
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    7. Animal Andy by Kathy Sattem Rygg

    4 Stars Animal Andy Kathy Sattem Rygg 144 Pages    Ages: 8 to 12 .................... .................. Back Cover:  Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is the curator. There are rumors the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the [...]

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    8. Q&A with Andy from Animal Andy

    …………………… Today, Kid Lit Reviews would like to welcome Andy Ohman, from Animal Andy by Kathy Sattem Rygg.  Andy is the main character in this crazy zoological story about the Aksarben City Zoo. The Zoo is facing budget cuts and must quickly find a way to make up the difference. If they do not, the [...]

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    9. Talking giraffes

    I've been working on a new digital style of illustration, and I created these giraffes this weekend. I like this new simple style, which I see as a bit of a combination of vintage inspiration with modern simplicity. I've done some illustration samples with outlines but I thought I'd try some without any outlines and I like how they turned out!

    p.s. you can see the whole picture on my website www.clairelouisemilne.com.

    1 Comments on Talking giraffes, last added: 10/11/2011
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    10. No longer the blog without giraffes

    Today the snow stopped falling, the sun came out, and it's almost blinding. A picture postcard day. I took another photo from the guest bedroom (it used to be Holly's bedroom, but she's now going to be sleeping in the new upstairs library when she's here, as soon as it's finished) just to compare with yesterday's photo, to show the sunlight and the even-more-snow of it all...

    So I'm taking this short story class this quarter; well, it's almost over actually. Anyway, my teacher's response to the entire class about our final drafts was one of "they could still use a lot of work." She emphasized how Annie Proulx, the writer of the story "Brokeback Mountain," revised the story sixty times before finally being finished with it.

    On that note, firstly, what's your revision record (i.e. the most
    revisions of any body of work you've done)? And second, what's your
    stance on the amount of revision that should be necessary? -Malinda

    I think Murder Mysteries went through about twelve revisions of the basic text, which is far and away the most I've ever done, but a lot of that was because I wanted the murder mysteries in question to work and be satisfying, for all the clues to be there for the reader, and I'm not really a natural mystery writer.

    Most short stories go through a couple of drafts and a polish -- I'll write a first draft, then (if it wasn't typed) I'll type it up, and then I'll email it to friends and find out what didn't work, or puzzled them. (I miss Mike Ford. He was the sharpest of all of them -- saved me from making a fool of myself half a dozen times.) And then, if I can, I'll put it away for a week or two. Not look at it. Try to forget about it. Then take it out and read it as if I've never seen it before and had nothing to do with its creation. Things that are broken become very obvious suddenly. I'll go in and polish it up, and possibly keep playing with it a little -- it's on the computer: everything's malleable until it's printed. I'll try and read it aloud the next time I do a reading, in order to find out what I can about it, including places where what I wrote was not what I meant, and I'll fix what I find. And then I'll go on to the next thing.

    Personally, I think you learn more from finishing things, from seeing them in print, wincing, and then figuring out what you did wrong, than you could ever do from eternally rewriting the same thing. But that's me, and I came from comics where I simply didn't have the liberty of rewriting a story until I was happy with it, because it needed to be out that month, so I needed to get it more or less right first time. Once I disliked a Sandman story on proofreading it so much that I asked if it could be pulled and buried and was told no, it couldn't, which is why the world got to read the Emperor Norton story, "Three Septembers and a January", although I no longer have any idea why I thought it was a bad story, and I'm pleased that Tom Peyer ignored my yelps.

    When I was younger and people handed me unfinished things to read, I'd have lots of comments. At least once I realised later that I'd killed a fledgling book for someone by pointing out an abrupt viewpoint shift at a point where the book was barely hatched. These days my comments tend to consist of variants on "That's really interesting. What happens next? Where's the rest of it?"

    Hey, Neil. I was just browsing next to a coworker of mine, when he looked over to my station and asked, "More weird stuff about giraffes?" as I had previously found myself at the giraffe haters monthly website (giraffobia.com). I said, "No, but there's probably something on giraffes on here." Imagine my surprise when the site search listed no hits for either 'giraffe' or 'giraffes'. I feel this is an error
    which must be corrected, if only by posting this request.
    Yrs trly, Jeff

    Consider it fixed.

    Hi Neil,

    I read through your FAQ and yes, I am another one of those film students wishing to make a short film from one of your stories, either "Chivalry" or "We Can Get Them for You Wholesale" from the novel "Smoke and Mirrors".

    In the FAQ it says that you don't own the rights to anything but "Mr. Punch" and "Stardust". Does this mean that I have to go to the book publisher to ask to make it, and if so, is that Avon Books or Headline Book Publishing? or are they the same thing?

    I'm sorry if you are sick of people asking you these questions. And if by great luck and good chance I am allowed to make it do you mind?
    Much Love, Jen.

    Actually, what it says in the FAQ (which has its own problems, alas, I just realised on looking at it, and really needs a big overhaul) is, in response to questions about adapting Sandman mostly,

    No, I don't control any of the rights to any of the stuff I did for DC Comics -- Sandman, Hellblazer, or anything (except Mr Punch and Stardust). DC Comics does.

    If you try and get the rights to do a student film, they will say no. This is because all those rights are already tied up, and DC Comics no longer has those rights to grant, not because they are being mean.

    I'm not sure how you got from that I don't own any of my short stories or novels. I do, don't worry. I was talking about stuff published by DC Comics -- Sandman, Black Orchid, the short stories. If you want the rights to any of that, you go and talk to DC.

    My agents can't grant permission for you to make a film of "Chivalry" because Miramax bought it some years ago (I think it's something Harvey Weinstein took with him when he left). But apart from that, you just contact my agents.

    As for student films of We Can Get Them For You Wholesale, you should read http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2002/09/just-watched-lovely-we-can-get-them.asp
    and then read (more importantly, for all Student Films including that one) http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/05/beagles-girls-movies.asp which explains why we're pretty strict about making sure that the free rights for student films stay just that.


    I've not been a huge fan of my German book covers up to now -- you can see some at http://www.neilgaiman.de/buecher/index.html -- but was thrilled to see the Heyne Anansi Boys cover...

    And finally, now playing: Barbara Kooyman's Undercover. I loved Timbuk 3 -- one of the best gigs I ever went to was a tiny Timbuk 3 concert in a basement under a flyover in Westbourne Grove -- and here Barbara K, who was half of the 3 before they broke up, does acoustic covers of ten of their best songs, a decade later, as a benefit for Public Radio. It's marvellous. I learned about it when someone sent me a link to http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=oid%3A449447. You can hear a track and find out about it at http://sparrowswheel.org/ and buy it at http://texamericana.org/store/cds/Undercover/

    I wish she'd covered "Standard White Jesus", though... Read the rest of this post

    0 Comments on No longer the blog without giraffes as of 3/13/2007 11:30:00 PM
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    11. Twisted & Geeky?

    I've been really busy the past few weeks and have not had the time for IF. I've got a sketch for "geeky" but haven't finished it yet! So, this is a quick sketch I did while attending my stepson's swim team meet last night. My schedule is all "twisted" up for sure. Just an FYI, sitting too close to the butterfly stroke can get you soaked... Read the rest of this post

    2 Comments on Twisted & Geeky?, last added: 7/11/2007
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    12. An at-a-glance guide to spotting things like walls and me and giraffes

    Today I went to the Great Wall of China. While there I saw a praying mantis.

    The wall:

    The me:

    The mantid:

    On the way back I noticed a roadsign forbidding giraffes to drive small cars.

    Which is, I assume, why the giraffes of Beijing hide in the middle of streets, cunningly disguised by bushes, and wait to steal small cars and go joyriding....

    0 Comments on An at-a-glance guide to spotting things like walls and me and giraffes as of 9/1/2007 1:52:00 AM
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    13. Savanna Trouble

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    14. Savanna Trouble

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    15. Book #5 - Fun with Amazing Animals!

    Fun with Amazing Animals is book 5 of 6 that I illustrated for Highreach Learning this year.

    0 Comments on Book #5 - Fun with Amazing Animals! as of 11/5/2007 7:19:00 AM
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    16. Spring Promo

    For my Spring promo I decided to do giraffes, and a mother giraffe and baby giraffe since it's springtime. I realized that I've illustrated lots of everyday animals, such as cats and dogs, but my portfolios could use some more variety.

    I love drawing animals. Even when they're realistic animals (as opposed to animal characters) I like to add a friendly expression to their faces. Here's a detail:

    2 Comments on Spring Promo, last added: 5/11/2009
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    17. The Human Touch

    Trivia fascinates me. I compulsively collect bits of data and useless information. When it comes to finding the paperwork for the car registration, I’m clueless. However, if you ever need a piece of Trivial Pursuit pie or the question to an answer that will only appear on Jeopardy, I can probably help you. One area where I’ve found the greatest minutiae-based achievement is that of Disney movies. I know every song lyric, most dialogue, and enough back story details to make my own special features DVD. So pronounced is the fixation that I even wrote my Master’s thesis on the “narrative elements of the Quest story as presented in Disney animated features.” No kidding. And one of the best things about Disney animation is the animals-and-things-that-seem-like people anthropomorphism. The scissor-wielding mice from Cinderella amuse me and the randy candlestick from Beauty and the Beast is an eye-rolling favorite. But the most swoon-worthy character of all is that sly fox, Robin Hood. His skill with the bow, dry wit, British accent and noble cause make my heart flutter. This technique is so engaging that, at times, it is easy to forget what you’re watching is truly impossible. The same thing happens in Kidsbooks’ The Giraffe Numbers Book when a whole tower (the honest-to-goodness name for a group of giraffes) of the long-necked set do some really people-y things like sun bathing and riding in limousines. I draw the line at “put toys on the shelf,” though--most humans don’t even do that.

    4 Comments on The Human Touch, last added: 3/13/2010
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