Sunday, 13 March 2016

Isadora Moon, my birthday and school visits

It's high time for an update on this blog! 

So let's start with a picture of Isadora Moon celebrating her birthday. I am currently in the middle of sketching out and painting the illustrations for 'Isadora Moon has a Birthday.' It is quite fitting as my own birthday was this week. I turned twenty eight on Tuesday.

I didn't really do anything for my birthday this year but I did get some nice presents. I got a miniature necklace and a miniature dragon! I am not sure why I have such an obsession with miniature jewellery but I just love it. It's like fairy jewellery. 

The necklace is tiny, only about the size of a penny. And it is SO sparkly. I only wish I could photograph it better. It is made by Nalladris on Etsy,

I also love the tiny crochet dragon. It goes perfectly in my castle as Celestine has a collection of miniature dragons. I was amazed when it arrived - it looked better in real life than in the photo! It is really amazing actually. Made by SuAmi on Etsy. I wish I knew how to crochet.

Other things that have happened recently: I received a proof copy in the post of the first Isadora Moon book a little while ago which was really exciting. So cool to see it in proper book form! I just love Isadora Moon sooooo much and love every second of working on the books. It's such a dream project of mine.

I did this little picture of her just for fun the other day. She is making flower crowns with Pink Rabbit and looking forward to spring! I guess they are maybe blossom flowers or maybe magic flowers.

I have also done a couple of giveaways lately for Isadora Moon original artwork (see below) These are finished now but I will try and do more if I have time. You can get an idea of what the original pictures look like from these. I draw them in pen and ink and them watercolour them. Then I put them into two colour on Photoshop. They end up looking almost digitally coloured once they have been put into two colour but they are not digitally coloured at all.

Isadora Moon loves Pink Rabbit!

So yes, I am currently in the middle of illustrating Isadora Moon book three. I absolutely love working on them as I have said but I am also reeeeally excited (and a bit nervous) for these books to be out in the shops! They will be released in September but you can pre order them if you wish.

Another thing I did recently was two school visits for world book week. One of them was at an infant school and the other one was actually at my old school, talking to the year 8 and 9's. I haven't had a lot of experience doing school visits before so this was quite new to me. I really enjoyed both of the visits though and it was really interesting to go back to my old school.

I actually made it into the paper for one of the school visits so that was pretty cool. I only found out because my aunt spotted it and texted me to tell me. 

I'll finish up with a picture of me showing my Witch's Cat sets to the children at Highbury Infant School in Hitchin. Photo taken by the school.

And that concludes my update!

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Meet Topaz!

If you follow my blog then you'll know all about Celestine. Celestine is my little, miniature character who I like to photograph in various places, especially when I go on holiday. I made her over three years ago now and she has been to a lot of places! Dubai, Bruges, Cornwall, Scotland, Turkey to name a few.

I have often throughout my life, felt the need for a little character/mascot to take around with me/put my energies into. I have no idea why! In a weird way it is actually a kind of therapy for me. It keeps me sane.

Anyway, so I have had Celestine for a long time now and she has become incredibly precious to me. So precious that I have stopped wanting to take her out in case I lose her. I have stopped wanting to bend her into different position for photos in case her limbs break. I have stopped feeling that really nice freedom I had at the beginning with her. Which is a shame. And not so good for the creativity.

So, I thought it was about time that I made a new one. A friend for Celestine. One that I could be free with again without worrying so much that I am going to damage her all the time. I have briefly tried to make various friends for Celestine in the past but they never worked out. Recently I thought I would have another shot at it. I was hoping that this time I would finally be able to make a friend for Celestine that I would be happy with. I was hoping that it would only take me a couple of days.


It ended up taking me almost two weeks! It was the face you see. And the head. I just find them so hard to make. I can still see loads of imperfections in this one but I have decided that she is the best I can do for the moment. Maybe in the future I will try and make another one but not for a while as it was quite stressful!

I think I am pretty happy with this one.

She is called Topaz and her birthday is the 16th February. She wears hats all the time, bobble hats and beanies. She loves the countryside with a passion. She loves to wander and explore. She is much more adventurous than Celestine. Kind of like Snufkin maybe...

She also had a bit of a rough start in life. Firstly, while I was making her head, I accidentally dropped it in my glass of water which was really stupid of me. I put it out to dry on the windowsill with the window a little bit open. Then the window cleaner came to clean our windows. I forgot I had put Topaz's head on the windowsill and discovered it a few minutes later absolutely squashed and sodden because the window cleaner had pushed the window shut with his long brush. Luckily the head was save-able but still. Rough start I say. Poor Topaz.

She is called Topaz for these reasons:

1 - She has green hair and whilst I know the stone topaz can come in lots of different colours I always imagine it to be green. 

2 - There is a character called Topaz in the book 'I Capture the Castle' who is a free spirited, artistic  character and she was always my favourite. 'I Capture the Castle' is an amazing book by the way if you haven't read it. it's also really nice to listen to on audiobook. 

3 - In the book 'I Capture the Castle,' they dye all their clothes sea green in an attempt to rejuvenate their old clothes as they are very poor. This is probably why I have always associated the name Topaz with the colour green actually.

Sidenote - I sometimes suggest to Henry that we should call our future child Topaz if we ever have one but he is very disparaging of the name as he used to have a cat called Topaz. He says it's a cats name. I disagree. I love it.

And what about Celestine?? Well, I guess Celestine is semi retiring. She is going to stay safe in her castle for the time being and I am going to continue to work on the castle so that she has a beautiful home to live in. So it's not like she will disappear. She will always be in the castle so I can see her whenever I want (and I'll probably photograph her occasionally) but it will be Topaz who comes on the adventures now. That's the plan anyway. We'll see how it all goes. It's always good to change things up once in a while.

Friday, 29 January 2016

.✮*¨*•★•*¨*✮ ISADORA MOON ✮*¨*•☆•*¨*•.

I noticed yesterday (because I have been checking regularly haha) that my Isadora Moon books are now on Amazon! Which means... I can finally talk about them!

I am so so so so so (there are not enough so's!) excited about these books because they are a real passion project of mine.

I just love Isadora Moon so much!

She is a little Vampire Fairy and I can't wait for you too meet her properly. All four books will be out in September this year, published by Oxford University Press. 

I am especially pleased because the covers are going to have glitter on them! I receievd a proof of one of them in the post the other day and it is so sparkly. I love it so much. You can't see the glitter that well in this picture but it is most definitely there. It's on the title and the stars and her dress and tights.

I'm sure I will be posting lots more about Isadora Moon in the coming months but for now I just wanted to let you know... she exists!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Tiny Jewels

For traditions sake here is what Celestine got for Christmas:

From left to right: ★ Some absolutely beautiful and tiny glass perfume bottles that have real stoppers so you can put real perfume in them! ★ a copy of my Butler and Wilson tiara and necklace made in miniature by Nalladris ★ A purple dragon to add to her collection. She likes dragons! ★ A teeny tiny tortiose ★ a pink bucket and spade set for when she wants to coordinate on the beach ★ two books, two crowns, a jar of beads and flowers for her jewellery making, a gold cake stand, a scooter and an easel.

The cake stand, scooter and easel were from Henry and were wrapped up in gold paper and appeared in the castle on Christmas morning.

I didn't really take any photos of Celestine this Christmas. I had loads of work to do all the way up until the week before Christmas and then I just sort of took a bit of a break. I intended to take photos and things but just... didn't! Instead I ended up having an extremely relaxing time haha.

This is about the only shot of Celestine I took and it's not even a good one! But I shall put it here anyway so I have a record of Christmas morning. On the left side you can see the gold presents standing in the castle.

I think the tiny tiara and necklace set made by Nalladris is amazing, I only wish I could get a better photograph of it for you. It's extremely sparkly.

Here you can see my real-size necklace and tiara (which I never wear anymore but really should) next to the miniature one.

Can you tell which one is miniature? Well, you probably can (it's the left one!) but I still think it's an amazing copy! Nalladris is the most talented for miniature jewellery needs!

Link to the shop HERE.

In other news: I have a new Instagram account. For some reason Instagram deactivated my old one (grr) so I have had to start afresh. It's very annoying but never mind. UPDATE: My account got reactivated again so all is ok!

Link to my account HERE.

Other notable things that have happened lately: I got a spiralizer and I am LOVING it! Courgetti every day! Or twice a day sometimes. I made some chocolate goji berry bars which were delicious, I've been writing, giving a bit more attention to Victoria Stitch, I got a smart camera (!!! it's amazing) we made cauliflower crust pizza which was also delicious (it's all about the food this month) watched the Hobbit.... and I can't think of anything else.

I'll end with a picture of the beautiful hills in the snow the other day.

Hope you'e having a lovely January!

Thursday, 31 December 2015

★ 2015 in Review ★

The word for 2015 has been 'busy.' I started out with a huge list of New Years resolutions (I love goal setting!) and I did manage to achieve quite a few of them. I really wanted to make an effort to focus more on my illustration/writing this year after having let it slide a bit in 2014.


The first goal I set myself was to find a publisher for the 'secret project' I had been working on back in Autumn 2014. Or more specifically to officially sign a contract for it and start work on it. I only say it's a 'secret' (sorry to be annoying) because obviously I can't put it on the internet yet. But hopefully it won't be too long before I can reveal what I have been working on. It's the best project I've ever worked on and I am extremely passionate about it. All will be revealed in 2016!

But I will just say... that it involves Pink Rabbit. Here is a very very small sneaky peek of an illustration.
The other goal I set myself was to finish a picture book I had been working on for a long time with another publisher. It was really great to finally start working properly on this book this year and also to illustrate it in 2d rather than 3d! I actually did very little 3d work this year and I want to continue exploring my 2d style in 2016.

This book should be out next year too. It's a Christmas one! I am excited for you to see it. Here's a little peek...

I worked on the two above projects simultaneously through out the second half of the year which is why at times I was almost too busy.

Pen and ink seems to have been my medium lately!

In July my second Witch's Cat book came out so that was exciting. Happy Halloween Witch's Cat.

And in August The Night Before Christmas came out, illustrated by me in 3d so that was also exciting! I started this book at the end of 2014 but it carried through until about March 2015 so one of my goals at the start of the year was to get it finished. This was the only 3d work I did this year.

The Glitterbelle books (illustrated by me in 3d) also came out this year, in January. It seems so long ago now!

This was my favourite of all the Glitterbelle illustrations. It's one of the front covers.

January 2015 was a busy month because it was when we moved house. At last!! It was long overdue. I put 'move into a house' as one of my goals for the year as I know these things can always fall though. Luckily it didn't this time (the one we tried to buy before it did fall through) and we moved in in January. We have absolutely  loved living in our house this year and we adore the place that we live in. It's been amazing.

It's been especially amazing to have my own studio rather than having to work in my bedroom like I was before.

We went on two holidays in 2015. I actually put 'go to Turkey with Henry's Mum and have fun,' (haha) on my list of goals for this year so I am pleased we managed to do that.

Celestine came too of course and I took some photos of her:

I also took photos of Celestine when we went camping in Cornwall. Camping was not something that I started out the year planning to do, it was more of an impulse decision. I managed to capture a dream shot of Celestine on this holiday. I've always wanted to get a picture of her boating in an idyllic lagoon and I managed it!! It took sooo many shots to get the perfect one though... the water rippled just right and everything.

Other, smaller things that happened this year were:

Dying my hair back to pink - well not all of it but a lot of it. I so much prefer it. Both these photos were taken at a wedding. We went to six weddings this year! Six! It's the season of weddings in my life haha.

I went to Miniatura in Birmingham which was great and I also discovered the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. I say 'discovered' because I had just never been before. It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I went twice this year - to the Christmas one as well. The quality of the miniatures there was absolutely stunning. 

We went to see James Acaster live which was hilarious. He is my favourite comedian ever. You should check him out if you don't know who he is. It was such a good night.

Also, I read/listened to lots of books! That was one of my goals for the year. I wanted to listen to books instead of watching trashy tv shows while I work. I actually managed to achieve this which I am very pleased about. I read around 62 not including picture books. Here they all are! A lot of them I really, really enjoyed, some of them were ok and a few I hated.

So over all I am pleased with the things I achieved in 2015 and I am looking forward to 2016. I have some exciting things planned for next year and I look forward to sharing them with you on my blog!

Some of my goals for 2016 include:

Finishing the books I am in the middle of working on.
Continue reading lots of books.
Continue working in 2d rather than 3d.
Make an illustrated Christmas card! (I wanted to do it this year and it was on my lost of goals but I ran out of time)
Go to church more. I let this slide this year because of moving house etc but I miss going.
Make myself write in a journal every day for practice.
Work on Victoria Stitch. She has been neglected for a while now and needs some attention. Poor Victoria Stitch - she's even had Pink Rabbit taken away from her now!
Work up a picture book idea for my dino kids (below) I've finally had a story idea for them.

I hope you've had a wonderful year. Here's to stepping into 2016 tomorrow!

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Night Before Christmas

At the end of last year/beginning of this year I had the opportunity to illustrate a version of The Night Before Christmas - a poem by Clement C Moore. I was very pleased to be asked because it is in fact a book I have always wanted to illustrate! In fact I wrote about it on my blog back in 2012.

I illustrated the whole book in 3d - using the same techniques I used for my Witch's Cat books and the Glitterbelle books. I thought I would show you some of the work that went into this book behind the scenes and a few of the final images. 

This image was used for the endpapers and is actually one of my favourites. 

The houses are actually all flat card cutouts standing in front of one another. They are not 3d houses. I just painted them to look 3d! I used fairylights behind the windows. I used yellow cellophane on the windows to really give them that warm glow. Here's a behind the scenes snap of the houses, before I lit the sky up. You can see the fairy lights and the wire in front.

I light the sky up by shining lamps from the back, though all the tiny pinprick holes and stars. It makes them very sparkly. You can tell I used a few different lamps to light up the whole sky as some of the light is a different colour. I quite like that though. Some of the stars are more of an ice white and some of them are a warmer white.

I think the scenes I enjoyed creating the most were the bedroom scenes. I always find bedroom scenes fun to make. I sewed some miniature christmassy patchwork quilts for the beds.

This was the parents room - before I put the characters in. I was quite pleased with how I made the little bedside lights. I bought some electric tealights from the pound shop and stuck the plastic flame bit through a hole in the top of the bedside table. Then I put a tracing paper tree in front of it. I like all the little details you can put in a bedroom, the snowman mugs by the bedside, the tiny little paper chains (fiddly to make!) the miniature paintings on the walls. I also designed the wallpaper.

This was the children's room. not quite the final image as the final image also has sweets and sugarplums floating in the air along with the fairies. Secretly I actually prefer this version though...

I made the Christmas tree out of pipe cleaners and stuck sequins on it for baubles. Then I used a string of dollshouse fairylights to light it up. I sewed the teddy and the rabbit on the top right.

These ones are 'in progress' shots...

The first image I created for the whole book was the one with Santa on the rooftop. I had to create a sleigh for this scene which was fun. I remember watching Mob Wives as I covered all the tiny presents in glitter. It's funny, I always remember what I was watching or listening to at the time of creating a piece of artwork when I look at that artwork again in the future.

Here's Santa in the chimney! This was before I changed his sack to one made from fabric. It didn't look very good like this...

Here's a test shot just to try and get the placement of everything right.

And another one. I used cotton wool for the snow. If you buy it in a roll then when you lay it out it looks like a sheet of soft pristine snow. 

This was the final image. You can see what a difference lighting makes! I think it looks much more cosy and Christmassy here with everything being darker. The stars glow more and I think it had more atmosphere. I sprinkled glitter on the cotton wool to make it look like the snow sparkling in the starlight.

I like how the reindeers had glitter and sequins on them. This one has various different moon and star sequins on him.

I had to make the reindeers in a smaller scale for another scene. Otherwise the set would have been HUGE! These reindeers are pretty small, about 2.5 cm.

I had to make the sleigh in a smaller scale too.

This was part of the final image. It wasn't possible to find fairy lights small enough for this scene so I had to add them in Photoshop. I MIGHT have been able to think of a way to create the illusion of very tiny fairy lights somehow if I had had more time. But I just didn't. 

Here are the reindeers flying in the sky!

To create something like this I put the reindeers on long stalks in front of the starry sky. Here's a test shot.

The houses also had to be made in two sizes. There was the scale I have shown above and then another even smaller scale.

I used electric tealights again to light up the insides of the houses.  They were... interesting to photograph. Basically it took me billions of shots to get this one right. I tried all sorts of different lighting effects...

The trees were all made from paper rolled into cones with V shapes cut out for the leaves/branches. And then glittered of course!

There are quite a few scenes in the book which are set in the living room. I quite liked making the living room. The tree was fun to do.

So sparkly!

Here's a test shot of the whole scene. I think a few things changed in it for the final version.

And here's the last scene in the book. Santa and his reindeer flying away!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the behind the scenes for this book. I enjoyed creating it.

There's a little video for it here too:

Hope you're having a festive December!