Monday, 27 June 2011

Picnic time

Today was such a hot day.  I almost melted.  Victoria Stitch had a picnic in the garden with Pink Rabbit.  She was a little greedy with the cakes.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Wales

I just got back from being in Wales for two weeks.  Henry and I actually cycled down there.  We had to take two trains and cycle across London from Kings Cross to Paddington.  I've never cycled in London before that.  It got a little bit hairy in parts but I survived!

Wales was so beautiful.  We saw sheep and lots and lots of cows.  We did surfing, canoeing (scary), sailing, cliff walking, kite flying, rock rool dabbling and lots and lots of chocolate eating! My favourite thing we did was go on a boat trip round an island to see the puffins.  I'm not too bothered about puffins but I love seals! And we saw plenty of those. I also love boat trips.  After we did that we had a picnic on the headland and it was seriously one of the nicest, most picturesque places I have ever had the fortune to eat a picnic!

My dog was in heaven!  He's already tried to run away twice since we got back home.  Don't think he's too happy about being back.  Will have to give him lots of walks to compensate!
As you can probably tell, absolutely no drawing got done whatsoever these past two weeks but I did write over 4000 words of my new book.  So I wasn't completely lazy.

Have a wonderful weekend!

X

Patterns

I did these patterns a couple of weeks ago.  I think the food ones would look fancy as wallpaper in a bakery. Or maybe in Countess Amelia Buttonsponge's house.  The black cats would suit the Addams family I think.  Maybe they could have it as their bathroom wallpaper.  That would look cool.  Actually I would quite like it in my own bathroom. I love black cats.  They are magic.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Chocolate Bats and Furry Dolphins

 I love drawing bats, I love their wings and their little furry faces. And I wish I had a bat costume like this one^  Or a unicorn costume like the one my little cousin has with wings and a horn. And a pet bat and bat wallpaper and bat patterned clothes and some bat hairclips. 
Actually in real real life I don't think they are quite this adorable but in my head they are.

Also I want to show off about his cake I made for my friend at the weekend.  She loves dolphins and so I thought what could be better than chocolate dolphins dipping and diving into a chocolate pool?  I made the dolphins by making dolphin shaped biscuits using a template I drew and then covering them in chocolate with silver balls for their eyes. She loved it.

Dorrie the Little Witch

Last week I did a guest post on Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves about my absolute favourite ever books ever! I've blogged about them here before but never in much detail so I thought I would post what I wrote here as well.  Because let's face it, who doesn't like books about little witches and magic potions.  I'll warn you now though, this post is long.  Here goes...

The Dorrie Books by Patricia Coombs

'This is Dorrie.  She is  witch. A little witch.  Her hat is always on crooked and her stockings never match.'


When I was younger my mum would often take us to the library to get picture books out and it was there that I first discovered Dorrie.  I just remember, as a young child being totally drawn into Dorrie’s world.  I loved the spooky town of Witchville, the sparkly looking magic potions, the eerie silhouettes of witches flying across the sky and the ominous feeling that there was a bad witch lurking somewhere in the story.


I think also that the Dorrie books stood out from other books with their black and white illustrations, often offset by just one or two colours.  They seem so different now from the brightly coloured and commercial illustrations that grace the covers of most children’s books today.  Thinking back, it was probably quite unusual that my local library actually stocked them. To this day I have never met another person in real life who has heard of the Dorrie books, which makes me think that they must not have been very well known, or at least not in England.


The two Dorrie books that my library had were ‘Dorrie’s Play,’ and ‘Dorrie and the Birthday Eggs,’ so these are the ones I remember from my childhood.  There was one time I was reading ‘Dorrie and the Birthday Eggs’ for the first time in bed and my parents were having a dinner party downstairs.  I turned the page and this face leered up at me:


At the time it gave me such a shock that I remember jumping right out of bed and running downstairs to show it to my parents in the middle of their party!  It still freaks me out a little bit today.

The stories are all set in Witchville, the town where Dorrie and her mother the Big Witch live.  They live in a house with a tall tower where the Big Witch makes her potions and magic.  They also live with Cook, an ogreish, bossy but good at heart type of character and Dorrie’s black cat Gink who follows her everywhere. 

 
Dorrie and Gink are forever getting into scrapes and getting involved in things that they shouldn’t.  In ‘Dorrie and the Weather Box,’ they creep into the Big Witch’s secret magic room and try to make a spell to change the weather.  


Of course nothing goes to plan and Dorrie and Gink end up causing it to rain and thunder inside the house.  Eventually the Big Witch comes home and sorts it all out.  Well kind of.  She makes a mistake too and it starts snowing orange snow instead!


I just love the visuals for this story.  The image of the orange snowman is so striking.  It’s such a great idea.  And so quirky!

‘Cook climbed out of the oven.  She fixed tea and sandwiches and they all sat round the snowman in the hall and watched it melt.’

 
Little fact for you: Later on , after having collected almost all of the books (to great dismay of my bank balance) the style of the illustrations changes somewhat over the series.

The first books in the series are a lot more graphic looking.  The pictures are blacker with more block-like colours.


Halfway through the series the illustrations become much more subtly drawn.  They seem as though they might have been created with some sort of soft pencil. In fact some of the lines are so faint that they almost fade into the page.


And then at the end of the series Patricia Coombs starts using full colour.

 
The other thing I find interesting is that Dorrie seems to grow up over the course of the books.  In the earlier ones such as ‘Dorrie and the Weather Box,’ and ‘Dorrie and the Wizards Spell,’ she looks very young.

 
Later on in ‘Dorrie and the Witchville Fair,’ for example, she becomes much taller and older looking


Another interesting little fact that I noticed is that the drawings on her bedroom wall (pictures above and below) also improve over the course of the books!  So I’m guessing that it was Patricia Coomb’s intention that Dorrie gets noticeably older.  Or maybe it could have been something to do with the fact that Dorrie was based on Patricia Coombs daughter.  Maybe Dorrie grew up at the same time as her daughter.  Who knows!


I think what I love most of all about the Dorrie books is the slightly creepy but comforting atmosphere.  I have never seen books like them before!  Having a penchant for slightly-spooky-but-not-too-scary things they really encompass everything I would want out of a children’s book! 


I am really grateful that I was lucky enough to come across the Dorrie books as a child.  Now at twenty three and studying to become a children’s book illustrator myself, I can see how unique they are and how much of an inspiration they have been to me. 


I have lots of favourite children’s book characters but none of them quite tops Dorrie. She is my very very favourite and takes pride of place in my bookshelf! I can’t get enough of that little witch!


p.s. now, amazingly, they have started to re print a few of the Dorrie books using a print on demand service on Amazon.  So if you also love Dorrie, remember her from your own childhood, or get inspired by this post and don’t have any of the books then some of them are now a bit easier to get hold of.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Yesterday

Yesterday was beautiful.  It was so sunny.  Victoria Stitch and Pink Rabbit took a little boat ride among the duckweed on the pond...

...and Henry and I went cycling in the countryside.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Reach for the Stars!


I love Siamese cats and I wish I had one.  I love the way they look so elegant with their little creamy bodies which look like their ears and tail and paws have been dipped in chocolate.  Miaow~!

p.s *This illustration might look a bit confusing at the moment with the newspaper cut out star with random writing on it, but it's unfinished right now and all will be explained soon!*

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Child Characters Vs Adult Characters

Was drawing more children yesterday.  I really need to practice at it!  Being able to draw kids might be kinda useful if I want to be a children's book illustrator.

For some reason they all came out looking like ballet dancers...

I was thinking though, how necessary is it for the characters in a children book to be children?  Do you think children respond more to characters of their own age?

Personally I think using an adult character in a children's picture book can be just as successful as using a child character.

I remember LOVING Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole when I was little:
 well, I still love Princess Smartypants actually.  And Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul:
and Tinkerbell:

and Raymond Briggs Father Christmas:
and Emma Thompson's Felicity Wishes:
and then of course there are all the traditional fairytales who have adult characters in them such as Snow White and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and The Princess and the Pea:
These are just a few obviously successful children's story characters.  And they are all adults.  Or at least teenagers! In fact most of the characters mentioned above are from stories with no children in at all!  But children still love them.  Maybe they look up to them rather than identifying with them?  But maybe that's just as important?

What are your thoughts on this subject?  I'd be interested to know.  It's something I find very interesting.
Have a nice day! x