Thursday, 22 November 2012

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses


This book (by Ian Falconer) is hilarious. Olivia is such a precocious little piglet! I actually laughed out loud a couple of times whilst reading this book.  Whilst it appeals to the child audience it is most certainly aimed at adults too .I loved it!


And why is Olivia depressed? Well, she is having an identity crisis of all things!  She just can not understand why all the other little girls want to be princesses.  At Pippa's birthday party everyone was dressed as a fairy princess- even some of the boys!  Olivia however 'chose a simple French sailor shirt, matador trousers, black flats, a strand of pearls, sunglasses, a red bag, and her gardening hat.'  

What a stylish little pig!


Olivia's style is one of the things I love about the Olivia books.  She makes me laugh because she always wears such sophisticated outfits for one so young!  She definitely has some airs and graces about her.  I especially love her striped towel and turban combo in this picture:

Olivia spends the course of the book wondering why all the others want to be the same and wondering what she should be that is different.  Her mother reminds her that it wasn't too long ago that she (Olivia) wanted to be a fairy princess too.  

'That was when I was little' replies Olivia. 'I am trying to develop a more stark, modern style.'

This is my favourite page in the whole book! A double page spread (I have scanned only a section of it here) of Olivia posing about in a black sheet like thing.


So funny!

Anyway, Olivia does eventually decide what she wants to become at the end of the book after going through a number of different career choices:  a nurse, an adopter of orphans, a reporter...  I won't spoil the surprise for you but I will say that what she decides to become is very Olivia

Also I should probably say something about the illustrations too. I love the way Ian Falconer uses a limited palette in the Olivia books. It enables the reader to really focus on the central character (which is what I am sure Olivia would want!) so she becomes very much centre stage.  It fits perfectly with her personality. I also really like the way that there is the occasional black and white photo incorporated into the pictures.  It gives them a bit more of an interesting and dare I say 'arty' feel which I think Olivia would approve of, being a very cultured pig and all.  

Have you read any of the Olivia books? Which is your favourite one?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Victoria Stitch makes paper snowflakes

Hi everyone! Firstly thanks so much for your kind comments and messages about my last post! They did make me feel a lot better. I am very lucky to be able to do the job I love and it has reminded me of that. Also it has shown me that I am not alone- that many people work in solitude too  Even so, I am planning to eventually have some kind of part time job that gets me out and involved with people.  For me I think that's the best way forward.

Secondly: You may or may not notice that I have changed my blog header. You'd be forgiven for not noticing as I think the difference is quite subtle.  I was getting tired of my old Victoria Stitch one and since she (and my drawing style) has evolved a bit since I made the last one I decided to update it!

This one definitely has a Christmassy theme running through it. there are glittery baubles, snowmen and snowflakes.  As you can see, Victoria Stitch is busy making silver paper snowflakes and pink Rabbit is writing a letter to Santa.


I made this image using my preferred method of creating a scene in 3d out of paper and then photographing it.  I like being able to put extra little elements in there like the glass bottle and the round glittery baubles (beads)

I absolutely love working with glitter. It just makes me so happy.  I love that I can always incorporate glitter into my Victoria Stitch illustrations. 


What do you think? I have been missing Victoria Stitch a bit lately and felt it was time to take her to the drawing board again.  She is after all my original and most important baby!

For your interest, this was the last header so you can compare. I am not sure which one I prefer overall but I think that Victoria Stitch has a nicer face in the new one:


Sunday, 18 November 2012

a jumble of things...

The other night I said to Henry 'Why did I choose to be an illustrator? It's such a lonely profession.'  He replied 'you didn't choose it. It's a vocation.'

This is true.  I didn't really think about it that way before.  I can't actually imagine myself doing anything else or at least being as good at anything else.  And after five and a half years of university it would be silly to not use the skills i have developed.  But even so I've been struggling a bit lately with 'being an illustrator.'

The two main things I find difficult are: working from home and working alone.  Its so haaard! I find myself so jealous of people who get to leave the house and go to an office to work! However I am looking into a few little side jobs that will get me out of the house but they are taking a while to get started...

Anyway I didn't want this to be a rant or anything I just wondered if there were any illustrators out there who feel the same? And what do you do to balance out your home/work/social life without becoming a crazy hermit? I guess I'm still quite new to this full time illustrator thing...

Anyway enough about that. Here's a drawing I did the other day at the drawing class I go to on a Tuesday morning:


And here's some pictures of where I went in London the other day.  Mainly of Fortnum and Masons. I absolutely love that shop! I think it's my favourite shop ever! The carpet is so plushy, the air smells so nice, the things to buy are all so nicely displayed and packaged. it is a shop of luxury! I can just walk around there gazing at everything.  I love the chocolate counters and the posh desserts all displayed behind their glass cabinets. I especially love it at Christmastime when there are baskets full of glittering baubles and trees covered in fairy lights at every twist and turn.  Those red crackers I took a photo of below were 500 pounds!!!

I love it!

And now (I did say this was a bit of a jumble) here are some photos I meant to post a while back of the fabrics and amazing tiny buttons  I got in Derby the other weekend.  Too cute not to share!


I look forward to using it all. I'm sure all those scrap fabrics will be very useful in my future 3d illustrations. or maybe for Celestine. Who knows!

And here's Celestine (channeling some French vibes!) sitting on top of some salt and pepper pots yesterday. I took a little trip to visit my friend and we went to this nice little cafe place for lunch. They had some really nice food there- sweet potato gratin, chocolate truffle tart  (yum) lamb wrap with hummus etc... it's making me hungry thinking about it all.  I was lovely to see my friend and we had an interesting conversation about being passionate about stuff but that's a topic for another post!



And now finally I just want to mention that today marks the day of mine and Henry's three year anniversary-  and it's been such a wonderful three years together.  I look forward to many more! :)  Tonight we are going out to dinner to celebrate (which reminds me I need to go and get ready!) So I'd better stop writing and go!  Bye for now!


Friday, 16 November 2012

Celestine does Baking

On Monday evening my friend Nicola came round and we decided in premature preparation for Christmas, that we would bake some festive gingerbread men.  It was Henry's idea really (he loves gingerbread, in fact one of our first dates was a gingerbread making date but that's another story) so he did the main making of the mixture and then we all cut them out and decorated them together.  

Of course Celestine wanted to bake too so I set her up a little table with her own gingerbread cutters   but she spent most of her time covered in flour and trying to climb into the sugar bag instead. 

The miniature cutters by the way I discovered online here thanks to Polly.


It was lots of fun and now we have lots of gingerbread to eat!

This week has been quite a busy oneIt has been full of drawing, cutting out, getting my portfolio together, meetings in London, walking the dog, swimming, getting the piano tuned for my parents, making mushroom and cheese tarts, getting picture books out from the library, buying secret santa presents, going to the art nest for a drawing session and tea and cake, watching The Shining and The Others, browsing the children's section in Foyles, spending a great deal of time in Forbidden Planet (I love that shop!) walking round Fortnum and Mason and marvelling at all the beautiful glittery things, making Celestine a new stripy red and black dress (she looks very french!) and probably some more things which I can't remember...

I hope you've had a good week too! Did you do anything exciting?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Foxglove Story Book

Yesterday I popped into town for a few things and spotted this little gem in a second hand bookshop window:  Enid Blyton's Foxglove Storybook.  When I was younger I read a lot of Enid Blyton books as I'm sure we all did (I especially love the Enchanted Forest/Faraway tree series) and this book brought up a few nostalgic childhood memories.  


Whilst sometimes I find the amount of 'twee' in Enid Blyton books a bit hard to stomach, I do really love the fact that so many of her stories are about elves, pixies, goblins, fairies, brownies and magical lands. there is a certain charm about them that you don't often find in modern children's book today.

However the real reason I bought this book was because of the illustrations. To be honest I have read enough of Enid Blytons stuff to take it or leave it but there was something about the cover illustration (and one of the illustrations inside) that I just absolutely fell in love with.  One is a fairy in a foxglove outfit with a little fox who is wearing foxglove gloves! (wow I bet you can't say that too fast!) And the other is the same fairy trying on a pair of elegant gloves from 'Fox & Co Glove makers.' -What could be quainter than that? 


These illustrations are by Hilda Boswell and I love all the little details she puts into them.  Such as these two weird little green creatures:


However there are only actually four full colour pictures inside this book.  Most of the illustrations are done in three colours.  And also not all the stories are about fairies and elves etc... There's a mixture of stuff. also a few poems and puzzles and things. 


Still, just to have these two foxglove fairy illustrations makes the book worth it to me!

Did you ever read any Enid Blyton as a child? What was your favourite book?