Monday, 31 March 2014

nice things and paper flowers

I took this photo the other day while I walked my dog. It was feeling like a very cold/grey day after having nice sun in Dubai for a week. Ah well C'est la vie! At least the heavy clouds made for a good photo!

There was a nice surprise waiting for me when I got home. An Ernest et Celestine book had arrived in the post from my french friend Carol. I love Ernest et Celestine! In fact it is where I got the name Celestine from for my Celestine. Yes she is named after a little mouse.

I just really love Gabrielle Vincent's illustrations- so characterful, and this is a sweet story too. I translated it all on google translate. Celestine is confused as to why Ernest has all these old photos but has no photos of her. They remedy this by going to a photographers and getting Celestine's portrait taken. She looks pleased as punch as she poses for her picture!

I made these two cards recently. One for my mum's birthday and one for Henry's mum's birthday. I was so pleased with them that I decided to make them with the kids in my craft club. It went down really well as it is an easy way of making very pretty cards. Anyone can do it! They all made beautiful ones for their mums for mothers day. All you need is patterned paper, scissors, a glue stick and some glitter! For the kids I also brought along buttons and gems for them to use for the middles of the flowers.

Still working on my Witch Cat sequel cover at the moment. It's taking its time. I find overs always take a long time. But each time we revise it I see that it's getting better and better so I am pleased that I am really being pushed to make the best cover I can.

Here's a little sneak peek:

The weekend before last Henry and I went up to Derby to visit his mum. We had a nice weekend which involved eating nice food, watching films, sewing, shopping and eyebrow threading. 

Celestine came too. Here she is in the mall. She had to be careful she wasn't trodden on!


Sunday, 30 March 2014

♥ Happy Birthday Victoria Stitch ♥

Just a little sketch I did of Victoria Stitch on her birthday. Her birthday is sometime in March (like mine!) but she won't say exactly when. That's becasue she likes everyone to celebrate it for the whole of March- she is the Queen after all. She get very excited on her birthday becasue birthdays mean presents. Victoria Stitch loves getting presents... even if most of them are from herself!

I do like the pencil version too actually... 

Little Pink Rabbit seems always to be surprised!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Dubai 2014

Last week Celestine and I went to Dubai. I don't know if I have ever mentioned it on my blog before, but Dubai is where my parents have been living for the last five years. That's the reason why I seem to be popping off there every now and then- not becasue I just love Dubai!

Though I do in fact love Dubai anyway. So I am lucky that I have been able to go there whenever I want for the last five years. I love the smell of the place. The air smells of incense. Everything's so big and clean and opulant (though it does come at a price unfortunately- cheap labour). The weather is balmy (right now anyway) the streets round where my parents live are pink, the kerbs are black and white stripy (Victoria Stitch would like that!) and all the buildings are pastel coloured. Ice cream coloured villas I call them.

I decided to go out there last week becasue my parents are now looking to move back to England at some point (maybe soon) and I wanted to go there one last time before that happened. I'm quite sad really that this was probably my last time in Dubai.  I sometimes wish I actually lived there myself! Sort of.

So the whole time I was there this time, I was kind of seeing things for the last time. I wanted to make sure I took advantage of the things Dubai has to offer before I wouldn't have the chance to anymore.  Like for example the gold souk, the amazing fabric and gem shops and the beach.

I love the beach. I think beaches are my favourite places of natural beauty to be. Cornish beaches are my favourite but the Dubai ones aren't half bad either! We went to the beach three times this last week. I love the colour of the sea. All turquoise and nice. One day it was quite windy and there were lots of waves and people flying kites. The sand had a crackly top layer when you walked on it.

Celestine adores the beach also. She is a beach baby! She had a nice time reading her book and building sandcastles and sunbathing. She loves to walk barefoot and feel the warm sand between her toes.

She was able to use her new red bucket and yellow spade which she has not used before. She also took her duck to the beach with the intention of putting it to float in the sea. But Celestine is so small that she got a bit intimidated by the waves so duck ended up staying on dry land.

Celestine just loves being able to wear her summer clothes. Yellow is her second favourite colour after gold.

Celestine was also able to take her boat out. She loves rowing in her little boat. She didn't take it in the sea but she did take it in the baby pool outside the villa.  She finds it very relaxing to float around in her boat while the sun shines on her hat and the birds chirp in the palm trees.

She did in fact capsize once! But it was alright becasue the water wasn't cold. She actually really  enjoyed her little swim.

She had the whole baby pool to herself! For her it was still pretty big and deep but so sunny and pale blue and warm. She went swimming underwater like a little fish.

Celestine was also very interested in going to the gold souk as she is in fact a jeweller/jewellery designer herself! She was fascinated by all the jewels and gems and gold twinkling away in the shops. I was too! I love love going to the gold souk in Dubai. It's an amazing place. Unless you've been you just can't imagine the amount of jewellery there is there. I am also very interested in jewellery and can't walk past a jewellery shop without peering into the window so the gold souk is a very interesting place for me!

One of my goals for the week was actually to get my wedding ring made out in Dubai (because it's so much cheaper there) so we spent quite a while at the gold souk and at the gold and diamond park. I did in fact get it made and I am very pleased with it! I might do a post about it at some point as I designed it myself. Haven't photographed it yet though.

A couple of years ago while I was at the gold souk in Dubai (with Henry) I spotted the most beautiful amazing (in my opinion) necklace I had ever seen. I have in fact mentioned it on my blog before as I loved it so much! It was crazily expensive though- like in the thousands. And there's no way I'll ever be able to buy it. But I love it all the same. I thought I would never see it again and it would forever exist just in my memory. But we were walking round the gold souk last week and I spotted it again! (and there were a few variations of it too!) This time I asked to take a photo so I could remember it and the man said yes. (The shop is called Barakat in case you're interested)

A star diamond necklace!!! The stars are all diamonds (each one made up of five kite shaped diamonds but unless you look closely it looks like they are pure diamond stars) set in white gold. I love stars, I have a thing about stars so to me this is just the most beautiful necklace ever. It's a Victoria Stitch necklace! I'm sure Victoria Stitch owns it. It's exactly the sort of thing she would have in her jewellery collection.

If I ever get really rich and famous that's the first thing I'll buy.

Whenever Henry enters the lottery I always say 'will you buy me that star necklace if you win?'

But I think I would have to be quite rich and famous in order to actually wear it. It's so expensive (the price started at 12000 I think- before bargaining) You'd have to have some very posh events to wear it to!

I just love it though. And I've never seen anything else like it before, ever. Not even on the internet.

So yes, the gold souk. Best place to go for jewellery!

To get to the gold souk we always take an abra boat across the creek. It's usually dark at that point because we go with my dad after he's finished work. Everything's open really late in Dubai. That's when the malls come alive.

Dubai really is a bit of a crazy place. In fact the word I would use to describe it really is ridiculous. Ridiculous in an affectionate sort of way. And hyperreal. Everything there is so over the top. Who knows, maybe I will go back there at some point- or at least somewhere in Arabia.

Those were my highlights of the week- the beach and the gold souk.  And we spent a lot of time at both. We did do other things too such as lots of walking round shops for various wedding things, a trip to Naif road where all the fabric and craft and wholesale shops are. Actually that is an amazing place too. Full to bursting with all kinds of fabrics- a lot of them sparkly! There was this one shop we went in which was just like an Aladdins cave. All they sold was sequinned fabric. It reached the ceiling, was draped everywhere. And there were four men sitting inside it, just sitting in this glittery grotto of sparkling sequinned fabric. I wanted to take a photo but didn't.  Yes , Naif road is also an incredible place. There are shops just selling gems and rhinestones and swarovskis. I discovered it's actually possible to buy star swarovski flatback crystals! I didn't know it was possible to get them. I would have got some for the wedding if the weren't so expensive. At least I know they exist though.

We went to an art exhibition where I have never seen so many groomed people all together in once place before. There was lots of canapes at the exhibition like little pots of chocolate mousse and funny things on spoons and prawns and quails eggs on lettuce leaves. I was more interested in watching all the people there than looking at the art to be honest. It was definitely a social hobnobbing event for most of the people there I think. An interesting experience.

We also went sailing one day and also I had the best Lebanese food I've ever had one day for lunch. Lebanese food in my favourite. It was apparantly the best Lebanese retsaurant in Dubai. And I think it dinfitely was! The hallumi was the squeakiest I've ever eaten. 

Dubai has been an inspiration to me. It's such a contrast from here and i' m so glad I've been able to experience it. It was in Dubai that I discovered the flamingo fountain that I incorporated into my Victoria Stitch book. It was the place where I discovered the most delicious smoothie combination- avocado, mango and strawberry. It's probably the first place I ever took a plane to or from on my own. It's where my sister became an air hostess for Emirates for a year. It's where I discovered Lebanese food. It's where we have spent Christmas and Easter once or twice. It's the place where I created my whole macmillan prize project which I then got highly commended for. It is a place full of sparkle- even the pillars in the Dubai airport are sparkly. It has fairylights everywhere. it's where I discovered my beloved star necklace, where Henry bought my engagement ring and where I got my wedding ring. I'll be sad when I don't have a second home in Dubai anymore but I will more happy that my parents are back here in England!

Monday, 10 March 2014

See you soon!

Celestine and I are off to Dubai tomorrow!

And those aren't even all the things she's packing... She doesn't travel light. She's the only person who can take her boat and deckchair on the plane though which she feels very smug about.

See you next week!


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Scottish island memories

Here are a couple more pictures of my dinosaur kid characters. I realise that at the end of my last dinosuar kids post I said 'can you guess which part of the world these paintings are based on?' Well some of you did try and guess, and I realise I never actually told you the answer!

Well, the place I have been basing these paintings on is a Scottish island called Shuna! It's the Scottish island me and my family went on holiday to when I was younger.  We went there for about ten years running. There was no electricity- we had to use gas lamps, and only three other holiday houses there all spread out. It was very remote. But also very beautiful. I have lots of wonderful memories of the island. 

Because it was so remote we did ALL our food shopping for the two weeks before we got onto the island. This was becasue if it was bad weather we couldn't get across to the mainland to go shopping. We didn't go over to the mainland much anyway. We caught fish in the sea and ate them for breakfast. My mum picked wild mushrooms and we ate them on buttered toast. Each holiday house was supplied with a simple motor engined boat and we used it to chug round the island to the various little bays, and sometimes the mainland. There wild otters and seals and porpoises. There were rope swings and foresty bits and dens up in the trees and a rose quartz mine and teeny tiny baby toads and loads of time to draw and make things and read. Later on we went there with another family which was fun and my dad bought a boat so we could go sailing and there were canoes there and sandy beaches and rocky beaches and bogs and cows (and a bull!) and sheep and carnivorous plants and a shipwreck even a ruined castle! The island was only three miles long and one and a half miles wide. But it had so much on it. And it was just empty.

Painting these pictures and going through all the old photos has really made me remember how good these holidays were. It has made me so glad that mine and Henry's honeymoon this year is going to be on a Scottish island!

That's me in the middle! ^ Showing off the fish we caught.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Twenty Six

^  Celestine and I (click to enlarge if you want to see Celestine!) ^

Today it was (still is!) my birthday.  I didn't do much for it which was very unusual for me. I usually like to go all out for birthdays. It felt very weird actually to not organise something big or at least big-ish with friends- (or family- all my family are away atm.) But I am going to Dubai next week and we are saving money for the wedding so I sort of didn't feel the need to do anything.

Henry and I went for a nice walk in the morning in the sporadic sunshine. Celestine came too. She hasn't been out on many trips with us lately. I've missed her. I've just been so busy with other things recently. Luckily Celestine has lots of other friends (her own size!) to go and visit. 

Because it was my birthday Celestine made an effort with her outfit. I mean she usually makes an effort- she's very stylish- but you know, we were only going for a walk. I thought she looked quite like Kiki from Kiki's delivery service in her red bow and blue coat.

Here she is walking along... (again click to enlarge if you actually want to see Celestine! Problem of being so small!)

It's so nice that the flowers are starting to come out!

Celestine didn't walk the whole way round of course- we'd be walking for about a week if that was the case! She likes to sit on my shoulder.

Barney had a good time too. He loves to dig about in the leaves. I love my little dog.

After the walk we had lunch in a pub nearby. It was even just about warm enough to sit outside! It's been a nice but understated birthday so far. Tonight Henry is going to cook my favourite food- Hebanese. That's Harriet and Henry's version of Lebanese!

Hope you've had a lovely Saturday!

Friday, 7 March 2014

pink hair and glitter stars

Celestine managed to get hold of some pink hairdye the other day. This was the result. I thought it looked very pretty but she wasn't so sure. She says pink isn't really her colour. I don't agree!

I am also feeling a lean towards the pink at the moment. I've been wanting to do something with my hair for ages but haven't because of the wedding coming up in June. You know that whole don't do anything drastic with your hair just before you get married rule. I kind of want to ignore that rule at the moment.... but not sure if I dare. I don't mean fully pink hair, just a little bit of pink on the ends- or somewhere! It would match the flowers and the bridemsaids and the ushers- and my lipstick! I think it would look good.

I'm making the whole thing into a big deal- it wouldn't usually be. It's the wedding that makes it a big deal

I might do it...

And weddings weddings weddings. There's a lot of wedding stuff going on here right now as you might imagine. I've suddenly got into the vibe. Hence why I haven't posted any work up here lately.  I've been diamonding up my veil with crystals and making decorations. Glittery stars of all sizes- all shades of pink and purple and green. Everything has become saturated in glitter in this house. Even the dogs bed, my hair, the floor. It's just everywhere. I'm not complaining- I love it! Everything sparkles.

I have also been making fairies and goblins and witches to hang among the stars. They have been taking me a while. I'll post them here when they're finished. They are also in all shades of purple pink and green. I'm going to make them tutu skirts. And of course they are also all glittery too. It's been a good little project for me as I have been using them to practice drawing faces!

Today Henry went down to the jewellers to get his wedding ring made. I love going to the jewellers. Any excuse. So I accompanied him there. I asked the jeweller if he had any star shaped diamonds because I've never seen one before. He didn't have one (he says he sometimes does!) but he showed me a cubic zirconia one which was very sparkly. Diamonds shaped into star shapes are apparently quite rare. I've searched for one on the internet before just to look at it but nothing ever comes up. I feel like if I hadn't become an illustrator I may well have become a jewellery designer. I am actually extremely interested in jewellery and jewels.

Sidenote: Celestine is a jeweller you know- A miniature one.

Work wise I have been working on the front cover for my second Witch Cat book. It's been taking a while to get right. I find covers often do take ages.

I just finished reading The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris. Such a good book. I read it once years ago and don't remember enjoying it so much as I did the second time around. It's a very magical, chocolatey book. This is probably because it's about witches who live and work in a chocolate shop in Paris.  I just love the way Joanne Harris writes and the way she uses words to describe things so richly. And the descriptions of the hot chocolate the characters are always drinking just makes your mouth water! Melted chocolate, milk, nutmeg, vanilla bean, cardamom... etc. You almost just want to eat the book! So yes I found that book very inspiring recently.

Hmm... that is all. Rambly post this one. (actually written a few days ago but never got round to posting)