Monday, 30 November 2015

Kangaroos Cancan Cafe Re-Opens for Business!

I've had another of those rather lovely packages through the post recently. This one was one I was sort of expecting around now, but had forgotten about, so it was wonderful to cut open the box and discover...

...lots of dancing kangaroos in their brand new edition! Yes, Julia Jarman and I have been campaigning to get Kangaroo's Cancan Cafe back in print (Julia has done most of the work to be fair), and the great news is, we succeeded! He's been in the dark for a while, so it is great to have him back.

Hachette have done a print run of 1000 copies - not many, but if they sell, they have promised more. So, to help keep the cancan alive, you know what you have to do!

Our book was originally published by Orchard Books, but this new edition is being put out by Hodder, publishers of Class Two at the Zoo, Class Three all at Sea and the new Class One Farmyard Fun, which I am working on right now. Both Orchard and Hodder are part of the bigger Hachette and it seemed more streamlined to have all our books under the same umbrella.

I am delighted to have this one back. It's always been one of my favourites for reading aloud in schools. I have got my feather bower out again and dusted off my cancan CD. Let the dancing begin! 

Friday, 27 November 2015

My Illustration Masterclass - Big Black Friday Sale!

Okay, much though I personally hate the whole Black Friday bonkers shopping thing, it turns out that there is an very definite up side... (pause for drumroll)... 

... because my Craftsy class is going to be offered at a special SALE PRICE for the whole weekend - just over £12 (think that's about $20) - hurrah!
So, if you haven't got around to signing up yet (shame on you :-D ) here is the SUPER-DUPER BLACK FRIDAY SALE link to my illustration masterclass, which will teach you how to draw the most expressive and funny picture book characters. I make it easy. Promise.  

Just think what an amazingly original Christmas present idea it would be for an arty friend. Or maybe just an early Christmas present for yourself (the best kind of present...). Go on, treat yourself...

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Desk-Drawer Portrait: Latest Idea for my Residency

When it comes to my residency at the Morgan Centre, I have licence to pretty much draw whatever I want. I have a security pass to all the university buildings and have already drawn in lectures, tutorials, meetings, leaving dos, student areas... I am keen though to get a breadth of approach and want the sketchbooks to contain as much visual variety as possible. So, we hatched the idea of the desk-drawer portrait.

Professor Sue Heath is the person who got the ball rolling with the Leverhulme Trust grant and is very supportive of my work, so she volunteered to be my first desk-drawer victim. She promised not to interfere with what was in there: she took the whole top drawer out of her desk and handed it to me. It was a jumble of all sorts.

I sat quietly and sorted the contents into little piles, then methodically drew everything. It turned out to be much more amusing than I expected, because 90% of the contents were either completely unused, had not been looked at in eons, or were so well past their sell-by date, they belonged in the bin (totally dry Tippex with a brush-end like an exploding firework, glue-stick dried to a skinny, petrified finger...)

It took up half of one of my concertina books. I put down a painted background first, to tie it all together, so it wouldn't look 'bitty'. I also used text to add my own personal commentary. I left absolutely nothing out. I counted all the perished rubber bands and even drew the bent staples I fished out of the back corners: 

It took me 3 sessions to sketch it all, but I eventually got it done. It was rather revealing that, in the entire week I had her drawer contents held captive, Sue missed only I item: her stapler. But like many other objects in her drawer, it came with a sibling, so she took one and left me the other to sketch:

I had great fun and thoroughly enjoyed adding my ironic labels alongside each item. Luckily Sue has a good sense of humour, so I wasn't run out of town!

Okay, own up, who is already peering sheepishly into their own desk drawer and wondering..?

Monday, 23 November 2015

I'm on Manchester's Library Cards!

Manchester Libraries have redesigned their library cards and they thought that the children's cards ought to be illustrated. 

They used illustrations from my baby books as part of their publicity when the newly refurbished library was launched last year (do you remember the poster?). So they came back to me this time and asked if I would let them use my work on the library cards. It seemed such a lovely idea, of course I said yes.

They sent me some samples of the actual cards. Great aren't they? To launch them, they organised a days of children's events with me. We had a lot of fun. I thought it only fitting to read the three books featured on the cards, so I read Kangaroo's Cancan Cafe for the first time in a long time (complete with feather bower and high-kick dancing!), as well as Bears on the Stairs and Class Three all at Sea

I did two storytellings in the morning, then a workshop with older children and their parents in the afternoon. We had a great turn-out and it went really well.