Sunday, 30 August 2015

Craftsy Workshop: a Skype Rehearsal

I have just a few days to prepare for my trip to Denver. It's a wee bit scary and I'm feeling a bit frazzled, as there's still a fair bit of prep to do before I am ready to be filmed.

I'm so pleased that I front-loaded the most time-consuming element and got the main content for the seven lessons planned out months ago, when I was first commissioned. Now I have to go through it all again though, fleshing out the detail and scripting certain sections of it. There will be an auto-cue apparently: though I don't want to be 'reading' what I am saying, the prompts need to be fairly detailed, as there is so much information to get across. 

I'm finding some bits and pieces which need to be changed too - as I rehearse the lessons aloud, I keep tripping on elements which don't quite work properly, or are too complicated. 

Before my holiday, I had to do a run-through of one lesson for my producer in Denver, using Skype, so he could see how it was coming, check my timings, and get a feel for how the class would work generally. Unfortunately, at that point I was still knee-deep in the final editing of my sketching book, so I had no time to rehearse properly. It was a bit ragged, to say the least. I did lots of rambling on too, so took way more time than I needed!

It'll feel better though in a day or two, once I've had the chance to immerse myself in the material and get my head back around what I was doing when I was last working on it. I feel like I've been juggling too many balls of late.

When I get to Denver, we have a whole day set aside for rehearsals, so it feels like I will have plenty of opportunity for fine-tuning. Thank goodness. That feels reassuring, as my sketching book has taken up so much of my head-space recently, I have barely had time to think about Denver until now. Right, back to it...

Friday, 28 August 2015

Nice Article about My Book Illustrations

Back in February this year, I travelled to Lincoln to do a couple of days of lectures and workshops for Bishops Grosseteste University. I was a little nervous, as it was a bit different to what I normally do, since I was working with trainee teachers. I have worked with teachers and librarians before, but not for a while. It turned out to be a smashing job though, as everyone was so lovely and everything went down well. 

As an little added extra, I did an interview with a couple of 2nd year students for the university's magazine Hullabaloo! I then forgot all about it until a copy arrived through my postbox. It is a really nice article, in a special English Literature edition. 

I am hopefully enjoying my well-earned week off at the moment, having a relaxing time, drawing and painting in the wonderful Lake District landscape. I do hope it's not been raining too much! 

Anyway, I thought that I would post the Hullabaloo article to give you something to look at while I am away (hope it's clear enough to read when enlarged).

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Planning Meeting: Chapter Headers

While I was in London with the publisher of my Sketching People book, we sorted out various other jobs, as well as photographing all the demos I showed you last time. 

One task I had deliberately left until the end was selecting images to use for the chapter headers. Most of the pages in the book have 6 - 8 sketches per spread, but at the start of each chapter, I can have one sketch taking up a whole spread. 

I'd created a shortlist and emailed it down in advance. It was tricky, because only landscape or square format sketches would work across the double-page spread, but an awful lot of my sketches are portrait format. Moira, my designer, printed my various suggestions out on mock layouts, to see how different possibilities might look:

It was a difficult decision, but easier with other people's input. In the end, none of the ones in the photo above made the grade. You'll have to wait and see what I chose!

There was also another photography job to get sorted. One early section of the book looks at which art materials are most suitable for location-sketching and give tips for travelling light. So, I took all my gear with me and Phil took photos of every single item in my sketching kit. I love this picture of my grubby paint palette:

It feels good to have such a monster project wrestled into submission.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Portrait outside Pentonville Prison

I need a photo of me to go in my sketching book: I always think it's more friendly to be able to see the person who is 'talking' to you in a book of this kind. I have loads of publicity shots (I've never been a shrinking violet), but the more perceptive amongst you might have noticed that I changed my hairstyle about a year ago: my spikes have given way to a quiff. Which means older photos are not so good. 

So, while I was visiting my publisher, all kitted out in my best frock and with photographer Phil Wilkins on hand, I suggested we take a picture of me 'in action' with my sketchbook. I thought we would do something in the street, but my designer thought the local cafe, where we had just had our lunch, might be fun.

Quarto's offices are 100 yards from Pentonville Prison and the cafe is literally opposite the prison's main gate, which is why it's called the Breakout:

We went just before closing, so we wouldn't be disturbing any punters, and I sat at a table in the window on the far right of this photo. We shot loads of subtle variations on the theme. We tried a serious 'I'm concentrating on sketching' pose:

...and an 'I'm just sketching whatever is outside this window' one:

We also of course did the standard 'smiling at the camera' pose:

At one point a man came rushing in from the street, said: 'Don't take my picture, I just escaped!' then ran off again.

I am not sure yet which picture we are going to use in the book. They are all nice (thanks Phil), but I think the last one is the most friendly and welcoming. What do you think?