Saturday, February 28, 2009

New cover

After a panicked phone call from the USA where there was some thought that I had done the art for the cover the wrong size ( during which I pulled out all my hair and many words that should not be uttered aloud flashed through my mind) all was well. It would seem that the new cover is fine, both front and back.
So, fingers crossed that the designer can make it all look beautiful and soon there will be proofs and then the finished book.

My studio is now no more. I have moved some of it into my bedroom and the rest is a scattered rag tag mess as I ineffectually try and clear the room so the builders can use it as a store room and build a staircase up to what will be my new studio. Meanwhile I am going to have to learn to work with all kinds of chaos and builders around.
I have worked in this room for seven years now and in all that time it has never been cleaned properly. I am finding much rubbish and the occasional thing of interest. Ruthless things are happening as I throw away things and recycle others and vowe not to let this happen to the new space.
Oh dear.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I hadn't known until the other day that there had been some talk in one of the meetings of putting the star maps on the cover.
So glad they didn't.
When you work on illustrating a book you work from page to page but also to design the book as a whole thing, and with this book I wanted it to be like a treasure chest, one that hopefully surprises and delights when opened.
It is like working on a painting where you work on a piece at a time then towards the end pull the whole thing together. But sometimes when other people get their hands on it they don't see the harmony that you have tried to create, and so it begins to jangle, as things carefully placed are moved or changed.
Although the author's and the illustrator's names are on the cover a book is a great team effort, with editors and designers and product managers. I know that all of these people need to have their imput into a job, but at the end of the day I think that sometimes they forget that we have been working in the business now for 50 years (cheating here as I add up mine and James's experience) and maybe we should have more say in the final meetings. And at the end of the day it is our names that go on the covers.

Does that make sense.

Deja vu

Sometimes I feel that I should do my paintings using fuzzy felt then the publishers could move each item about as they wanted to.
Now they have two front covers and two back covers so if they wish they can play mix and match.
I think this time I have really finished but am getting a strange feeling of deja vu.
Now I wait for examples to be sent of the use of the gold as a fifth colour so that I can see what it looks like.
I still like the old cover, and the old back cover, but being the illustrator have only a small voice in decisions. At least that is how it feels sometimes when publishers have meetings about my work.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

If you can keep your head when all about are telling you what goes where.........

So. How to explain. I have started painting the cover again and so far, fingers crossed, but not too tightly as it is difficult to paint with crossed fingers, all is ok. The picture was hard to draw out, to catch the child's face, to make it the same child over the distance of time. But what is hardest still and most difficult to explain to publishers is how to find the heart to do it. When all around are saying, do this, do that, move this move that, and yes, I can see that the design is now better an will work as a cover and hopefully at the end of the day will look as if it always belonged and nothing else could possibly be there, although I have to do the painting as a full bleed but with the possibility that they will still use the red band across the top and bottom if needs be, and it may be straight or it may curve so leave space for both and all, it is difficult to paint it from the heart.
And it is only when you can find that space in both heart and head that it can work.
Is it any wonder that I like painting hares.

In amongst all the emails yesterday going backwards and forwards between myself and the project manager was this,
"We received some test proofs yesterday to see how the artwork will harmonies with the 5th gold for the cover and endpapers. It looks lovely. Lovely, lovely, lovely."
Will be good to see that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Revise, rework, recycle.

The power of the putty rubber! Rough amended with child now looking at the edge of the book.
Back cover rough to go with new front cover rough.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Front cover sketch again

Waiting to hear from publisher again.
Band across top and bottom would be red. Stars picked out in gold or silver foil. Sea serpent would be red.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In a pool above the sea by golden reeds

On Valentine's Day we walked from the beach to home, past Porth Melgan and the pool where soon there will be tadpoles. The reeds are golden and sing in the wind. I placed a boat in the water. We walked on, sopped for a while at The Gessail and watched porpoise rise through the ceiling of the sea to arc in shining dark arcs out of the calm waters. So beautiful, so peaceful.
Two days later I walked again to see if there would still be porpoises at the headland. Sure enough they were still there. So was the boat.

Poetry and paper boats

Written around this boat, lines from If You Forget Me by Paulo Neruda,

as if everything that exits,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats that sail
towards those isles of yours that wait for me.

Covers and covers and covers.

Oh dear.
It seems there was a production meeting this afternoon and it was decided that a new version needs to be created for the front cover, with most of the look of the first but with some of the characters from inside also on the cover, like the dragon, and maybe the unicorn.
So this means I have to paint it, as a full bleed version.
This is difficult. Hard as it is to work your way into a book, it is also hard to find your way out. And I have tidied my studio (after a fashion) and swept away the Starlight pictures and sketches and reference material and moved my head away and on to other things.
I do understand that the cover needs to be just right. So often it is what sells the book. But it is hard to retrace your steps back to a character when you have waved goodbye to them.
So, in two weeks I have builders coming to try and stop the house from falling to pieces around my ears, stop the windows falling out and the end wall breaking up, to re-wire, replace the fire and do a myriad of other jobs including making a studio space in my attic. Lets hope I finish the artwork before then and nothing else needs reworking. Once I have done the front cover again will they want the back cover doing?
Calm. Drink more lavender tea. Take deep breaths.

Covers and cloth spines and paperboats and sea serpents

Over the past couple of weeks I have been pretending to tidy up the house, doing the odd bit of painting, getting a text together and dusting the digital cobwebs off the bookcase on my website.
In conversation with Tessa from Barefoot yesterday she was very positive about the text for Little Evie, so I am going to try and put some rough images together with it. She also talked about the cover for Starlight Sailor. It seems that with all the artwork in now the cover has been looked at again and a different approach has been taken. The idea of a cloth spine has now been dropped as it made the book look too old. It is strange how all these small decisions can so change the look and the feel of the book. Of the two sent through to me I so much prefer the first image, which I think looks great, very strong. If you click on the images you can see larger versions.
Still waiting to see the type design on the inside.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Waiting and meanwhile making ecards

Have been waiting to see what is going on with the design. Something is, but haven't seen anything yet.
Meanwhile have put some new images onto my ecards
They include more valentines as well as images from Starlight, so, if you have forgotten, pretend you haven't!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Butterfly words and timeflies

40 years ago I went to the park to play with my sister. My uncle paid for us to take a boat out on the old pond that was next to he swings and slides. I found the photograph when I was trying to tidy up. I am the one at the front, my sister doing all the work with the paddles. Time flies.

Still waiting to hear from the designer though I believe ideas fly back and forth between Tessa and her as they try to fix the look and the line of the text.
Meanwhile I could not get to work because of the snow and was very gratified to hear the writer, Andy Hamilton, say the same thing, even though like me he works at home. The lure of playing in the snow was just too much.

Still trying to work out which way to go forward with blogs. I have spoken to another publisher about nursery rhymes and she is sending me a contract. Things don't usually happen that quickly in publishing. This is a publisher I have had a long, sometimes rocky but fine at the moment, relationship with, and we had talked about rhymes a few years back, before dragons, so the contract has been sitting on hold. Because it is a different publisher I would start a new blog with this.
And I have finally managed to capture the words for Little Evie in the Darkwoods. Words are like butterflies sometimes, but they have flown together and for now the text is with Tessa at Barefoot, though I am not sure that it will go with their list. I hope so. So for now, and because people asked, I have blogged the start and progress of the book over at my journal on my website. And for now I have to wait, for Tessa to read and then get back to me, and if she does not like it, or feel that it is right, then it has to go off into the world to try and find the right home. It is such a very difficult time for books at the moment and so very hard to get work viewed by publishers. I do not have an agent, although that is one road people take. I am a member of The Society of Authors and they are very good and will check contracts and offer advice. (It took me such a long time to be able to say, when people ask me what I do, that I am a painter and a writer.) I have been in publishing offices and seen manuscripts just taken from one envelope and put into another and returned with a standard letter. Piles of them, mountains, wait to be read.
All publishers try to get as many foreign editions as they can for a book. If the print run is large then the unit cost per book is reduced so the profit is maximized. Almost all of my books are published in Danish, all in the USA and I have a particularly good publisher in France who did wonderful things with The Snow Leopard. Now I also have a Spanish publisher.
I feel fairly sure that the French and Spanish publishers will like Little Evie. Anyway, she has taken her first steps out into the world now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Where two blogs meet

No work today, I can't get to my studio because of the snow!

Thanks for all the comments below. Still thinking about what to do. I have a story in my head called "Little Evie in the Dark Woods". It has been there for some time. It came to me when I was delivering some art to Tessa and walking her dog in the woods. I need to catch the words and have some trapped in a notebook. The Ice Bear is well on the way, the words written and the roughs all done in a dummy book in black and white pencil and two spreads completed. It is very much in keeping with The Snow Leopard and is with Frances Lincoln.
Nursery Rhymes have been lurking since before the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, which started life as a 32 page book of nursery rhymes but soon became Classic Poems which was very much Tessa's idea and love. Although I am credited as compiling the work I had so so so much help from Tessa and I have to credited her for introducing me to such a love of poetry. Working on that book was a trial at times but the knowledge I gained led very much by the hand by Tessa has enriched my life so much.
Yesterday I tidied up the studio and room next to it which has become a store room for paintings. I realised it had also become a dumping ground, so ruthlessly went through things until the car was full of rubbish and drove it to what used to be called 'The Dump' and is now called 'The Recycling Centre'. Dan and Alison the delivered 40 paintings from the exhibition in Milford, which fitted well into the space I had made. But....
I became distracted by the poems of Paulo Neruda and also by a string of prayer flags.
And now, well, I woke up to a world shining with light and am off to play in the snow and chase some words to try and gather them onto a page to tell a story and reclaim the wild wolf and the dark woods.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What would you like?

The Starlight blog will continue. Although I have finished the artwork in many ways the book's journey has only just begun as it needs to be designed and proofed and then off to Bologna and hopefully it will pick up some publishers from around the world. Then it has to find its way through the massive avalanche of books that are published into bookshops and libraries both in the UK and USA, and to reviewers who are swept on a tide of books, where it will hopefully stand out enough to be noticed. All this will be followed here.
But now I need to ask advice. The Ice Bear artwork and progress will return to my journal on my website here.
I have a book that I am hoping to write very soon, the words and pictures clamour to get from my head to a page. Also I am hoping to work on a book of Nursery Rhymes with Frances Lincoln. Would you like me to do one or other of these books on a blog as I have with Starlight? Would it be useful? It would be different as the one would be written and illustrated by me and taken right from the time of pitching to a publisher, and the other would be collated by me, so there would be the process of choosing the rhymes and deciding the format. Frances Lincoln already have said that they want the nursery rhyme book and that would be my preferred one to blog. The start of Starlight was slow and so would a new blog be as most of my time will be spent in the world of the Ice Bear.
So if there is a demand for this I will work on on and blog at the same time, otherwise will just continue with the website journal. Look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Making the words and the pictures speak

Home and the house is in much need of care, but can't seem to organize my mind. London is paralysed by a snowfall. Here snow moves across the landscape swiftly but doesn't stay and comes in flurries between blue sky moments.
I have walked the dogs, made soup, looked at the chaos , gone back to sleep. Can't get the house warm, but curled in front of computer and watched 'Waterworld'.
Meanwhile an email from Zoe, the designer of Starlight Sailor came. Usually at this stage of a book I loose interest until the proofs show up, but have asked to keep contact and hopefully learn more and have some input into the design.
She must be feeling a little like I felt at the start of the book as the possibilities are almost infinite and only when it slots into place will it look right. This is what she said...

'All I can say is we've been going backwards and forwards trying various typefaces - serifs, italics, quirky kid's fonts, dreamy poetic scripts. I've submitted 10 different ideas so far for insides and jackets.... and I'm going to be looking at a few more. The insides have changed too, from having the type neatly set on straight lines to straight and wavy lines, to varied wavy lines and now to uniform wavy lines... I think (hope!) we are getting there... !!'

Would love to see how the words fit on the page.