I’ve got lots of exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment, which is a very nice way to begin 2018. The collage snippets shown above are from a picture book due for publication in 2019 with Otter Barry Books – ‘Brian The Brave’, written by Paul Stewart and illustrated by me. The main characters in this lovely story are sheep, but I won’t show those until nearer the publication date.
It’s great to be collaborating with Paul again (our previous picture book, ‘Wings!’, was published by Otter Barry Books in 2016) – and one of the things he suggested in his notes was that the landscape should look a bit like Yorkshire. I love Yorkshire so was delighted to oblige! I have been having fun putting together scenes with dry stone walls and abundant wildflowers such as meadowsweet, red campion, clover, buttercups and reed mace, and including favourite birds like lapwings and grey wagtails – and some damselflies for a scene including a pond.
I’m currently working on my first picture book as author and illustrator, to be published by Walker Books in Spring 2016. I’m using watercolour pencils, a new technique for me, and having a lot of fun experimenting with different ways of smudging.
I’ve decided to be quite systematic, so I’m building up some style sheets so that I can keep the scenery consistent throughout, and I am creating a flora for the book. The pinkish ones are all marginals, the type of plants found around the edges of ponds and rivers. I spend a lot of time on the river and love the form of reeds and rushes – mostly they are the sort you might find along the Thames, but in a burst of ecological wrongness I’ve also thrown in a lotus from the hothouse at Cambridge Botanic Garden. The bulrushes (reed mace for purists) also have the wrong leaves, but that’s the fun of a picture book…
I’ve had my scalpel out this week cutting stencils of native species of plants for a project I am doing with the Wandle Trust – I’ve been looking at aquatic species that thrive in the river Wandle. A few ended up on the window to liven up the view – look out for the banana leaves behind.
Watercolour sketches drawn at the Chelsea Physic Garden.