A change of direction

This week I am mostly sketching on a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, but I know I can’t keep drawing the same old sea view. Downstairs from the apartment where I’m staying is a ‘Hundred-year-old Olive Tree’. Well, that’s what they call it here. It just means it’s so old that nobody really knows how old it is! I decided it might be a good subject for a sketch but felt self-conscious about drawing ‘in situ’ so I took a photo with my phone and returned to the safe confines of my balcony. This is the result. 

100-year-old olive tree
I then had a couple of busy-doing-not-very-much days before revisiting cartoons. I’d really enjoyed doing the faces a few days ago and decided to challenge myself even further by looking at the whole body. As usual, there was plenty of advice on the Internet so I had a go with a couple of the sites I found.

My first attempt was not very successful but I’m showing it to you, anyway, just to prove I’ve been trying!

cartoon boy
I did a bit better today, I think, even though the legs are a bit wonky (wonkiness seems to be my style!) and even managed to adapt the drawing to represent one of the characters in the Agnil’s Worlds books! Can anyone guess who it is?

Which elf?
I do have a bit of a problem. My eraser/rubber is almost worn out! I must be able to buy one around here!

A mixed bag

Continuing with my drawing diary inspired by Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell’s, Five Point Plan, again proved a little tricky over the past few days…but I’ve kept going, albeit not every day. 

 

Five Point Plan

Chris Riddell’s Five Point Plan


My first drawing is one that I set as a challange to myself. I have a friend who, along with his partner, keeps alpacas in the province of Cordoba in Spain. I wondered if I could draw one…here’s the result of that little experiment. A decidedly pensive/angry alpaca! 

alpaca 

Since the last time I posted, I’ve transferred to Spain for a holiday so my second offering is a sketch of the view I have from the balcony. The view is quite beautiful and I’m not sure that without colour I can entirely do it justice. I have simplified what I can see just a little bit, it’s not quite to scale and, like most of my other drawings, it’s a bit wonky! 

Cala Salions 

Yesterday, we were invited to lunch by some friends and the effects of a huge lunch, one or two drinks and the heat meant that the drawing of this ‘rustic’ chair is probably more ‘rustic’ than reality! Another decidedly wonky sketch! 

chair 

Today I decided to try something a bit different.  Having unsuccessfully tried to draw my granddaughter’s face and abandoning the attempt, I Googled ‘drawing cartoon characters’ and came across the TutsPlus web site. Following some very simple instructions, I managed to draw these two characters! I did have fun drawing these but I don’t think any of my illustrator friends need feel threatened!

boy  old man 

Life gets in the way

Murchante

I started this project fully intending to draw every day. I haven’t. The past couple of days have been quite hectic for me and I wasn’t able to sit down and sketch on those days. Life gets in the way sometimes and I know I mustn’t feel guilty about this. It’s a fun project and if guilt taints the fun, it just becomes a chore instead. I did have some time today so I’ve done two to atone for my ‘sins’!

The first one, a pair of scissors, continues my earlier still life drawings but I was starting to get a bit bored of doing that.


When Lou mentioned drawing with her eyes closed, I decided that I needed a little injection of that here too. This is a frog. I used fingers of my left hand to help guide and gauge where I should draw. The only slight cheats happened when I realised I’d forgotten to give the frog two eyes. I closed my eyes again and drew the second eye. Because the lines were quite feint, I went over them again with my eyes open to make sure they could be seen clearly. I promise I didn’t change the position of anything!


Today I’ve attempted something a bit different. A few days ago I found some very old photos I took in Spain around 1970. They record a Spain very different to how it is today. I’ve tried to reproduce two of those photos as sketches. This first one shows the end of the road where my uncle lived in a village in Navarra called Murchante. There was no tarmac, just a dust track leading into the fields and a man riding a donkey approaches. I have to tell you it’s a donkey because I don’t think it’s very recognisable! Even though the it was only a small element, it was very hard to draw! 

The last of today’s sketches shows the village of Vozmediano in the province of Soria around 1970. My aunt and cousins lived there at the time. Again, there were no tarmacked roads here nor any running water, apart from the River Quieles which has its source here. Vozmediano is a tiny village. I just read on Wikipedia that in the 2004 census there were only 45 residents.

Highs and lows

teddy bear

A few days ago I decided to sketch daily for a month, inspired by Chris Riddell, the new Children’s Laureate and his Five Point Plan.

Five Point Plan - Chris Riddell

When my friend, Louise, started sketching daily along with her family, I decided to join this interesting journey.

I’m not going to blog daily but every few days I will upload what I have done.

The first sketch, the Love-in-a-Mist, I posted a few days ago so here are the rest I have done since.

My second attempt was another flower, a little viola picked from my garden.

viola

Pleased with my effort, I decided to tackle something more ambitious and remembered my beloved teddy bear. As old as I am, worn and scruffy, one eye missing and the stuffing falling out of his feet, this bear has been with me all my life. Overall, I’m quite pleased with it even though the proportions aren’t quite right, the head is a little too small, one leg is longer than the other and one foot larger.

teddy bear

My next sketch nearly got the better of me. This shell was a real challenge, even more so than the bear. The curves and angles were difficult and I hope it looks 3D. I sweated over this one!

June14

Today I decided to try to take a step back. I started one sketch and was very unhappy with it. It sits abandoned in my sketch book. I found instead a small glass tea light holder. Again, it was harder than I thought and it came out wonky. I’m a bit disappointed but I’m showing it to you anyway. It’s all about the journey for me, not so much the end result. This one shows that things don’t always turn out the way you hope, even when they appear straightforward.
I won’t give up though!

June15

Inspiration

Inspiration is an elusive thing; a will-o’-the-wisp that dissipates as you approach. But this week I feel like I’ve won the jackpot as I’ve managed to grab hold of that bright light not once but twice!

Tulilautta3

When I wrote my last post about attending The People’s Books Prize Awards, I said that I came away itching to start writing again. Well, it didn’t happen for a while. Maybe I needed to come down from that euphoric cloud I’d been on.  I’ve been researching my new book for a long time but the story and the characters have been trapped inside me not knowing how to find their way out. I was worried it would never happen. On Tuesday I went into Cambridge to do some more research. I came away not having found what I’m looking for, which is quite frustrating. That afternoon I heard a voice in my head – the voice of one of my characters! I knew who it was and I was shocked by what he said but I knew I had to write it down. The first 350 words tumbled out onto the screen. I’d made a start. The saying goes, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’. I have several tens of thousands more words to write, but now I’ve ‘met’ my characters and know who they are as people, I can move forward and plan things out a bit better. I ought to say at this stage that it’s not another book in the Agnil’s Worlds series this time but something completely different. I shan’t give away too much right now as the seed is only just germinating.

The second inspiration came from the blog of my friend, Lou Minns, who, along with her family, is taking up an idea from author/illustrator, Chris Riddell, the newly announced Children’s Laureate in his ‘Five Point Plan’. Lou and her family are planning to do a daily drawing which she will upload to her blog for the period of a month.

Five Point Plan - Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell’s Five Point Plan

I haven’t picked up a pencil in many years but I do have drawing materials around the house left behind by my three highly talented and artistic children when they left home. When I read Lou’s blog I immediately dug out a sketchbook and discovered I had a beautiful chunky sketching pencil. What to draw, though? I happened to be sitting in the garden eating breakfast at the time so I headed straight for one of my favourite flowers, Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella). In the past I have loved photographing this amazing flower and have a whole set of them on my Flickr photostream. This is the first one I ever took.

Love-in-a-Mist

They self-seed like a weed around my garden but I leave them as I love them so much. I picked one and brought it over to the bench where I was sitting. Half an hour later I had drawn this.

11th June 2015

11th June 2015

Can I pledge to do a drawing a day for a month… or more? I don’t know, but I’m going to try. It’ll be difficult to post them every day so I may only do that once a week or so. It’s very therapeutic and a great incentive to move away from the computer screen for a while each day… though not for too long as I have a book to write! 🙂

Unveiling

I know it’s been a long time coming and thank you all for your patience! You’ll be pleased to hear I’m finally able to reveal the cover for Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret! Think of it as a Private View, or vernissage, for your privileged eyes only.

Slowly, I pull back the red curtain unveiling the team effort between Charlotte Moore and Ant Press…

File 16-03-2015 16 55 14

Oh? You want to see all of it? You want to see the whole cover, centaur and all? I’m just teasing! Of course you can see it. I do hope you all love it as much as I do. It’s much darker than the covers of the others in the series, and there are reasons for that. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why.

Not only am I showing you the cover today but you can now also read Chapter 1 here on the web site. Hopefully, my next post will be to announce publication.Cover copy

Enjoy and spread the word!

 

Peek behind the curtain!

Library

Publication day is creeping ever closer and, as I write this blog post, the cover is being put together. When it’s ready, I’ll be able to reveal it here on the web site but while you wait I’m going to give you a peek behind the curtain at another illustration from Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret. This one is from Chapter 9, The Journey. It’s one of my favourite illustrations by Charlotte Moore for this book so I wanted the opportunity to show it to you all. I hope you like it as much as I do!

 

Library

In the centre of the vast room stood a heavy wooden table. Two tree spirits, in long leafy green robes, hair like matted roots and the same nut brown, deeply-wrinkled skin that Cranus had, sat alongside an elf with a long white beard.

Countdown!

It’s been a while since I last posted here as I’ve had health issues, including a very nasty dose of flu, which have laid me low for several weeks. I’ve also been waiting patiently for Charlotte Moore to complete the illustrations for Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret. I’m pleased to say that they’re now ready so we are on the countdown to publication day. As little teasers I will post a couple of illustrations, along with quotes from the book so you can see where they belong, over the next little while before I do the final cover reveal. Around that time, I’ll also reveal the whole of chapter 1 of the book/ So keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks!

Then, without warning, two punts did collide. With a loud splash, the man steering one of them dropped his pole and almost toppled into the river.

Then, without warning, two punts did collide. With a loud splash, the man steering one of them dropped his pole and almost toppled into the river.

Agnil and the Tree Spirits – cover reveal!

Agnil and the Tree Spirits

With the imminent release of Agnil and the Tree Spirits, book 3 of the Agnil’s Worlds series, I wanted to share with you the cover and the blurb for the new book!

In Lilurrian, one of the eight elf worlds, tree spirits and elves live in harmony with nature in a beautiful forest. The Great Library, the centre of elf learning and culture, lies at its heart. When the Navigator sets out to mine the crystals of Lilurrian, the whole forest is under threat of destruction. How can Agnil, the half-elf, prevent this disaster? Who is the Navigator and what does he really want?

Agnil and the Tree Spirits

Illustration Reveal Number 2 – Book 3

rock pool

Not long now till the release of book 3 so we’re going to peek through the curtains for another hint of what’s coming your way! This time I’m revealing an illustration from the first chapter of Agnil and the Tree Spirits.  I hope you enjoy the picture. All illustrations in the Agnil’s Worlds books are by Charlotte Moore.

Agnil is on a beach with her dad who’s fallen asleep. With nothing else to do, she decides to go for a walk and explore the rock pools, when it starts to rain…

rock pool

As Agnil watched it, first one and then a lot more large raindrops plopped into the pool, sending ripples across the surface of the water.