I’m making final preparations for my trip to America on Wednesday. I am heading to the International Visual Literacy Conference which is being held at the Leslie University in Cambridge Massachusetts. At the conference, I will be presenting a paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research” at 10 am on Sunday the 17th. In which I discuss some of the overlapping theories from the academic world on illustrative works and from the world of illustration practice.
While I am in Cambridge I plan to take advantage of some of Harvard university’s collections. I will be heading to the wonderfully named “Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology” to draw some of the Mayan artifacts from expeditions conducted in South America in the last 1800’s. I plan to include these in an upcoming book project.
I also hope to get access to some early sketches by John Tenniel. Harvard has some of his early drawings for his version of the character of Alice, from Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass”. I’m sure that these will great for future research work and may link back into my current Thesis on illustrative work practices and visual literacy.
And finally, if I get time I would love to catch a train to Salem one evening for a ‘Voodoo, Vampires and Ghost walking tour’. I’m sure that this tour would be illustratively inspirational in some way. It should also be heaps of fun as I haven’t done a Ghost tour in years, The last one I went on was at Port Arthur in Tasmania.
With Book Week almost here, 21st to 26th of August, kids around Australia are starting to gear up for the all-important ‘come to school dressed as your favorite book character”’ day. My niece Eleanor has asked her mum help her make a Little Pig costume this year. So this is for you Eleanor I hope that it helps. I would love to see a photo of you all Ninjaed up.
If anybody else wants to try and dress up as Little Pig or one of the other Ninjas from my books, Samurai vs Ninja. I would love it if you could post your photos here as well.
I have been lucky enough to have a paper accepted for the International Visual Literacy Association Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For those of us not from the States, that is right next to Boston and the home Harvard University and a number of other universities, I will be presenting at the Lesley University. The conference runs from the 14th to the 17th of September.
My paper on ‘Illustrating Visual Language Research’ comes from the research that I have been doing for my Ph.D. at the University of Canberra. I have been extremely lucky to have had a number of generous illustrators open their studios and their homes to me. Allowing me to invade and ask all sorts of questions about how they create their amazing images.
I would like to thank Graeme Base, Rod Clement, Sarah Davis, Stephen Michael King, Freya Blackwood, Ann James, Gus Gordon and Matt Ottley. Who all gave so generously of their time and patience.
I would love to share more about the talk, but that would mean you no longer have an excuse to come and see me in Cambridge! I am sure that you will be able to follow some of the proceedings on social media in September.
I will be taking parting in an event organised by the ACT Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) on Tuesday evening, 5:30 pm to 9 pm, on the 20th of June. The event, “building your story” will be a great night if you’re interested in creating your own stories or just love children’s books. There will be a number of author talking about story structure and plot work.
I will be presenting a talk on illustrating story plot elements. This will be one of the first events that I have done since completing some extensive research into illustration as part of my doctoral research. So I intend to skim some of the words of wisdom on the night, from such great illustrators as Stephen Michael King, Graeme Base, Ann James, Rod Clement, Freya Blackwood, just to name a few.
I hope to see you there.
For more SCWBI events visit their web page, http://www.scbwiaustralianz.com/scbwinswact/
From 09 to 30 September 2017, the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society (ICPBS) will host an exhibition in collaboration with BIBIANA, the International House of Art for Children in Bratislava, Slovakia. The exhibition, titled MIGRATIONS, will coincide with the Biennale of Illustration in Bratislava (BIB) and its symposium.
We invite our illustrator friends to send us a postcard (10x15cm) with your illustration of a bird on the picture side of the card and a relevant message, phrase or thought on the theme on the message side of the card. The bird could be representative of a real bird from your country, a fictitious bird from your culture or your own fantasy bird. The postage stamp from your country of residence and your name will indicate the flight of your artwork first to the UK, then to Bratislava and who knows … to further exhibitions thereafter.
Over the years I have entered a number of awards around the world. I see these competitions as an opportunity to develop a concept and push my illustration work in new directions. As the entry period for the Association of Illustrators (AOI) awards for 2017 draws to a close. I have been considering entering an illustration for this year. In the past I have entered into the Children’s Books. While I have a few choice illustrations to choose from for that category. I have decided that I could use the competition as a way of pushing myself to produce images for the some of the concepts that I have been playing with over the last 6 or so months.
This is my first choice, an ink illustration created with Staedtler pigment liners (0.05 to 0.8). It is for a story concept based on the Nordic legend of Baldur. My version involves Viking Cats. You can see the early pencil sketch versions of this concept on this word press site (17th July 2016)
My next choice is based on some graphic novel images that I have been developing from my Grandfathers World War 1 journal (Private Charles Flowers, 1916). This is one of the concept images that I have been developing on for this project.
I feel that I may have to work on this concept more before I would be happy to submit an image from this project.
AOI awards are held in London each year. The run a couple of award programs that give illustrators an opportunity to hone their skills. For more details follow this link http://www.theaoi.com/awards/enter-info.php
Entries close on the 6th of Febuary.
*** Update on the 30th January 2017 ***
After a quick Facebook poll of 5 to 1 in favour of the new reworked image for a ‘Dogs of War’. The final entry is the image below.
I recently received a sample pack of Staedtler Mars Lumograph black pencils. The pencil pack came as a tin pencil tray. It contained 2 x 2B, 2x 4B, 1 6B and 1 8B.
These pencil leads have been produced with a higher proportion of carbon in the lead than the standard Lumograph pencils. The idea is that the carbon will create a matt black finish. Testing the standard and black pencils side by side, it quickly becomes obvious that the higher the carbon the more matt the finish. While the 2B and 4B pencils in both standard and black produce a shine when applied with a heavy-handed burnish. The black also live up to their name and are noticeably darker than their counterparts. The 6B and 8B have a noticeably more matt finish in black than the standard lead pencils. The tooth on these pencils are also more aggressive. It bites the paper more like charcoal than pencil lead. I tested on a 300 gsm fine grain cold pressed watercolour paper (Canson, Aquarelle) and 110 gsm smooth cartridge (Quill).
The Pencils are also smudge well, again the higher the carbon content the more they smudge. Excellent if you like to use a smudge stick or a finger tip to blend your pencil work.
I did notice that the 6B and 8B pencils are a little brittle. I had problems sharpening the pencils when I first started using them. I soon realised that the problem was the sharpener not the pencils. As the sharpener was a starting to go blunt and the leads are brittle the pencils were crumbling. Interestingly the standard Lumograph pencils were fine with this sharpener. I switch the sharpener to a newer one (Staedtler Metal double-hole sharpener) and the pencils shaped up to a sharp fine point.
When creating work to test the black pencils I decided to push the pencils to produce darker images. Using a ‘chiaroscuro’ technique I pushed to shadow in the images to take advantage of the black matt finish. Trying to make the character merge into the black background.
While the Matt black finish helps reduce shine when viewing the images. Scanners still pick up some reflection off the surface of the image. Not as much as when using a standard lead pencil at a heavy burnish level.
The attached article (below) is an interesting interview about one of my new books with Nick Falk, ‘How to stop an alien invasion using Shakespeare”.
This is the first in a series that Nick and I are working on. The next book in this series, “How to beat Genghis Khan in an arm wrestle” will be released in the next few weeks.
This interview is one of the first where I have been able to not only talk about my work as an illustrator but also include insights gained from my reading and research for my PhD at the University of Canberra.
If you’re interested in illustration and illustrative practices or theories of Visual Literacy, you will most likely enjoy this interview.
April 2016 Interview HowTo_TheBookCurator
People seek inspiration in a wide variety of way. When I had to create a design for ‘Inspiration’ I didn’t look too far from home.
In my latest series with Nick Falk, the “How To…” series (1st book ‘How to stop an alien invasion using Shakespeare’) Inspiration is the Mighty Professor Skeletron’s cat. The Mighty Professor Skeletron is an evil genius (boy) that invents all kind of weird thing. One of these inventions is a pair goggles (Diabolical Prognosticator) that his cat can wear to see into the future. The professors blue print diagrams are always complex, scientific packed blends of the real and the ridiculous. The reality always looks a bit simpler. Mainly because he builds everything out of cardboard boxes, sticky tape ad other household items. His Diabolical Prognosticator are made out of pipe cleaners.
When I started to work on the rough sketches for ‘Inspiration’, my cat Daisy jumped onto my lap and demanded attention. The choice for Inspiration was obvious. The cat had to be Daisy.
The best thing is that like all cats, she sits around a lot, so she is a great model. She also like to sit onto my drawings when I work. So I can say that she has approved the use of image (otherwise she would scratch them up!).
Draft covers (spot Daisy)