Out with the old - in with the new

Christmas Morning: eating a clementine, wood fire lit, 'im indoors snoring with Sprout asleep in his arms. (Spoilt rotten that dog!). Horses have had their morning hay. Sun is shining on a snowy Maine and it is QUIET. This is how I like Christmas. No drama. No chaos. No mad cooking frenzy. Just peaceful and a little reflective.

This week I purged the studio. I sorted piles that had been spawning for months. I turned out cupboards and drawers. I filled boxes with useless stuff to throw out. Filed away interesting nuggets of scribbles and writings and notes from conferences. Banished dust bunnies. Took down old drawings that were no longer inspiring me and reveled in the bare walls which I know I will fill up with new stuff as it comes into my life. My fingers lingered over photos taken with new friends and old friends. Of business cards and postcards and book markers from those who have inspired me this year and I have been lucky enough to meet. Also from those I have met who are on their way and full of courage. (I wonder if they would be surprised to see their promo materials pinned on my wall?) Of little notes from other illustrators and writers. Brochures from museums I have visited and art shows seen. Even a couple of invitations from exhibitions of my own! All these touchstones reminding me I am not alone on this journey. In all I felt very like Jane Eyre 'cleaning down' Moor Cottage for the Christmas with her new-found cousins.

I tackled 4 boxes of artwork saved from the past six years. I sighed over the hours spent doing work that was not inspiring, and yet it helped to build our house. I discovered a couple of nuggets that might be worth revisiting. The 4 boxes became half a box of artwork that I felt worth keeping. The rest is for burning, a Christmas bonfire. It feels good.

So much for the old.

It's nearly New Year. I'm not much of a one for Christmas, but I like New Year and the promise it holds, the undiscovered and new opportunities. Already I am looking at the dates in my diary and relishing the prospects.

One of the new things is that the book I was working on for Freespirit Publishing is on pre-order!


Written by 14 year old Autistic Kid, Daniel Stefanski, it is aimed at any child or teenager (or adult for that matter), who may come in contact with someone suffering from autism. It is sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, but always relevant. Please take a look! This would be a great book to give as a gift to your school or your library. Just want to say WELL DONE Daniel for writing this and Free Spirit for publishing. It was particularly relevant to me personally, because my childhood best friend's sister suffered with autism. Her behaviour was bewildering to me, even though I grew up knowing her, and this would have been a great book to have read back then.

Here's a couple of images from the book:

Also available to purchase now is Marta Moran-Bishop's sweet poetry book 'Wee Three' for which I did the illustrations, mostly in black and white inside, plus the cover:

Congrats Martha ... glad you got it all done for Christmas!

So two new things to celebrate right there!

This week I have been in submission mode. Submitted to several agents, this time as multiple submissions. Nice though it is to give exclusive time ... time passes so quickly and as usually time = $$. How long can you afford to sit and wait around while an agent gets back to you. Not too much. Well, not in my life anyway.

I have finally got around to sending out targeted samples to art directors. I had slated this to start in November. This means researching the publishing house's titles and style, seeing which is a good match for my work. Most of the year I have been sending a mass mailing of postcards, but I decided, with the advice of my mentor, (Priscilla Burris) to be more selective. Instead of a postcard I am making up a small 'booklet' of 5 images mailed in an envelope and held together by a wire and bead. It's quite nifty and I hope may catch the attention, but is time consuming. Art Directors must get so bored with the usual mailings, so I am trying something different. We shall see.

That's the news of the blog. My blog is almost a year old now, (64 posts this year) and I have enjoyed chewing the fat here. Maybe on the anniversary I will have an original artwork give away, so check back in the next couple of weeks.

Y'all have a lovely day, with everything you could hope for. And if it's not quite as you hoped, remember those with no hope and let's be thankful for what we have. (Which in our case is 2 juicy ribeyes, yum!!)

Season's eatings to you
with  love

aka The Wacky Brit

On the bedside table ... nope still nothing new ....

To breath, or not to breath ....

Not literally you understand. I have come to a pause in between finishing books and starting the next. So what I really mean is a breathing space. So decisions, decisions? Shall I plunge straight into the next dummy I want to work on? Or not? If I was an actor I would, I suppose, call it resting. Thing is, I am not very good at resting.

Case in point (or is it point in case?) today, after completing the cover for lovely author in Canada (see pics from the book below) I figured I could sit down and read a book and put my feet up. OR. I could take advantage of this peculiar weather (54F and snow melted) and clear up the garden, which I never did get around to previous. So of course I cleaned up the garden. Then made some bread and a fish pie. Never did read the book.

Anyway, enough prattle, here are a couple of the illustrations from 'A Crazy Day' by Margy Robertson Reid ... I do like the dog in the cart :-)

The search for a lovely agent continues ... I will come to rest somewhere or other I expect, eventually. So back to submitting ...

I DID manage to leave the house this weekend. Me and 'im indoors attended the local Christmas Concert and it was v. nice. I always like a good carol concert. (Mainly because I can have a sing, which no doubt I enjoy too much and my neighbours do not). And the best thing was - home made cakes afterwards. Huzzah! (Note to self: get on the so-called exercise bike.)

I took my sketchbook too ....

Always fun to draw people when they aren't looking ;-) so watch out.

Oh and if you happen to be in Bangor, Maine (or are passing through ... yeah, right!) I have a display of illustrations in the Children's Discovery Museum, downtown. So that's fun! They will be there until January.

Tomorrow I am going to be stuck into working on a piece for the Tomi de Paolo award, for the SCBWI winter conference in NY. The 1st prize is all expenses paid trip there ... lummy, that would be nice! It is based on Heidi. Trouble is I have to have it finished for midnight on Wednesday. Gulp. So I had better get cracking. I had every good intention of getting this done in November, but life got in the way. I know, I know, always with the excuses.

I hope you are all ready for Chrimbo. I confess, I am not. It is just me and 'im indoors on Christmas Day (by choice and with all dogs/cat in attendance). I will watch the Queen, (courtesy of my VPN link), even though I will have her with brekky and not after lunch when everyone is a bit pissed up and you fall asleep before Lizzy II has had time to finish telling which of her myriad offspring are getting married/divorced/other. Still, it's the thought that counts.

With that I WILL take that deep breath ....


aka The Wacky Brit.

On the bedside table ... NOTHING NEW!!!!!!! I am slipping ... but forgive me  have been working like the proverbial dog.