Blogging - a motivational tool?

Since January I have been blogging pretty much on a weekly basis. In the past I have always found it hard to keep up with a journal. I got bored. Somehow I was never comfortable with just writing down my stuff in a little book, and then putting it away in the nightstand drawer. In fact I found it downright embarrassing and oddly uncomfortable.

So why does it seem so much easier to blog? Is it because, on the odd occasion, someone, somewhere on the web reads my drivel and leaves me a comment? Totally narcissistic. But, you know, talking to what may (or may not) be an imaginary listener has really made me focus on what I am chattering on about. In the end of the week round up of news I look back on what I've achieved (or not)and what (if anything) I am looking forward to in the week to come.

When I re-read I have a real sense of what I was thinking about several months ago, and I can also see if what I planned went the way I thought it would or whether the tangents I zoomed off on have led me down a more interesting path.Perhaps this is just the same with a private diary, but blogging, well, you have to mean it somehow!

And therefore, in an odd way, the weekly blog is keeping me motivated. I like to have something to talk about and pictures to show you (and me!). And this blog-writing-time let's me gather my thoughts and gird my loins to get on with the tasks ahead.

When I started the blog I thought it would just be a way of letting people know about my illustrations and drawing. And 'something you have to do' in these technological days to build a so-called 'platform'. I had no idea I would ENJOY it.

I held out on Facebook for a long time too ... and now I love it (probably too much!) I have made some excellent contacts on FB, found new and sincere friends, and learned a great deal. It too is a source of inspiration and motivation.

Unlike a lot of bloggers, and many in the children's lit and illustration world, I am not good at gathering and sharing huge amounts of information and links and what-not. I just hope that my bumbling posts may help in some way other's on the same journey. I hope they make someone smile now and again and perhaps entertain.

But most of all I am thankful that I can make my art better and be a small part of this great tradition.

Right. Enough of the euphorics.

I went sailing this week! (Did you miss last week's blog?? TSK TSK) Here's a pic of the students I taught in an art cruise on Isaac H Evans Windjammer Cruise last week. They came from as far away as CA.

That's me in the middle with Capt Brenda. It was a great time ... we sailed around the Maine islands, but, oh, did the wind give us a good going over! I'll say! Here are few more of my sketches and photos ...

 You can find more on my FaceBook Fan Page.

I am still working on the 4 math PB layouts ... 2 down, 2 to go. I have had some great feedback from a few cool illustrators and writers and I thank them bunches for their help! It never fails to surprise me how nice folks in the children's illustration world are ...

Oh yes, the MANUSCRIPT is here for THE BOOK I will be working on this next couple o' months. So this weekend I will going over it and planning out the spreads. Really looking forward to getting my teeth into it.

Tomorrow off to see an exhibition of Whistler's prints in Waterville, Maine with some other artists, so that will feed the mind.

And before I forget, maybe you will tune in (or download) Red River Radio prog I am on next week chatting about illustration ... here is the link ....Dellanis Tea Time

Cheerio till next time!
aka The Wacky Brit

PS .. nothing new on the bedside table ... oops.

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation.

That is my excuse for non-blogging this last couple of weeks. Maybe you were glad of the vacation too? But now I am back at the drawing board and ready to hit Fall with a vengeance.

I never fail to be amazed at the ability of American children to pose. We hit Disney for a week with some Brit friends (oh what craziness that was! The crowd on the bus to Downtown Disney will not so easily forget my birthday night out or rendition of Cockles and Mussels!). Anyway, whenever a parent whipped out a camera those American kids were straight into professional poses, teeth gleaming, heads tilted, right shoulder forward. Do they teach it in kindergarten? Maybe things are different from when I was a lass (long, long time ago it seems), but I remember standing poker straight and all photos looking like I was in a concentration camp. And watching UK families in the parks, not much seems to have changed. Also noted, young boys with french manicures on their toenails. YIKES!!!

News in from Matthew Kelly ... they are producing a lovely doll of Max from Matthew's book 'Why Am I Here?' How fabby is that? Here's a couple of pics of the prototype ....

I am quite happy to be back at work ... 10 days seems a long time away from the desk.

Next week I get the manuscript for the PB I am illustrating for Freespirit Publishing, so I am very excited about that and will post more details when I am allowed to by the publisher.

While I was away I took my birthday present with me (a little netbook - thanks to 'im indoors), and I wrote on the plane and a bit in the hotel bar (yes you guessed right, with a cocktail). I managed to do about 6,000 words on my YA fantasy ... it's a departure to be writing for this age group. We will see what happens.

Also roughed out a new PB idea, based on a doodle I did in Los Angeles during a seminar at the SCBWI conference of a little guard and his dragon. So we will see where that goes.

The series of math/problem solving books is tipping over the edge towards submission ... I have to find several days to finish the dummies. Stand by editors!!

On the calendar for the next couple of months ... excitingly back on the Isaac H Evans to teach a drawing cruise in September and then Virginia City, NV in October for the SCBWI mentor programme meet up and conference.  Also a workshop with Toni Buzzeo, a lady I am looking forward to knowing more about. That will be a lot of fun!

And now I have to do something to earn my living, so better get my pencil out. I leave you with a few sketches from Disney, I didn't take a camera and it was so hot down there I nearly melted.

More soon!
aka The Wacky Brit

You can only do so much

I'd like to get it all done. But in an unusually sensible train of thought I have decided, NO, I am not superhuman. This comes as a bit of a surprise, and I figure it is a sign of age. I am hoping it might be wisdom, but that may be asking a bit much.

I talk of the fact that it's 17 days until Los Angeles SCBWI conference and the completely new images for the portfolio are not going to happen. Most illustrators I talk to at this stage in their career (ie not published widely) seem to spend a LOT of time agonising over their portfolio. Especially the ones, like me, that have been around the block and back. The more youthful in the field are not weighed down by the pressures of life, failures and successes it seems and throw a portfolio together with innocence and abandon. We more mature folks have perhaps too much choice, or over analyse. See? I am doing it right now.

So I am going to put in only images from the problem solving books I am working on, which will be the same style and are fun and do reflect me. And that's FINAL!

Which is what I have been working on this week, the last in the series of 4 books. WHY did I decide to work on four books at once!!!! Share the Bear is turning out to be a lot more detailed than the previous three ... I think this is because the setting is all interior, and their are more characters and they have more characteristics. I hope to be done with the roughs by Wednesday. I have a bit of tweaking to do on 2 of the others (I decided to but all the speech into bubbles, as it is all direct and I think it works better.)

Here are some of the roughs for Bear ...
I am enjoying these characters ... and the bunny slippers! I don't know why Share is wearing them, they just appeared. It's great when a character tells you what they want. Happens in illustration too, as well as when writing.

And if your wondering I am still waiting to hear from the Lovely Agent. Friday was a day of anxiety, jumping when the phone rang, checking email every nanosecond.. I must admit I really, really, REALLY hate the waiting that seems a big part of the publishing word in all sorts of aspects. I can deal with abject failure much easier than I can with a grain of hope. Well it could be worse. I could be repossessing rental TV's. And yes I did that in a former life, and countiing piles of doggie doo for a town council litter group (Keep Britain Tidy). Ah, happy days ...

So, to take my mind off the LA (lovely Agent, not the conference) I am out on the schooner Isaac H Evans for an overnight trip tonight, so I had better get my skates on and do some chores. 'im indoors is installing the new dishwasher (hurrah! been a long time coming) while I am gone, so have to do some insulating behind it before I go. (I get the fiddly jobs being non skilled.)

Had an email from an author/illustrator I met at a conference this week ... she is working with an English Art Director. He asked for less cartoony, so she veered more realistic, when what he wanted apparently was more 'illustrative', like Quentin Blake, EH Shepherd etc, which she would have considered cartoony ... lol, culture differences. I wonder if anyone else has come across 'illustrative' in USA and what it means here?

TTFN and thanks for dropping by ...

aka The Wacky Brit.

On the bedside table this week"
Can I play too (Elephant and Piggie Book) Mo Willems
City Dog, Country Frog - Mo Willems and Jon J Muth
Dawdle Duckling, Ready or Not Dawdle Duckling, Little Loon and Papa by Toni Buzzeo and Margaret Spengler
The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo and Mary Grandpre