Camden Library Book Festival

Camden Public Library, Maine must be right up there in the list of prettiest locations for a library. And last week I was lucky enough to be part of the line up of authors and illustrators for the 7th Annual Children's Book Festival .... it was a fun day, and I think the pics say it all! I love doing Book Festivals!



Getting down to it

Deadlines are good things. They make you stretch yourself. You achieve things you thought were impossible. Sometimes things are even better because you have to work quickly. I relish them and - I dread them. But I know I am happier when I have them, than when I don't. I think that's one of the reasons I enjoy working in the illustration field. Mostly you are working for a client, and that client has expectations - after all they are putting food on your table. I often hear freelancers (in all kinds of work) saying that they have a hard time getting motivated. My advice: get yourself a deadline. And if you don't have one, create one for yourself.

The reason I am rattling on about deadlines is that there's a few on my calendar. This is excellent, means I am busy. Who doesn't want to be busy? I handle my deadlines by making a written calendar, right now it goes until August 31. I have 2 manuscripts to illustrate by then (the next two books in Anastasia Suen's cheerleader series for Kane and Miller publishing). Before you 'gasp' they are black and white with colour cover, so it's not colour double spreads!)

Mid way through this is wham bam ... SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. Just to make things difficult for myself I've decided to redo my portfolio with totally new pieces. So that's F-I-V-E weeks away. Plus I want to take 2 dummies with me. I will be entering the Portfolio Showcase again ... this year I feel like I know what I am doing. Well, more than last year anyway!

As I said, nothing like a deadline ... here's one of the new pieces with a more whimsical style than usual.

On the board for next week I also have designs to do for a pottery company in CA, they produce planters for the trade market (Target, Lowes etc). I used to do a lot of work for them, and was lucky enough to go to China to the trade fair and factories several years ago ... and then the economy nosedived. It's a good sign they are sending me work again. Of course, you can't choose when it comes along, so hence the planning calendar.

I guess I will be working some late nights on the portfolio!!

As a nice treat at the end of August I get to teach a drawing cruise on the Schooner Isaac H Evans. It's shaping up to be a busy, fun and fruitful summer.

The trip to LA will be welcome - a big conference like this is always intense, as you want to hear all the awesome speakers and still network. (And have some party time). Bring it on. Last year I knew very few people ... this year I feel like I am going back to family. In the lonely life of the freelance illustrator I think that's an unusual feeling. If you are an aspiring children's illustrator or writer - make sure you join the SCBWI and go to conferences and workshops!

Talking of deadlines, must get back to them.

Just want to say many thanks to everyone who sent me sympathy on the loss of my dog ... it's been a hard week.



PS - Congrats to Margy Hayes who is 100th member of my blog. She will be receiving an original piece of artwork!

Boats and Shows


riday already? Oh man. And I haven't finished the rough of the last in the problem series 'Share the Bear'. OK, I didn't even start it. It was that kind of week.

Tuesday was a fun day, nipped down to Rockland on the coast of Maine to try and get some publicity shots of moi with the

Isaac H Evans Schooner

, for the drawing cruise (got to do a press release). The ship was up out of the water in her cradle getting her bottom painted. 'im Indoors came along and did the photography bit.

1. I HATE having photos taken (yeah right you say, because 2 weeks running pics of me on the blog).

2. 'im indoors has not got the best eyesight so it is always a bit of a crap shoot. I make him stand on the spot and then I set up the shot and hope for the best. Given that he is a good 8" taller than me it doesn't always work out. This is what I got ..

Well not too bad I suppose. The ship looks good! Can't wait to be on the water again. Here's one of the crew with Capt Brenda.

Ooooohh (how DO you spell that?), the really fun news of the week is that I will be putting on a solo show of my Ice and Fire photographs at the John Rohman Gallery at EMCC in Bangor in Nov/Dec this year! I am excited as this is my first solo photography show. Yikes! Now I have to frame things.

But mostly it has been work work work. I am not complaining. I just wish I could get to finishing one of my projects now and again, but ya gotta eat right?

Here's another of the Owl illustrations just to prove I haven't been out rollicking around on ships all week ...

BTW, these are drawn by hand and then coloured in Photoshop.

While down on the coast we popped in to see a friend at a

fine art auction house

in Thomaston. In the May auction they have a previously unseen Andrew Wyeth up for sale. Our friend said he expected it to make 2 to 3, maybe even as high as 5. '$5,000?' asked 'im indoors. And then turned bright red when he realised it was $500,000. Bless him. As he says it is just paint and canvas. Right?

I did carelessly lose a day this week.I was meant to go down to the meeting of the Maine Illustrator's Collective in Portland with

Russ Cox

, (an illustrator from the next town over from me). I was working happily away when 'ting ting' and there's Russ on the phone wondering where the hell I am. I was convinced it was the following day .... so needless to say we didn't make the meeting. Lumme! And my online calendar even sent me a reminder that I happily deleted! Now - I am a mega organized person and in the quiet of the night I lay looking at the ceiling and wondering if this was the beginning of the decline into the pit?

On the bed side cabinet at the moment ..

LMNO - PEAS by Keith Baker (Fun!)

Kenny & the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Speeches, Essays and Conversations - Virginia Hamilton

Dear Dumb Diary 2&3 - Jim Benton

Time is running out on me in the build up to the New England SCBWI conference on 14-16th May in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I have homework to do for Illustrators Intensive (luckily I can utilize Minusaur I think). I want to work on a piece for an illustration exhibition in Boston ... the theme of the exhibition is 'North' and I want to do the whole thing in oil for a change. And I have to have it done by 13th .... ARGHH!

Then there's ... well, never mind, you get the picture.

So next week it's nose to the drawing board/screen/whatever and no slacking!!

Oh - hang on - I am off to Boston to see Mark Knopfler on Tuesday ....



The Wacky Brit. (or Brat as some people might say.)