Monday 29 June 2009

The Moa. A big bird.

David Attenborough's latest programme was all about big birds (and not the one found on Sesame Street), specifically the various species of now extinct, flightless New Zealand Moa and also the similarly extinct and ground based Aepyornis (aka. the elephant bird) of Madagascar. Tuck into the podcast if you want to learn more. I was toying with drawing a big bird but then I thought of Sesame Street puppets and reached for my camera...and paper shredder.

Monday 22 June 2009

Platypus puzzle - "Platypuzzle"

In honour of the third programme in David Attenborough's fascinating series of "life stories" here's a platypus puzzle. As I'm sure you're well aware the platypus (meaning "flat footed", or to give it it's correct biological nomenclature "Ornithorhynchus" meaning "bird billed", ta Dave...:) is a werid and wonderful conglomeration... bits of a reptile here, a jigger of mammal there. Platypus suckle their young (although they don't have nipples) like all mammals, are warm blooded (albeit at a lower temperature than most other mammals), have reptilian like reproductive systems producing soft membrane eggs, have reptile like skeletal features, all topped off with an electromagnetic sensing skin covered bill (hammerhead shark...?). Oh, and not to forget a fat reservoir beaver like tail and, amazingly, venomous horned spurs behind each hind limb! A crazy mixed up little chap! You've got till friday to tune in to David Attenborough's reminiscences. I highly recommend it.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Praying Mantis

It falls to me to pull my finger out blog wise and play the next shot in the 'twisted creature tennis match' I have tentatively running with m'colleagues Phil and Kev. The subject chosen by Phil was the Praying Mantis.... so here she is. Look forward to your mantis' (or is it mantises, manti, mantids, mantidae...?)... whatever they are called, over to you good chaps :) The next creature is... the toucan.

Thursday 11 June 2009

3 toed sloth

This quick pic was in response to a fantastic series of programmes which started last friday on BBC radio 4. For the next 10 weeks David Attenborough (national treasure and natural history icon) is presenting 10 minute talks on any natural history topic which takes his fancy. Last week's was all about the 3 toed sloth and best of all they are also available as a free podcast to download and keep. I cannot recommend them enough. If you can, tune in and enjoy. I can see myself being inspired with more subject matter as the series runs!

I wanted this to be an exercise in working quickly. A ten minute radio programme inspiring, if not a ten minute pic, then something more off the cuff. I had the plant doodles sitting on my work easel for an age wanting to do something with them. I scanned them in with a mind to using them as an underlay but I suddenly thought why overwork things when I can push for a graphic result with what I already had. It's those spur of the moment choices which sometimes end up really surprising you.

Many thanks to everyone who has left such positive comments for the last post with the Waterstone's competition images. I've had a busy few days and haven't replied to comments as I'd like to but I really appreciate the feedback! Think I'll get over the disappointment... it's all a learning curve :)

Sunday 7 June 2009

Waterstone's "Picture This" Julia Donaldson competition..."Freddie and the Fairy"

Well I mentioned a few posts back that I was having a crack at a children's book illustration competition.... I think it's safe to post up my submissions now as, like 894 other people, I haven't been selected as one of the lucky 6 to go through to the second round... ho hum. Of course I'm a bit disappointed but it's all part of a jobbing illustrators life I suppose. If your work isn't right for the project that's all there is to say about it.

I was really happy with aspects of the artwork I produced. Being a bit outside of my comfort zone with illustrating fairies (they wouldn't be my first choice of subject matter, but again, all part of being a working illustrator, so a healthy exercise) I felt a need (rightly or wrongly) to push the fairy envelope somewhat and come up with something a bit different. After researching Julia Donaldson's (the writer of the Gruffalo and also the competition text entitled "Freddie and the Fairy" ) working practices and inspirations I opted for a folk tale feel to the illustrations. As the fairy in the story was called Bessie-Belle I just had to style her like a bell, and once I had that shape it was just a small step to depicting her as a Russian folk art Matryoshka doll. Maybe the judges didn't approve but it helped me find a direction for the submission. Another decision I made early on was that I didn't want a bright green spring / summer forest setting which would be too similar to the Gruffalo. For me autumn is more visually inspiring, so the colour palette for the artwork came quite quickly. I was very happy with the loose leaves in the Bat background piece.

So a lot of sketches and a couple of late nights later here's what I came up with. I don't think I'd do things much differently if I had my time over (although Freddie does need a redesign).... but I'd love to know where I went wrong with respect to what the judges wanted :)

Tuesday 2 June 2009

caterphant - elepillar

Back from my hols and to get in the swing of things here's a quick bit of whimsy... a 'return' of my good friend Phil's 'twisted elephant drawing tennis match'. This little ... just thought of another name ... caterpachyderm ... loves leaves and peanuts and, after a lengthy metamorphosis turns into the rare, flightless Dumbo moth.