Friday 24 December 2010

for your kind consideration, "A Little Bit Bunny"

Well the christmas is almost upon us but, if you find yourself on the web with a few moments to aimlessly amble about why not pop on over to the group blog I've been working on with my good friends Kev and Phil. If the mood takes you why not let us know what you think...maybe even join in too...! Hope you enjoy, Merry Christmas everyone! See you in 2011

Sunday 19 December 2010

Honey xmas gift.

Almost forgot... a little christmas gift for my honey loving folks this year (It won't ruin the surprise, I've already it to them).

My christmas card... DECK THE HALLS FOLKS!

Well it's that time of the year once again and it almost looked like I wouldn't get my own cards done, as I like to do each year. I was stuck for an idea and almost bought a pack (!) but my natural aversion to giving card companies money at christmas or, indeed, anytime of year (well OK, charity cards excepted...) spurred me on (as did the truly exceptional hand screened card arriving in the post from my good mate Phil).
Of late I've been (more so than usual) dischuffed with how some of my illustrations have turned out so I've been reworking things a day or so later to try and 'improve things'... never seems to solve all problems, just create a new set to be dissatisfied with! It's laudable to try and improve but counter productive to go backwards instead of forwards. Easier said than done sometimes...

First card attempt was the 'yool owl' idea. There's much I like about the little fella but my contrary 'jiminey cricket illustrator on my shoulder' made me try, try again.

So it's a christmas CARD as my christmas card this year. I like the notion but I'm still (version two this one) not entirely happy with how it's turned out. That said it's the thought that counts isn't it so... MERRY XMAS & A VERY HAPPY 2011 to EVERYONE who has happened on by my blog. I really do appreciate the comments I receive and I know 2011 is going to see the blogosphere crammed full of fantastic new work for us all to rabbit about!

Speaking of rabbits...oow, weak link alert... My two good chums, the afore mentioned Phil and the previously mentioned Kev hope to be releasing our vaguely rabbit themed joint blog creation onto an unsuspecting world very soon. I won't say anymore... watch out folks!

Enjoy those mince pies everyone!!!

Monday 22 November 2010

We're just f**cking Monkeys In Shoes...

I've been listening a lot of late to the hilarious, ridiculously talented and thought provoking potty mouth that is Tim MInchin. Whenever I hear his "monkey's in shoes" lyric images just pop into my head so, this was by way of a warm up doodle one morning. A flippin monkey in some shoes... You have to agree it's a pretty concise summation of human evolution to this point. If anyone has a few minutes to spare, has pro science, anti religious leanings, isn't easily offended and just likes a good laugh give Minchin's musical stylings a go. My blogging has been sparse of late but I'm scribbling away on various bits and pieces which I hope will make for a few posts soon enough. Maybe a few more monkey's in assorted footwear till then...?! & PS. I'm aware it's an 'ape' in shoes...I just like drawing apes ;-)

Sunday 7 November 2010

Marmalade Flapjacks sketches...

I had some very welcome news from Nate Padavick, the fine and talented fellow who set up the wonderful theydrawandcook blog with his fine and talented sister Salli Swindell . The gargantuan, glorious artwork 'soufflé' that has risen on the they draw and cook site is to be nibbled down into a book of recipes for publication next year and I'm truly delighted that my multi armed flapjack chef is one of the chosen dishes. Thanks Nate and Salli!

I hate to repeat post things so, by way of padding, I happened upon the original (very rough) thumbnail layout for the artwork (in a vast pile of sketch work I've yet to fully sort!) which seemed like suitable blog fodder. I'm glad I didn't go with the fat, multi legged chef, although I did like his casual stance on one pair of legs.

If you haven't already, check out theydrawandcook. You sure to find a tasty treat!

more magpies...

While I'm on a bird theme I have negative which has turned into a positive. In September of 2009 I worked on a magpie logo project for a jeweller in Europe which, sadly didn't bear fruit. The client had run up some agreed concept development costs which, sadly, they then didn't pay for. With regret I have to revoke the copyright lines which I originally placed on the magpie work for ADEONA INFO PLASS. And now for the positive. The web is a marvelous place indeed and I'm pleased to say someone else saw the designs and wanted to use one for their jewellery business in New York. With great pleasure I present the old/new logo for MAGPIE SHINDIG. Good luck Sam, and thanks again!

some owls...

Hello blog, how have you been then...? The next few posts are mainly some bits of house keeping I've been meaning to get round to for a while now. First off the bat are a smattering of owl sketches... What's the collective noun for owls...? A hoot of owls, a stare, a goggle...? This hot off the google press... ... apparently it's a "parliament of owls", I always thought it was a parliament of rooks but it seems a lot of rooks is a "building" or a "clamor"...?! And this just in, a group of penguins is a "rookery"...?! So why is a group of rooks not a "penguinery" then...?! No one said the english language makes sense, or that google is infallible... I digress... The owl sketches are connected to a little project I have with a couple of good mates... more on that early next year. I was also in an owlish mood after I got the chance to hold a European Eagle Owl this summer. Quite an experience holding something so big (but surprisingly light, must be all feathers) a few centimeters from your face. The eyes are so piercing and yet I was told it was short sighted. I suppose if owls were as learned and bookish as fable relates they would need reading glasses...? I'm rambling...

Friday 15 October 2010

they came from a land down under...

Just a little doodle to mark the great news yesterday that all 33 Chilean miners made it to safety! I'm sure many others have come up with the same gag but anyway...

Went to a great talk yesterday by the illustrator David Mckee (remember Mr. Benn and King Rollo...?). It was an interesting and inspiring evening. He said a thought provoking thing (paraphrasing...) he creates his children's books for the adult that a child reader will eventually become but also for the child that remains within the adult reader. A nice thought and a good rule of thumb.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

say well done with a sunflower

Spent a very enjoyable weekend with friends, one of whom likes sunflowers and has just graduated. Well done again Tam :) and thanks to you and hubby for a spiffing time!

Thursday 30 September 2010

worksheets for 'Bathroom Lion' & the 15 artists in 15 minutes game!

Joining in with Cassia's game also picked up by Jon Davis. In 15 minutes name 15 artists that inspire you and you'll always stick with. In no particular order then:

1) Egon Schiele (you're right Cass!)
2) Eric Carle
3) Quentin Blake
4) Miroslav Sasek
5) Joan Miro
6) Heath Robinson (look forward to the exhibition!)
7) Alice & Martin Provensen
8) E.H. Shephard
9) Tom Oreb (animation designer in the 50's... Disney, UPA etc...etc...)
10) Lane Smith
11) John Tenniel
12) Ronald Searle
13) Saul Bass
14) William Heaton Cooper (english watercolourist)
15) Charlie Harper

That was fun! I could go on and on, and I'm sure I've missed some big favourites...

***************I forgot:

*Bill Watterson (how'd I forget HIM!!!)
*Mike Mignola
*Craig McCracken
*Genndy Tartakovsky
*John Kricfalusi

**************how did I still forget:
*Mary Blair (disney colour stylist and designer)
*Matisse (particularly his collages)
*Edward Gorey (he created such a twisted, unique world...funny ha ha and funny VERY peculiar)
*Ed Benedict (designer of many Hanna-Barbera classic characters inc. Yogi B. and the Flintstones)

They say some people get obsessional about lists... I just cannot let this one go (failed the 15 minute rule well and truly!)

And to finish the post off the author of "There's a lion in my bathroom" asked me for some themed activities for a book signing he's doing this weekend:

British bookshops and stationers in Seaford Saturday 2nd October from 10am-1pm, there will be colouring and activity sheets for children to do, plus balloons with each signed book.

So I tweaked some of the book illustrations to get colouring in pages and drawing activities. What's the most yucky food you can think of...?

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Renault 4 'life drawing' sketches by way of Juno...

Odd one this post. I finally got to see the film Juno a few days ago, really enjoyed it, a fantastic script and performances. I was really taken by the production design, especially feel of the title sequence. It's nice to see that they carried through that loose naive sketch style through the film and into the promo materials and DVD / CD packaging, more often the case with an indie film than your standard hollywood fare don't you think...?

Although it doesn't tally with how I tend to go about my illustration I've always liked strong line based images, especially when balanced with bold flat graphics. Egon Schiele, Klee, Miro, Picasso... I think it was Paul Klee that talked about 'taking a line for a walk' when you sketch, and when I usually try and eliminate any 'excess lines' in my work I think it sometimes also loses a sprightliness. By way of nothing I was looking for something to warm up doodle and, for no real reason, I thought back to the quirky Renault 4 car my family drove when I was a kid. At the time you wanted to drive in the same cars everyone else did but, in retrospect, I really love the little things that made the Renault stand out from the crowd (a car outsider just like Juno in the film...? I shouldn't over analyse myself...). I remember the puzzling 'umbrella handle' gear stick that stuck out from the dashboard and the weird front bumper loops that I always thought were handles to pull the car by if it broke down! I'd usually construct my drawings with basic geometric volumes first in order to get all the relationships between elements fixed and then add line over the top but, in keeping with the Juno images bouncing around in my brain I just went at it, life drawing style, and to hell with the results. A lot of fun to loosen up and not over plan things.

Thursday 16 September 2010

colourful dozer

Here's my colour plan for the painting. I tried this planning ahead process on my last birthday painting commission and it really help me out with sequencing which colours to paint in which order. The disadvantage / advantage of course is that you have a constant reminder of what colour you are aiming for. Mixing that paint colour and making sure it dries how you intend is another matter! For now pixels are familiar territory and I'm happy with how thing are looking.

Monday 13 September 2010

bulldozers and 3 legged dogs...

Unrelated outpourings from my drawing board. Here's a revised layout for the child's birthday painting I've been commissioned to paint. The parents opted for the bulldozer and asked for some tweaks here and there. Hopefully the little chap looks more like a caring tree planter, not a logger hell bent on deforesting! I'm thinking some nice texture and autumnal colours in all that dirt.

And why a 3 legged dog I hear you ask...? Olli's a work colleague's pooch (see my first ever blog post, boy has it been that long...) who sadly lost a leg earlier this year (well he didn't lose it, we know where it went know...). Here's a quick doodle, he usually pops by my studio asking for a biscuit.

Saturday 11 September 2010

"There's a lion in my bathroom: nonsense poetry for children". The book is out now!

Well I've been away for a few days, but what a way to take the edge of coming back from your holidays, finding your own book waiting for you! I'm delighted with how things have come out in the finished book. The print quality is excellent on both the cover and the internal pages. I'd really love to be able to share some of the text with you but you'll just have to buy it I guess :) A percentage of all sales goes to a very good cause, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, so you can have a laugh and also do some good at the same time. As far as I know as yet, your best ports of call if you're interested will be:

the publishers Rebel Books LLP site

of course, the mighty amazon (do leave a review if you like what you see...:)

I've no idea if they will have any copies instore... but waterstones have it online.

If you do decide to buy, my endless thanks and I really hope you enjoy the book. Please feel free to drop me a line (email via my website) and let me know what you thought. You can also reach the author Giles Paley Philips via his website.

Exciting times!

Thursday 26 August 2010

& another thing...

Hate to have variations go to waste... Here's my tryout for the birthday greeting in a cooler palette. Decisions decisions...

night all!

birthday bits & exciting things to come...

There doesn't seem to have been the time for blogging over the last few days, but I my pencil hasn't gathered too much moss. I've been scribbling some words for my Jabberwocky story idea, but until the words work I'll hold off on the pictures. I really want to try and do a unique job on this one... If I can get my minds eye for the story out onto the page I'll be happy. But the words need to be solid first! Meanwhile birthdays seem to be a theme.

Firstly a quick email birthday greeting for a friend... A nice opportunity for graphic tablet calligraphy. When I've scrawled reminders to myself of late on scraps of paper they've been increasingly elaborate word doodles. I'm a big fan of hand lettering but it can be a fine line between spontaneous and harmoniously balanced, and cack handed, unfocused and illegible. Fun to play though... sometimes I think my visuals are regressing back to primary school activities. Perhaps not a bad thing, children's artwork is so unselfconscious, vibrant and expressive.

The second pair of sketches are for a little boy's second birthday. His folks saw the painting I did for another lad's birthday (previously & previously) and wanted something along similar lines. Needless to say, little Owen like's his bulldozers and diggers! I'll keep the blog posted on developments.

I got a lift yesterday when Nate Padavick over at theydrawandcook let me know my "marmalade flapjacks" was one of several recipe images picked out by a food magazine to illustrate an article about the theydarwandcook site. Given the plethora of superb artwork on the site I'm delighted and flattered that they liked mine enough to pick it out from the crowd. I'd love to do another recipe, maybe with the same character...? I'll keep the blog posted on developments.

And finally, I hope the Bathroom Lion book I did illustrations and the cover for (details on rebel books site here, here & here) will soon hit the shops... very exciting! I'll keep the blog posted!!!

Tuesday 10 August 2010

The Fearsome Beastie, part the second... finally

How can it be nearly a month since I last posted...?! Time to make amends right now! I was beavering away on this beastie character some weeks back now (previously, on matt's blog...) so I could put together a sample double page spread for the author of the story to pitch to some publishers. With my first attempts at the F.B.'s design I got a little caught up in my shorts. I've also got ideas for another 'monster' project on my drawing board (that's for another day... I hope...) and I was having trouble distinguishing the two characters in my own head. My first beastie designs were also not giving me the facial features I needed for the acting I wanted in the spread. Well, long story short (too late) I pretty much had all the nuts and bolts I needed in my preliminary beastie sketches (the doodle with the lampost had all I wanted for the beastie) so, with a monday deadline breathing down my neck (always focuses the mind) I cracked on this weekend to try and finish the spread. Ok, so I didn't quite make it but, in my defense, I did get the author a 97% finished spread to show then worked on the last 7% yesterday evening.

I really wanted to try and improve my drawing of children on this one. It's something I still find a challenge, to try and get distinct personalities instead of bland generic child 1, child 2... I'm still not sure about the blue skin children shown IN the night time shadows... I might have more of a children OF the night?! I did like the fact that giving them a nocturnal palette shifted attention to the two face beastie in the scene while picking out beastie colours for a limited palette in the children helped to balance the whole spread. Maybe I do need to give the beastie's evil side of the face the same blue treatment... but does that suggest some link with the children which I don't want to convay...?! Decisions decisions... On looking at things this morning the pool of lamp illumination on the floor does need adjusting as it seems to occupy a different plane to that of the dry brush cast shadows... so 99.9% done, 0.1% for tonight maybe. I could fiddle with the image forever (a bad habit of mine) but until there's any interest in the book what I have so far will have to do.

On a colour related note, if anyone reads this perhaps they'd be good enough to pipe up with a comment if they find the images way too dark on their screen...? They look fine on my iMac LCD monitor, print fine but look too 'X-Files' shadowy on another cathode ray monitor I sometimes use, despite my checking all the settings on hardware and software. I'm inclined to believe my iMac screen until told otherwise... Or maybe it's my tired eyes...

By the way all copyright on the text goes to the excellent Giles Paley-Philips

story text © Giles Paley Philips 2010

Thursday 8 July 2010

the indifferent lion...and existential angst of sorts.

It's been difficult to find the time this week for my own work but finally here's a things in progress. The next fearsome beastie I'm exploring for inspiration and edification is the lion (or as Monty Python would put it..."number 3 the lion...the...lion...".

My sketching was a bit rusty at first for this one so as a warm up I tried 'sketching' with a scalpel straight into scrap paper without any underdrawing. Happily that got me the rough lion collage that I then touched up in photoshop. Perhaps I'm being overcritical of myself at the moment but so much of what I do has the background as a graphic afterthought to compliment the foreground subject. Pattern, colour and stylistic approach are all well and good but for this lion I want a bit more of a story for the beastie...and now I'm building things up too much for what should just be a quick bit of something. I've been thinking (too much...?!) of late about what I want to achieve with my work above the obvious of, hopefully, supporting myself full time at some future date. Time to just crack on with things Matt... visuals, humour (quirky odd is best) and story!

Saturday 3 July 2010

the colourful gorilla (and other tales...)

Sounded a bit like a book title (maybe / might be it is one / will be one..?)... I'm waffling at an early stage. Here's the second fearsome beastie for the smorgasbord. Just playing about still to rethink things and freshen up. I went way more colourful on this than I would usually do and also played around with how I use scanned in texture. Although I fiddled perhaps a little too much I'm very happy with how the texture went and fairly content that I managed to wrestle the colours into something, if not serene, then at least distinctive. I wasn't planning on the speech bubble at the end but the gorilla made me do it!

Saturday 26 June 2010

an ornamental alligator (try saying that 3 times really fast...)

So, hello... how are you...? I've been trying to loosen up and get a little playful to shake myself out of my creative funk. With an eye to productivity and goals I also wanted whatever I dabbled with to hopefully be applicable to the Fearsome beastie book spread...which should be a simple matter, sorry Giles (the author).

So here's an alligator.... my plan being a smorgasbord (I love that word, don't you...) of a few fearsome beasts that take my fancy which I can pick and mix from to inspire the final beastie. I know, I know, friends have said what I have already is OK but, for whatever reason, and it's probably me being my own worst enemy with this, the FB design I have so far just doesn't allow me to stage the action how I want it and, less concrete a point, just isn't quite what I'm after.

Perhaps it's all about that nebulous search for a distinctive creative approach that makes me stand out in the illustration crowd (and boy it's crowded) while also flicking my creative switches... Still I'm enjoying the change of scene and exploring colour and pattern must be a good thing.

Talking of the 'illustration crowd' I had chance to meet a fine group of talented and friendly illustrator folk last weekend. We all crawled away from our screens and desks, out into the real world... If any of you read this it was great to see all your work, shoot the breeze and pick your brains. Many thanks again to Cass for sorting it all out. It'd be grand to do it again sometime...

Monday 14 June 2010

Hermit the Frog.

A silly bit of nonsense sketched straight onto the computer just so I can feel like I've done something creative today. Truth be told I've been a little creatively out of sorts the last few days. I've been pushing and pulling the fearsome beastie spread this way and that but I really need to stand back and get some perspective on things. I feel like I've got two left hands (which is OK but I'm right handed...). I'll post just as soon as I get my 'illustrator trousers' back from the dry cleaners.

Sunday 6 June 2010

The Fearsome Beastie - part the first

A busy week or so but I've finally been able to knuckle down to some proper work on "The Fearsome Beastie" project I mentioned. Early days but I'm pretty happy with the character design so far. It remains to be seen if it will be suitable once I start fitting it into the story proper and what tweeks I'll have to make. The broad strokes of the tale are the Fearsome B comes into town on a dark and snowy night and proceeds to panic the local kiddiwinks. It gets it's just deserts in the end of course. The text calls for sharp claws, multiple tails and fangs. The author was also keen for scales and hair. I couldn't resist the multiple eyes after using them on an earlier character. I'm hoping they will prove useful in the spread I'm going to draw up where the FB has to sit and sob, all the while biding it's time till the kiddies get close... the two faced, four eyed swine! I must admit the multiple tails proved awkward at first. I wouldn't have chosen that feature myself but, as is often the case, I'm glad to have been pushed somewhere different. Still plenty to do...