‘Oh tell me why, do we build [sand]castles in the sky’ (Yeah, that’s right, Ian Van Dahl baby…)

Some of you (although that would assume a readership of more than one… [thanks mum, incidentally]) may well remember the rambling monstrosity that was last week’s post, so, in the interests of preserving any remaining subscribers – and not utterly befuddling those who may have stumbled into this little crevice of t’interweb entirely by accident, whilst distracted by something far more absorbing – the essential kernel of this week’s post shall be Brevity. Note with what success I am already pursuing this (patently unattainable) objective… *sigh*

So, capitalizing on the news last week that my particular tiny sphere of endeavour was to enjoy an interlude of universal benevolence in the shape of a 7-week extension to the Bologna Illustrators’ Exhibition submission deadline, I diversified – in several directions – to embark on assorted other projects that have been clamouring for brain space, along with those infernal mice… Speaking of which, in an effort to excise at least a little of this, frankly disturbing, rodent fixation from my consciousness, I resolved to award them a little bona fide attention with a quadruptych (that’s clearly not a word, but as series of two/three associated pieces have been awarded with a descriptive noun – diptych/triptych, respectively, as I’m sure you’re aware – it would seem only fair that such concession be awarded to a foursome [which, curiously, doesn’t carry the lewd-giiggle-inducing connotations that the term ‘threesome’ boasts, by my understanding…]) of watercolour reifications. It seemed fitting, given the somewhat eclectic combination of meteorological conditions we’ve been experiencing of late, to create a sequence demonstrating mousey attitudes appropriate to all seasons. Hence, I currently have spring, summer, autumn and winter mice staring at me accusingly (if two-dimensionally – which is, you’ll appreciate, infinitely less threatening than the 3D alternative I periodically hallucinate…) from the drawing desk – they are still in their ‘naked’ b&w line-drawn form, awaiting the animatory magic of colour, but once they were out on paper, I was distracted by other projects…

…Including the murmurings of some ideas for Christmas card illustrations, to reinvigorate the rather limited repertoire I have been growing by a decidedly ponderous three-or-four new images per festive season. It’s pretty much imperative that I expand the ‘range’ substantially this year, not least because I hadn’t the foresight in previous years to make a note of which design was sent to whom (and duplication on a previous year’s offering would be nothing short of shameful)… I have, previously, allowed the mice to infiltrate even this most hallowed of seasonal greetings card occasions, but am resolved to wrest Christmas back from their little rodenty, Stilton-scented clutches, so may press into action an erstwhile untested character I have been harbouring in the recesses of my portfolio: watch this ethereal space…

Although I have had no word from the originator of the picture-book concept behind last week’s bereft-looking dragon (which, I understand, inexplicably vamoosed at a most inopportune juncture last week – I have since ‘re-linked’ him in the hope that he will remain safely incarcerated in the blog matrix), I have made some further progress on the Bologna entry, and also dispatched the most recently completed component of this to my favourite SCBWI acquaintance (He of the Superior Submissions Procedure Knowledge) to be considered for entry into the Illustrators Print Showcase at the Winchester Conference in November – more information about which is published online at


Quite obviously, I would be delighted if it were to number among those selected for display at the Conference, but failing this, thought it could function as a cautionary injunction (the type frequently, and tediously, expounded by a parental/pseudo-parental figure, more often than not accompanied by an infuriatingly wagging finger) to myself against complacency and smugness, i.e. don’t leave completing the Bologna entry until the third week in November, when the chances of a further miraculous deadline extension would amount to an emphatic nil (or, rather, niente)…


Doomed: The Boy who Built his Castle on (or, rather, 'of') Sand... A little biblical perhaps, but essentially foolish (who doesn't scrupulously check the tide tables before embarking on such extensive construction work?!)


Not without its challenges, this image, being the second tracing from the original sketch after a catastrophic experiment with some erroneously entitled ‘HeavyWeight’ paper (a new acquisition – unfortunately I bought several pads of the stuff, it being on ‘special’ and me being of an irredeemably bargain-oriented persuasion). Even the second rendering, on a heavier, more Bockingford-esque watercolour paper, proved fairly intolerant to paint-layering, the surface of the paper really starting to degrade dramatically after two or three applications. I did, however, manage to excavate one of my better sable brushes from the pile of detritus at the side of my desk – whence it had presumably rolled, unnoticed, some time ago – which represented a valuable addition to my arsenal in this particular campaign, although arrived rather too late in the proverbial day to materially improve the texture of the eventual paintwork (which was, by this time, almost complete). Alas, I have already drawn up the subsequent frames in the Bologna quintet on the initial, demonstrably unsuitable paper, so should probably dedicate the next hour or so to transposing those onto a medium more appropriate to repeated onslaughts with watery paint. Already I can see the 7-week reprieve collapsing in on itself to leave but a few measly days of frenetic, self-cursing paint-a-thon action…

Until next week, then, have a FABULOUS weekend, and may the teeny, tiny ray of lunchtime sunshine that has burgeoned into a full-scale sunny afternoon reappear for our collective enjoyment at the weekend! ;p

About illustratedbyamanda

Illustrator and time-fritterer extraordinaire
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1 Response to ‘Oh tell me why, do we build [sand]castles in the sky’ (Yeah, that’s right, Ian Van Dahl baby…)

  1. Emma says:

    Love the 90s trance reference! And obviously the illustraion too, I love all your work – so so talented. xxxx

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