Trees? In the Antarctic?

Ok, ok… I know there are no Norwegian spruces in the Antarctic, but I thought I’d air-drop one in for advent so those penguins have something to wrestle into festive shape in time for Christmas. This penguin seems to have had no trouble at all in ignoring the incongruity of my Christmas tree, instead proudly declaring his entirely-fictional tree-felling prowess with the triumphant placement of one penguin-y foot atop its prone form:


"Defeated! And why, thank you - yes I am an extraordinarily forestry-skilled, some might say heroic, specimen...!"

“Defeated! And why, thank you – yes I am an extraordinarily forestry-skilled, some might say heroic, specimen…!”

(Also, we have – this very weekend – acquired our very own, unnecessarily prickly spruce [pictured below]. I know just exactly how prickly its needles are because I am still, hours later, picking them out of my jumper. And hair. And feet.)

IMAG0783 IMAG0785

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Double doses…

Yikes. Four days in and I’ve already had my first Advent-blog-post-punctuality casualty… So here are yesterday’s and today’s in tandem:


"Can we go for a hot chocolate now, please...?"

“Can we go for a hot chocolate now, please…?”

The temperature’s plummeted again here in the South East, and mum (staying for the briefest of visits this weekend) and I managed to tolerate a grand total of about an hour and a half in the biting, wintry cold before we capitulated and succumbed to the allure of a well-known high street coffee shop’s centrally-heated charms…

Walking is definitely overrated... Why not have a few more dishes of Christmas pudding and take to your belly, like these canny chaps? :)

Walking is definitely overrated… Why not have a few more dishes of Christmas pudding and take to your belly, like these canny chaps? 🙂

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Just keep moving…

Why on earth did I venture into an illustration-a-day enterprise at this time of year? And with deadlines crashing all round me?!! Eejit.

Anywho… Here is my little offering for today – mainly Antarctic, as opposed to especially festive: it reflects more the joyous thought of deadline-free days to come (FAR in the future, lamentably…) than actual, current feelings (which mostly coalesce around TERROR about the imminence of important MA-course deadlines, my unpreparedness for the festive season, and a general, all-pervading fear of a looming career-less, direction-less future… And yes, I  have opened a bottle of wine…).

I had 'Dancing in the Moonlight' by the glorious - but shortlived (and probably long-forgotten by most) Toploader. I know it's not a moonlit scene, but the feeling of carefree abandon to the rhythm of noughties indie pop gold is, I feel, readily discernible...

I had ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by the glorious – but shortlived (and probably long-forgotten by most) Toploader. I know it’s not a moonlit scene, but the feeling of carefree abandon to the rhythm of noughties indie pop gold is, I feel, readily discernible…

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Festive feet…

I have to admit, I’m not feeling terribly festive just yet, but maybe a fresh coat of seasonally-jolly nail polish would help…


I realise that the humour of yesterday’s post (should you have been generous enough to indulge me and find it…) relied on the not-very-dexterous nature of penguin flippers, so the likelihood of the above-featured character successfully managing to apply an even coat of nail polish to toes he can barely (if at all…) reach is pretty slim (even some of those of us with five fully-differentiated digits on each hand struggle with this…). However, I was trying to think of something to draw for today’s post yesterday evening and, glancing distractedly around the room, noticed this horrific spectacle at the end of my leg:

IMAG0779A once juicy, beautifully-applied veneer of ‘Lucky Red’ gel polish – courtesy of the wondrous Brenna Hughes – now trying to escape from me (albeit at a glacial – or, indeed, going-nail speed, rate)! *Shudder*


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2 Dec – Present buying (& margins of error…)

This one’s for anyone out there with a friend or relative (or, if they have an unusually highly-developed degree of self-awareness, themselves…) whose gift-buying skills – while undoubtedly generous and thoughtful – are always that little wide of the mark…


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Christmas is coming!! Well, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y…

…so I thought I’d join the ranks of the (admittedly far more efficient and on-topic) online illustrative bloggers and embark on a series of daily postings for the duration of advent. Beginning with this guy:

Bernard was rather pleased with his ice-hole serving-hatch delivery system. It was just a shame the fish didn't seem to be on board...

Bernard was rather pleased with his ice-hole serving-hatch delivery system. It was just a shame the fish didn’t seem to be on board…

Just. By the proverbial skin of my teeth (what is it? 10 minutes to midnight…?).

An illustration a day. Hmm. I am sure I will soon regret such a rash and ambitious endeavour (probably in a little over 10 minutes…), but we’ll see how it goes…

‘Til tomorrow! 🙂

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Seagulls, a Festival of Illustration and the MA-does-crowdfunding (whew!)

Well, another long ol’ hiatus (traditional apologies…), but it’s all getting a trifle hectic here on the MA Children’s Book Illustration course…

Here’s a rather stressed-out looking seagull by way of illustration (pun fully – and inescapably – intended):

A small, rough panel from the storyboard for my current project (which has undergone pretty wholesale transformation since its inception back in October...)

A small, rough panel from the storyboard for my current project (which has undergone pretty wholesale transformation since its inception back in October…)

In addition to the escalating excitement-panic (currently standing at a relatively even ratio, but – I suspect – a mere hair’s breadth away from tipping squarely into the Full-On Panic percentile) re. the fast-approaching Final Crit, Assessment and Final Show (about which more, anon [well, below…]) – and not to mention the small matter of a certain epically-important international industry fair (Bologna Children’s Book Fair, 2015) – a couple of weeks ago Cambridge School of Art, in collaboration with Heffer’s Children’s Book Shop and the Centre for Children’s Book Studies, played host to The Cambridge Festival of Illustration, featuring a veritable smorgasbord of celebrated children’s illustrators speaking about their work, signing freshly minted books and braving the knee-high population of the city and environs in an assortment of workshops and similarly entertaining ‘events’.

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend all the events I might have liked to on account of some logistical/geographical ‘difficulties’ (i.e. I was, for the first couple of days of the week, somewhat stuck at home in Staines and, thus, not in optimal position to enjoy the – by most accounts – marvellous Sara Fanelli discussing her work, or Tuesday’s showcase of three recent graduates of the MA course, and verified stars of the current ‘crop’ of new, illustrative talent speaking about their work and of life after the course [it appears that such exists, after all…]: Victoria Turnbull – creator of the unspeakably beautiful Sea Tiger; Simona CiraoloHug Me, brilliant and funny ; and Carolina Rabei – responsible for a stunning new rendering of Walter de la Mare’s Snow.)

However, I did have the very great privilege of catching appearances by both Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo, Pip and Posy, and about a bajillion other illustrated titles for children, mostly authored by the rhyming-fiction-for-children-and-other-ditties juggernaut that is Julia Donaldson) and James Mayhew (the Katie series – which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary in print – Ella Bella Ballerina, and an assortment of other wonderful illustrated works). As students of the MA course, we are very lucky to enjoy the wisdom and considerable professional experience of James Mayhew in the studio, particularly now, in the Masters Stage of the course, so this event – held on campus, and immediately following a day of James’ teaching – felt rather more familiar and relaxed than that delivered by the slightly weary-and-jaded-seeming Axel, whose presentation I had experienced an almost identical (if rather more desultory) version of a couple of years previously when he had starred on the lecture programme for the course’s Summer School. As with, I imagine, most similar instances of professionals speaking about their work, the talks themselves were interesting and informative but mostly a trifle guarded – judiciously and, of course, admirably professionally – when it came to working relationships and the artists’ personal experiences of working with other parties within the publishing industry. There were, though, tantalising glimpses of the tensions that necessarily arise when a person’s artistic integrity is manoeuvred into a position from which it might be threatened or subject to inescapable compromise – a very real danger within the collaborative practise of picturebook-making, where the instincts and preferences of the various interested parties (e.g. sales team, publisher, designer, illustrator, author) may frequently collide… The importance of understanding the often-mercurial and fiendishly complicated Publishing Contract was also touched upon, with a warning to really scrutinise – and interrogate – the ‘Option’ clause at the end of the document, together with mention of subsidiary enterprises related to the book in question (e.g. film/tv rights, or merchandising), to avoid any unpleasant and protracted legal wranglings arising in the future… Wise words indeed.

The wonderful Marta Altés and Birgitta Sif, both graduates of the MA (Marta also finds time to shoehorn in some teaching as a part-time tutor for lucky, new MA students!), launched their respective new books at the end of the Festival week in Heffers bookshop – the gorgeous My New Home by Marta and Frances Dean by Birgitta – so I availed myself of *cough* a few books… And had them signed – woohoooo!!


Birgitta’s first book, ‘Oliver’, created while she was on the MA course – with lovely, encouraging inscription. And two sheep 🙂


Marta’s ‘I Am An Artist’ – brilliantly funny, and astute (we have all met a little artist of this ilk…!), with a v. flattering inscription. And a little moustachioed artist 🙂


The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been a pretty hot topic in the last couple of weeks, with our entries for the Illustrators’ Exhibition being loving swaddled together in one giant Cambridge School of Art entry and despatched to Italy in the hope that some of us might make it onto those hallowed (whitewashed-MDF) walls next March – but that we’ll all be rewarded for our efforts with an entry ticket to the Fair. The principal appeal this year, though, is my eligibility – alongside my fellow graduating course-mates – to be included in the ‘Cambridge School of Art at Bologna’ stand, enjoying representation by the School and its tutors at the most prestigious and important industry event in the children’s publishing calendar. Participation in this incredible opportunity will necessitate a considerable amount of extra work in addition to that being produced on the course, so – it has been abundantly emphasised – is not to be undertaken lightly. However, it was at the Bologna Fiere (2012, as I recall…) that I was inspired – both through a meeting with Val Braithwaite (Art Director) of Bloomsbury and seeing the positively electric buzz around the CSA stand – to take the week-long Summer School in August and, from there, to (albeit in a slightly roundabout way…) embark on the MA proper: I’d love to be a teeny (one eightieth, approximately) part of the CSA story at the Fair in 2015 and encourage others to pursue their illustrative dreams, while also enjoying probably the best exposure, representation and art school-association in the world (I am not sponsored by Carling lager, by the way, in case that endorsement set you a-wondering…). We’re only in the very initial stages of preparation for the Fair at the moment, being much occupied with the Masters Stage project itself, artwork for our exhibition (end of MA show) catalogue,  and fundraising towards financing this enterprise (show and catalogue – of which more, below…), but the students whom were showcased at last year’s CSA stand and a little more about the stand and course can still be viewed at

In an effort to come up with something I might include by way of final artwork to feature on my exhibition catalogue page – and with the added fillip of contributing towards resolving how I might tackle the final artwork for the main body of the Masters Stage project – I have started experimenting with a few different approaches to injecting colour into the (constantly morphing) seagull project. This has included, in a shock departure from pretty much all previous form, Photoshop-born digital hue-application and, of course, other more traditional media (watercolour, oil-based pencil). However, I am a little reluctant to share much of the resultant imagery here on account of it being a rather-too-revealing demonstration of my emphatically novice Adobe skills… However, I thought I’d awkwardly shove an early digital effort in your, dear reader, general direction and tentatively invite thoughts/comments/ suggestions:

Going for a nostalgic sorta feel... Think Coney Island (US) or traditional, English seaside, Punch & Judy territory...

Going for a nostalgic sorta feel… Think Coney Island (US) or traditional, English seaside, Punch & Judy territory…

Now, after that little illustrative interlude, to the ‘more’ element of the course exhibition and catalogue…

Aside from the inevitable Final Assessment, the end of the course proper is the week beginning 9 February 2015, when we will host our Graduation Show at the Candid Gallery in Shoreditch, London, inviting publishers and agents to peruse our picturebook ideas and artwork at an exclusive Private View evening, and welcoming the general public – and long-suffering family and friends – to find out what it is we’ve all been doing for the past 18 months…! We will also be compiling and producing a show catalogue, which will be despatched to publishers up and down the country in advance of the exhibition, and which will feature all-important contact details and sample artwork for each of us.

Alas, neither of these enterprises can be covered financially by the university, so the pressure is on to raise the necessary funds (somewhere in the region of £8,000 in all…) ourselves: to which end we are fundraising our little socks off! 😀 Appreciating that it may take a little more than the customary sales of cupcakes, Christmas cards and prints – although we are, of course, doing that too (diabetes and ‘scalpel-finger-RSI’ ahoy!) – we have embraced the crowd-funding phenomenon and launched our very own Kickstarter project, which rewards backers with an assortment of products (tote bags, tea towels, screen prints and the like) featuring a ‘cat and dog’-themed design to which we have all contributed original illustrations (see composite rabble of cats & dogs, cleverly marshalled into a circular formation by the very talented Margarita Surnaite, below):



You can read more about the project, our fundraising goals and see the featured artwork at our Kickstarter page, here:

With the fantastic response we have received so far – the generosity of family and friends has been truly humbling – we have managed to smash our initial fundraising goal of £2,000, for which we are incredibly grateful: Thank you, one and all!! We have just one week left on the Kickstarter timeline before the project closes to backers, but are really hopeful of raising sufficient extra funds in these last few days (if we can just inch a little closer to the £3,000 extension mark…!) to offer some additional rewards to any new and existing backers for their remarkable kindness. I’d be delighted if you could find a few minutes to take a look at what we’re working on achieving with this project – and if you feel inclined to make a pledge (of any amount) in exchange for some of these special 2014/15 MA Children’s Book Illustrators’ themed products (including some original artwork and hand-made prints) I can guarantee it will be hugely appreciated! 🙂

Ok, no more fundraising chat (for now), I promise – but thank you for reading this far!! 🙂

Right, back to the drawing desk…

AP x

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(It’s gonna be) raining cats & dogs… ;)

Just a quickie, proverbially speaking – betwixt grappling with errant seagulls and diaphanous beings for the two-pronged (currently…), final, Masters Stage of the MA Children’s Book Illustration course:

This week’s post features a cat and dog sketch, both destined to join a multitude of others, that have each been individually crafted by my fellow course-mates, and which are to be assembled into some sort of fantastic throng by our very own Joe Lyward – soon to appear on exciting, purchasable items in support of our fundraising endeavour (more details coming soon!!). If you have a minute to spare, I’d be enormously grateful if you could cast your eye/s (depending on the percentage of ‘pirate’ in your heritage…) in the direction of our Facebook and/Twitter pages on this subject to find out a little more about what we’re all up to in preparation for launching the final, triumphal (*here’s hoping*) MA Show and accompanying Exhibition Catalogue. If you’d be so kind as to perform the appropriate ‘Liking and Sharing’ activities in respect of these, our Social-Media-dwelling progeny, that would also be most welcome. Ta very much. 🙂

Ooh…and on the subject of fundraising activities, if any of y’all happen to be in the vicinity of Anglia Ruskin University next Friday, there’s going to be a seasonally-decorated trestle table (or similar, produce-bearing apparatus) veritably groaning with tempting Halloween/autumnal cake-shaped treats in the main entrance building. And, also…FACE-PAINTING!!! We’d LOVE to see you there 🙂


A small, excitable Westie. With bluebottle.

A rather furtive-looking feline (I can't decide whether he's attempting to evade the proverbial 'radar', or reaching for something delicious - and forbidden - without being rumbled...)

A rather furtive-looking feline (I can’t decide whether he’s attempting to evade the proverbial ‘radar’, or reaching for something delicious – and forbidden – without being rumbled…)

Following several weeks of drawing (problematically wingèd) birds, I rather warmed to the theme of domestic-pets, and – after what will remain an undisclosed number of hours ‘researching’ cheek-achingly hilarious and downright odd cat-based YouTube videos – I had my own little ‘nuisance’ of cats. Here’s another…:


In flight. He makes it look pretty effortless, I reckon…


The rest of the week’s pencil wieldings are still trapped in my sketchbooks  (I will get around to scanning some of the more interesting morsels of that stuff soon. Probably. Most of it is in the form of increasingly-scrappy handwritten notes attempting to construct the bones of a workable story – complete with a volte-face at roughly 3-page intervals…), but I thought I’d include a progression from those rough tessellation ideas I had lighted upon, and then pretty much abandoned a couple of weeks ago…

(Do not adjust your monitor...)

(Do not adjust your monitor…)

Alas, I think there’s a little too much of the ‘Magic Eye’ effect to this pattern as it stands. I have tried a few variations on line weight and colour in order to achieve better differentiation between the birds, but have – I think – concluded that a more successful visual arrangement might arise from replacing one of the two seagulls with a budgie/parakeet (currently the secondary character in my constantly-transmogrifying MA picturebook project…). I have yet to work up a precise version of this in order to test its tessellation potential, but as it’s constructed on pretty much exactly the same tile shape as the one above, I am hoping it will be fairly straightforward to replicate – the rough idea is to be something like this:



I have a rather terrifying amount of work to do before our next tutorial session, so that’s all for now, but it looks as though it’s going to be a pretty awesome week ahead: a studio visit from the Publisher & Art Director of Hodder on Tuesday, followed by the brilliant Yasmeen Ismail (Time for Bed, Fred and Specs for Rex) on Wednesday, tutorial with the inimitable David Hughes on Thursday and (spooky) CAAAAKE on Friday!! I hope your respective weeks-in-prospect are brimming with excellent things, and thanks for reading – I look forwards to welcoming you to this little corner of the ether again soon!

AP x.




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Back to school…

OK, a good 5 weeks after actual schools (and, ergo, Marvellous Dave…), but yes, last Thursday, 2 October, was our first day back to the graphite- and miscellaneous-other-art-media-scented studios of the Cambridge School of Art, and marked the commencement of the Masters Stage of the course under the stewardship of Prof. Martin Salisbury, et al. Waking at 5am to shovel everything, tabletop-sweep-into-bin-bag fashion, into assorted receptacles and then into the car – along with myself – to drive over to Cambridge before the M25 traffic attained its customary car-park-pace flow was perhaps not optimal preparation for a day of work-in-progress presentations/’informal group crit’, but that – mysteriously – was the approach I plumped for…

These group presentations always fill me with a sort of trembling dread: for the most part, they are a fascinating insight into my peers’ working practices, ideas and creative processes – seasoned, liberally, with Prof. Salisbury’s observations and commentary, distilled from years of experience teaching similarly-aspiring picturebook illustrators, and interjections from fellow students as we ‘think around’ the challenges that invariably arise from amidst the pages of the sketchbooks/sheaves of paper being presented (although, as the day wears on – and the greenhouse-esque banks of windows in the studio work their incendiary magic –  there is a marked decline in occurrence of such verbal offerings…). For the remainder, though, (a variable period of time, usually contingent on the lateness of the day [by 3 in the afternoon, I think we were down to about 10-12 mins…]) they are a paper-fumbling, verbally-incontinent, horribly perspiration-suffused experience in self-explication (or self-apology, depending how I’m feeling about the work I’m presenting…) that frequently stutters to a conclusion with the realisation that the idea/ideas I had previously managed to convince myself would form a solid, perhaps even innovative (ok, that never happens…) basis for a substantial creative project are, in fact, hackneyed, derivative and distinctly mediocre, and in need of immediate and entirely transformative ‘reimagining’. Back to the proverbial – and literal – drawing board… Gah!

This latest crit was no exception, and I have already pretty much jettisoned one of the project ideas I presented in favour of something I hope will be rather more congruent with the picturebook-associated/child-centric brief for this stage of the course. However, I have to admit that I am still, here in week two at least, clinging stubbornly to the seagull-based idea I have been working on over the summer – chiefly because I am really quite fond of the character and his alternately conceited and moralistic approach to the life of an avian, seaside resident. But, also, because I have now given him a budgie-shaped secondary. I thought I’d include a few more pages from my sketchbooks on this project as I try and claw my way through the morass of awkward plot turns and rendering experiments towards something like an intelligible storyboard and a convincing, empathy-inspiring character with whom I can get along over the next 6 weeks, or so…

My seagull protagonist - temporarily christened Sylvester - has successfully infiltrated the home of the budgie's octogenarian owner, and is considering the potential for tea-and-cake acquisition...

My seagull protagonist – temporarily christened Sylvester – has successfully infiltrated the home of the budgie’s octogenarian owner, and is considering the potential for tea-and-cake acquisition…

A cockatoo or, er, two...

A cockatoo or, er, two…


Birthday gull.

'90s rave gull - can't fight that house beat

’90s rave gull – can’t fight that house beat


These two were colour experiments using Inktense pencils. I’m not terribly satisfied with the end result, but I do quite like the smudgy, intense colour you get by working over the initial washed pencil marks again with the intense colour – it really seems to pick up the ‘tooth’ of the watercolour paper.

More cockatoo/budgie-type birds... The exchange between the seagull and smaller, more exotic bird at the bottom of the page IS rather cartoony (TOO cartoony, I have since decided...), but I wanted to have a go at quickly colouring up digitally (as per next image)

More cockatoo/budgie-type birds… The exchange between the seagull and smaller, more exotic bird at the bottom of the page IS rather cartoony (TOO cartoony, I have since decided…), but I wanted to have a go at quickly colouring up digitally (as per next image)

A bit on the rough-and-ready side, and the cockatoo looks rather like he might have applied an all-over feather-mask concocted from some particularly lurid budget toothpaste, but (on the plus side) I like the new digital brush...

A bit on the rough-and-ready side, and the cockatoo looks rather like he might have applied an all-over feather-mask concocted from some particularly lurid budget toothpaste, but (on the plus side) I like the new digital brush…


Mmm, chiiiiips....

Mmm, chiiiiips….

I can't remember if he's squeezing his way into or out of the budgie cage, but my hope was to show that it would not be an easy or comfortable endeavour.

I can’t remember if he’s squeezing his way into or out of the budgie cage, but my hope was to show that it would not be an easy or comfortable endeavour.


Giving ‘it’ some thought

The budgie is still very much at the development stage, but I am slowly wending my way towards a ‘look’ that feels right in terms of embodying the rather more circumspect nature of this character, and this one to the right seems like it’s the closest at the moment. The colour one below was a bit of an indulgence – worked up as the image for a lovely illustrator-friend’s birthday card, and a great excuse to draw…C-A-K-E!!!

Afternoon tea with a cockatiel, anyone...?

Afternoon tea with a cockatiel, anyone…?

I’d also been attempting to play around with the idea of tessellating seagulls, beginning with the repeating patterns of M. C. Escher – celebrated Dutch mathematician & graphic artist (aim high…) – particularly those that work in tile-based patterns, such as ‘Two Birds’ and ‘Bird & Fish’ (Adam Marelli’s blog post on Alex Webb and Escher, ‘Masters of Confusion’, is an interesting source, featuring these images), and then the less regimental and more progressive, creative deconstruction-type works such as ‘Liberation’ and ‘Day & Night’. However, it quickly became apparent that my primary-school SMP-card-based lessons on tessellation were not going to stand in me in sufficiently capable stead to tackle the realisation of this idea without some considerable practise (see heinous attempt, below – any self-respecting 7-year-old would, no doubt, be horrified at the ineptitude there displayed) – and probably a closer look at the geometric foundations of a successful tessellation… *sigh* It is a fascinating visual system, though, so I have decided against completely abandoning the idea – the work of trying to fathom a workable (i.e. tessellating) seagull-esque shape is (very ponderously…) afoot!


You’ll note the similarity with Escher’s ‘Two Birds’ pattern (you WILL…) in the pencil sketch; I thought that, if I could get a handle on that, I might be able to translate some sort of osmotically-learned tessellation skill to building my own pattern – and, having abandoned that, hoped that I might be able to use various different bird poses to fill the gaps between shapes that were blatantly NOT going to fit together in the required seamless fashion… (*coughs*)

I feel that all the above sketchbook page is missing is a “See Me!” in spidery red biro…

The following image, though, is just something that I thought might be amusing to practise my embryonic and only-partially-remembered Photoshop, er, skills that I managed to dredge together last term; again, although distinctly unpolished – nay, horribly raw in places (see the terrible grey blob of generic ‘land-mass’…) – I actually rather like this, and the idea of a flock (or ‘screech’) of almost mechanical/lobotomised-looking seagulls all flapping inexorably towards the unsuspecting ice-cream-toting crowds of beach-holiday-makers is one that I find curiously appealing… 😉



In other news… The fabulous House of Illustration at King’s Cross, London, is to exhibit work by Paula Rego and Honoré Daumier (whose wonderfully atmospheric, theatrical lithographs I revelled in exploring as part of my dissertation last semester) in an upcoming exhibition entitled ‘Scandal, Gossip and Other Stories’, due to run from 14 November 2014. I absolutely love Daumier’s often rather grotesque – and almost always unflattering – caricatures, and am intrigued to see how the works selected will ‘speak’ to Paula Rego’s own dramatic and satirical pieces in this space: I CANNOT WAIT!!! 😀

Meanwhile, I bid ye a mellow and fruitful autumn weekend – or some such other seasonally-appropriate greeting – and hope to ‘see’ you here again soon-ish! 🙂


AP x


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Flock of seagulls (no, not THAT one – I’m FAR too young… *cough*)

So, to call this a, er, “weekly” blog would be something of an ENORMOUS LIE. Ah, sorry about that… A rather event-stuffed summer has segued a little awkwardly (i.e. with a few disastrously unproductive, navel-contemplating days and a number of other miscellaneous unscheduled excursions/emergency relay races […!]/administrative disruptions) into the – now terrifyingly brief – build up to the recommencement of the MA course. Here, on the cusp of returning to Cambridge – albeit in fleeting, weekly (not a lie) morsels – I had, delusionally, pictured myself primed with a whole clutch of promising story ideas and associated preparatory sketches, together with a smattering of character design sheets, a few sheaves of potential storyboards and perhaps the odd piece of trial artwork. Ha! Obviously, being the colossally indecisive individual that I am, this scenario bears no resemblance to the one I find myself in on this slightly drear and oppressive late-September afternoon…

After desultorily sketching around an assortment of potential creatures I might bend to my picturebook-making will (including – but, alas, not limited to – hippopotami [or ‘potomuses…?], chimpanzees, raccoons [abandoned the second I came across Marta Altes’ latest, glorious picturebook, My New Home], chinchillas, penguins, geese and swans), I settled upon the much-maligned seagull. For now. (I forecast a last-minute lurch off-piste in pursuit of a hitherto untried [and, doubtless, for myriad very good reasons] species of picture-book protagonist that will transpire to be patently unsuited to its pivotal function – a decision that I will bitterly regret, but one that I will stubbornly cleave to over the subsequent 4 months before succumbing to some sort of hideous sauvignon-and-Battenburg-fuelled meltdown mere days before the Final Show. Oh yes, I am, regrettably, all-too-familiar with this particular lump of grey matter’s M.O. …)

So, herewith, a smattering of pages from my sketchbook, together with a cheeky little brushpen-and-graphite sketch from earlier in the summer (that – apologies – some of you may have come across before if you’ve beaten the considerable odds and chanced across one of my picture-shaped tweets over on the Twittersphere):

The notion that seagulls will eat anything - and have a particular penchant for junk food - is an erroneous one. Some are, in fact, rather discerning...

The notion that seagulls will eat anything – and have a particular penchant for junk food – is an erroneous one. Some are, in fact, rather discerning…

Ice-cream, though, is ALWAYS fair game

Ice-cream, though, is ALWAYS fair game

...And the stereotype definitely originated with some grain of truth...

…And the stereotype definitely originated with some grain of truth… (please excuse the rather wonky litter bin…)




He's coming for you...

Caution: Thieves operate in this area. (You HAVE been warned…)

Aside: if anyone reading is unfamiliar with the eponymous (A) Flock of Seagulls, you can discover the glorious coiffure-serie and synthy audio you have been missing (yes, I can sense how achingly incomplete you now feel your life is from all the way over here…) via the wondrous YouTube, or use this as an entirely valid reason to (re-)watch The Wedding Singer [1998] (look out for the chap at the flight check-in desk. Mighty hair.)

Well, ‘better crack on… I have A LOT of procrastinating and vacillation to squeeze into this next week! 😉

Wishing you all a delightfully aerial-meance-free weekend and perhaps I will manage to muster up another post soon/before Christmas…

AP x

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