Friday, 3 July 2015

Diggers!

I just realised it's been almost a month since my last post. I have an excuse. I've been super busy moving out of my cottage and doing someimportant ELECTRIGIRL stuff. The cottage sale negotiations are STILL ongoing (so I won't go there) but here, at 'the site', the first real work is about to begin.
Look! The digger has arrived!
They start work early tomorrow morning so I've been measuring the plot and painting new white guide lines on the grass. 

All the soil will be redistributed around the garden so we are all preparing ourselves for no lawn and lots of mud and dust for the rest of the year.
Poor Dad is upset about the loss of his lawn. What WILL he do with his weekends from now on?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Retrospective


Moving to a new studio (eventually!) has made me look back on all the projects I have completed at Abinger Cottage. My first published books and many illustration commissions were created in my tiny second bedroom or on my renovated gate leg dining room table (that I'm about to put on eBay!).
It will be hard to leave the house where my characters were born; where Ember Fury's conversations with her invisible friend in a WW2 bomb shelter made me giggle 'til my sides ached; where I punched the air when Verity Fibbs escaped from two miserable goth assassins by driving over the Millenium Bridge; where Esther Armstrong and her brothers broke my heart and made me cry for hours. 
More recently, that (solid oak, great condition and yours for 99p) dining room table was where Jo Cotterill and I worked out some of our early ideas for ELECTRIGIRL, our exciting new collaboration (published Feb and Aug 2016 by OUP).
All this nostalgia deserves a retrospective, so here are the last 12 years in pictures...
...Ember, Ned and Finn set out on their 'adventure' (EMBER FURY, Headline 2009)...

...JP, Rip, Psycho and Taz about to get a serious fright (SCARLETT DEDD, Headline 2010)...

...JP and psycho making horror movies...

...My first three girls (with HEADLINE), Em, Scar and Vee...

...doing festivals (meeting Sarah McIntyre and many other author pals at Hay)...

...Northumberland National Park 2013...

...Esther making me cry (EVERYTHING IS FINE AND OTHER LIES I TELL MYSELF, Headline 2013)...

...and surfers in peril...

...Joe and his dangerous sketchbook (GRAPHIC, Barrington Stoke 2014)...

...Illustrating for some of my fave author friends like Karen McCombie (Barrington Stoke 2014)...

...twice (HONEY AND ME, Barrington Stoke 2015)...

...Michaela Morgan x4 (STAR SCHOOL, Edition Didier)...

...Melvin Burgess (PERSIST, Barrington Stoke 2015)...

...and my brilliant ELECTRIGIRL co-creator, Jo Cotterill.

More tomorrow...










Monday, 11 May 2015

The story so far...

Hedge planted...
Shed painted...
'Stumpery' filled with hostas and ferns...
New fence built...

Phew, no wonder I'm sleeping well!





Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Packing

I've been packing my life into cardboard boxes ready for the move.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Day Out

I know I said I wouldn't be posting about school visits for a while but I had a day off yesterday at a local school and it was so much fun I wanted to share.
Here's the cake some clever person baked for the grand opening of their library. Isn't it awesome?!
Danes Hill School have a brand new library and they invited me to be artist and writer in residence for a day to celebrate. During the course of that day I met every pupil in years 2 to 6! Hundreds of them! And they were all really impressed with their beautiful new library and super enthusiastic about reading all the book on its shelves. Hurrah!
I had made a mural for the wall leaving space for the children to add their own characters and book designs to it. The younger groups made Pocket Bockett bookmarks which shall no doubt be popping up in books all around the school.
This is a Bockett.
I enjoyed the day so much. It was exhausting but just what I needed.
I set my usual Live Drawing Challenge too. Here are two of the results, a golfing dog with wings and a moustache and a purple punk penguin.
Back to building the studio tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Building my house... 1:25 scale

This morning I had some boring site preparation admin to complete. I really didn't feel in the mood to do it but simply had to. So I decided to reward myself by spending the rest of the day constructing a model of the studio out of foam board.
I LOVE making models. Before I studied fashion I was always going to be a theatre designer. I'd done work experience in a theatre when I was sixteen and got to be a goffer backstage and in the rehearsal studio (later I returned to that theatre as assistant scenic artist). In my first week of work experience I became obsessed with the set designer's office which was full of models from past productions. They were gorgeous! So it was decided. I definitely wanted to be a set designer! Definitely!
The second week I was sent upstairs to the costume department and everything changed. I switched my obsession to clothes that week but I never forgot those models.
I've made models of 'dream houses' before but this is the first time the dream will be realised. Once it's finished I'll be able to look through those 1:25 scale windows and imagine myself in the space. It's so much better than flat drawings or even the 'walk through' video made by my contractor. I hope it will be just like gazing into those gorgeous models in the theatre designers office.
The studio with the office wall missing. I'm just making that...
Right to left. Lobby wall and door to entrance, kitchen with low window, bedroom and through to shower room at the back. That tiny window above will be a sleeping platform for visitors. Any takers?

Monday, 20 April 2015

Day... erm, I'm so tired I've lost track!

I've worked awfully hard since my last post. I turned this...
...into this...
... a shady nook full of ferns and hostas. 
And I've planted a 15m hedge!!
It's a mixed hedge of Hawthorn, Blackthorn and Hornbeam which will look lovely once it's grown a bit. The ground was so hard and compacted and full of stones and roots that I thought I might need to hire a digger but I cleared the whole plot, dug in compost and then holes for 21 plants! Phew!
I am exhausted at the end of every day at the moment, but I have to say it's 'good' exhaustion. I've discovered the perfect antidote to desk bound mental stress is open air physical work. Unfortunately, building a house isn't all physical work. Tomorrow it's back to getting quotes, form filling and talking to utility companies. Boring but must be done. No doubt I shall reward myself later with a few more hours of 'good' exhausting digging.