Archive for the 'Illustration' Category



Visual Diary #7

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog with the latest scribblings from my visual diary. My creative work is more focussed on novel writing at the moment (more on that soon), as well as another project that you will see below. Even so, images are always forming in my mind and sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can grab a sliver of time to trap them on the page…

A little voodoo doll who has been following me around for a while, and whose story I hope to make into a graphic novel one day:

The way I felt when amongst the crowds of the Woodford Folk Festival this year:

Not exactly a visual diary page, but another creative project I’ve been working on. The latest stop motion trial I have done for my Brave Squish Rabbit book trailer:

For now I’m packing my creative tools (visual diary, iPad, notes) into a suitcase and heading off to Darwin for this year’s WordStorm. I’ll be doing a number of school visits, as well as a reading in the kids’ program and doing a full day workshop (for adults) all about making picture books. You can check out the program here – if you’re in the area I hope to see you there! Wish me luck avoiding the crocs…

The New Yorker

Squish Rabbit has now been out hopping around bookstores for four months in the US and three months in Aus. He’s certainly an active little rabbit who appears to be less shy than I first thought. Most recently he’s popped up in none other than The New Yorker, who have called him ‘whimsical’ and ‘charming':

Battersby’s illustrations mix whimsical line drawings with touches of colour from fabric and paper collages

Squish appears in the December 5th issue, which is out on shelves now.

Squish and I have also visited a few other writerly-type-places recently. Reading Time, the gorgeous journal for the Children’s Book Council of Australia, recently published an article about my writing and illustrating process. They also did a lovely review of Squish Rabbit, saying:

The depth of the story is in the rabbit’s emotions which come through the pictures. Squish is drawn simply with a black outline, but has plenty of personality showing through the shape of his body, ears and eyebrows … Just right for 2-5 years olds, and anyone who has ever felt lonely or small.

Buzz Words (the e-zine for writers, illustrators, publicists and anyone involved with children’s books) also did a delightful review of Squish, saying:

This adorable children’s tale is not just a picture book with cute characters. Squish Rabbit’s simple wisdom will withstand the test of time … A perfect pre-kinder introduction to making friends.

Finally Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog all about the world of writing and illustrating for young people, interviewed me about what it is like to be a new picture book author / illustrator. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say about where Squish Rabbit began:

Looking back on my childhood, Squish Rabbit certainly captures my emotional truths. I recall vividly what it was like to feel small in a big world …  I remember having important things to say, in a world where big people get listened to first. I recall having questions and thoughts and ideas bubbling up inside of me, and yet having no clue how to say any of it. This is ultimately why I started writing and drawing – to express all those things I had trouble voicing.

Now I’d best get off the black-hole-of-productivity that is the internet, as I have a very important date with my little rabbit. We’re still on deadline with his second adventure. The fateful date is creeping ever closer, and we still have a few scenes to complete…

Wish me luck!

Squish Loves Boxes

I have to begin this post with a confession. It’s something I’m sure all writers do, but we rarely speak about it. Yes. Well. I suppose I better get to the point? So … the other day I was googling my name …(ahem)… and came across an amazing children’s bookstore in Cincinnati, called Blue Manatee. The reason they came up in my search is because a few weeks back they hosted a Squish Rabbit craft day, where kids were invited to make collage pictures from the book. How cool is that? Even now one of my favourite things to do is get messy (and creative) with paper and glue, so it was a thrill seeing my book being used to encourage this.

I contacted the bookstore to thank them, and it turns out the kids are not the only ones getting creative in store. This bookstore is soon launching something called ‘Blue Manatee Boxes‘ – a fun new way of buying books, which is described on their website:

The mission of blue manatee boxes™ is to provide unique gift boxes for babies and young children featuring books and materials that promote reading, creative play, and parent-child engagement, in a fun, affordable, sustainable, and developmentally-sound manner.

Through this you can order special packs of pre-chosen books (grouped by theme and interest) or choose your own favourites. However what’s unique about this initiative is that kids are encouraged to reuse the packaging the books are sent in. Suggestions are provided for creative ways to reuse the box in play and even the styrofoam cushioning isn’t wasted. Many children’s illustrators have joined in on the fun, sending in illustrated examples of how their characters would use boxes (which are featured on the website). John, the lovely owner of the bookstore, wrote to ask if I would participate. And as both Squish and I are long time lovers of boxes and silliness, I couldn’t say no…

They feature Squish and I on their website, but you can also click on the image above to see a bigger version.

Happy Squishy Day!

It’s finally here. It feels wonderful and surreal and a whole mix of different things. It all began back in 2006 with the first spark of an idea. It’s come such a long way since those first baby rabbit steps. Today it’s emerging from it’s burrow, all grown up and ready to enter the world. And with a hop, skip and a jump…

Squish Rabbit is finally in bookstores.

Only in the US so far, but it will also be available here in Australia by the end of the month. I’ve been spoiled with some lovely reviews so far.  Kirkus Reviews says:

Battersby’s expert, ample distribution of white space provides room on each page for readers to luxuriate in her impressive, evocative ink, watercolor and collage illustrations — and to absorb a small rabbit’s feelings. Minimal, moving and adorable, little Squish makes a big impression.

Publisher Weekly also had some encouraging things to say, as did a lovely mummy blogger over at Baby Centre.

I’ve been busy organising the Brisbane book launch (Saturday 3rd September) with my wonderful Aussie publishers, UQP, and the amazing indie bookstore, Black Cat Books.  All are welcome – kids and adults and anyone willing to go back down the rabbit hole. I’d love your company if you can make it. I’ll have the official invite up soon, and have a facebook page all about the launch that you can check out too.

Now this little cotton tailed writer is off for a day of celebrations … welcome into the world Squish!

Voices on the Coast Part 2

This was my first year at Voices on the Coast, where I ran several different kinds of workshops with both primary and secondary students. My favourite part of these kind of events is meeting the kids and teens, as they’re funny and inspiring and so much more clever than I was at their age. Here are some of the drawings we did together in the primary school workshops…

Squishy Speech Bubbles

In this session I talked about how I tell my stories visually. We discussed emotion, body language, facial expression and a visual storytelling method I use in Squish Rabbit: pictorial speech bubbles. In this activity I had the kids brainstorm what picture we could draw in the speech bubble to let a reader know that Squish is hungry. There were some great creative suggestions, including tacos, sushi, pancakes and guacamole. We also discussed what each food would tell us about the kind of rabbit Squish is (ie. sushi might tell us he is Japanese, or well travelled, or is quite adventurous for a small rabbit).

We then chose one food to draw together – in the above class we chose a burger and the kids suggested all kinds of things to fill it with (clearly, we had to sneak in a carrot). We then worked on making it look extra tasty so the reader would really empathise with Squish and feel his hunger – notice the smell wafting, the sesame seeds and the big bite mark.

Making Monsters

In this session I talked all about characterisation – how I create my characters, the research involved and the drawing process. I used the example of a picture book of mine called ‘Monster Music’, where I had to create a whole horde of little monsters. In coming up with the characters, I actually drew about 100 different monsters before deciding on which ones to use in the book. In order to make sure they all looked like they belonged together and ensure they weren’t too scary (the story is more playful) I ended up basing each character on an animal and then adapting it. After demonstrating this I got the class to choose an animal to base our monster on.

The above class chose a bird, so together we brainstormed a couple of features unique to birds in which we’d keep – you can see they chose a beak, wings, feathers and claws. Next comes my favourite bit – we worked together to monster-ify our bird. The kids came up with all sorts of crazy ideas to make sure our character was really monster-like (the girls often want to keep their monsters cute, but the boys are quick to add fangs and blood). And did anyone notice the bunny ears on my monster? It actually wasn’t my idea!

The kids were a blast, and I wish I could show you all the zany foods and monsters they created. Or maybe instead I’ll just borrow some of their clever ideas for my next book… mwa ha ha <evil artist laugh>.

Visual Diary #6

The best thing about making the visual diary while I was travelling the US was that it re-kickstarted my daily doodling habit. It reminded me how much I enjoy drawing just for fun, rather than only when I have a project to do or a book to finish. So I’ve made sure to keep the ritual going now that I’m back. I’ve started a new part of the diary, where I’ve continued to collect images about life, people and silliness. Below are the first few drawings…

My diary mascot asserting himself:

.

Doodling wigs for David after a gig one night:

.

After seeing a soldier in the Queen Street Mall handing out red balloons:

.

Inspired by the strange road signs along the highways of Broken Hill:

Squish Rabbit – First Copy

I love mail. Nearly everything is digital now-a-days, especially when it comes to correspondence, so more than ever it’s exciting to get mail with sticky tape and handwriting and creases and stamps. Just a few days ago I had a particularly exciting package arrive. My first copy of Squish Rabbit (the US version) came in a crisp white envelope, all the way from New York. It even had a handwritten note from my editor with it.

I was out with my partner when it arrived, so we had an emergency celebratory coffee just to mark the occasion. As you can imagine, there’s been much excitement at my house. Even my special little pup Frank has been caught up in the thrill of it all. I’m so proud of this book, and so grateful to everyone that has helped it to become all it is. Squish has been with me for a long time, so I’m thrilled to finally have his story in hardcopy.

For the first few days after it arrived I could be seen gripping the book, repeating the words ‘It’s a book! Look, it’s a real book!’ to anyone who would listen. But it’s slowly becoming more real to me that it will be in bookstores in just a few short months…


About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:

Available:

Author Talks

Speakers Ink
Creative Net

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers