Posts Tagged 'Illustration'

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…

Melbourne Squish Rabbit Launch (in photos)

I love my sunny hometown of Brisbane. But because the grass is always greener, when asked what my favourite Aussie town is I’ve always answered Melbourne. I love the pastel colours of the city, the old-London architecture, the hum and crackle of tram wires, and the graffitied alleyways with their hole-in-the wall coffee and soup joints. Also the Haigh’s stores (dark choc-pepermint frogs are an old favourite indulgence). I’m always looking for an excuse to pop down south, so it’s no surprise that I jumped at the chance to launch Squish Rabbit in Melbourne-town.

On November 5th a bunch of wee bunnies and readers gathered at The Little Bookroom to help me do just that. The lovely store owner, Leesa, did a beautiful job of decorating the store in true Squish style (plenty of carrots, apples and red balloons) and the delightful Wendy Orr launched my book. Musical maestro Richard did an amazing job of accompanying me on keyboard with his original music while I did a book reading. There was also a craft table with Squishy scribblings happening throughout the talks, I did an illustration demonstration and there were lots of delicious nibbles. Such a fun day. If you couldn’t make it but would like to get your paws on a signed copy, there are plenty in both of The Little Bookroom stores, as well as Dymocks (city), Readings (Carlton) and Brunswick Street Bookstore (Fitzroy).

At the launch with some peonies given to me by the lovely Neridah McMullin

As much as I enjoyed my time away I was really glad to get home. Not surprising considering my partner and I worked out on the plane back to Brisbane that in 8 months we have done 15 work related trips away – including New York, Sydney, Townsville, Toowoomba, Mackay, Broken Hill, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Luckily we now have a few months at home (mostly), that is until the work starts up again in the new year…

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of photos from the launch day. Thanks to all those who hopped by!

The Little Bookroom, Carlton North

Colouring table

Little bunnies clutching crayons and carrots

Leesa making enthusiastic hand gestures

Wendy saying nice things

Bunny book reading

Awesome spec-fic writer, Bren, caught herself a rabbit

Signing and posing

So many rabbits (they do have a habbit of multiplying)

You can also read about the day and see more photos over at My Little Bookcase and at Claire Saxby’s blog.

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:

Visual Diary #5

A beautiful New York Valentine’s Day – a Vietnamese feast, chocolate and karaoke in K-town:

.

Chinese New Year – Happy year of the rabbit!

.

Sadly, the end of my US diary and the end of my travels:

.

This is the final instalment of my US diary posts. I have, however, continued the practise of regular scribbles in my visual diary … so I’ll post up images from it occasionally. Apart from that, next post we’ll be back to regular scheduling :)

Visual Diary #4

How I felt wandering around the Museum of Modern Art (on my own):

Image inspired by an almost completely unrelated sculpture at the MoMA:

A Chelsea vacuum cleaner store, which randomly had a bronze statue of a kid playing a sax in the window:

Storylines Exhibition

Squish Rabbit might be a little shy, but he can occasionally be drawn out into the spotlight. He was just days ago when he made his debut in a local exhibition called Storylines 2, which is being held at Gallery M (Adelaide) until the 29th of this month. The exhibition has been described as:

An exhibition of original artwork exploring the illustration process from concept sketches through to the final publication of children’s picture books

Hop on over if you’d like to see some fabulous art from illustrators such as Sally Heinrich, Claire Richards and Amanda Graham as well as a special installation by Marianne Musgrove and some of Janeen Brian‘s playful poetry.

Squish Rabbit and me

Claire Richards with her gorgeous art and books (she was also the creative force behind the exhibition)

Janeen Brian and Claire Richards being silly over one of Janeen's poems

Competition Time!

This July I’ve been invited back to the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, which is held in tropical Mackay (north Queensland), my old home town. I’ll be doing a series of book talks and illustration workshops, along with a number of other wonderful authors and illustrators. I had such a fabulous time at last year’s festival and am thrilled I’ll get to be involved again.

Unfortunately Squish Rabbit will not quite be published in time for the festival, so instead I’ve created a series of postcards and bookmarks featuring my characters. They’ll be for sale through the festival bookshop.

COMPETITION: For your chance to win a signed copy of one of my postcards and bookmarks just leave a comment on this post, telling me which ones you’d choose if you won. Once I return from the festival (21st July) I’ll draw a winner out of a hat and announce it in the comment thread. Make sure I have some way of contacting you in case you win!

22/07/10 UPDATE: Thanks for all who entered and said such lovely, supportive things. I decided to draw three winners, and they are – Lynne the Lurker, Meg McKinlay and Susan Bonaci. I drew the winning names using an online random number generator (I wrote a few names out on pieces of paper, wanting to stay true to my above promise to draw the names from a hat, before giving up – clearly I’m too impatient). In a strange twist of fate, each person chose a different character. I’ll contact you each individually to find out where to send your prize…

Power of Suggestion

I finished editing a story the other day. It’s an early reader I first wrote a few years ago and it’s been through many drafts and rewrites. Settings have changed. Characters have been edited out. Darlings have been murdered. I sent it off to my agent and planned to put it out of my head until I heard her thoughts. I was going to be incredibly sensible about it all. ‘I’m not going to draw the characters,’ I told myself. ‘I’ll wait and see if there’s any interest in it first’.

Along comes my writing partner. ‘Have you started illustrating it yet?’ she says. I told her no (loudly), and repeated that I was being horribly sensible about it all. But my characters heard her. After that simple question, the mere suggestion of illustrating, they wouldn’t leave me alone. Talk about a riot. They pestered me until I had to draw them just to get them out of my head. And who would have thought, after I got over the self-doubt this illustration project stirred up (see my last post) I actually had some fun too.

Who needs ‘sensible’ anyway? And if the story doesn’t go anywhere, I’m still practicing and developing my style and getting more confident with each pen stroke. You’ll find some of the riot below…

The Illustrator who can’t Illustrate

Care to join me while I wallow? The word of the day is Self-Doubt, that wily fog-like creature that creeps in to disrupt all creators’ work. If anyone has a deterrent spray, please let me know…
I’m not sure why, but I’ve never felt particularly confident as an illustrator. There’s something about the process that brings out all my insecurities. Something about putting my work out there that still makes me feel like that ten-year-old who was terrified to show anyone her drawings for fear of rejection. I’m comfortable enough to call myself a writer, but when it comes to the label ‘illustrator’ I’m not always certain I deserve it.
Sound a bit silly for someone who has a picture book coming out next year? Yeah, I know.
It seems to be a cycle I go through. It’s usually triggered when I see other people’s art, especially those who work in different styles to me. I start to worry that I should be able to draw like Shaun Tan or Anne Spudvilas or Aaron Pocock. That unless I can create beautiful, emotional, realistic characters like they do, I’m not a real illustrator. That my own silly, cartoon-like figures just can’t stand up next to their creations. Then I start to worry I’ll be found out to be the fraud that I am – the illustrator who can’t illustrate.
But then the cycle comes around and I realise that I enjoy my own brand of illustrating. That it’s ok to work to my strengths – everyone does. That it’s unreasonable to expect that I could work in every style or that I could illustrate any type of story. Reflecting on this, I now have a song called ‘Clockwork’ stuck in my head, which features a great sample from the ‘Windmills of my Mind’ song. So I’m back at my drawing desk, scribbling and inking in my own silly style, singing:
Life is but a cycle
Round, like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending, nor beginning
On an ever spinning reel
Does anyone else get caught up in a negative spiral?

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