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Book illustration at Chelsea College

Today is my first Saturday since I finished the book illustration course at Chelsea and I’m missing it!


imageIt was a fabulous 6 weeks which I feel got some really good work out of me. We were given some briefs to help us create a story and then worked our story up to a dummy book and some finished artwork.

CollectingimageI already had a story and so developed that alongside one of the briefs which was on a day in my life (basically endless school runs, and feeding children…)

imageEach week started with a show and tell imagecrit session as a group, then we worked independently whilst Carolyn Dinan came round and gave us individual advice.

imageThe third week featured a talk from Zehra Hicks who once did the course, imagethen went on to get a highly commended in the Macmillan book prize and is now working on her fourth picture book!

imageI didn’t realise until a week before the submission date that the course imagemade me eligible to enter the Macmillan prize, so I then spent a mad week developing my tiger story to enter. I didn’t get anywhere in the contest, but it was a really great experience to produce a full dummy book and imageimagefinished art work. I now have something to work on, I know many ways I can improve it now.
If you are considering doing the Chelsea course then I’d definitely recommend doing the version that is run over six imageimageSaturday’s, you can do the whole thing in a week but I think it would be really hard to make the most of it in a week, you really need the time in between to develop your stories and drawings.

I’m now looking imageGetting dressedforward to my week in Cambridge at the Anglia Ruskin summer school!


When I’ve not been drawing I’ve been…

…painting stacks of 1950s posters for a show called ‘Play Mas’ at Orange Tree Theatre.

…planning lots of messy craft activities for the group I’m going to be running each Monday morning after Easter.

…meeting with the director of the all male ‘Pirates of Penzance’ that I designed which is going on a UK tour after Easter. (It’s going to Cambridge Arts Theatre which is where I had my first ever theatre job – selling ice creams – and where I met my husband!)

…designing an illustration for the Pirates programme, and making props including a pirate’s map and a crows nest.

…answering questions from pupils at an infant school as part of their arts week (including ‘are you famous?’ and ‘do you copy your pictures from the computer?!?!)

…designing a papercut commemorating a lovely long marriage and a portrait of a building commemorating a lovely long career.

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Turning myself into an illustrator – part two.

So I’ve been drawing, I’ve drawn my children, my husband, my neighbour’s cats, furniture, plants, unsuspecting members of the public… I’ve filled two sketchbooks since January and I’m loving it.
A few story ideas have emerged which I’ve very tentatively started to storyboard and develop characters for. I’ve also developed a love of comic strips and have started to express the frustrations of my days through them!
I’m hoping things are about to step up a notch though because I’ve enrolled on some courses. After Easter I will spend six Saturdays at Chelsea School of Art studying children’s book illustration, then in July I’m going to spend a week at Cambridge Art School’s children’s book illustration summer school.
I’ve wanted to do the Chelsea course for a couple of years, and am itching to get started. The one in Cambridge is even more exciting though, it’s like a taster for their highly regarded MA course, has some brilliant lecturers and the opportunity to hob nob with some industry types on the final day.
One day I’d love to do the MA, but for now the prospect of spending a whole week there focussing on my illustration and getting feedback on my work is just thrilling.
The aim of both courses is to produce a dummy picture book-something to send out to publishers and agents to demonstrate your ideas, so hopefully, come September I’ll have at least two book dummies to send out.
I should also have a reasonable portfolio of work by then to apply for the MA, and then who knows…

Turning myself into an Illustrator

So here we are, 2015. I’ve still got many things on my to do list from the beginning of 2014. Some things are still there from 2013. I should give up and delete them but they give me a strange sense of security…

My overarching plan for this year though is to start taking drawing really seriously. To try and start walking single mindedly down the path to becoming an illustrator.

It took me a very long time to be brave enough to show my drawings to the world, I talked about that here. But now I’ve done a couple of exhibitions, sold some prints, turned my images into cushions and mugs and badges and cards and kits (available here!) and that’s been great, I’m really proud of the little range I’ve created. But I really want to illustrate children’s books and if I’m going to make that happen I’m going to have to focus on it.

dad and daughter


So this year there probably won’t be more kits and cushions (there may be prints and cards though) because when I’m not working on commissions and theatre designing I’m going to be drawing.

To start with I’m just going to draw whatever is in front of me, from life. From all that drawing maybe a story will eventually emerge. These are some of the drawings I’ve done so far, all super quick scribbles because no one sits still for long here. I’m really enjoying scribbling away and seeing what happens.



My Illustrated Journal Week Five.

journal 12

My Illustrated Journal Week Four.

journal 11

My Illustrated Journal Week Three.

holiday journal 10

My Illustrated Journal Week Two.

holiday journal 9

My Illustrated Journal Week One.

I’ve been inspired by the brilliant Jennie Maizels to create an illustrated holiday journal, I’ve loved doing it and am going to try and keep it going once a week. So hopefully this is week one of many!

holiday journal 1&2 holiday journal 3&4 holiday journal 5&6 holiday journal 7&8


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