This is an example of an illustration from ‘Shoe Zoo’, my first book in the ‘Tales by Torchlight’ series. Some of the illustrations are purely watercolour and others are a mixture of pencil drawings, watercolour, collage and sometimes acrylics.
Very occasionally, I use photographic elements to show real objects that Evangelina has stuck in her sketchbooks and, in the first book, I used photos of some of the animals to show the odd lop-sided photographs the children sometimes take! In ‘Shoe Zoo’ I also painted illustrations of the animals, combing children’s drawings with watercolour painting. When I create these type of images, I think really carefully about the shapes of the drawings and of the real objects ‘behind’, and the way they interact visually. I enjoy painting these illustrations so much as the results are unpredictable – I don’t plan them, I just let them evolve. Children enjoy them as well, and seem to really appreciate seeing art with children’s work in it.
Giving talks in schools, I have been really pleased with the immediate, joyful feedback I have received from the children! Some adults, however, find this layering effect slightly unnerving, especially with the faces. In art exhibitions, I have talked to people about how I create these picture and the feed back is generally – ‘I thought that was a photograph behind’, ‘I think they’re a bit strange’ or ‘I really love them!’ There seems to be no middle ground!
The idea behind the series is our enjoyment of the simple things in life and I personally take pleasure in the simplicity of the interaction that ‘iBooks Author’ provides. In my books, there aren’t a lot of sophisticated changes but I believe that the ideas behind the illustrations are strong. In the media, I think there is far too much ‘glitz’ and unnecessary distraction for children, and not enough real substance.
And on the theme of diminishing concentration levels, I have just come back from the Olympics with my three children. We watched two hockey matches and had a great time, all bar my youngest who was crying with boredom by the end. For the last 20 minutes I was playing naughts and crosses, tickling her feet, watching and cheering, all at the same time!
But my youngest came back to Bristol a very happy girl. She found a top quality plastic dog’s poo from Covent Garden that cheered her up no end – it’s the simple things…