A friend of mine is a writer and every Thursday we get together with another writer, to basically, well, write. This was how my first book Pink Camels and Floating Grannies came about. This interaction also exposed a little something called ‘Prompts’ to me. I knew about prompts already, as I follow the #DailySketch and #FridayIllustration on Twitter. There was something a little more special, however, when someone pulls out a container and slips a little piece of paper that has a word, a sentence, a phrase written on. That little piece of paper was something you pulled out, just for you. It was what your body had chosen, your fingers had sussed out from the container.
I experienced this again, a few weeks ago at the Bodhi Khaya Retreat, where Michelle did a writing workshop. She brought her prompt jar for writing along and it was passed around the table, like sweets or treasures. I realised that the art world was greatly missing out with our short-changed twitter version. I also wanted a special jar with words just for me to draw. I wanted to whisper out a piece of sketching inspiration for a warm-up illustration before the day started.
Last week I attended Paint and Sip – an event based in town, where you ‘uncork your creavitiy’ with a local artist, raise money for an NPO, and get a meal (including glass of wine) thrown in. Sounds amazing right?
In fact, it sounded very similar to my Creative Workshop, except for the wine part (and I serve cake, not supper and there is no charity). So I thought it would be a good idea to go and see what they were doing to maybe get inspired for my own workshops, maybe do something like this next year with my ‘creatives’ attendees. I am sure they wouldn’t complain if I replaced their tea with a glass of wine.
My blue-haired friend Tessa came with me to the event. She was a fantastic distraction for all that sat near us, so I could assess everything secretly. The artist that was to be starring at this month’s Paint and Sip was local artist Laura Wenman, who I must say was a delight. She was filled with humour, joy and I just loved her.
The venue on the other hand, I didn’t love so much. Before I tell you all about the good things, I think it best we get the ‘pink elephant’ out the room (why must the elephant always be white?) and tell you that the venue was actually terrible. You enter this weird space that is sort of a bar, but a craft market, with a hotel reception desk. Weird, right? Welcome to 91 Loop street. Read more
Ever since I can remember, I have been drawing this patterns. I draw them in the corner of notebooks, on bits of paper and recently, being creating art with them. I incorporate them often in Creative Workshops, encouraging people to find the therapy in simple lines, shapes and patterns.
Then came the internet. When I Googled “Doodle” I discovered a whole world of lines that didn’t look like mine. People seem to be doodling strange monsters, words like ‘Zoom’ and ‘Wow’ and repeating endless panda’s everywhere. It seemed my ‘doodles’ weren’t doodles. Read more
I was honoured to be invited by one of my authors, Julia Richman, to join in. Julia and I have done several readings together of her delightful story The Bacon Chase, and so it felt like family as I arrived at the the first school, Bridge House, with Julia and her characters, Kayta Cat, Freddie the Seagull, Auntie Bea, Princess Flowers and Chubbs (the chubby hotel cat).
Julia started reading to the grade one class, as I whipped out my Sharpie pen and started illustrating Katya, Auntie Bea and Chubbs on paper for them.
The children were giving opportunity to ask questions and I was overwhelmed with, not only the deep profound perspective of the questions, but also the detail. They had really absorbed every little bit of what Julia had read.
“But why does Chubbs steal?” they asked, and “How did Katya get her magical tail?” Read more
Celeste: Hi John! Thank so much for chatting with us today! I just love your Beasty Pirates book and I am so excited I can pick your brain for a bit. First of all, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
John: Hi Celeste, So glad you like the Beastly Pirates, especially as there’s another one coming this summer. It’s called ‘Munch, Crunch, Pirate Lunch!’ And tells the tale of Heartless Bart, the pirate leader, who is exceptionally annoyed that the Beastly Pirates have eaten all of his pirates and sets out on a dastardly plan of revenge.
Well, I’ve worked in publishing, firstly as a designer, since 1990. Most of that was in children’s reference non-fiction. I found out very quickly that as I was a designer who could draw I naturally gravitated towards doing books about explaining things. My niche was deconstructing technology, buildings, animals, maps, and films. I’ve always been interested in taking things apart and putting them back together again to show how they worked.
But I’ve also worked in licensing, doing books about Star Wars and Pixar for a company called Dorling Kindersley.
So I spent a big chunk of my career drawing things for other people to then illustrate. I never considered my own drawings to be artwork or illustration as such. They were always just the ‘blueprints’ for a ‘proper’ illustrator to come in and finish off properly.
Over the years I did illustrate some books, but in the early 2000’s (long story) I ended up getting involved in children’s fiction. The rest, they say, is history. Read more
Author, Julia Richman, and I did a reading last weekend at The Deer Little Market, for Katya Cat: The Bacon Chase
There was a certain familiarity when I walked into Deer Park, with a board under my arm, an envelope with colouring-in characters, a sharpie pen, some pastels and what I call my ‘cheat note’ illustrations. After we had located a take-away coffee stall, we started wandering down, following signs saying ‘reading for kids here.’ Under a large pine-tree, we found some blankets that had been rolled out in anticipation of our arrival. I whats-app’d Julia Richman, the author of Katya Cat – The Bacon Chase, to find out where she was. Read more
Sam van Riet is a South African illustrator, with 20 years of experience. She chats to us about how things have changed since she started, and her latest projects.
Celeste: Hi Sam, and welcome to the blog. Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. I thought it would be nice to have a local (South African) artist interview on my blog. First of all, can you just tell us a little about yourself and your experience?
Sam: I studied graphic design and then Illustration at Stellenbosch university. I was lucky to have Niki Daly and Paddy Bouma as lecturers, so studying was a great experience for me. Since then I have worked as a freelance illustrator for about 20 years. Read more
As a birthday present, my brother has bought me a subscription to Deckle Edge’s monthly Art box. As we only ordered early in Feb, I assumed I would have to wait and get my first box for March. I was pleasantly (actually that word is too mild, I was over-excited) surprised when the Feb box arrived. I ripped it open, tore the pretty blue tissue paper, with the ‘creative’ sticker and flung the quality parcel straw all over the room.
There was a useful explanation for all the items, stuck on the inside of the lid, which was good, as I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at. All I did know was the brush was pretty. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go through the items:
Schmincke Aero Color Finest Acrylic Ink
I was treated to the Cyan colour for this play-time. According to my helpful paper from Deckle Edge, I was informed that the Aero Color Professional Acrylic Ink was initially developed for airbrushing, but also works for dip pens, technical pens and a brush. I was to discover all these things. The actually eyedropper and product packaging for this ink was really high quality and I couldn’t help but feeling a little scientific as I used the eyedropper to place ink into the next item. I mean, sure, I wasn’t wearing a white lab coat, but a stained, paint-fill, clay streaked, garden dusted apron that I have discovered ever since working from home, that I can’t go without. Read more