Visiting Alex Latimer at his Studio

Last week I got an email from the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) announcing that they were going to have a an open studio day with Alex Latimer. I can’t honestly say that I knew who Alex was before that email. After meeting him, seeing his studio and his work, I am so glad that I now do.

I will admit that in the rush to get to Alex’s studio in the morning, I actually forgot his name (this is a common thing that happens – especially if I haven’t met a person, so it didn’t even bother me that I was going to a person’s house whose name I had forgotten). I was five minutes late when I arrived and had to yell around his house until eventually I found his wife who guided me up the stairs to his studio. I still hadn’t remembered what his name was, as I quickly nodded and did mini waves to everyone apologetically, as I made my way to the back of the room. I had missed the introduction to the open day and just decided that I was going to have to check my emails on my phone at some point to get this guy’s name. As I was standing there my eyes began to wonder to the shelving on the wall.

There were all these books that were written and illustrated by some person called ‘Alex Latimer.’ I thought to myself ‘I need to Google that when I get home – maybe it’s up-coming illustrator or something that this guy is drawing inspiration from.’

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Sketch Prompts – Autumn

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.

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2017 Yoga Illustrated Calenders

I am currently doing the last illustrations for my 8-Limbs of Yoga Calender, 2017. The calender is inspired by my own activities this year, where I launched into full time illustration work, as well as starting studying Integral Hatha Yoga, with the Yoga Academy, here in Cape Town.

The characters in the calender are animals, which has sort of become a bit of a trademark with me, as I have gotten a lot of animal books this year, including Penguin Palace by Helen Brain, Collective Nouns by Julia Richman and Three Detectives by Vi Le Roux, to name a few. I have sported my yoga-happy creatures in official asana’s (poses), from an apanasana pig, through to a giraffe in chakrasana. Each one is also presenting one of the 8-limbs of yoga, according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. These 8-limbs form the structural framework for yoga practice. Read more

Projects Old and New

Collective Nouns

Jules Richman, who you might remember wrote Katya Cat last year, has this time put together a wonderful tale of Sam who finds collective nouns everywhere on a safari. I have been having such fun painting Jule’s imagination of robbing mice and hugging hippos. Here is just a sneak peek of some of those landscapes. If you would like to pre-order the book, at R100 a book, you are welcome to drop me an email (mrsbeckerling <at> gmail <dot> com), with ‘Collective Nouns’ in the subject line. Read more

Paint and Sip Review

Paint and Sip

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

First Year in Illustrating

Racoon Illustration

It is September.

September is a big month for me. It is my husband’s birthday and our eight year anniversary (has it really been that long?), but it is also the time for peer reviews for Christmas bonuses and round about the time I got my car insurance money pay out last year. Therefore, it was roughly a year ago, that I typed up my resignation letter and started the count down, as I had accumulated enough cash to survive for eight months.

Eight months came and went and it is with great joy that I am still here, self-employed. It actually took me just over 6 months to start covering myself (if people are saving for the same journey). Soon I hope to exceed the ‘just covering’ and go into ‘look at me, I’m fabulous!” Read more

Illustration/Art info for Southern Suburbs, Cape Town

Art Supplies in Southern Suburbs Cape Town

I thought it would be a good idea to put a post together for all of those in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa, about a few places of interest regarding Art and Illustrations. These are just a few places around where I live in Tokai, extending out to Constantia, Plumstead, and Steenberg. If you have any other places that you go to and can recommend, then drop me a comment. Note – details here were correct at time of posting.

For Art Supplies

Of course, we all know about Deckle Edge in Constantia, which is probably the best place to go for quality, but I thought I would mention a few other sneaky places that I wander to, for a bit of variety. Or when, quite frankly, I’m too lazy to change from my paint-covered apron to something more ‘Constantia appropriate’. Read more

Book for Illustrators: The Animators Survival Kit

book reviews for illustrators and writers

Author: Richard Williams
ISBN: 978 0 571 23834 7

As most illustrators, I am always on the look out for books that will show me something new and thought it would be a good idea to share my findings and my top books. Please feel free to make your own suggestions and share in the comments.

The Animator's Survival KitThe Animators Survival Kit is targeted at animators, hoping to learn a thing or two from the ‘greats’ about space, anatomy, and weight (to name a few). But I found this to be one of the most usual reference books for illustrators as well. Animators have to know from frame to frame, but as illustrators we always have to capture the moment of action. We have to enhance the drawing and bring with it the full potential, as, unlike animators who have endless frames to show movement, we only have one.

What illustrators also tend to do is stick to a ‘formula’ where once we have mastered a look, we stick to it. For example, when drawing a person running, we might stick to the classic, one leg stretched out, the other bend, one arm forward, the other behind. But that is not the only post in running. What about the body shape of the person? Are they a large person, or a skinny person? What happens to the large person’s belly when they run? Does it not move? Where is the weight? What happens to the skinny person’s back? Are they leaning forward? Does their neck extend? Read more