Post Event: Illustrating for Young Readers in Franschhoek

Franschhoek LIterary Festival

Goeie Môre Mevrou Julia en Mevrou Celeste”

Before the big book festival in Franschhoek on the weekend, there is a wonderful adventure called the Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) for Young Readers, where authors are driven around the schools in the area to read their stories to the children.

Bridge House
Bridge House giving me a present for visiting!

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?” Continue Reading

John Kelly on Pirates, Processes and Illustrations

John Kelly

I don’t like cheese. Hate the stuff!

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?

Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch
Munch, Crunch Prirate Lunch

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. Continue Reading

Interview with Paddy Bouma

Interview Paddy Bouma

Tips, advice and Bertie

Celeste: Hi Paddy! Thank you for taking time out to answer our questions. Before we start, can you just tell us a little about yourself?

Paddy at her Studio
Paddy at her Studio

Paddy: I  always wanted to be an illustrator without having any idea how to go about it! So I studied Fine Art at UCT and was fortunate enough to win a bursary to study in Paris afterwards. While I was there, out of the blue I was asked by a SA publisher to illustrate my first book, in black and white. It was set in France, which is why they asked me, I suppose… Unfortunately it ended up so badly printed that I was put off illustration, I thought, forever!

Back in SA, I taught Printmaking at the Art School of Stellenbosch University. But my first love of picture books reasserted itself and in the late 70’s I wrote and illustrated my first picture book in colour. It lay on the shelf for 4 years before it was published…

Celeste: I think I’ve counted over twenty books that you were involved in, as either an illustrator or a writer, since 1984 (which was the year I was born in). Does anyone of those projects stood the test of time for you, and still remains your favorite?

Paddy: I think that would be the Bertie series (about a badly-behaved toy hippo) that I wrote and illustrated for the Bodley Head in London the 80’s. I was recently asked to do a book reading at our granddaughter’s school in Dubai. Confronted by a class of very bright 4-5 year olds, my old favourite came out! The stories seem as popular now as they were then – the teacher commented that she had never known the class to sit still for so long! Continue Reading

Life of an Illustrator

Nixie

Ramblings in my house

Nixie is my youngest of five. She has three dads, in the form of cats, and one mom, in the form of Brownie, my highly intelligent street special dog, who has a lot of German Shepard in her. Nixie, according to the vet, has whippet. A breed usually known to be timid, shy, and have their tails in between their legs a lot when in public spaces. Nixie is none of these things.

To give you an idea of her personality, we left her inside (when I went to yoga class, or nipped out an hour or so). At first it was fine. Then she started chewing on things from the bin. But for weeks it was never anything that couldn’t be fixed, or moved before leaving. Until we came home and open the door to an artistic madness. She had found a brown bag, containing a few oil paints from Deckle Edge. Out of the three primary colours, she had decided that the red was her favorite. She promptly chewed the tube, digesting half the paint, smearing pinky red paint all over her face, paws and carpet. She also chewed the oil paper. It took my husband and I an hour to remove the oil paint from the carpet with turpentine. She, on the other had, had no issues at all from eating the paint. Continue Reading

5 Top March Projects

Project Header March

There is so much going on right now, I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post on some of the projects I am working on. At a later point, I’ll do another one with updates, so that you can all join in on the progress. Don’t forget to book for the Creative Workshop in April. Also I’ll be making an appearance at The Deer Little Market (details below).


1. Katya Cat at The Deer Little Market – 20th of March 2016

Deer Market IllustrationAuthor, Julia Richman, of Katya Cat – The Bacon Chase, and I will be reading and illustrating at The Deer Little Market on Sunday the 20th March, at 2 Deer Park Drive, adjacent to Deerpark Cafe, Vredehoek, Cape Town. The market is open at 9am to 1pm. I will have to get back to you when Julia and I are presenting. There will be stalls and entertainment for little ones, as well as a magic show later in the day, so make a note in your calendar. Julia will be reading a few chapters while I illustrate the characters and we shall be handing out simple drawings for all little ones to colour in as well. There will be copies of Katya Cat for sale. Continue Reading

Mike Boldt Children Books & Illustration

Mike Boldt Illustrator

The ‘D’ is silent

Celeste: Welcome Mike, to my blog! Before we get started, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

Mike: Thanks Celeste. I appreciate the invite and opportunity. I live in the beautiful countryside just outside Edmonton, Alberta, where I’ve lived most my life enjoying comics, cartoons, sports, and ice cream. I also love creating stories and drawing and have been doing so for as long as I can remember. Professionally, I’ve been working in as an illustrator for over 16 years working almost exclusively on products for children.

I Don't Want to be a Frog
I Don’t Want to be a Frog

Celeste: You style varies a lot, from realist to very stylised work. Can you tell us what your favourite project has been so far?

Mike:  I have a couple favorites. Recently, it would be the I Don’t Want to be a Frog book, by Dev Petty, as well as my next book, A Tiger Tail. Both those books were such a natural delight to work on – which also helps having an incredible editing team that I really connected with. I should add that when I have time for it, I love doing personal doodles. I should really try to make more time for those.

Celeste: Not only are you a creative illustrator, but you’ve also been published as an author. How does it feel to be on the ‘other side’ as a writer?

Mike: It’s a very different approach to a project for sure. Drawing comes very naturally for me, where writing does not. When I get a manuscript that someone else has written, most of the hardest work has been done. As an illustrator, I get a lot of ideas and concepts I’d like to do or write. But an idea or simple concept is nowhere near a finished story. Writing a great story is the most difficult thing I have come up against, but something I also enjoy immensely. Continue Reading

Making Beastie Pots

Beastie Pots

‘Someone bought one of your pots’

My Cat, Toady, with Alex
My Cat, Toady, with Alex

As far as Cape Town is concerned, it is out of season. Summer is also in full bloom, so it is isn’t the best time to plant either. Basically, my timing over-all is really, really bad. Yet, the wonderful, friendly lady at Kalk Bay Garden Shop uttered the words I have been waiting for her to say in two weeks ‘Someone bought one of your pots.’

I dashed outside and did a quick head count. There was Fred, Alfred, Werner, Alex, Sam, Lizzie, Edward…. yes, yes she was right – someone had snatched up Henry. I’ve been smiling from ear to ear! While I was there I did a little swop with some of the pots, as a few of them needed some hair-cuts since they’ve been at the Kalk Bay Garden Shop. One of the swops was with one of my favourite pots, Charles, who is now sitting on the shelf giggling to all that pass.

I thought it might be a nice idea to share with all of you, the work  that goes into making a Beastie pot. If you are interested in making one yourself, I am thinking of running a workshop later this year on it, where you can make your own. Drop me an email (mrsbeckerling(at)gmail(dot)com) if you are interested.
Continue Reading

Renee Kurilla talks Illustration

Renee Kurilla

I first saw Renee on Twitter and was blown away by her illustrations. But then ‘bumped’ into her again on the Oatley Podcast where it was so strange to hear her voice! I knew I had to chat to her about her unique style.

Artist

Celeste: Hi Renee! Thanks so much for taking time out to talk to me. I’ve been following/stalking you on Twitter for a while now and I really love your work. The original illustration of your that caught my eye was the one of the artist, twirling her paintbrush like a wand. I remember you saying you used pen and watercolour for it? How do you manage to keep the colours so clean when bringing to digital?

Renee: Haha, thanks Celeste! Firstly, I wish it was acceptable for me to use an “ou” in the word color – it looks so much more appealing (and fancier) than the American way of spelling it!

Thanks so much for your kind words. The piece you mentioned was actually quite a breakthrough piece for me. I’ve been trying for years to mimic a watercolor style on the computer and I think I finally hit it with this one. The line is done with a Prismacolor colored pencil, scanned and colored in Photoshop. This explains why it looks so clean.

I have yet to master the fine art of scanning, my watercolors always look so muddy and boring when I scan them in, so I was able to transition it almost entirely to digital.
Continue Reading

Leap Puppies

It all started with a bulldog.

Bulldog on swing

This bulldog was on a swing and he was not happy. The caption was ‘I hope you are entertained hooman,’ and it made me laugh. Having grown up with bulldogs, however, I knew there was so much more potential for a bulldog to be on a swing. I could just imaging the wind blowing in on a bulldog’s jowls. I could see a green meadow in the back ground.

Which got me think about dogs and I got a surge to draw them. When thinking about what dogs to draw, I immediately thought of my own two, Brownie and Nixie, who are both rescues. We actually got Nixie only at the end of last year, from an amazing adoption service called Leaps. I wandered over to Leap’s facebook page and saw all these gorgeous dogs that needed homes. Of course, I immediately got my sketch book out.

Continue Reading