I said I’d be back 🙂

These are some of the wooden items that are making it onto my “wood board” – for the particular Lilla Rogers Make Art That Sells course that I’m doing, which has five substrates to do things for. First up, a wooden mask clock. I invented it in Procreate on the iPad with an Apple Pencil and transferred it to Photoshop.

mask for blog

The craft of mask making in Africa is apparently dying out.

The next one, and possibly my favourite, is a box. I think the box would have to be painted and textured and/or distressed (this is only a mock-up) and then the art is applied in decals. It could be hand painted but that would make it more expensive. I used a Rotring Artpen to draw the outlines of the flowers and rendered them in Photoshop with a Grut brush called (oddly!) Ol Butter Bits.

wooden box flowers

The colour palette is similar across all five substrates in the course.

And finally for now, this is a tray with a rectangular applied piece of artwork. The vague pattern was done originally in watercolour scribble (if you can scribble with a size 8 brush!) with an added digital “running stitch” from a brush I made. The flowers were done in pastels. I like reusing artwork!

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Only a rough screenshot – needs tidying up considerably.

This is the palette, by the way.

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The 2nd and 5th from the left are to be used “sparingly”! Plus black is OK.

I hope you liked seeing these. Have a good week!

 

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OMG I am so totally failing, all round. The experts talk about addiction to the internet or social media all the time at the moment – it’s even been defined as a mental illness. But mine is not really internet addiction. It’s design addiction! And I do it from the interent and assemble in Photoshop.

You see, I’ve been doing the Lilla Rogers Home décor course because I want to expand out from Redbubble. This is partly because they have a limited range of goods to put your art on. But also because it’s much better – if you can make the grade – to have a company buy your design and them use their own outlets to sell it! I don’t really have the outreach capacity via my Facebook page to reach enough people who’d want one of my Redbubble designs. It’s nice to have regular but spasmodic sales. But it would be even better to up my skills and find an art director who’d love my work!

Well, therein lies the time crunch. You can either write or you can draw/design – especially if you still work to earn.  🙂

Since I use words all the time in my work, I really feel okay now about designing stuff in my spare time. Plus the issue of our ruined spring water supply is solved and we have a shiny new borehole 🙂

This means we now have plumbers, builders and renderers in (thank goodness for this sunny weather), as well as fencers and painters and decorators. It’s like Piccadilly Circus here some days. I’ve snatched a moment to show you one of my sheets for the course. I’d love to know what you think, but have a fab weekend anyway, doing your own thing.

This is the sheet for my composited ceramic designs.

FINAL ceramic layout

The colour palette for all 5 substrates is at the top and this belongs to Lilla’s Farm Fresh trend board. You’re allowed the odd deviation (some different blues here) – but the idea is that the five boards look like they belong together.

The art work is, of course, all my own. I’ll show you some other substrates soon. Honest! I’ll definitely be back before another 10 weeks pass.

Most of us call these flowers grape hyacinths, but I thought I’d pretend to be educated and give them their proper name of muscari!

I came across a bank peppered with them when I was walking by a stream today. The sun was hitting them, although we’d had drizzle earlier. The intense blue-mauve against the bright green and the brown earth just invited a photo. Plus their attitude!

hyacinth copy

So I’m afraid this is another haiku. But it’s such a lovely form to write in, with syllables of 5, 7 and 5.

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Hope you like it! If you feel inspired to write one about a flower, do post it in the comments for us all to enjoy!

 

I mean, it looks from this blog as if I did no writing over the last goodness-knows-how-many weeks. And do you know what? I have worked and worked at writing, but it’s all been for things like my editorial, commissioning contributors (good emails that get people to agree to write for the journal take a LOT of composing, believe me!) or contributing a piece myself – maybe factual, news or extras.

It’s wonderful writing practice, but it does feel as if it isn’t quite the same as “proper” writing! Yet it has to demonstrate:

  • a form that starts and ends in a similar place, with satisfaction for the reader
  • a tightening of words so it doesn’t waffle
  • close perusal of any repeating or awkward words or phrases
  • something specific to say
  • relevance and consistency of style for the particular reader/recipient.

So how is that different to writing an article or book? It’s not. So the difference is only in my head. And, of course, it brings in dosh. We need dosh to live on, don’t we?

BUT:

I’m demonstrating a point here, so I will now go back and remove “dosh”. It doesn’t fit the style. I could put “bring home the bacon” – but that’s a cliché. “Money” is too weak: “…it brings in money.” No. Nor will I say: “…it pays the bills.” How many times have we read that? So hang on a minute while I get my brain to work *thud, thud, thud, whirr…*

Got it! I’d probably write: “And of course it is writing. Paid writing. I write to live. And that’s where I’ve been over the last goodness-knows-how-many weeks.”

 

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The journal I commission and edit for BACP

Let me say straight out that I found the instructions for making one of these fold-it-yourself books on this site, by the lovely Nancy I. Sanders, who shares so much of her wisdom about writing for children and schools via her many books. Previously, I have made my own dummies in a totally different way – less fun but maybe easier for including lots of pages.

Today I didn’t want many pages. But I did want twice as many as provided by one sheet of A4. So I simply made two and worked out which panels had to be glued together to make them one. This gives 12 mini pages and a cover and back.

And why a small one and not a 32-page picture book? Because I am still interested in writing for early readers or those who will only read something less threatening than a book, and perhaps also those children who like facts more than fiction.

I still had to pay attention to choice of words, and also how to put them on the page, leaving space for some line drawings in ink. And this is only a draft and a trial. But I thought I’d share the link and image, in case it’s exactly what you were needing to know. Chances are you are ahead of me and knew how to do this already!

You could use any layout software if you want to do it in type rather than handwriting – I used Pages on the Mac and deleted the grid before printing. Handwriting is all good though.

If you have children or grandchildren and want to write a very short bedtime story and put a few line drawings in, that would be a great way to do it.

Better still, with slightly older kids, your could write the story together, get them to learn how to fold it (for any future stories they write), and get them to put a few illustrations in! Simple is best 🙂

Here is a picture of my finished booklet.

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Any teachers out there?

A year ago, I kept a concertina art journal in which I jotted everyday stuff via images in pen and wash, with only a few keywords. So not a proper journal. Got one of those already! My PJs appeared, as did the dirty water we live with, the concert I went to (aged rockers they were!) and the first snowdrops. That sort of thing.

But on the way, I jotted down a rhyme I suddenly thought up, which has come to mind regularly ever since. So this week I got it out and drew the images to go with it. I changed a few phrases on the way – things can always be improved – but on the whole this now feels like a done work. Ps There’s a little joke I added to number 7’s image – do you see it??

It would be really useful to teach to Reception-age kids because they could do large arm movements of how the numbers should be drawn/constructed (like playing air guitar!) while reciting the rhyme, and just learn and enjoy all at the same time. It would even make an assembly little demo.

Still, I’m not in schools doing author visits at the moment and not in touch with many teachers at all these days. So I’ll let you enjoy it instead 🙂

Let me know if you like it? It’s so encouraging to hear from you all. (OMG – have a I fallen into the “likes” trap? Perish the thought!)

numbers and words screenshot

I seemed to be drawing a lot of owls, so when my granddaughter was visiting, we talked a lot about owls and stories. And eventually, when she’d gone (useful that, having a lively discussion of ideas!), I came up with a story about an owl who was looking for his breakfast at dusk.

When I’d fleshed out the idea, I did take time to go back to the general rise and fall of a picture book story (as I often do with PBs). The structure goes something like this, although you will find variants all over the internet:

First: What is the story question?
Then:
1 Problem
2 Incident intensifies
3 Reaction to worsening
4 Thwarted efforts to sort this out
5 Character suitably reacts
6 Find a successful solution

I went through checking that there was all this ‘shape’ to it – and then wrote it.

And then trimmed it! Taking out everything that could be better shown in the illustrations. (This would, of course, assume an illustrator with greater talent than me knowing how to make magic of the scenes I can see in my head!)

The easy bit for me is editing my text so that it has rhythm and balance and alliteration and surprise. The difficult bit will be finding a publisher for this, ahem, masterpiece!

I’ve started the trawl now. In case it helps anyone out there, here is a wonderful website page, made and updated regularly by Lou Treleaven, which lists publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. She deserves a medal. (Agent Hunter is good if you want an agent, though.)

https://loutreleaven.com/2010/07/21/childrens-publishers-accepting-unsolicited-manuscripts/

But just in case you miss seeing an owl while you read my ramblings about an owl story, here is a recent and surprisingly relevant one I did, though I won’t tell you why! It just happened, unconnected with writing any story.

mouse in hand and owl