Posts Tagged ‘illustration’

Not ‘woes’, as in I can’t, but just wondering how you ever make a picture book sound like a story when you have left significant things to be shown in the illustrations only!

I was thinking this especially today as the SCBWI organisation (for children’s book writers and illustrators) is holding an illustration thingy for picture book stories of just 350 words to be read out and one chosen to be given a critique by an agent. It’s for the whole membership, and only 100 slots are available – from whom finalists will be picked. OK, fine. It doesn’t matter that I can’t manage it. The slots were probably filled two minutes after the competition opened!

But all my picture book texts in embryo form wouldn’t hang together if ‘just read out’. I thought the point was to show not tell!

So – let me explain the latest place where it would be a problem. I got this idea after sketching a little girl with a pencil who is picking up the shavings.

Day 9a girl and shavings

This  gave me the idea to do a picture book about a girl who is small for her age and doesn’t want to go back for a second day at school in Reception class, aged 4+ (UK schooling system). At one point in the story, there would be this line: ‘But the children couldn’t agree about what made them happy.‘ On the next page there would be nothing but a spread of chaotic children in pairs arguing about how to make the picture they have to make in class. A bit of text, attitude, thought images etc would show it all. But it would sound bizarre to read on, in public, to the next bit, without the public knowing what this spread had shown. So no, I won’t be entering that sort of competition haha.

What I will be doing is making up a dummy to show which illos would go on which page and cutting up text and sticking it in place – and then sending it with the whole manuscript to someone or other to find it’s fortune. Wish me luck!

(Ps I think Jojo bows have gone out of fashion now, so the girl in the story will not look like that sketch I did!)



And (she says, continuing from the last post as if a couple of weeks hadn’t passed in silence!) – in the last month I have opened my shop on RedBubble. How tickly tricky it feels in one’s chest to be so brazen as to assume that anyone at all anywhere might want to buy one of your designs printed on a product! But they have.

And, after a panicky week or so when I didn’t go public and actually ‘open’ the shop, I’m now having fun. Perhaps some of that fun is using my art for something that isn’t aimed at editorial or books. When we’re consumed by a need to draw and paint and design and illustrate, it’s quite hard to always be driven by the need to do the kind of thing that might prompt someone else to commission a work.

In part, my daily sketching solves that. But this, too – this “make your art into a design for a product” – is also scratching that itch. I get to choose – and I do think that if I love something I create very much, someone out there will too.

It still feels a bit tickly tricky to actually tell you about the shop – but how else would you know??! Here is a sneak preview. I bought that rose design on a black top for myself, and loved wearing  it yesterday 🙂

RB shop sample



Thought I’d illustrate a hypothetical article about circuses! A sort of circle image with alterations. I did basic pen work first and scanned that in to finish off in colour digitally in Photoshop.

Then I went back to the pen version, which is on Bristol board, and finished it off with more pen. Still toying with the idea of adding watercolour on top for a third version, but maybe not… not enough hours in the day as it is! So here are just two versions.

Not sure which I prefer. It would be interesting to know if you have a preference. But I don’t suppose you have enough hours in your day either!

circus colour

pen circus


I spent some time last week doing pen and wash sketches of various kitchen items and various foodstuffs – mostly cakes and pastries. They are not meant to be accurate, rather an indication. And in the case of the kitchen items, I tried to remove mention of any branding but keep colours close enough that they would be recognisable for what they are.

I owe much to Yasmina Creates for kicking me off on this path although, as she told me, this is the first time she’s seen anything but pastries done in this style! Plus, I imitated her trademark flowery offerings by trying an image in similar style. Is this a style I want to pursue? Who knows? It could come in useful for illustration purposes. I certainly take to watercolour more when it’s used like this. We’re maybe not quite friends yet, but me and my pan sets are getting more of an acquaintance relationship recently 🙂

Eleanor Patrick cakes and pastries

Eleanor Patrick kitchen stuff

flower and wash2

The NHS in the UK has an acronym, CLANG, that stands for Connect, Learn, be Active, Notice and Give back – all things we should do every day to stay in a state of mental wellbeing. I hate being told what to do, but it did make some sense, so I self-initiated a task based on CLANG.

Here is the result. Looking at it on a non-retina screen, I do think I will go back in to each and make the highlighted word red instead of green. But apart from that, I am well pleased with my week’s efforts. Hope you like them. There is a certain satisfaction in making them all match in terms of colour and style, just like when I draw a child doing different things but always recognisable.


Lots of illustrators’ sites have a few pieces labelled ‘personal project’ and I suppose everything I have ever done has been that. I mean, we all choose what to write, what to draw, what to paint – until someone commissions us to do it for a price, that is!

Well, while waiting for that lucky break, I decided to do a set of images in the same style. Just because. I suppose I had in mind that I wanted to pitch an article to a particular magazine. I still intend doing so, and they won’t want my images because they’re not in their house style. But it did set me off thinking how I might illustrate such an article if the style choice were mine. And this is the result.


I drew in HB on cartridge paper in my sketch book, scanned in the images, locked the unused pixels and painted the lines whichever colour I wanted, and then added some colouring and some photo-image backgrounds blended in. Do they look like a set? I gave them all a light source and something coming out of the frame, plus the frame in a frame as if watching. And the hand-drawn look, of course.

I chose air, water and fire as my topics: taking one’s children out to a dark place to inspect the stars; investigating how quickly a hot drink cools (I decided against adding a graph into the image but you would record the results over time); and cooking dampers on a campfire in the garden (not on a modern barbecue!) for which they had gathered the twigs and wood to do so. These are not things many urban kids do these days.

I read on a website that it was possible to use a gouache and Indian ink technique to  imitate a woodblock printing, complete with stray dots of black on it and rough edges! You can find the post here on Elfwood. You paint thick gouache on watercolour paper, let it dry, cover it with Indian ink (evenly, I discovered), and when dry rinse it thoroughly and the gouche lifts off the ink (mostly, leaving the famous dotty effect), and embeds itself in anything you left plain paper.

Needing a good distraction from cleaning the house or fathoming how to use Instagram on my desktop (have found that using Gramblr is the solution), I spent time over four days making four images – the pre-image (which I won’t show you) was a disaster, as I mistakenly used soluble ink. I then dug out the real stuff and had more success.


However, it is time consuming, if fun, and I need to get some editing done this week too. I was disappointed, also, not to get the really bright afterimage that the author of the Elfwood post did. Might be my limited selection of 3 cool and 3 warm of each of the primary colours. Mixing greens and oranges, for instance, led to one or the other ingredient rinsing off faster than the other, thus changing green to yellowy green pretty fast, and orange to a pale shadow of itself. Sad really.

I do like the vignetted edges I introduced, though, and I consider the time well spent 🙂

I have now also set myself up at eleanorpatrickillustrator on Instagram.