Always looking over our shoulder

The internet has given us fantastic empowerment in so many ways, yet there are still one or two drawbacks that are going to be felt for generations to come. As a former child therapist, the one that sticks out for me is the way our young people are totally taken over by the need to present an online persona that is Liked and accepted. The way this shows up is in constantly checking (all night sometimes) to see if people have Liked a comment or responded to something important, or said something that they need to know by the next…

Thinking about creativity

There is research out there that shows that either persistence or flexibility will end up producing a creative idea – apparently the danger is picking neither path! Phew, I’m OK then. I usually pester one idea to death till something emerges, or flip from idea to idea till something grabs me. Staying in bed is not the way forward (but I knew that anyway!). Faced with portraying this general idea as an illustration for a putative article, I decided that children drawing flowers was a point in hand. They do it all the time in Reception. So – you could…

Working on children’s illustration

I have used a number of styles over the years to illustrate children and settings for stories. It would be just so easy to copy the prevailing style and say job done. But then, who would hire me? Art directors have trusted illustrators already who do those styles and do them well. Many at the moment are prepared or finished off in Illustrator, it seems. This is not an app I like for my main artwork. And lots of other images of children have super-sized faces and very flexible and stylised arms and legs. I do love them. Just that…

Working to a self-imposed brief is fun

Sometimes I have wondered if my first idea is my best. Obviously I carry on either way – you have to hand over a couple of good ones to an Art Director. And especially not a version that you’d hate having to work on! Anyway, having had a good rest this summer, I set myself the task of illustrating the dangers of obsessive internet use by young people, for whom collecting Likes has often taken over from real socialising in person (not always but often). I came up with four ideas, two of which I quite liked and two that…

Healthy self-criticism!

  I was illustrating the concept of using criticisms of your self as fuel for achievement – especially if the crits are weighed alongside your positives. I came up with four basic ideas, and picked one to develop. When I’d done what was instinctive and ‘me’, and before I put the hands right, I looked at it and thought: that’s unbalanced and bitty. Well it was: So I set about deconstructing the Photoshop layer file and discarding the bits I wouldn’t use again. In writing, we always say ‘Kill your darlings’. Same for illustration, I guess. I liked my bits of paper where…

A raft of flowers

I like this sort of project because there is a rhythm to adding the next illustration all the time. I did them over a recent week after my father suddenly died. It was therapeutic as much as anything. He loved his garden. I also like working with a soluble ink pen. I have two Rotring ArtPens in Fine and Extra Fine. They work a treat for sketching in the image and then wetting it judiciously to make the tones. I often use a Derwent water brush for this part, because a real paintbrush can often hold and release too much water. The…