Friday, 11 October 2013

Wigtown, Breaking the Spell and moving a hospital.

Hello! One month on and lots has been happening. It is now autumn, I have become addicted to the gym and it seems like everyone is launching a book or opening an exhibition, which is all lovely.

I have been travelling on lots of trains to draw for many hundreds of children, starting with The Spirit of Moray Festival which takes place in Elgin library. What a lovely library it is too. In my first session 109 P1s arrived en masse, and left an hour later as dinosaurs clutching signed books, hooray!

Then there was Wigtown. I have never been to Wigtown before and didn't really expect to be staying in the most beautiful country house hotel! It was another Miss Marple weekend and I loved it. Luckily for me, Lari Don was also there to tell stories from our amazing new book Breaking the Spell (Frances Lincoln). I roped her in to my 90 minute workshop and I enjoyed her event a lot. We even went for a 7am walk in the countryside in preparation for breakfast. We also may have been plotting over herbal tea...

Here are some photos from my Wigtown workshop. It was all about dinosaurs and monsters and I worked with some hugely creative and imaginative people, big and little.

talking utter nonsense

designing a monster in groups

I drew the tail, a child drew the rest

After the monsters were created, each group wrote a description of their monster and passed it to another group, who tried to draw the same monster from the written description. If that makes sense. Good results were achieved.

The beautifully produced Breaking the Spell.

Also keeping me off the streets and out of trouble has been my residency at the Sick Kids, which is now half way through unbelievably. Linda and I have been working on autumn themes, hanging out in the Drop-in Centre with Alex Salmond and a room full of TV cameras and journalists, encouraging poorly children to draw and write, and lots of other fun things!

In my studio I have been working on so many different things inspired by the Sick Kids visits, including finishing the large wall drawing that will be hung next to the pharmacy. It is the culmination of our call-out for ideas about how to move a hospital. Here is a wee snippet. I like that word.

Last thing...Walker Books have published a Book of Bedtime Stories (name of the book) in collaboration with Mumsnet and Gransnet and I illustrated one of them (the best one!). Here is Theo and his atlas.

I think that is enough for now. There has also been a lot of Christmas stuff going on but that can just jolly well wait for 2 months. See you!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Update on loads of things

Well it really has been an age of man since I last updated my blog and this is because I have been REALLY busy but also because despite this I don't have much that I can actually show you yet.

As ever I have been collecting amazing drawings at the Sick Kids. Linda and I are working on a story about the hospital moving to Little France in 2017, and instead of making it into a book, I have been illustrating the work as a large drawings for the wall. Here is the first image in half-finished form. I have lots of work to do on it still, and I want to include a lot more of the young people's drawings.

I think my favourite bit is the dragon on the roof, although the lorry is also great. I drew some of it but it is hard to tell which bits really.

We are also working on a book of 20 postcards which I saw a proof of yesterday and it is going to look brilliant (and not just because I designed it). They will be available to all, for a donation. Here is one of them. It is from the story of Edward the Medical Notes, which is yet another project we are working on.

I have JUST finished a book for Penguin Young Readers and although it is top secret, here are two tiny bits of some pages. I like drawing animals but not necessarily anatomically correctly. This is cat and a dog.

Apart from all of this I have been doing lots of designing of stuff for Paper Tiger and Studio One. I have a pack of 6 Christmas cards coming soon to Paper Tiger, and also one for the Sick Kids so I will keep you updated about how to get your hands on these (in Paper Tiger, obviously). 

It has also been the season for book festivals, and indeed still is. Next week I will be in Elgin Library for the Spirit of Moray Festival, and the week after at Wigtown Book Festival. I had a great time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with Lollipop and Grandpa author Penny Harper. It was our first event together and was brilliant fun getting the kids to invent dinosaurs.

Soon I will be able to show you the ace CD cover that I have designed for Fraser's band. They are called Titus Pullo and they are quite handsome.

I need a cup of tea after a morning at the Sick Kids Drop-In Centre with the First Minister of Scotland and some well behaved young artists. I will probably be on the news tonight with a fixed grin. I will go away now.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer is making me lazy

Hello again! It's one month since I posted anything, and this is largely because 
a) I have been working on secrets, 
b) I have been doing lots of work out of the studio, 
c) I went to Barcelona and ate lots of food, 
but mainly due to 
d) We are having some kind of heat wave in Edinburgh so I am enjoying it while it lasts.

But I have a few things to say so here we are...

The Sick Kids hospital has been a busy place for working in, although luckily there aren't too many actual sick kids just now. Linda and I decided to make the most of the quiet times and visit the outpatients waiting areas and all the other usually busy places, and we took with us a hand stitched (by Linda) book for the kids to contribute one page to a continuous story. Here is one page which I especially like.

Here is a picture of one of our library workshops. We are there twice a month in the library of the Sick Kids which I think is on the second floor. You don't have to be a patient to attend as we see here. If you are interested in writing and/or drawing, come along! The dates are fairly random but I will try to remember to announce upcoming ones. The next one is on July 26th and they are always 2-3pm.

I keep trying to keep sketchbooks because they are ace, but I keep forgetting them. But last week I remembered, and now I have these pages of utter genius sketches (not really). These drawings have amazingly come in handy though. I like to look at sketchbooks so hopefully you do too!

It seems like an age since I started this book but it really isn't, and now IT IS FINISHED!!! Grandpa and Lollipop and the Christmas Baby will be hitting the shops in time for Christmas!
Here are two bits of it. One is the cover and the other is just a funny picture of Grandpa.

Well I think that's all. I am also working on a Wizard book, and have some other things in the pipe(book)line so I will mention those as they happen. I am really just thinking about having a nap now...

Monday, 17 June 2013

A very busy week

It is Monday lunchtime, so before I make my sandwiches and sit in the garden to top up my sun vitamins (a thing) I will tell you all about my week last week because it was fun, despite being ill with a stupid cold/cough.

The beginning of the week was spent napping, but once I got that out of my system I got to work and did MILLIONS of hours on the next Lollipop and Grandpa book. I have just sent all of the pages to my publisher which seems to have happened really fast this time. Here is a tiny peek at one page. I don't like the look of their Christmas dinner much really.

At the Sick Kids on Thursday Linda and I decided to run a drawing workshop and get the participants to draw a composition of carefully selected rank items from the charity shop. I became an obsessive hand washer immediately after this. Chris wasn't feeling very well at all, but he managed to do a really good drawing.

Then we have a lovely drawing that started off as observational and went completely off track and ended up as a girl flying into a tree. Nice.

This is my drawing. The objects were a camel made out of a camel, a bird thing that I added a golf ball hat to, and a piggy bank. All three things make me feel a bit sick to look at really.

On Saturday I went to participate in the Sick Kids Friends Foundation annual Teddy Toddle at Meadowbank stadium. The stadium itself is a little bit run down but I liked these seats which look a bit like people's faces.

Also I got asked to do a screen test for a new Bank of Scotland tv advert and for a quote for some scribbly drawings I did of Mark and Alison from The Hotel. They were fun things.
That's more than enough. Sadly I didn't see much of the pointy eared Fraser last week, but we did manage to laugh our way through a very nice curry and we probably went shopping, who knows. More curry tomorrow, yessssssss.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Paper Tiger Roooooooar!

Good afternoon to you. I have just had a nap and some crisps so I feel great. Hope you do too.

Last night I attended the Edinburgh College of Art 2013 Degree Show business view with Pointy-Ear. It was lovely to see so many of my favourite people who roam in the illustration world. I only got as far as the illustration show because talking, but I was very impressed with the work this year. My made-up award of Business Card of the Year goes to Eilidh Muldoon with Oliver Ninnis a close second. You should definitely go and see it and buy a lovely print.

Also yesterday was my third day of the month working at the Sick Kids. I only do 3 days a month and hadn't been for 4 weeks which felt like ages and ages. The Day Case Unit was stuffed full of children which made for a fun time in the playroom. We worked on drawings and poems of what they would like to see out of the window. I worked with a 6 year old boy who drew his favourite person (a self portrait) and some fish and chips copied from my drawing (top left). Obviously the other things are a dog, a swimming pool and a football pitch. Then he got bored and started painting some plaster of Paris stuff.

I do a lot of work as Paper Tiger and Studio One's illustrator. For non-Edinburgers, Paper Tiger is a really really good card shop which also sells stationery and nice things. Studio One is its sister company and is just the best shop ever. It sells lovely things. Anyway...we have joined forces and created a range of cards that are a bit cheaper than your average card. Most occasions are covered and more are being added soon. Here they are on the website and here is my favourite one. I do love champagne.

That's quite a lot of things for now. Next week I have loads of things to draw and an exciting book event to attend so I am sure I will be bothering you with news of all that nonsense. Have a super weekend.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Raining work and just raining.

Hello there! I have another collection of things which must immediately be blogged about in order to put off drawing so many things, and scanning even more.

First of all here I am in the Daily Record. I spent a fun few hours being interviewed and photographed. The journalist only ate one biscuit which was good. I had planned for many more.
He wanted to focus on my Grandad which was nice because Reg was super. I have his name tattooed on my back, along with my Grandma's initials and my Dad's name. It isn't a Jeremy Kyle style (rhymes) tattoo, it's actually very lovely because I designed it and it is based on a fish with a big floaty tail. It's massive and really really hurt. is Reg and me reunited in print. Awwwww.

What next? Ummm...How about some dinosaurs that were drawn by nursery pupils in Aberfeldy yesterday? I was collected from my house by the lovely ladies from the Scottish Book Trust and driven up to Aberfeldy to be a prize in a competition for Bookbug Week, which is this week (obviously). What a picturesque journey! We talked about food for most of the time and then had a library picnic. I never thought my spare paper plates would come in so handy. 
The session was 45 minutes of controlled chaos and I left feeling exhausted.

I like the standing up yellow one the best. He has attitude in that right leg.

Here is a sticker for Bookbug Week that I drew. I didn't design actual Bookbug though.

On Sunday I went to the best wedding ever and was very proud to have made the table names. Each table was named after a book and I was on Harry Potter table. I don't actually like Harry Potter but I do like to be on the top table so I let it go. Here are the books.

I can't really be bothered to upload any more photos so that'll do. In other news, Lollipop and Grandpa's Dinosaur Hunt came out last week. Also, pointy-eared Fraser and I got free ice cream in Grassmarket (after eating a delicious massive curry) and I am now addicted to it. So may I recommend Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Me Up. Terrible name, superb ice cream. Tomorrow we are going to eat lots of cake. HOORAY! Goodbye for now.

Monday, 13 May 2013

The strange old life of me

When everything in my family is going wrong I can always rely on my work to get me through (and some truly great friends). Today is a tough one, and I have worked all day long to keep it all at bay. So let me show you what has made me laugh today.

I have been to Clydebank library and Dumbarton library today, and have met some lovely nursery pupils. One insisted on calling me by my full name (countless pleas of CATEJAMES CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME TO COLOUR-IN?).

This is a selection of what they drew

I think that Ella is ahead of her drawing years there, and the rainbow dinosaur is ace, obviously.

Here is me being a dinosaur, along with the dinosaurs of Dumbarton library. It is scary.

That's all for now. I'm sure that tomorrow will be a better day, after all, I am meeting some of my favourite people for hugs.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Lollipop and Grandpa are BACK!

I'm not sure what day it is, or indeed who the president of the United States is* at the moment, but I will make time to update my blog because I think it's fun.

This month I have been asked to do millions of other fun things too. Not only do I get to do loads of drawings and cover myself in ink, I will also appear on a panel of illustrators at a publishers' discussion group (I assume it will be exactly like Question Time), be offered as a prize in a competition with Scottish Book Trust (a dinosaur based event type prize, I should add) and go to London to see exciting people. 
It's important, as an Illustrator, to get out into the world of publishing and the related realm of books. I love doing all the chat stuff and talking about what I do because it is a pretty awesome job.

Quite excitingly...Lollipop and Grandpa are back for one more adventure and this one is great. It is set at Christmas which means I get to give them scarves again which I like a lot. Here is one of my 395727 scans. 

I always start my work with actual ink and paper like the old fashioned artist that I am. Then I spend a stupid amount of time scanning, during which time I drink gallons of tea and eat crisps. Then Photoshop makes it all look seamless and great. I like drawing Lollipop and Grandpa quite a lot which is just as well really.

Today it was warm and I was dressed for winter so I had my first iced coffee of the year, and a sosij sandwich and it was good. And if I didn't say that I enjoyed this delicious meal with Fraser then there would be something not right about my blog and he would cry.

*I do really.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

I was adjacent to a weasel

Hello everyone! Here is a collection of photographs of things that have happened in my life recently and have made me laugh and stuff.

First of all we have a lovely fat Tyrannosaurus Rex. He was the only good thing about the review of my new book in The Guardian. The silly Guardian forgot to mention me (sadface) so instead of being all proud upon my return from swimming I was furious for about 4 seconds, and then ate my breakfast and enjoyed Mr Fat Dinosaur being the star of the page. Here he is. Fat.

Hooray, this was fun. On Saturday I went for a stroll in the town with pointy eared Fraser. I do enjoy a look in the window of The Treasure Trove on Castle Street. It's a shop that sells things that old ladies have made at home and then brought in. Kind of a terrible Bagpuss shop but without the Mice, or Professor Yaffle or indeed Bagpuss. Imagine my joy when I spied THIS character. He is called £4.50 Hen and I like his one knotted leg and his poor stitching. I did not buy him because I want other people to enjoy looking at him in his lonely zoo.

Oh I am all out of order now. Before all of this happened I sat adjacent to a weasel. This place has a wardrobe full of cakes and I had a cheese scone with Marmite and Fraser had the biggest piece of cake in the universe with peanut butter in it.

And finally we have this lovely drawing of Noah's fantasy hospital. I was working at the Sick Kids yesterday and we did a good workshop about what makes a good hospital. Noah always does work for us and his imagination is amazing. I told him yesterday that he is going to be an illustrator but apparently he is going to be a footballer. Whatever. For disagreeing he didn't get a Vimto sweet. I ate them all.

So that's my week in photographs. What a lovely time I had. I hope your weeks are all going well too. Bye!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ignatius and the hot dogs

Today it is snowing and I am listening to Richard Hawley's songs that sound like my summer holidays in Lowestoft. I hope the sun comes back one day.
This week I am working on a mountain of beautiful commissions that have found their sweet way to me. I just realised that despite having worked endlessly (well, 10.30-6 with time for a long lunch and possibly a nap) for the past AGES I have nothing I can put on my blog because it's all for publishers and stuff. So instead here is a picture what I done for my fine friend Pointy Ear Fraser of previous blog infamy (he likes being in my blogs you see).
I recently read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole at Fraser's recommendation and it was a truly excellent read. I love Ignatius and his silly ways, so I drew him for Fraser's birthday. He is having a look at some hot dogs.
So because I have nothing else that I can do a show and tell on, here is Ignatius.

Monday, 18 March 2013


This week I am working at the Sick Kids on Wednesday and Thursday, and I am really looking forward to it this month. Linda and I have been planning away and now we get to work on a very exciting thing.

For those of you who don't know, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh (Sick Kids) is a very old building. It is getting a bit sad now, so Edinburgh are getting a brand new hospital out by the new infirmary at Little France. The move is due to happen in 2017 and there are many plans afoot.
Part of my job is to document the old building, as well as consulting on the new building, and one way that we are doing this is by writing and illustrating a picture book about the move.

Linda has written the first part, and now we are asking EVERYONE for ideas about how they think the hospital should physically move to Little France. This week we will be scattering (neatly, I like Wombles) sheets asking for help and they will look like this...

If you fancy helping out then let me know and I will send you a copy of the story so far and the drawing sheet (you don't have to draw, you can write, or do both).

As well as this, we will be handing out Easter cards featuring this here illustration, and a poem by Linda on the back.

The last thing that we have been concentrating on is a Special Story book for a boy who isn't enjoying his injections so much. It is hopefully going to distract him a bit, and also make the hospital loads of fun. I hope he likes it. I am going to try it out on as many children as possible this week in the hope that they can all have one maybe. Here is a bit of it. I want to colour it in immediately.

That's all for now. It's snowing and I want some fish fingers. Before I forget to mention my pal with the lovely pointy ear...Fraser became an uncle today. HOORAY!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Werewolf Ear

I have just been informed that my pal and chip eating, beer drinking and chic partner in crime Fraser's werewolfesque ear is the star of my blog. By Fraser, of course. So in honour of this fact, here is a photograph that I took of it yesterday. I hope you like it. He looked a bit like a leprechaun yesterday apparently.

School MEals and a rabbit in odd socks

For the past few months I have been working with Vivian French, the level 2 illustration students of Edinburgh College of Art, and the P3/4s and P7s of Dalmeny Primary School. We have been writing recipes to instruct people how we would be created. Mine involved napping, swimming pools and lots of ink, amongst other ingredients.
Last week we had a great morning at the art college. All the pupils involved came to visit, and we had a big table full of plates which illustrated the recipes. We also had another table full of cake and I think that was my favourite one actually.
Here is a poster that I made. I contains self portraits of all the children involved. Some of them are peas and some of them are carrots and some of them are splats of custard. One of them looks like a criminal in the making, but I'm pretty sure he's not. 

As well as working on this project above, I have also been at the Sick Kids this week. There is a lot of planning going on still at this stage, so we concentrated on that this week. I now have a mountain of drawing to get done so that I can take in some Easter cards to hand out, and a special book for a boy who is struggling to have his injections. It really means a lot to me that Linda and I might be able to help him a little bit. Linda has written a lovely poem for the Easter card so today will be spent illustrating that. Here is a rabbit close-up from an illustration for a poem written by a patient at the Sick Kids. He wears odd socks and hides them under rocks apparently. I like his feet quite a lot.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Mark Jenkins, Dave and some weird flying thing

Sad times this weekend as the last episode of The Hotel happened. To mark the occasion, my fellow Hotel watcher and all round encourager of drawing, Mr Fraser, suggested that I should do some pictures of them as they bid us a tearful and karaoke-based au revoir. These are monstrous drawings and make me feel a bit ill, but I quite like them all the same.

Mark (bless him)

 Alison (kicks ass)

In other news, I had another two days at the Sick Kids last week. We shadowed a doctor on a morning ward round, I drew a pug for a lovely girl, and amongst other highlights, Dave was created. We run workshops when we are in the hospital for patients, parents, volunteers and pretty much anyone who likes drawing and writing. Last week I met Noah who is a bit of an excellent artist and he is also the owner of the best imagination that I have ever stolen ideas from. Above is Dave. He broke his arm doing Kung Fu (I think) and is now the host of Pat Plaster and Serena Syringe who are on a date. Yep. He is illustrating the story, ready for our workshop tomorrow. We worked on a story board last week. He just drew it in about ten minutes. Genius.
And one more thing...I drew this for my next Lollipop and Grandpa book and I have no idea what it is, but I like him.

Monday, 11 February 2013

National Libraries Day 2013

At the weekend we celebrated National Libraries Day. Libraries are very very important, and I love visiting them to run drawing and reading sessions. On Saturday I was at Oxgangs library in Edinburgh which is a lovely library, and has a great craft cupboard incidentally. 

I read one of my books, we drew some characters together, and then worked on a long drawing with an underwater theme. I started off working with 5 kids, but many joined in once they saw the fun we were having.

Here are two close-ups of the drawing. I hate snakes but I think David did a great job, and I also like his flying fish. Matthew was a bit of a shark expert.

Afterwards, I went to the pub with my werewolf-eared pal Fraser, and I drew an uncannily accurate picture of him. Apologies for the shadow, but we had drunk loads of beer.