Hunkering down

Apparently today was Van Gogh’s birthday. I love the fact that, according to, before he became an artist he had many unsuccessful jobs, including working as ‘a preacher… where he was dismissed for overzealousness’. Hehe, you can feel that in his paintings, right?

Been pretty strange, everyone adjusting to a new way of living. Hard to be indoors when everything is just about blooming outside. I haven’t done a huge amount of work to be honest, but accepting that I need time to adjust too. Some good news this week – Faber & Faber extended their BAME Children’s prize deadline to June, so more time to hunker down on that!

I’m loving that people are virtual partying and learning and sharing. And there’s plenty of focus on the smaller pleasures in life too.

[A couple of illustrations from ‘First French/Spanish Dictionary’ by HarperCollins, which come out later this week.]

Hands in pockets

It being the 13th today, I listened to this while working: Blur, 13.  I wasn’t the hugest fan back in the day, but I did really like this album. And it stands the test of time. “Come on, come on, come on, get through it… love’s the greatest thing that we have…” (lyrics from the first track on the album, Tender).

This week I’ve been working on my black and white skills. Here’s the latest, a sequence I imagined. (I was riffing on drawing people with hands in their pockets.)

A couple of firsts and falls

Today I tried working a digital illustration onto a photo, the first time I’ve done that. Starting from a photo taken on a walk to a local waterfall, and I’m pretty happy with the result. (It’s actually a little video, but I haven’t quite got my head around how to animate those parts together yet.)

Another first, I also fell off a bike for the first time today too! I’ve only been learning a few weeks, and went for a little practice at the reccy ground, still muddy from the recent weather. But don’t worry, it really wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve drawn it!

Some kids have read it!

The internet, eh? Despite all the hours I’ve spent trawling through it last year, I’ve only just come across a load of reviews for a dictionary that I illustrated a couple of years back. It can be a strange thing getting a book published. You spend weeks or months pouring every last bit of yourself into creating work and meeting deadlines, unable to share anything about it with the outside world, even though you want to shout ‘hey guess what I’m working on? It’s so amazing/difficult/fun!’ to anyone that’ll listen. But you have to wait. Then publication date comes and goes, and nobody really talks about it because they haven’t bought it yet. So you move on to the next project, and get fully immersed in that one. And you kind of forget that anyone’s reading the previous thing.

Then a year or so passes, you’re browsing Amazon, and bam! ‘Collins First School Dictionary’ – people have reviewed and bought aplenty. Whether they liked it or not, if it’s become a household favourite, or re-gifted, it’s really not that important. It’s just such a lovely thing to realise that some kids will have read it, that it might have sparked some interest in learning about words, or perhaps spurred one reader to grab hold of language and learn to use it for themselves.

What a fantastic thing. I am so happy to have got that job. 

[A couple of my favourite reviews from]