Friday, 28 February 2014

The Bear's Progress

Been making good progress on this Straw Bear(?) glove puppet character, two evenings so far and it's nearly done. I don't like to hang around once i start making things... bish...bash... bosh.

I made really simple hands, even simpler than the Earl of Rone's, just a couple of balsa wood rectangles with bamboo skewer fingers pushed in and secured with a dribble of glue. They then had a little row of clipped raffia stuck on and were hot glued into place.

He's good when in action as the straw moves and shakes, adding an extra bit of motion. For some reason he's gained a nervous tremble when i operate him, it must be in his character.... terrified of the prospect of ignition!

I've now fleshed out his body a bit, securing the raffia strips around the neck and tying them down. I need to sew the rope to his body now to hold it in place. I'll then stuff a few extra bits of straw in. His sleeves also have some extra straw hot glued on and they need tying. Then it'll pretty much be done, i've picked up my £1 mug tree to convert into his stand and then he'll be able to join the Earl, maybe not on the mantlepiece though, he's a bit bigger... and messier.... my studio floor looks like a stable! I love making stuff!!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Straw Bear....erm...Man?...King?

I decided to start work on a new glove puppet head. I found inspiration in a coffee cup! The conical shape and the wavy lines made me think it would make a perfect head base for my Whittlesea Straw Bear. Obviously it's not very bear-like, but that was my inspiration. He's based more on my Straw Bear money box ( still unfired and on a shelf!), you can read more about the Whittlesea Straw Bear if you follow that link too. Or go directly to this link Whittlesea Straw Bear. I'm not sure it qualifies for the artlog puppet challenge, as its not so much a folk tale or legend, but a folk custom. Even though the Earl of Rone is also in the Mummer tradition, it does have a little story attached to it. I wanted to make him anyway, as a partner/pair with the Earl. The raffia strips have worked really well on him. I'm going to make the body with the same cushion cover fabric as the Rone , but then tie more raffia to it with the coarse string. I obviously like these dead, staring eyes! They just keep happening even though I'd painted in more naturalistic ones first. I might still try a nice blue on them, touch of baby blue would be nice. Anyway, over to you and your Worzel Gummage comments!

Amazing where a coffee cup can lead you!

very rough paintwork to sit under all the raffia

trial strands to see if my thinking would work, rope tache attached

nearly there, just needed a few finishing raffia touches
and some rope eyebrows.

an older drawing, which acted as a loose starting point.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Sensible Living

I saw this over on the Root Simple blog and just thought I'd share with anyone interested. It seems like a good idea for how we should set up our communities and open spaces. You even get Bill Mollison to show you around ... yeah, i had no idea who he was until my mate Marky filled me in... it's a permaculture thing! You can read more about this community in Davis, California here at Village Homes

I also found this video of the architect of Village Homes, Michael Corbett, talking in a bit more detail about this community he helped to build.

While I'm touching on permaculture, i also like this guy, Sepp Holzer, and his little paradise.
Don't get me wrong, i can't even grow a carrot, i just find it interesting!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Ben Weaver

Whenever one of his tracks pops up randomly on my itunes, it always makes me stop and take notice. He writes great songs and there's no mistaking that voice. Stories Under Nails and Paper Sky are good albums to drop in to. Just thought i'd share him with a few of you.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Farewell Leonard

photo taken from
a great website of cool and interesting places and art

Leonard Knight sadly passed away last night. I hope his God takes care of him well, he's earned it.
I just hope the mountain continues to be looked after, it seems to be in good hands.

our first trip to the mountain, where we helped re-paint that waterfall behind us

our trip last year with the boys.
Wish we were there now, away from this horrible wet weather.

and a bit of my art celebrating Salvation Mountain.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Henry, Hank Zipzer and I

I just got my comp copies of these books today! Weirdly, I don't think I've mentioned on here before the fact that for the past year I have been working on illustrating a set of Hank Zipzer books. Hank Zipzer is written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver... Yes, that Henry Winkler...aka The Fonz!! Well, the first two books of this new series are now available to buy. Hank Zipzer is a smart kid who suffers from dyslexia, just as Henry did, though he didn't realise this at the time only later when he had kids of his own. There are already many Hank Zipzer books out there, but for these ones he took Hank back a few years to second grade. Here's the write up...

Hank is a kid who doesn't try to be funny, but he somehow always makes the kids in his class laugh. He's pretty bad at memorizing stuff, and spelling is his worst subject. (But so are math and reading!) In the first book in this new series, Hank's class is putting on a play, and Hank wants the lead part: Aqua Fly. But he freezes in his audition and can only buzz like a fly. His teacher creates a special part for Hank, a silent bookmark. This may seem like an insignificant role, but when his enemy, Nick McKelty, freezes during the performance, it's up to Hank to save the play!

There are lots of inside illustrations too!

I was in America with my family in January last year, when I got the final nod that i would be working on it. Well, I was excited, I really wanted to work on this and I was very grateful to be finally chosen. Work started in earnest when I got back. It was tricky to start with trying to create all these characters and Henry knew each of them inside and out. It's hard trying to make real something in someone else's head! We got there in the end though. There's way more to think about than you'd imagine conjuring up fictional worlds! Continuity! I would sketch the images I felt like and break from chronology and then forget it was a totally new day and new clothes!! I had to keep a chart of all the days covered in the book and what each character was wearing. I should have created plans for all the interiors too! I'm learning now!!
It's been fun though and it came as a shock the first time Henry called me for a chat out of the blue. Only after about ten minutes did I finally believe it wasn't a prank!! I pushed my luck and asked if he'd call Jakki and he very kindly did. It made her day, but she was mortified that she was too freaked out to just chat! Ha. We finally met Henry over Christmas as he was doing pantomime, Peter Pan, here in the uk, playing Captain Hook at Richmond theatre. He was great and let the boys try on the hat and hook... I even got my go! 
Anyway, thought I'd share. I never expected to be getting random calls from the Fonz! Or illustrating his books. Life is definitely weird., but I've been very fortunate.

Tennessee and Texas with Henry (Tennessee likes an 'outfit' a bit more than Tex! : )
i hate almost all photos of me, i really do... and this one is no exception!
thought i'd share it anyhow : )

Friday, 7 February 2014

Wild Men

Just bought this fantastic book. A perfect book for me, Wilder Mann by Charles Freger. You can see a fine selection of the images here, along with his other work. There's an interview with him here too. I just love all these characters and it left me wanting my own mad costume, I'll definitely make something. Even made me think about translating my papercut work into faux fur and fabrics. If only we didn't have to earn a living, imagine the fun things you could make and get done! I guess the knack is to make that your work/job. In that respect I'm not too far off. However, i'm not sure there are many art directors wanting an editorial illustration rendered in furs and dirt...then again maybe there are!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Robot Rampage

Received my copy of the second book in the Nick & Tesla series recently. Robot Rampage was a fun book to work on. There's another book already completed and I'm just working on roughs for a fourth book. Great books from Quirk Books, really nicely designed by Doogie Horner. Going to have to make the gadgets and gizmos with my boys at some point, yikes!

This one's from the first book (so why's it here?)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Dory, Linda and Juliet

Been enjoying these three slightly eccentric albums again recently, so thought i'd share. Dory Previn, Linda Perhacs and Juliet Lawson. Early 70's fabulousness. Linda Perhacs even has a new album out soon, after a long absence.