Birds, birds, birds

Birds of ParadiseAn illustration of birds of paradise is the latest addition to my pictures for Nicola Davies’ “A First Book of Animals”. I sketched the page like this, but Nicola reminded me that the birds of paradise live in the dense rainforest and therefore it would be good to show them in their natural habitat surrounded by leaves.

If you’ve never seen birds of paradise watch this documentary, because apart from the amazing colours the behaviour of the birds is fascinating.

Birds of ParadiseHere is the finished picture.

I started a new picture for the book. It is a picture of a beaver making a dam, but although I did two pictures they didn’t look right.

Instead I thought I will show you some other pictures of birds from my little sketchbooks.114

I was quite surprised by how many drawings I found. It was good fun to go through them all. Here are some.159They are mostly made up birds like this one. Can you see the fly?182

This one is also made up. I think it started as a duck.106I have a picture of pigeons and a white crow on Trafalgar Square.105This picture is a bit similar.71 Here are a few parrots223and more.211

One very heavy woodpecker.239

I call this picture a winter bird.191Talking about winter, this is what I could see from my studio window.194

More strange birds.198One very brave bird.224

This stork is also rather brave, but it’s because he’s never seen a gorilla before. Looking at the sketch it seems that I’ve never seen a gorilla before either, but it’s just a sketch.196

This stork has incredibly long legs.154This bird is in danger179and so is this duck.168More crows in the rain (as I saw once walking on the Malvern Hills).128Then I have some birds which are almost human.177This bird looks definitely like somebody I once met on the train.
This one looks more like a nightmare. 14

I don’t remember what this picture is about, but there is definitely a bird.

113I like toucans…and cycling, as a matter of fact.195And the last one is a bird in bed.122


Sketching Blue Penguin again and again.

sketch bpMy latest book Blue Penguin is coming out pretty soon. In fact I already have a first copy of the book at home. The book was in front of me when I received an email asking me to design a Christmas card. I didn’t need to think too long before I made up my mind about what I would do.

I thought Blue Penguin would make a good card.1Here is Blue Penguin taking off.2Similar, but perhaps a more festive launching of Blue Penguin.8Then I thought about a picture with Blue Penguin and the winter sun coming through a snowy sky.9And one more. This time with a Christmas star.6Or perhaps this one,…4or this one.3When I start sketching ideas sometimes I don’t know when to stop.
So I didn’t stop.10I think this picture made it to the final. I’m happy with the choice.5This illustration was one of the least successful. I liked the house in the picture so I did a picture of the house by itself.7Here are some other houses from my little sketchbook.IMG_2431Upside down house.

And one more. It looks a bit like a gingerbread house, don’t you think?


Lots of pictures

I’m working hard on “My First Book of Animals” brilliantly written by Nicola Davies. The book has more than fifty pictures and the deadline is coming slowly.

The good news is, that I’m really enjoying working on the book, so I don’t mind locking myself in the studio and paint…and paint.

Some animals are easier to draw than others and then there are animals which I was putting off, worried that I won’t be able to do it well. One of them was a whale shark.

Whale Shark

No wonder I was worried, this was my first sketch.

Whale sahrk copyAs often is the case, once you start dealing with the problem, things get easier. I’m now quite happy with the result.

I had a look at my sketchbook to find more sharks, but instead I found two drawings of orcas (killer whale).

103This one is almost abstract.104The other challenging picture was an illustration of a dragonfly. Here is the sketch.Dragon flyNicola’s text mentions the stage when the dragonfly is emerging from the nymph. In real life it looks like this.ARKive image ARK024212 - Emperor dragonflyIt’s quite fascinating, but also a challenge to draw it the way children can understand what is happening. Here is my interpretation.Dragonfly copyThis is the final illustration with the dragonfly.DragonflyThen I did a picture of giraffes. I like drawing giraffes and I have a couple of them in my little sketchbooks. Here are some.31

One very tall.32One swimming (by the way giraffes can’t swim).109One giraffe falling.

GiraffesThis is the sketch for the bookGiraffeand this is the final picture.

The illustration with monarch butterflies took me a long time.Monarcg ButterflyThe sketch and Monarch butterflythe final picture.

As a bonus, this is what happens when two chameleons try to catch one dragonfly.IMG_2430




Snail and firefly

I didn’t need to travel anywhere this week! I’ve spent the whole week in my studio working on my new book.

Here is a sketch for one of the pictures I finished just a couple of hours ago. Arctic terns.

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 17.53.51Nicola’s text says that the arctic tern travels three times the distance to the moon and back during its life time! It’s amazing. I decided to change the picture and show the birds flying in a flock.

Arctic TernHere is the final picture.

I also finished a picture of an orangutan. This is the work in progress.

IMG_2408And the final picture.OrangutanNext I did a picture of fireflies. I wasn’t quite sure how to do this one, but I think it came out quite nicely.Firefly

Then it was snail. Here is the sketchSnailand here is the finished illustration.

SnailI looked through my little sketchbook for more snails.245Here is one.

202This is a very old snail.

I thought that’s it, but then I noticed a picture on the wall in my studio. This snail on the bench is almost ten years old.IMG_2414


Mouse in Edinburgh

The Mouse Who Reahed the skyThis week was mainly about “The Mouse Who Reached the Sky”. It started on Monday at “The Tea House Theatre” next to my my publisher Walker Books.

The publisher invited children and their parents who are enthusiastic about picture books. There was a presentation by editors from Walker Books, a storyteller, I did my talk and some drawings, and then we all ate lots of delicious cakes.

I also got a present. Lucy gave me a picture with all the characters from my books. I love the penguin bouncing on the giraffe’s back.Lucy

It’s always nice to meet parents who love books and their children.

Then it was Edinburgh International Book Festival. Edinburgh is such a nice city and the Edinburgh International Book Festival is definitely my favourite festival. Well, after talking to other authors and illustrators, I have a feeling that it’s everybody’s favourite festival.

Whole event is so well organised. Everybody who is involved and everybody I met were friendly, smiley and always happy to help. And let’s not forget the great audience as well!

For authors the festival is also a great opportunity to catch up with fellow writers, illustrators and people who are involved with books.

I stayed for a couple of days and even managed to see a couple of events myself. There is so much to see, but one of my favourite talks was Best of the Brits: Celebrating our Young Adult Fiction. It was a discussion between Elizabeth Laird, David Almond, James Dawson and latest Carnegie Medal winner Tanya Landman and was chaired by the brilliant Daniel Hahn. Very entertaining was also Rev Richard Coles, who was chaired by the equally brilliant Richard Holloway.

Apart from my two events in the festival I also visited Gilmerton Library in Edinburgh and talked to a bunch of lovely kids from a local nursery. I’m not sure if the children were carefully selected, or if I was just lucky, but they were really well behaved and they were a great audience.CNfJnctWcAA60jK

I don’t know how, but I also managed to deliver a couple of pictures for the new book I’m working on with Nicola Davies.

wolfHere are wolves and a sketch for a chameleon with Nicola’s text.Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 17.34.39

and the final picture.Chameleon

I looked at my sketchbook for more chameleons and here is one.IMG_2397

The Mouse Who Reached the Sky!

Summer holiday is over, at least for me. I had a great time traveling and visiting lots and lots of galleries and museums.IMG_0624Here I am in one of them – The Eric Carl Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts. I’m trying on the wings of the butterfly. Guess from which book is it from!

I’m now back in my studio. When I got home a parcel was waiting for me. Inside were the copies of my new book The Mouse Who Reached the Sky!

The Mouse Who Reahed the sky 2

I’m packing for Edinburgh Literature Festival. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities and The Edinburgh Festival is one of my favourite festivals. I’m going to talk and also do a workshop about Little Mouse who reached the sky.

As I was getting ready I found some of the earliest sketches for the book.IMG_8762 copyThis is a sketch for the cover.


Here I was trying to choose the most suitable mouse for the picture. IMG_0242.JPG


IMG_0250.JPGIllustrating this page from the book was fun!

9This is the final artwork from the book.

We already have a paperback cover ready.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 08.10.47The paperback is made from thinner paper, so it can’t have the cut out in the front and the cover is a bit different.

I can’t wait to read the book to children and find out if they like it.

Since I was home I also finished two pictures for the book with Nicola Davies – My First Book of Animals.

Polar Bear 2Here is a polar bear with cubs

Penguinsand an emperor penguin looking after an egg.

Painting snow in the summer is rather refreshing.