More blue penguins

At the beginning  of the week I visited St. Mary’s Primary School in Hampton. A pretty school, which was opened only a year ago and still has only two classes. The result from such a small number of children in one school was that the teachers and children knew each other very well and the whole  school had a great friendly atmosphere.
Apart from me doing a talk and workshop, we also opened a new school library.

Opening a new library in a time when libraries are mostly closing down, was a rather special occasion.
I really enjoyed my day at St.Mary’s Primary School. I left with lots of presents, drawings and letters from the children.
Here are some of them.Scan
I love these butterflies.Scan 1
This snowman looks very autumnal. I love the colours.Scan copy
I think it’s me in the picture.Scan 1 copy
Look at this very colourful cat.Scan 2
Then it was time for me to go back to my studio. I’m working on my latest book “Blue Penguin”.IMG_0146It’s going well.

IMG_0149 Here are some new pictures from the book.

IMG_0151I still have six pictures to do, but I’m not sure if I want to finish, I’m enjoying it too much.IMG_0155

Work in progress

IMG_0119This week I was mostly in my studio working on my new book “Blue Penguin”. I had been looking forward to it for a very long time. I made everything ready a couple of weeks ago, all the printing, sketching, I stretched the papers and drew all the characters. I was sure that I had no unnecessary meetings or some other comitments.

Now I’m painting and collaging. I love this stage of working on a book the best and I’m enjoying every minute of it.IMG_0116I do most of the pictures twice. It helps me loosen up and relax. I can then choose the best picture for the book.

IMG_0113Can you see the difference? Sometimes I do the picture three times.IMG_0098I know which one I like the best, but I check by asking my wife or my daughters to choose the one they like the best.

IMG_0096I get very cross if they choose the wrong picture!

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IMG_0106One more important thing I would like to mention.

I donated a picture to the Willow Charity. Willow is the only UK charity supporting seriously ill 16-40 year olds to live their lives to the full by providing unique and positive Special Days.

One of the ways how Willow raises money is organising an auction called “Stars on Canvas”. Stars on Canvas, is a bi-annual charity auction of original artworks created by well known names from the worlds of art, illustration, sport, music and popular culture. The online eBay auction is accompanied by a public exhibition with all proceeds to the national charity, Willow. You can see all the art work and read more about the auction and the organisation here.

If you would like to have a nice picture for Christmas and help somebody else at the same time, please start bidding.Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 09.59.11Here is my contribution to the auction and here is the link. CLICK There are so many great pictures to choose from. I’ve already put my bid in!

 

 

 

I was in Belfast

If you are ever searching for a perfect pint of Guinness there’s no need to look any further. The Crown Bar in Belfast is the place to go to.

726023I don’t know how they do it, but Guinness doesn’t taste as good anywhere else. Visiting The Crown Bar is one of many great tips I’ve had from Kate from Speaking of Books. It was of course Speaking of Books who organised my trip to Belfast. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 15.01.28I was invited to Belfast by Book Trust Northern Ireland and my trip was sponsored by Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  The reason behind my visit was launching Bookstart Treasure Pack for pre-schoolers. I’m proud to say that one of the books which children get free in their packs is  ”Puffin Peter”.puffin peter

During my stay I was well looked after by Liz and Kathryn from Booktrust. Liz and Kathryn were great company and they did a great job to make everything run nice and smoothly.

IMG_3521My first visit was at Barbour Nursery School in Lisburn. It was a great morning. The children were fantastic and so was the Bear.IMG_3555In the afternoon I worked with foster children in The Duncairn Centre. I did some reading, drawing and together we made this picture. The children were good fun to work with and the result is pretty good I think.

On Wednesday I went to Grove Library. I was amazed to see the library beautifully decorated with images from Puffin Peter. IMG_3602 The children who came to my talk were from Hazelwood Nursery.IMG_3636

Here is Amelia and me. Amelia, aged 4 goes to Hazelwood Nursery.IMG_3596

She gave me this picture of Suzy Goose which she painted herself.  I was very impressed.

Scan1The same afternoon I did one more talk and workshop at The Duncairn Centre for children from Bunscoil Mhic Reachtain School. It was fun and children worked very hard on their mural.BelfastApart from meeting lots of children I also met lots of lovely people involved in Booktrust, art, libraries, schools and fostering. It was my second visit to Northern Ireland and I had a great time once again.

So THANK YOU Liz and Kathryn, Booktrust in Ireland, Arts Council Ireland and of course Speaking of Books for helping make this trip a success.

I’m back now in my studio and I’m planning to stay here for a bit. 130I have to finish art work for my latest book “Blue Penguin”.

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I feel ready and I’m really looking forward to getting on with the pictures.

 

Trip to the Czech Republic

IMG_9801I’m back from my annual trip to the Czech Republic. To me autumn is the prettiest time of the year and autumn in the Czech Republic is beautiful. I left more than two weeks ago.

The first couple of days I spent in Prague. I visited the book shop “Amadito and Friends” run by two nice ladies Sylvie and Olivia.

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 ”Amadito and Friends” is a bookshop which sells books in their original languages and I did a talk there for a small audience. The evening had a friendly atmosphere and I really enjoyed it. Because of the people who come to the shop (partly foreigners, partly parents of children who are learning foreign languages), the shop has a good relationship with “International School of Prague. I also went there to do a talk and a bit of art with the children. A very busy, but lovely day. I met with very talented and enthusiastic children and also with nice parents and a great school  staff. The principle of the school was very nice and I had a good chat with the art teacher too. His nickname is Chip and he’s been living in the Czech Republic for some time now. Have a look at his work -https://williamchipdoehring.wordpress.com.

I got some nice cards and drawings from the children.Scan 1ScanThen it was time for me to move to South Czech and do some work in solitude – the reason I go to Czech every autumn.IMG_9789Very good friends of mine lent me their cottage by the woods. It’s in the middle of nowhere. One of the nicest places I know. I made fires, raked fallen leafs in the orchard, walked and painted in the woods and I also wrote down some new ideas for books.

IMG_9806I love woods and I love painting outside. The thing is I don’t do it as often as I would like to these days.

IMG_9808When I was working on this picture a herd of deer came not knowing I’m there. They were beautiful, and we gave each other a good fright.

IMG_9803It got colder later in the week, so I was painting closer to the house. It had the advantage of being able to run back to the cottage, get warmer and make myself a nice cup of coffee.

IMG_9809 When painting this gate my hands were so cold, that I could hardly hold the brush. It was snowing in the hills further south of Czech.

IMG_9788There were days when I couldn’t paint at all, so I was just walking and writing some new ideas for  books.IMG_0029

No internet, no telephone, just a sketchbook, pencil and fire in the stove. Heaven!

IMG_0028I also got a couple of ideas for new board books.

IMG_9792Then the weather got better and I could paint outside again. My friends and their children arrived at the end of the week. I got this nice drawing from Vincent. It’s me with animals.

IMG_0025And one more picture from Vincent.IMG_0024The truth is, this is exactly how it  looks at the place where I was staying. The sunrise and sunset are so magical and deer are everywhere, making terrifying noises in the evening.

I love my annual trip to the Czech wilderness and I know I’ll live from my latest experience for a very long time.

IMG_9820Since I came back I did a talk at Exetreme Imagination in Exeter Library. It went well and the audience was great. I’m now packing for a trip to Belfast, where I’ll be visiting some schools and libraries, talking mainly about “Puffin Peter”. I’m looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

..and one more festival

IMG_9757I visit so many schools these days, that I’ve developed a good skill at guessing pretty much straight away, how my day at the school will be. All I need is to meet a couple of teachers by the door and a couple of children. In 10 minutes I know what to expect.

Last Wednesday I went to a small school Powich Primary School in Worcester. I met nice and friendly teachers there and as soon as I started to paint the board for our workshop, children gathered around me and started lively conversation. Nobody shooed them away in fact the headmaster came around to say hello as well. I knew it would be a good day and so it was.

We painted a big picture, did lots of drawings and talked about books. It was such a busy day, that I forgot to take some photos, but I got lots of drawings from the children though. Here are some.

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And one more.

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On Friday I traveled to Ilkley Literature Festival. I stayed in a nice hotel in Ben Rhydding. I thought it will be one of those evennings, when one doesn’t talk to anybody, goes to the hotel room and watches friday night telly. I walked to Ilkley, had a coffee and went back for a lonely dinner, but as I went down to the restaurant I met fellow illustrator Robert Crowther. We both publish with Walker Books and we had a lot to talk about. It was a nice evening.

At breakfast I spotted another familiar face – Yasmeen Ismail IMG_9752

Here she is just finished her event which was a great success judging by the happy people queuing to have a book signed.

I was next after Yasmeen. I did a talk and workshop and one more talk later in the afternoon. The children and their parents who came were lovely, but people who go to festivals and who like picture books usually are nice.

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Here is a picture which describes the working atmosphere pretty well. IMG_9758

We made nice books.IMG_9765

Here is Little Mouse meeting a ladybird called Lady Ann.

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Fellow young illustrator

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and one master piece.

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I think I can say, that we all had a great day, so thank you to Ilkley Literature Festival for having me.

I’m now off for two weeks. I’m going on my annual trip to Czech woods. I’ll be painting, walking in the woods and I’m hoping to write some new ideas for picture books.IMG_6463_2

I will also stay in Prague for a couple of days and since I publish in the Czech Republic I will do a bit of book talking there too. On Tuesday at six o’clock in the evening I’m going to be in the international book shop AMADITO & FRIENDS.  I’ll do a talk, read from my books and do some drawings.photo 1

The shop is run by Sylvie and Olivia. We met in the summer in their lovely shop. I noticed that Petr Sis did his event there only a couple of weeks before me, so I will have to work hard to match it.

unnamedWell, the shop window is now beautifully decorated. I’d better go and pack my suitcase.

 

 

Book festivals and some pictures

Last week I visited Clifton Prep School in Bristol.  I had a great time being well looked after by Jenny, the librarian in the school.

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With children we made a big picture for the new library. We all had fun and it all went pretty well.

There are lots of book festivals around at this time of  year. I went to Henley Book Festival where I did a talk and workshop with lots of little children and their even smaller siblings. Luckily I had very good voluntary helpers and it all went smoothly.  Henley looked great and I wished I could stay longer and go to some of the events, but I had to go back and do preparation for one of my favourite book festivals – Cheltenham.

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Cheltenham Literary Festival is always very well organised and the audience is always very nice and lively. This was my fourth year doing the so called “Breakfast with Petr Horacek” Children and their parents come in to the “Spiegeltent”. They have a rather good looking breakfast – pancakes and fruit, juice and adults get good coffee too. I read my books and did a bit of drawing. Then we all make little books together. It’s a rather nice, friendly family event. I always enjoying being in Cheltenham.

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Apart from the event itself it it’s also a great opportunity for me to catch up with friends and fellow authors and illustrators.

emile

I also met lots of very talented young artists. Here is a picture done by one of them – Emile Rosen age 9. These characters are from a not yet written down book, but looking at these strangely looking guys, you can imagine that the book could be really good.

emile 9

I also had time to do a bit of drawing and painting myself.Scan 2I did three little pictures for charity.
SnailThe pictures had to be the size of a postcard and people are auctioning the artwork in the next month. The auction is anonymous and the people bidding for the pictures don’t know who did them until they buy them. The pictures are signed on the other side. I like the idea. I will mention  the name of the charity auction in the next couple of weeks.

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