Being outside

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Every autumn I travel to the Czech Republic.  I spend two weeks on my own in a beautiful cottage, on a hill by the wood.

In front of the cottage, is an apple orchard and a view from which you can see the whole country.

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I am there on my own with pencils and brushes. I walk, paint, draw and I think of new ideas for picture books.

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IMG_1356Recently I was talking to students of illustration saying, that all I know about drawing I owe to life drawing lessons. Everything I know about paint and colour I learned from painting outside.

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I love to walk, pick a spot, fall in love with a place, watch it for a couple of hours, trying to understand it, witnessing it slowly changing as the day goes by.IMG_E1429

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In nature you find shapes and colours you wouldn’t be able to make up yourself. Making a note, sketching and painting is the way to learn.

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These are some of my sketches and small paintings. They are different sizes and formats. I paint them for myself and I show them only to friends when they ask about them. More than finished paintings I like the process of painting. I often slip away in my thoughts and start thinking about picture books.IMG_6133

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Every year I come home thinking that I haven’t done enough work, but all the sketches and notes suddenly start making sense a couple weeks later.

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I love the cottage and the surrounded countryside. It is always hard to pack the rucksack and go back to civilisation, but by doing that I have something to look forward to again. I will be coming back soon.

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Grumpy Duck

It’s just over a year since I published the blog – DUCK, DUCK and DUCK

Everything is written there and it made me smile reading it again. I remember the lovely time we had with Joyce at The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank and  how much I enjoyed working on the book.

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Joyce is a great writer and and she seems to carry hundreds of ideas with her everywhere she goes.

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‘Grumpy Duck’ is one of them. It was written for me and it did feel as if I’d written it myself. Perhaps that was the reason why I enjoyed working on the illustrations so much.

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 Thank you Joyce and thank you Walker Books for giving us the opportunity of working together and for making such a lovely book.



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I hope you will enjoy reading it!