Duck, Duck and Duck

It’s almost a year since I met Joyce Dunbar. We were tutors together on a course for writers and illustrators of picture books at The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank.

The whole course was incredibly inspiring for everybody involved.

But just for me being able to work and spend some time with such a nice person and talented writer as Joyce is,  was a real treat.Claire Mc NameeThis photo of Joyce and me brings nice memories. It was taken by the brilliant  Claire McNamee.  Claire’s beautiful photographs were hanging all over The Ted Hughes centre.

Claire was the fastest working photographer I’d ever met. She arrived with her old beautiful film camera. We had a chat and she took a couple of pictures with her Leica.  A couple days later she showed us the results.  Every picture was a masterpiece!

At Arvon we worked hard, but we also had so many laughs. I was very excited when later in the year I heard from my publisher. They were telling me, that Joyce had written a picture book for me!

The book is going to be called “Grumpy Duck”. It  would be my very first picture book published in England which is written by somebody else other than me. I usually illustrate my own picture books, but illustrating a book for Joyce is a real honour for me.

1 2 (1)Although I wanted to start illustrating the book straightaway, I had to wait and first finish a couple of things which were on my desk for too long.

So finally here are the first sketches of the duck. 1 1It’s an Indian Runner Duck….kind of.1 copyThe duck in the book has good reason to be grumpy. Her pond has dried out. A dried pond would make anybody miserable.1Here are the first colour sketches of the Grumpy Duck.

1 G.D.

This Duck was so colourful, that it was hard to see her.

1 copy

I tried to paint her white again.  It was better.


And here is the first finished illustration of the Grumpy Duck.

1 copy

In the book is going to be full of lots of animals. Some of them grumpy, but all of them happy in the end.1There is also going to be a cloud. A big, BIG cloud.10



Hay and joint drawing

DSC_0233I was at the Hay Festival last Sunday taking part at the “Illustration Hot Desk in the Make and Take Tent”. I showed some of my illustrations and sketches, talked to people and did drawings for children.DA6vSFKXYAE80dQ

The line-up at Hay was great, as always and it was a good opportunity to catch up with some friends and fellow illustrators.DA6IhCXXUAABJwl

I went to see Nicola Davies and Cathy Fisher’s event. They were talking about their collaboration on the book “Perfect”. Nicola always does a good talk and it was a real treat to see Cathy painting live. The event was a great success and their audience was superb. NicolaandCathyHAY20170011

This photo was taken by Stuart Conway.

Talking about collaborations with Nicola Davies.  Our book “A First Book of Animals” was shortlisted for “The Royal Society’s 2017 Young People’s Book Prize” last Friday. How exciting!

A First Book of Animals

At Hay I also talked to Chris Riddell. He came to the “Tent” and we did a joint drawing. I don’t get nervous easily, but drawing with the Children Laureate was a bit too much for me. My hand was shaking.unnamed-1

We did this drawing and I don’t think any of us knew exactly what it was about.  Still, it was fun.DSC_0227

Chris then did a portrait of meDSC_0228

and I returned the favour.DSC_0229

If you think that we look a bit different, let me just explain, that drawing on a flip chart in front of people, standing sideways doesn’t make it easy.

I decided to stay for another treat – a talk by Oliver Jeffers. He is not just a brilliant artist and book maker, but also a great entertainer. The event was brilliant.

I’ll be back at Hay next Sunday to do two workshops in ” The Scribblers’ Tent”, so come to say hello if you are around.

Before then, on Saturday I’ll be at the “Ilminster Literary Festival” and I’m looking forward to it already!

One more exciting news – Jessica Ennis-Hill was reading “Puffin Peter” on CBeebies and she read it very well!

I realised that this blog is lacking a masterpiece, so here is one. This picture was done by Alexandra age 4. It’s a self portrait with a Yorkshire terrier. I love it.

Alexandra (1)



Children’s Art and Children’s Book Illustration

I’ve been travelling a lot since I returned from Prague two weeks ago.

For example I visited two of my favourite schools. The first one was Portway Infant School in Andover and the second was Rowan Preparatory School in Claygate.

Rowan Preparatory School in Claygate invites children from other schools for a day when I’m there. It’s always good fun and also a very busy day. I read books, we talked about illustrations and we do art. Hot dogs are served and the day finishes with an art exhibition.

The theme this year was Puffin Peter.IMG_0229Here are some of the pictures.

IMG_0230In this collage Blue Penguin meets Puffin Peter.

IMG_0231Here is Puffin Peter waiting for Puffin Paul.

I love pictures done by children and I always get some drawings to take home. This amazing drawing was given to me in

Portway Infant School in Andover is another school I visit every year. It’s always nice to go to a school with friendly teachers I know and children who can’t wait to hear stories and to do some art. Over the years some of the children leave primary school, but then they come to collect their younger siblings at the end of the day. It’s nice to see them again.

Portway Infant School in Andover  has a good collection of my pictures. This is the latest one based on “The Greedy Goat”.unnamed-1We painted all the “nice” things The Greedy Goat would like to eat …and more. I especially like these two birds sitting on the goat’s back.IMG_0235

I also did two events at The Royal Horticultural Society’s  Malvern Spring Festival. That was different, because you never know who will come, but it was all well organised and great fun.

MHere is another masterpiece done by Markus aged 8 I want to share with you. It’s a copy of an owl from my book “A First Book of Animals”.

I had also a great day in Hereford, taking part in the Hereford Book Festival for Schools 2017. It was a day of reading and making books with more than 100 children from four different schools. I was lucky, because I had great help from librarians, volunteers and also from students of illustration from Hereford School of Art.

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One more picture I want to show you. The author is 7 year old Amy from Hong Kong. I love it.Amy 7 IpSo the last couple of weeks were about children’s art.

Now one announcement:

 The Children’s Book Illustration  is sadly closing down.  They were often the only place where you could buy original artwork done by some of the best illustrators around. Their last day of trading will be on Saturday 17th June.

Have a look at  The Children’s Book Illustration website. You may find something you would like!