Holiday, advertising and off again

IMG_5880It seems only  yesterday (and it almost is) since we came home from holiday. Rome was hot and full of amazing architecture and Florence is now one of my favourite cities.

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Inspiration is everywhere you look. My favourite place in Florence is Covent of San Marco  and the beautiful frescos done by Fra Angelico.

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Since we came home I’ve been working on a new idea for a board book. 1 4I like doing board books and I say that a picture book is like writing a novel, but a board book is like writing a poem.

1 5What I mean is, that it’s not easy and one has to be very economical with words and with the story too.

1 8So far I haven’t got very far.

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1 13But I like a challenge.

I’m now going to pack these sketches and tomorrow I’m off to the Czech Republic. I’ll start in Prague doing a couple of talks. One of them on 13th September is going to be in the City Library in Prague. Here is the invitation.

Next day at 16.30 I’ll be doing a little event in a newly opened shop “Hamleys”. They are selling my books in English over there. I’ll also pop into a Czech school.

And finally there will be time to travel to the south of Prague and stay in this beautiful cottage next to the wood and apple orchard, and I will paint, write and sketch new ideas. I can’t wait!

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This place is magical and I will walk through the woods a lot and I come back with some ideas. My latest picture book “The Greedy Goat” was “born” there.The Gready Goat

I’ll sadly miss a couple of things here in England. One of them is a live creative musical storytelling art show. One of the people behind this project is Ann Bruder. Ann was one of my students in Arvon this year and if you haven’t heard about her yet, you will soon.

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Ready Steady GO! is an immersive theatre show for 3-9 year olds and their families which allows the audience to create, decorate and drive cardboard cars. Check Ann’s website for the dates of the tour.
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I have just mentioned “Arvon” Centre. If you are interested about writing and illustrating books for children, don’t look any further. Here is one course just for you!

Rooted in Nature: Writing and Illustrating for Children

The tutors on this course are Nicola Davies and Jackie Morris.  I’m sure none of these incredibly talented ladies needs an introduction. As far as I know there may still be some places free.

One thing I’m not going to miss, because it’s in Prague is the exhibition of my good friend Vladimir HanusIMG_4408I used to study with Vladimir at the Academy of Fine Art in Prague. I discovered books for children, but Vlada never stopped painting pictures. His paintings and objects are beautiful and he is definitely one of the best painters around these days.

His paintings are full of colours and light. I can’t wait to see it!

O.k. I’m off. Here is one more finished illustration just before I go.A Big Sniff 2

 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

I’m home, back from the beautiful city of Edinburgh.
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I feel as if I’m repeating myself every year, but the truth is that I love Edinburgh and I love everything about the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The people who come to the events, the friendly atmosphere, the cosiness of the venue and mainly the fact that it is absolutely brilliantly and professionally run by people who are devoted to what they do. Everybody is so friendly and helpful. That’s why the festival is always such a success.DSC_0111

This year I did two talks and readings from my books. It all went very well and we had fun. DSC_0116 3My other event was with the amazing writer and author of our latest book Nicola Davies. Just look at this photo of us taken by Chris Close. Chris is is the photographer who’s funny and beautiful pictures are always hanging in the festival. He is also a very nice guy to talk to. Look at his work on his website!A First Book of Animals

It was the very first time that Nicola and I have done a talk together. Nicola knows so much about animals and nature.  I could listen to her for ever.

My part in our event was to show some sketches, talk briefly about the illustrations and draw some animals on stage as Nicola was talking. It was great fun, though quite  challenging.FrankThe pictures were not too bad considering that I had only a couple of minutes to do them. Frank won a chameleon.

Cp6tq3tWAAEDrDVThis little boy got an ostrich and an ice-cream, but the ice-cream was probably from his grandma.

It was a nice couple of days in Edinburgh. I’m looking forward to the next time!

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Lumb Bank Arvon

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The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank is an 18th-century mill-owner’s house in West Yorkshire, which once belonged to Ted Hughes.

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It’s almost impossible to spend week in this place and not get inspired.

When I was asked to be a tutor on a course for writers and illustrators of picture books I was honoured, but at the same time I was worried. Teaching and giving people advice …. on anything is a big responsibility. I needed somebody I could rely on. Somebody who has done similar projects before, has great experience in writing, is able to work with other people and is able to run such a  course.

And then I realised that Joyce Dunbar was going to be my fellow tutor! My decision was made. I couldn’t miss the chance to see Joyce teaching, talking about her work and about the world of picture books.
My hopes overcame my expectations. The blog would be far too long if I start praising Joyce about the way how she works with students and what a good friend she is. Joyce is not just an experienced, clever and brilliant writer, but she has the gift to teach, share her experience and ideas with others and make it all fun at the same time.IMG_5337

I can say that Joyce and I teamed up really well and the whole week was a great success.IMG_5290

Another real treat was  a short visit and a brilliant talk by Polly Dunbar, one of my favourite writers and illustrators of picture books. Her contribution to the course was appreciated by everybody. Thank you Polly.IMG_5316

And the biggest thanks goes to everybody who came on the course. The students were truly amazing. Lovely, kind and friendly people, who had one thing in common – they all sheared a love for picture books.IMG_5297We all worked very hard.IMG_5381

Before I went to Lumb Bank I was trying to prepare myself for any possible situation, because you never know what can happen when you are working with a group of people who have never met each other. What I didn’t expected was that I’d be leaving so inspired myself, tired, but happy with a feeling, that I’ve made a bunch of new friends.

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IMG_5365At this point in the blog I’ve realised that I could go on and on and I would love to show some of the students amazing work, but I won’t be able to fit everything in and besides, some of it may get published and I can’t give it away.

IMG_5304So perhaps just a couple of pages from one of the more visual exercises we did together.

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IMG_5306IMG_5394There is one very important thing I must mention and it’s all the hard work of everybody who runs the Arvon Centre in Lumb Bank. Rosie, Becky, Mark, Jean, Jill and Jack.IMG_5339This is him – Jack who is everywhere and always ready to help and do an extra work. Thank you to all of you!IMG_5310Over the five days of the course I had only one chance to explore the surrounding countryside, but I’ll remember the walk for a very long time.IMG_5355

IMG_5347How about this chimney in the middle of the valleyy?

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Walking by the river was magical.IMG_5354

Oh well, I’m on my way back sitting on the train and soon I’m off again. This time to my favourite event of the year – Edinburgh International Book Festival.

A First Book of AnimalsI’m going to meet Nicola Davies, the writer of  my latest book. I’m looking forward to our joint event very much!