Books, schools and a walk

It’s been a busy two weeks. I went to a couple of schools and a book festival.

One of my favourite visits was to The Rowen Nursery and Primary School in Wimbledon; lovely children and  friendly teachers. The next day I was at another lovely school in Farnborough, Parsonage Farm Nursery and Infant School. Once again, I had a great day. This is the picture we made with the children.IMG_6934

I know I’ve done similar pictures with children before, but I’ll never get tired of doing them. Children always surprise me with new ideas and it’s great fun to see them having fun.

At the weekend I travelled to the Lake District to the National Trust Children’s Book Festival. 1431767857592-wray-festival-imageThis time it was more holiday than work. I did an event with Nicola Davies. I love listening to her talking about animals and all I have to do is painting as she talks. It was great fun. I also did one event on my own. I had a great audience and it was rather special.

During my talk I paint and draw. We give people raffle tickets and at the end we raffle the drawings and give them to children. This time, one little girl came to me and asked every time during the raffle, if she can have the picture, but I couldn’t give it to her, since it was a raffle. She didn’t understand. It was breaking my heart. All four big drawings were given away. There was only one picture left and then…..the winning number is……SHE WON IT! The girl won her picture!
You couldn’t have made it up. Everybody cheered.
The festival was also a great opportunity to catch up with friends, fellow artists and writers. The lovely Gill Lewis was there, talented Ed Vere, Philip Ardagh, Stephen Cole, Axel Scheffler,  Yuval Zommer, Will Mabbitt…

Will’s book “I can only draw worms” is so funny, that I’ve been reading it and showing it to everybody I’ve met since.images-1
I also went for walks in the hills. It was marvellous. Definitely one of the nicest places I’ve ever been.unnamed-4
This fancy umbrella is NOT mine! I borrowed it from Gill.

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Nicola and Katarina having a rest.
One of the view. It’s not a painting, it really looked like this!unnamed-2

Somewhere in between I found time to work on the new cover for “A First Book of Animals”. Well, the book is going to be published in America, but it will be called ” Song of the Wild. A First Book of Animals” and the American publisher would like an orangutan on the cover.

This is the unfinished orangutan.  Next time it’ll be finished.oranguthan

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

I’ve finished, wrapped up and sent the book to the publisher in South Korea. I did enjoy working on the book very much, although illustrating am already written story is for me more challenging than illustrating my own books.7
I find it sometimes difficult to strip the pictures to the basics. To get rid of all the unnecessary details and still be able to look at the text from a different perspective and perhaps to add something extra.

I think this is all what a good picture book needs. A text that is in good balance with the pictures and vice versa. There is no need to always illustrate what is already said in the text and no need to say what is already visible from the picture.10

Anyway the goats have now successfully crossed the river. The mean troll was punished and everybody’s happy!

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All that is left on the table are bits and pieces and cut outs. Here is something I would like to call “An accidental goat”. The goat was cut out and the stripy paper underneath created something between a billy goat and zebra.
I’ve moved on to a board book. This is the second of two board books which are going to be published next year.

I’ve mentioned it before. Board book illustrations look simple, but they take the same amount of effort and take as long to do as illustrations for a picture book.6. Monkey
This board book is going to be a “lift the flap” board book. It was fun to keep the animals simple but recognisable.5.ParrotI had fun printing the parrot  and painting the ostrich. Here are some sketches  and this is how the ostrich was born.IMG_6741



I found a great old photo of a wild photographer dressed as an ostrich. At least I hope that’s what he is doing.ostritch
I’m going to put my pencils down now for a bit. March is the busiest month of the year for anybody who has something to do with books. It has something to do with World Book Day I believe.

I’m visiting two schools this week and on Friday I’m of to the Lake District. I’m taking part in “The Wray Castle Children’s Book Festival 2017″. Look who else is going to be there! Come to see us if you can. It’s going to be AMAZING!Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 21.47.56

Who is the Troll

4For the last couple of months I’ve been working on a classic story “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. I had wanted to illustrate the story for some time, so when I was asked to do so, I was excited and I thought that it would be “a walk in the park”.

Of course, it turned out to be more difficult than I thought. I got stuck with the troll.


Who knows what the troll looks like? I always thought that a troll needs to be mean and scary to deserve to end up the way he ends up.IMG_6295The first sketches were SO scary, that the Korean publisher sent me the best feedback I’ve ever received- “There won’t be any point in publishing a book which the child would open only once”. I had to admit that they had a point.IMG_6559
IMG_6305In fact I started to be scared myself.

The publisher made a comment, that the troll needs to be scary, but not too much. He needs to look silly, stupid and a bit funny too. IMG_6564So I started to do more sketches.IMG_6561


IMG_6560Once or twice I thought I’m nearly there.IMG_65638I tried in colour.3But even this troll was still a bit too much. The publisher wanted the book to be for very young children, so I had to smooth him up a bit more.

IMG_6587And so here is the final troll from under the bridge.Billy Goat Gruff
7TI hope he now looks a bit stupid,6a bit silly9and scary enough12to deserve to end up in the river!