BIG sigh of relief...

Well this week I finished off all the work I have been commissioned for in 2006. It's a great feeling to have worked hard and to be able to look back on your accomplishments with some pride. Also to have a bit of free time now to enjoy the holidays, and this lovely spring/summer weather we are having (though not so if you are within reach of the fires, but that's another story.)

The biggest and most exciting project I have been working on is a 32 page children's book. This has been a fantastic experience. It's the first real children's book I've done, and even though it's not a hard cover glossy wonder, and probably will be sold in Kmart instead of Borders, it is still a book with characters and scenes and I loved every moment of working on it. And hopefully it is a step towards the hard cover glossy wonder too. :-)

I guess I can't say too much about it until it is actually published (in April) but I thought I might just jot down a few things that I learned, in no particular order:

1. Always use the right size brush for what you are doing. I tend to lean towards using a smaller brush than I need, and it makes for more work and not such a nice texture.

2. Put on some good music and take lots of dance breaks.

3. The easiest way to stay loose when doing linework is to do it fast and not think about it too much.

4. USE GOOD MATERIALS. Yes it might be a bit more of an expensive outlay but it will save you much time and frustration.

5. Don't feel like you have to answer the phone or door if you are in the middle of something.

6. Every once in a while, stop, look around, and say out loud, "I'm getting paid to paint!"

7. If your roughs are pretty tight then you can concentrate on the colour scheme as opposed to the composition when you are creating the finals (a good thing for me).

8. The computer is a great tool for trying out different compositions. Often I will draw something just how I want it, but it's in the wrong place, or slightly too small, etc. Instead of redrawing- scan it in, move, and print out. Ta dah!

9. Black, opaque, light fast and indelible india ink is just that, but you have to let it dry completely first.

10. Always check for consistency. Not just in the way the characters look, but also - if the little boy leaves his teddy on the front porch, is it still there in the next scene from a different angle? Is his bedroom still as messy as it was 4 pages ago? I got stung with a few things like this. Make sure it's the same, because you know the 5 year old will pick it up!

Well since I can't show you any illos from the book yet, I thought I could at least show you my characters. This is a little sheet I did before I started painting the finals and always had it on my drawing board to make sure I was drawing and painting consistently. Meet Max, a 10 year old farmboy, his parents and grandparents, and his nameless collie-dog. :-)

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My current obsession is redecorating my studio. This began a few months ago when I started getting more illustration work and realised I needed a good setup. I half set it up, but then just had to get to work, and have been working in a total mess ever since. So now that I have some time, I can do all the fun cosmetic stuff, and it's so exciting because it's really coming together. I'll be sure to post photos when it's all spiffed up. Today is going to be devoted to setting up my brand new imac (to replace my grunting G4) which has been sitting very patiently in its box for almost a week now. I give it a pat every time I go by and hear it whimper very softly. soon, my precious, soon... and today is the day. wohoo! new toys!