On offer is a signed copy of "Can it be True?" and also a retelling of The Snow Queen by Sarah Lowes illustrated by Miss Clara.
The giveaway is open until the 24th October and Annie would like you to share some of your Christmas thoughts with her.
Annie is a talented photographer and has managed to capture the gold foil on the book jacket so beautifully.
And now, if you will excuse this very hurried post, I must dash, I have books to deliver.
This year I decided to submit two miniature paintings for possible selection for The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers annual exhibition. After being inspired by an earlier trip to Wells to see the work of The Hilliard Society and reading other artist's blogs such as Tracy Hall's Watercolour Diary I finally plucked up the courage and entered my paintings for the first time.
This entailed a trip to London to submit the artwork followed by an anxious wait, checking the website to see if my work had been accepted. I was both surprised and delighted to see my two registration numbers amongst the list of accepted works, in fact I had to ask my husband to double check to see if my eyes were not deceiving me!
Illustration for "Can it be true?" written by Susan Hill for Long Barn Books.
I thought you might be interested to see
some of the thought processes and inspiration behind my recent illustration
project for "Can it be true?” for Long Barn Books.
It was decided from the beginning that this book would have either black and white illustrations or restricted colour, we wanted to give a more simplified “printmaker” feel to this new edition in contrast to the very detailed water colours used previously.
When I had to think of an image to use to illustrate the towns page I immediately thought of Tudor style houses. This very decorative style of building lends itself to black pen and ink drawing and so was a natural choice. There are very many wonderful examples around our home and county town of Chester. Some date from as far back as Henry VII.
The illustration started as a black and
white pen drawing, which I scanned into the computer. I then added colour and a
lino print texture on Photoshop. The original idea was to have gold on some of
the pages but to do this would have added considerably to the costs. We decided
to add a gold effect instead, this was also done on Photoshop by scanning a
piece of gold leaf and then “pasting” the effect in the windows and onto the
stars. (see top) The illustration suggested a repeat pattern so when the book was finished I turned the page into a textile design. To see how this would look on fabric I decided to try out the Spoonflower site. This is a place where you can upload your own designs and have them printed for your own use or for sale in an online shop.
The problem for me was choosing the right
fabric, in the end I opted for Kona cotton, thinking it might be nice to quilt.
The obligatory sample arrived in due course and when I saw it my mind turned
back to books again. I thought it might be good to try out the fabric as a book
cloth;- here is my very old and tatty address book sporting its new cover. It
seemed an appropriate choice.
August came and went in the blink of an eye
and now it seems we are almost into autumn. A new term for those returning to
school and great excitement for a certain little boy who starts school
tomorrow. How I wish I could be a fly on the wall!
I seem to have been very busy with one
thing and another. I have redesigned my website in order to make changes and
updates easily without having to ask for help. I made it on blogger, better the
devil you know, it will be a work in progress.
A box full of ‘Can it be True?” book
samples arrived followed by some rather exciting news. Those of you who listen
to BBC Radio 3 Breakfast might have heard about a new Christmas Carol
Competition. Listeners are being asked to set the words of a new version of
“Can it be True?” by Susan Hill to create a new Christmas carol. If you are
musically inclined you might like to enter, details are available here-
I took this photograph to give you some idea of the scale of the book. As you can see it is Christmas stocking size.
I hope to have some of the Christmas books
for sale soon in my bookshop, maybe in the next few days. It seems a bit too soon to think about the
festive season so maybe I will leave it for a while, not wanting to wish away
the last of the summer.
We celebrated our wedding anniversary by a
trip to Bodnant garden, which is probably the most beautiful garden I have ever
visited. With panoramic views of Snowdonia, wooded glades, waterfalls, lily
ponds, terraces and rose gardens all combine to create an earthly paradise. We
have seen the garden before but not for some years now and noticed many
improvements, we hope to return soon.
Are you looking forward to the next series
of Downton Abbey when it returns to our television screens soon? I love cosy
Sunday nights with a new craft project, a glass of wine and good old Downton. I
am hoping for lots lavish interiors and posh frocks and people looking
wistfully in the mid distance whilst opining that "times are a-changing".
You may have noticed that I have been playing around on the Spoonflower site. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this website, it is a print on demand site for textiles, wallpapers and wraps. I thought I might try out some new ideas and make available again some designs that have been retired. Like my website this is another work in progress activity. At the moment I am waiting for some samples before deciding what to do next.
Sometimes it seems that I have so many projects on the go and hardly any finished but I am pleased to report that I finally managed to complete the miniature painting I started in the summer. Now what shall I paint next?
July is almost over; I can hardly remember a hotter summer. It seems strange that most of my work has been winter themed. So whilst the bees have been humming and the flowers blooming I have had to turn my thoughts to snow and ice.
I mentioned before that I have been illustrating a Christmas book not quite knowing when it would be appropriate to reveal exactly which book and for whom. Well, now my secret is out, a recent article online reveals all.
I have been working on a series of illustrations for “Can it be True?” by Susan Hill, her company Long Barn Books will publish it in September. I will post more images soon when we are all in a more Christmassy mood.
Each illustration started life as a black ink drawing and colour being added digitally at a later stage. The owl drawing is very much a work in progress; the final pages are in colour. When the book was first published it was illustrated by Angela Barrett. I make no secret of the fact that I was absolutely thrilled and terrified in equal measure to get the chance to do a new version. I hold Angela’s work in the highest esteem; she is without doubt one of our greatest illustrators and an impossibly hard act to follow. I was given great freedom to create my own version, the one condition was that I had to do something with a very different feel, to say that I have lost sleep over this would be an understatement, too late now though, it has gone off to the printer.
As you can see I have drawn some of the ivy growing in my garden, although it looks more like this at the moment.
Earlier in the month I went down to London to see this years Texprint exhibition. Each year 24 textile design graduates are chosen from UK colleges and universities to take part in this prestigious event. In 1975 I was amongst the fortunate ones to participate, in those days the exhibition was held at The Design Centre which was on The Haymarket, this years venue was The Chelsea College of Art and Design. The graduates are given the opportunity to connect with industry professionals and hopefully gain placements, jobs and commissions. I was very impressed with the overall standard of work on show, so much talent, innovation and skill. You can see some of the things these young designers produce by following the links here Texprint helped me to make my dream of becoming a designer a reality and I wish each and every one of this years graduates the very best of luck.
I will leave you now with this darling smile from our beautiful granddaughter. In the background you will see my ancient dining room curtains. The bolt of fabric was given to me by Jane Teale; who I worked with in the seventies. She commissioned and printed my design “Blue Jays” (this being a brown version). Oddly enough I met Jane through Texprint almost forty years ago. It’s about time I got myself some new curtains don’t you think?
June has been and gone already! Time is flying by at lightening speed maybe because we have been so busy with work and a London trip- more of that later…
Much of my time has been devoted to promoting “White is the Moon”; this has included a very nerve-wracking telephone/radio interview. A school visit and a book shop signing.
Let me tell you about the school visit first. I was invited to attend a Literary Festival at The Excel Academy in Stoke-on-Trent. Of course I enlisted the help of my husband Tony, a retired advanced skills teacher. We had five one hour sessions with year seven pupils, each session involved an introduction to my books and then a workshop where the children tried their hand at writing and illustrating. In the short time allocated they produced some interesting adaptations inspired by “White is the Moon”. The children were well behaved, imaginative and co-operative. We had some very interesting questions about publishing and illustrating; all in all an enjoyable day. You can see some of the work they produced below. I have to confess by the end of the day I was exhausted!
The shop signing was by invitation of the beautiful and historic Nantwich Bookshop.
This event coincided with a school festival in the town centre so the place was buzzing with visitors. The shop gave me a window display and a table inside where I displayed my books, old and new. They very kindly plied me with cups of tea and toasted teacakes! Like many bookshops nowadays they sell food and drinks, pre-loved and new books and host many events. The day was a success and we sold lots of books and I met many customers, children and book lovers. I hope to return before Christmas; by that time my latest venture should be published. This time an illustrated gift book by a famous writer, more of that soon...
June wasn’t all work, as I mentioned earlier we had a London visit, which was a mixture of cat sitting and sight seeing. We also saw many friends, family members and spent some very special time with our two grandchildren. We did lots of walking as the weather was kind and visited two very different houses.
One was a National Trust property in Chelsea, former home of historian Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. I especially enjoyed reading some extracts from Jane’s letters where she writes about the trials of house keeping and hiring servants. The house is still very much a home and has many personal effects. The artist Helen Allingham was a frequent visitor and painted the rooms and their contents some of which are displayed on the walls. She also painted a portrait of Thomas, which you can see, here-
After our visit to the house we spent some time in the lovely enclosed garden and planned our next visit.
The next house was very different, much less a home, more of a place to entertain and impress. Chiswick House is a magnificent neo-Palladian villa. The gardens at Chiswick are said to have been the inspiration for the gardens in New York's Central Park. Our time was limited and the sky began to grow dark, conscious of our long walk home along the river we had to cut our visit short.
We also had a trip to the theatre to see Les Miserables, something I have wanted to do for ages. It was a spectacular performance, Probably the best musical ever!
We made a quick trip to Wells in Somerset to see The Hilliard Society of Miniaturists Annual Exhibition in the Town Hall. If you are in the area it is well worth a visit. Needless to say that the art on exhibition is miniature, a portrait subject being under two inches and all other paintings under four and a half inches by six inches. Don’t worry, magnifying glasses are handed out to visitors.
I had seen some of the work before on a blog belonging to the artist Tracy Hall but you have to see the actual paintings close up to marvel at the artistry and skill which goes into their creation. You will find a link to Tracy’s blog in my sidebar.
Wells is a beautiful cathedral town with medieval architecture, cobbled streets and lovely walks around the Bishop’s Palace and gardens. It is the smallest city in England and lies between the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels. The walk around the moat made me think of “The Lady of Shalott”.
We admired the cathedrals beautiful medieval clock and arrived in time to watch the interior display and automaton known as Jack Blandifers, who hits two bells with hammers and two with his heels. The photograph here shows the outer dial and quarter-jacks on the north transept.
Vicar’s Close is said to be “one of the oldest purely residential streets still intact in Europe”, being built in the mid fourteenth century. It is rather like arriving on a film set and so lovely to see a cobbled street with no cars, litter or wheelie bins!
Our time was rather limited, needless to say I returned filled with enthusiasm and ideas and a desire to return to Wells in the not too distant future.