Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Favourite Illustrator question: Where do you get your ideas?

Where do the ideas come from, you ask?

In many cases, I deliberately lose myself in remembering a day from decades ago.  Summers, especially, provide pockets of memory that are fresh whenever I visit.   I wonder if this is because, as a child, I had a lot of time where I was free to occupy myself however I chose.

Often I chose to get myself as close to the water's surface as I could.  It was a whole other world there, under the surface.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Doodling down the road.

Waiting on the phone, mind wandering, pen in hand.  Small square stickit note on the desk in front of me...

...and a character takes shape.

The elevator music in my ear is interrupted and my attention snaps to the business at hand, the post-it doodle stuck on a note about something else.

I come across this a month later and am struck by it.  Hmmm.

Some doodles have a life beyond the page.  This little fellow seems to have been doing his own thing while I was not paying attention.

Mulling this over, my eye falls on a small packet on the desk.  I just received a shipment of paperclay.

It seems such an odd thing to do - taking a cat for a stroll bobbing along on a string above the walker.  And in 3-d, it has an improbable silliness beyond the drawing, as though it were more real somehow.

Now I am beginning to wonder where he is heading...

...once around the block in my imagination is a long walk.  I wonder where he'll turn up next?

Monday, February 29, 2016


I remember only that I dreamed I was flying.  I had never done that before. But this night, I felt my body lift off from the foot of our yard and float up above the yard, the street, the house... and while there, my intent was enough to move me - higher, and farther down the street.  How beautiful, how peaceful it all looked from above, every detail of branch and leaf, pattern of roof tile and complexity of chimneys filling the hushed night scene below me.

I may never fly again.  But my body remembers how it feels, and I sigh in sympathy with every bird as it alights and folds its wings.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Drawing on Memory

Getting my work together for the SCBWI Childrens' Authors and Illustrators conference in New York this week.

I've been looking over my portfolio for the past six months, deciding what needed replacing, and looking through more recent images for connections, strong energy.

Considering which images appealed to me, and why, it occurred to me that what most tugged at me were images that drew on my own childhood memories - good or bad.

As a member of a loud and busy family, at times I was busy adding to the noise while at other times I needed a quiet retreat.  Focusing on what was right in front of me, the bustle of my surroundings would fade. I noticed how delicately beautiful the colours on an oily puddle seemed, walking down the street on a rainy day.  These same colours swirled in the wonderful changing surface of soap bubbles we blew.  And showed up again in the landscape of rich shades in an abalone shell, in the shine on a beetle, in the wings of a dragonfly. 

Taking a moment to really look at something creates this peaceful mental state even now.  And considering all that needs to get done in the next 48 hours, this is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Becoming Story, Uncovering Self

I draw darkness.

The 4B pencil leaves a slick glide of graphite on my paper and I feel the damp air, cool with dew not yet fallen, clammy on my thin, child shoulders.

I pause here, mind open. Behind me the infinity of dark forest, tall selves of trees shifting and whispering deeper darkness against the night sky above.

My bare knees locked, toes dig into the gravel between rough patches of grass, looking for warmth from the earth under my feet.

In front of me the paper sucks up lines and slowly becomes one with the heavy night air in my mind.  In front of my shaking child-self, the door opens. A woman's arm bars the lamplight from within as it slides across the porch and down the dusty steps.

I wait in the moon's cold glow.

I am here forever.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Growing and Idea Fom the Ground Up

When pencil hits paper, sometimes it's nice to just let the point wander, doodle aimlessly and see where you end up.  At other times, the memory of a moment or the quirk of a facial expression in the mind's eye insists on becoming more.
More tangible, more rounded - and when I spend time with that thought, I find more accrues around the point of the pencil and more still until there is a character and the pencil is tracing the line of something which - when followed, becomes story.

Here are some moments which grew out of childhood memories - of making things with zeal and determination, lots of tape and a very little idea of HOW to make the thing at hand.  - of the slope of a hillside falling away in front of me and the vista of possibilities all there, waiting to be set in motion. - of handstand competitions among siblings, of waiting, waiting waiting... (oh, being a kid involved so MUCH waiting) and best of all, the hug of someone always ready to join in and take at least half the blame.

The story and the thumbnails are all developing at the same pace, and are becoming a book dummy.
A few of the finished illustrations were entered - and accepted - into this year's CANSCAIP Illustrators Art Exhibit held for two weeks around the Packaging Your Imagination seminar day at Humber College just a week or so ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A good day

Working away, developing drawings in support of a lyrical text but today I run into a roadblock. From a quick sketch that has the right feel but the wrong proportions, I redraw and redraw again. Every iteration pulls farther and farther from the vision I hold in my mind.

Taking a break for lunch.

Regardless of the one-step-forward-two-steps-back kind of day this happens to be, any day where you can find time to do something you love and enjoy the feel of the sun on your face is a good, good day.