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19 September 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Pirate Bear

     It's TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY! Arrrrrr! To be a proper pirate, you need an eye-patch, a parrot, and a good book about finding treasure! Which book do you suppose this pirate is reading? CLICK HERE for more Pirate-themed coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

17 September 2017

VIDEO: Chris Haughton

Full credit goes to Travis Jonker at School Library Journal for turning me onto this video about Chris Haughton and his collage method. Fabulous! Click the image to watch on Vimeo.
Here are some of his wonderful books:

16 September 2017

University of Glasgow Freshers Week

It's Freshers Week at the University of Glasgow. Yes, that is sunshine.
I took the train over on Wednesday to get my student ID card and get some other things in shape, and was met with the buzz of a campus-full of new students being pitched all the various student organizations/clubs and pizza!
I experienced the same thing at the University of Edinburgh when I was first starting out two years ago. But this time, I get to wander halls that look like this.
And grounds that look like this.
Truly, the University of Glasgow is absolutely stunning.
Imagine walking around a corner to happen upon a staircase as gorgeous as this. It took my breath away.
The statue is of James Dalrymple, a rather astute gentleman with a worthy history.
What a treat it will be to discover this campus - and this city! As I headed back to the subway (subway to the train), I noticed this little alley, Ashton Lane, with this intriguing building at the end of it. I had to go see what it was.
Turns out it was a pub, with this lovely sign. Your guess is as good as mine - is it a menu? A list of bands? A list of businesses? I've no idea.
People kept walking past me, so I knew the street must lead to something. Turns out, this will be one of my shortcuts getting to campus from the subway. Oh yeah.

14 September 2017

David Long and Harry Bloom's PIRATES MAGNIFIED

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th and I have a whale of a treat for you to help celebrate it! Award-winning author David Long and illustrator Harry Bloom recently teamed up on a swashbuckling search-and-find adventure that lets you see history up close and personal! They sailed by to share their process behind this compendium of fun facts, stories and pirate trivia!
e: What is your creative process and medium, can you walk us through it?
David:
It’s not tremendously complicated. Mostly I write the sort of books I like to read, in more than one case when I found that no-one else had done it yet, or the ones I wish I’d been able to read to my own children when they were young enough to want me to do this. I start early in the morning and work until I’ve had enough (or feel I’ve done enough) - which is usually mid-afternoon - and work on a laptop. Always have, my writing is far too poor to write anything out longhand and I find it easier thinking with a screen in front of me - and no distractions, other than the cat.
Harry: I start by doing a couple of rough layouts, once I’ve settled on a good ‘skeleton’ for the piece I work it up into a more detailed pencil sketch featuring everything specific to the scene. If I’m working on a piece that features a large crowd I’ll focus on adding people doing specific activities or having interactions first and then cement them together with your ‘Average Joe’. Once everything’s got the thumbs up I’ll ink it in on a lightbox and we’re ready for scanning. Once it’s digitised I amend all the rogue lines, wonky eyes and move a few elements around to ensure everything’s sitting just right. From there I’ll work around a palette I have for the project and colour the piece in. The final touch is to add a few extra details here and there and suddenly everything melds together and springs to life!
e: Were there special challenges with this project? (There's so much detail!)
David:
Not especially, except that a lot of the detail had to be researched rather than written to form the basis of Harry's illustrations which are unusually busy. I mean, there’s a lot going on in there that isn’t necessarily in the text.
Harry: One of the challenges was ensuring we kept the book as factual as possible. David Long and the guys at Wide Eyed Editions would provide a brief with reference material and guidance on things like apparel, weapons and ships. I also compiled my own resource pack that I could reference as I drew up a spread. Occasionally we’d have to make tweaks here or there but for the most part its helped to make the book a lot more engaging. (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
e: For Harry - What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Harry:
I think for me ‘Heart Art’ can be a couple of things. Firstly, images that encourage repeat viewing, images that when you take the time and look a little closer reveal things you hadn’t seen before. I think this helps immerse you in the piece and has been used to great effect by artists such as Bruegel and Lowry and into the modern day with Martin Handford’s ubiquitous Where’s Wally. I also see ‘Heart Art’ as being narrative driven. Often images that resonate with us go hand in hand with great ideas and stories. The illustration in books such as Beatrix Potter, Rupert the Bear and Winnie the Pooh catch our imaginations but are all stories which we can relate to in some form or another.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this book?
David:
Hmm, I don’t think so, except that by the end of it I had more regard for pirates than I had at the start. Obviously they were criminals but they needed to be skilled to survive, which I like, and it was hard times for everyone so we need to make allowances for that. Also a pirate’s life was often better than that of an ordinary sailor in the Royal Navy so without getting too involved in the morality of the situation one can see why many chose to sail on ‘the dark side’.
Harry: I’d like to say I counted how many little people I drew throughout the book but I lost count along the way. I’m sure if I added them up I’d hit some sort of milestone. Perhaps a reader who has a lot of time on their hands can let me know! (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
e: What was the path to publication for this book?
David:
I’d already worked with the publisher, on a lovely book called The Diary of a Time Traveller which was translated into quite a few foreign languages, and so my agent and I both had a relationship with the publisher which made things easier when it came to discussing a new idea and working through it.
Harry: Back in 2012 I worked on my first ‘search and find’ book based around the London 2012 Olympics. That was followed up a year later with a Christmas themed ‘search and find’ and a series of illustrations for Arsenal football club entitled, ‘Where’s the Gunnersaurus’. These projects helped drive my illustration towards focusing on bigger crowd scenes and over time my practice began to snowball. Wide Eyed editions had seen my work and were looking to create a new non-fiction history book for children. They had been in conversation with Author David Long about creating a book about pirates and felt big, immersive illustrations would be a perfect fit. They wanted the book to be detailed, fun and factual and were eager to have an interactive twist, a magnifying glass – something that I as a child would have been enthralled by. From there we met up, discussed the project in detail and set about drawing up a preliminary spread to make sure we were on the right lines. Luckily we got the thumbs up and the rest is history! (Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.)
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
David:
I like working alone at home, commuting is such a waste of time and I can’t bear office life, and I suppose the biggest challenge is getting down to it each morning rather than thinking ‘I’ll start it tomorrow’. Fortunately I love writing, and the research needed to do this, so I don’t really need someone standing over me saying Do This Now.
Harry: I think my favourite part is coming up with fresh ideas and taking on new projects. There’s a rush of excitement and creativity that comes with the possibility of bringing something new to life. The most challenging aspect can be keeping that spark alive especially with the more labour intensive illustrations. I find the best thing to do, once you’re in the real ‘meat and potatoes’ of the project is to keep in sight the final product. Having a vision of the finished piece is always as massive motivation and the final product is always hugely rewarding.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious? (Like celebrating “Talk Like a Pirate Day”!)
David:
I hope they’ll realise that pirates had to be skilled sailors to survive and expert navigators or they’d die. At this distance they are romantic figures but they also had to be really resourceful. It wasn’t just a matter of getting drunk and running your sword through anyone you didn’t like.
Harry: As an illustrator I like the thought that readers will find something new in the illustrations each time they pick up the book. Whether that’s something factual like how the crew slept or spotting something fun like a dancing Pig or a sword-wielding Octopus.
      As a reader however I’m excited to hear about the female pirates that feature in the book. We often associate pirates and seafaring with bearded, peg legged old men so its fantastic to hear about people such as Anne Bonny and Mary Read who could be just as cutthroat and swashbuckling as the rest of them.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
David:
I’m working on a book about Ancient Egypt, which will be published next year with the same illustrator, Harry. Dream project? Well that one I’m keeping quiet because I don’t want someone else to do it before I’m ready.
Harry: I’m currently working on a follow up to Pirates Magnified with Wide Eyed Editions that will be about Ancient Egypt. It’s a subject that I was fascinated by as a child so it’s really exciting to be able to work on bringing it to life. As for a dream project, I think working on this has definitely fulfilled a long-term ambition, seeing the finished book in real life is a dream come true!
      Looking forward though I’d love to work on an adventure come puzzle picture book for children. Think the Famous Five meets Where’s Wally with big, detailed illustrations filled with clues, puzzles and things to uncover.
e: Publishers, did you see that!? Thanks guys! (Click on their photos to visit their websites.)

12 September 2017

Coloring Page Tuesday - Fairy On A Branch

     I made this card for my boss at Hollins University, the incredible illustrator Ruth Sanderson. If you're familiar with her work, it's obvious why I wanted to draw her a fairy! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!
     CLICK HERE to sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET - winner of over a dozen literary awards, including Georgia Author of the Year. Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

11 September 2017

In Search of Pho

One of the few things I've missed here in Edinburgh is Vietnamese Pho. Before we left Atlanta, Stan and I had become addicts of the huge bowls of soup with a plate of fresh herbs, bean sprouts and lime wedges on the side. Drizzle in some hoisin sauce or siracha sauce and it made a grey Sunday meal into pure heaven.
     Unfortunately, for as seriously international Edinburgh is, there's not a large Vietnamese contingency here. So I've been missing Pho!
     I did find a mom & pop place that make a Pho-like soup near Haymarket a while back. The restaurant is half gallery, half restaurant, half living room. We felt like we were being invited into somebody's home. In fact, the man worked at a nearby table while his wife made us lunch. I perused some of the items for sale while she did. I especially loved the lotus lamps.

     Then, finally after months of cravings, my Pho Ga (basically chicken noodle soup) arrived!
     And yeah. No. It wasn't what we used to get in the states, no side plate of herbs. It was good. But not my idea of a proper Pho.
     It's now a year later, and I have finally found proper PHO-GA! That said, I have to travel to Glasgow to get it. Not a prob as I'll be over there a good bit for my PhD studies and it's right near the train station. It's called Non Viet on Sauchiehall Street, and I have finally found my fix! YES!
It was a massive bowl of goodness with all sorts of fresh yummies on the side and hoisin sauce to drizzle in. Add to that, the green tea was a pot of loose tea - absolutely wonderful. It was all so good, I "mmmmm'd" all the way through my meal and the staff were giggling at me. (But smiling - how nice to have somebody appreciate your food as much as I did!) Needless to say, I will be there a LOT! YUM!

10 September 2017

Cards for Friends

You've seen the cards I've made for friends with pencil and pen. Lately, as I've grown more comfortable with watercolors, I've been adding color. Like to this card of two bluebirds of happiness for my Doc who was away for several months after losing her husband unexpectedly.
And this one for my friends Marta, Ash and Pedro who have moved into a new home.
It was funny making this one as my idea of what 'home' looks like is very different over here than it was in the states. Indeed, I don't know any homes in the states with views like this:
I like making these, and I also use them as a bit of an experiment. These were drawn, then sealed with spray-fix, then hit with a layer of Matte-Medium before painting. I'd heard this was a good way to seal a drawing and still get the nice reaction of the paper that you want with watercolor. Not sure I agree it worked, but I did try it with a painting for Crow Not Crow and it seemed to work well on that one. Interesting!

VIDEO: James Ransom's Young Art Series

James Ransom has a new "Young At Art" series of videos up at Kidlit TV. Might be perfect viewing for a little one in your world. Click the image to watch at Kidlit.tv.

08 September 2017

Friday Links List - 08 September 2017

From The Bookseller: All-female Lord of the Flies adaptation sparks backlash (written by two men)

From Entertainment Weekly: The Diviners author Libba Bray has some thoughts on this all-female Lord of the Flies remake

From SCBWI British Isles "Words & Pictures": Illustrators and Social Media

From The Cybils: The 2017 Cybils Call for Judges: We Need YOU!

From the University of Glasgow: Celebrate International Literacy Day! (08 September)

From LuxuryWeb Magzine: A write-up by a friend's husband about their most recent trip: Once Again Scotland

From Illustoria: Why You Ought to Doodle Every Day

From Muddy Colors: Mastering Reference - St. George and the White Dragon by Donato

From The Write Life: You Can't Edit Your Own Book and Here are 7 Reasons Why

From Imagination Soup: Noteworthy Fall 2017 Picture Books

From SLJ: Blast from the (Recent) Past: 13 Great Middle Grade and YA reads set between 1969 and 2010 (called historical fiction - yup)

Also from SLJ: After Hurricane Harvey, School Librarians Provide Support and Stories (there's also a bit about how you can help)

The Eric Carle Museum Art Auction is now LIVE - CLICK HERE!
From Brightly: 17 Must-Read YA Books of Fall 2017

Meanwhile at Bookshelf: Don't you want this Book Reader Bedding Set?

21 Days of Resistence

This topic deserves its own post. From Bustle, I came across "20 Picture Books About Diversity, Politics, And Equality For The Young Activists In Your Life." But even better, it turns out Bustle is running a full-on campaign of resistance-related books. (Click this image.)
As they say,
"Although its our instinct to protect children from the harsh realities of the world, it's even more important to teach them to face it head-on and with a full heart. But talking about the difficult topics with young people, the complicated ones like racism, sexism, equality, isn't easy. It's hard to know where to start or how much detail to go into, and even more impossible to predict what kinds of questions you'll get after.
      That's where picture books come in. They are versatile tools that can be used to start a conversation about things like civil rights, equality, and prejudice. Whether it's an inspiring true story or a meaningful fictional tale, picture books can provide an introduction to important issues every citizen should be informed about, no matter their age. Not to mention, they make debating, questioning, and discussing the "tough stuff" an engaging and fun activity that the right readers will turn into a life-long habit."
I couldn't agree more and hope you'll check out these titles to gear of for some resistance of your own!

07 September 2017

Julia Patton's THE VERY VERY VERY LONG DOG

Y'know how sometimes you meet somebody and it feels like you've known them forever and you become immediate BFFs? That's how it was when I met author/illustrator Julia Patton. Even though she lives down in Berwick Upon Tweed and I live in Edinburgh, we get together for play dates when we can. I wrote about my first visit to her studio HERE. Meanwhile, Julia has a new book out called THE VERY VERY VERY LONG DOG. I'm thrilled to send some readerly love her way. Read on!
e: What is your creative process and fave medium, can you walk us through it?
Julia:
My creative process for writing a new book is becoming more established now as I've published over 30 titles and my 3rd author/illustrator book, working on my 4th for Sourcebooks USA right now. An idea for a book usually comes as an image initially. A character arrives, that looks like it has a story to tell. Immediately a title pops into my head, then i'm off... If you've followed Elizabeth and I previously, you'll have seen that we've discussed my 'Style Bible', my sketchbook, my A-Z before. (CLICK HERE to for the article.) This big book holds all the baby seedlings of characters and stories to be told. Currently there are over 30 seeds awaiting watering. They are organised there and periodically revisited when I get a moment. I then take them to full colour character sketches and begin to write. I write quickly and instinctively, knowing the pictures sometimes don't require any text and vice versa. I must admit the concept stage is the very best part of my job. I have sold stories on showing my A-Z to publishers with just one character sketch and a synopsis. I only make stories that I'd loved to have seen as a child.
      My favourite media is pencil. 6H to be exact. I carry it around with me and my knife, plus only now an inch is left of my soft grey and red coloured pencils.
I always carry a small sketchbook and often scribble on anything I can get my hands on.
I have always used mixed media to create my artwork as I undertook a BA Hons in Textile Design before completing my MA in Illustration at Edinburgh University. I use combination of collage, pencil and oil paint, often finished digitally in Photoshop.


My news work is very collage based which i'm very excited about.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
Julia:
If I had to define Heart Art in three sentences here they are...
      I believe every child should be able to see themselves, identify with the themes and hear their voice within a picture book.
      There are just some stories that need to be told.
      I believe it's my privilege and responsibility and role as an author and illustrator is to illuminate words, suggest the magical and interpret the unspoken.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this book?
Julia:
The Very Very Very Long Dog began life as Bartleby.
I was attending the International Children's Book fair in Bologna when I saw a lady walking her long-haired sausage dog, right under this graffiti.
The dog was so unbelievably cute everyone who passed just stopped, fell over shopping, bumped into things staring at him...I was just captivated by the whole scene. Hence Bartelby was born.
The name change happened at the very end of the creative process, a culmination of feedback from Sourcebooks and Barnes & Noble (who's New York bookstore Bartelby lives in) I really love the new title. I have Long Dog merchandise arriving daily and a new trailer for the book has ben created for him. lucky boy. A tour of some USA states is slated for early 2018 as part of a promotion and marketing plan. Exciting times ahead for Bartelby. e: And you!

e: What was your path to publication?
Julia:
After I graduated from Manchester University I set up a freelance greeting card business. I have worked for M&S, Paperchase and more or less any other high street stationers and books shop you can think of. I eventually had the finances to return to University to study an MA in Illustration at Edinburgh University and was signed by an illustration agency on my graduation day. I cut my teeth through working in educational books to begin with, then moved on through non fiction, to picture books. Some career highlights were being selected as the illustrator for the No.1 Bestseller BBC Children In Need Book 2017, The CuriousTale Of Fi Rex written by a whole host of celebrities, and working with The Gruffalo legend Julia Donaldson on a book named "Don't Call Me Mum". I had the honour of working alongside Vivian French at the University who gave me the tools, confidence and metaphorical shove to write. I have just recently signed with a new agency after working almost exclusively in the USA for 4 years, and will be relaunched in the UK in November.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Julia:
This question and your queries about what is Heart Art, may just have the same answer here ... I've always been a creative ever since I was a small child. Expressing myself visually gave me comfort, joy, avenues for exploration and took me on journeys to far away lands, with talking frogs and pirate space robots. I will follow this adventure until my last breath. BUT, unfortunately, I've been told I make my job look easy. It's not. I work more hours than I'll ever admit and my brain is wired 24/7. The responsibility to inspire and delight my intended audience can be overwhelming sometimes. I travel a lot to keep myself sane, visually inspired and constantly inquiring about the needs of my ever changing target market in this often challenging global climate.

e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Julia:
The message is that 'We love our friends not in spite of their flaws, but because of them'.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
Julia:
My dream job would be to create a wordless book. The ultimate challenge for any illustrator. Here is the interview from Tiny Owl about my thoughts on the subject...
Wordless books transcend language barriers
Our industry is lucky to be championed by publishers, educationalists and parents that understand and actively promote the importance of sharing a book with a child as early as possible. In my experience, even sharing a book with words with a very young child is often edited to reduce the vocabulary until their literary comprehension advances. I personally devoured picture books before I could read or spell, specifically Richard Scarry’s books filled with endless details to discover. I actually ate one page because I loved it so very much, behaviour I don’t condone!
      A wordless book passes on incredible gifts to whoever turns the first page… A wordless book is the ultimate visual communication tool that encourages, sometimes demands, the viewer’s interaction. One has the opportunity and creative freedom to become the narrator, and potentially the same book may never be described the same way twice. A wordless book is a springboard for personal interpretation, allowing the reader to hear their own voice and personally identify with the protagonist and themes. Wordless books transcend language barriers, breach learning gaps and plant the seeds of adventure into the youngest of hearts. They are masterclasses in beauty and narrative, expanding the visual, verbal and empathetic vocabulary of any child. I’ve witnessed a wordless book being absorbed silently by individuals, and conversely being utilised as a powerful platform for sharing excited questions, taking whole classrooms on unforgettable journeys of wonder.
      A wordless book is simply a legacy of enchantment.
e: Lovely!
If you'd like to learn more about Julia, visit her on Instagram, Twitter, or her website at JuliaPatton.co.uk. Thanks for sharing, Julia!

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