Updated biography

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I’ve updated my biography page. Most of it is just by-the-by; but I would like to draw attention to the last paragraphs, which I hope should clarify a few important things for those not yet aware. The highlighted words are linked on the page itself.

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There is considerable contextual information concerning them which I may or not not write about one day, but I felt this was simplest for now. ­čÖé

 

‘A Time to Buy’

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‘A Time to Buy’ ~ Watercolour, inks, and gouache; approx. 305 mm square.

‘It’s a time to buy
A time for shopping
Go into the store and make a choice
But everything she sees, it’s like they’re talking
Talking at her with a different voice…’

Illustration for the song, A Time to Buy, from Katie Melua‘s In Winter album.

I enjoyed the gentle satire of this song and creating the illustration for it — though not so much all the straight lines and the geometry, which are not my forte and drive me slightly mad, as those who know me well are aware. I suppose the process echoes the contradiction between the cheerful warmth and the commercially driven demands of the festive season, which I also tried to reflect in this piece.

The department store here was of course based directly on Liberty of London.

 

 

‘River’

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River‘ ~ Watercolour, inks and gouache, 305 mm square.

‘I wish I had a river I could skate away on…’

Oh, how I wish it. I don’t understand anything.

Illustration for the song, River, from Katie Melua‘s music album, In Winter, 2016.

Incidentally, ‘Natee‘ means ‘river’ or a body of water. One of the reasons this piece is a personal favourite of mine of the album illustrations.

 

The Three Sisters: the ‘Bear Sister’

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Ink on Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface.

‘In a clearing there sat a young woman, a small bear cub resting his soft furry head in her lap, whilst around them two young cubs gamboled and played at her feet.’

Illustration for The Three Sisters, from Oxford Treetops Greatest Stories: Grimm, retold by Jan Davidson, published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

The princess (one of the titular three sisters) originally had a slightly different appearance when I first drew the rough.

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I was dissatisfied with the turn of her head, and in changing it, the similarity to Queen Elinor from Pixar’s Brave seems to have inadvertently stolen over her. With three bear cubs in tow, the parallel became inevitable. I ran with it, and the piece became something of an accidental tribute to the film — or at least to the character.

 

Katie Melua ‘In Winter’ tour poster

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Earlier this year, I got the chance to work on a rather exciting project; one which, as primarily a book illustrator, I had no experience in.

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In Winter tour poster design. Ink and gouache on Arches hot pressed.

It was as a result of coming across The Nutcracker in a bookstore that Katie Melua got in touch with me to work with her on her new music album, In Winter; then still in progress but now to be released later this week.

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House of MinaLima

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Over the weekend, I had the very great pleasure of a visit to London by my friends from Besan├žon, the illustrator, Joseph Vernot, and Virgile Lanz of Atelier Virg├╝l. One of the highlights of our weekend was the visit to the House of MinaLima, the team responsible for the graphic art and graphic props of the Harry Potter films.

What we hadn’t expected was to run into one half of the MinaLima duo, Miraphora Mina (right, in the last picture above), just as we were leaving, and to get the chance to speak to her at length. I have to credit the boldness of my friends in this, as, had I been alone, my shyness would have done away with the opportunity at once and I would have come away kicking myself. Miraphora was very kind and friendly and asked whether we were designers ourselves. Sadly, I do not have photographic evidence of our meeting, as the gaucheness of the request was more than I could brave, even in that moment of unusual courage. You will have to either trust my honesty or appeal to Miraphora for verification!

The strangeness of the day continued when, later in Waterstones Piccadilly, we ended up speaking to Lucy, one of the staff members in the children’s section, who, upon discovering that I was the illustrator of The Nutcracker, bought the sole copy of the book on display there and then, and asked me to sign it. By the end of the day, as we made our way to Cornellisen, we were almost certain we were going to run into someone like Alan Lee making a purchase there (we didn’t, alas).

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The only picture of us we managed — at Embankment Underground station, of all places. From right, Joseph, Virgile, and yours truly.

 

The Three Sisters: the whale

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‘Suddenly, the sea swelled and a giant whale broke its surface…’

Illustration for The Three Sisters, from Oxford Treetops Greatest Stories: Grimm, retold by Jan Davidson, published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

Ink on Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface, approx. 160 x 235 mm.

I originally wanted to draw a sperm whale for this, simply as a change from humpback whales which I love and which I tend to default towards (see my illustrations for How the Whale got his Throat from Just So Stories, for instance). But once I’d sketched the rough, I found that a sperm whale from this perspective was decidedly visually dull. With little more than its head visible, it was essentially a slightly rounded off, rectangular block, with precious few details of interest. A humpback, with its tapering head, undulating contours, throat grooves, and long pectoral fins, was far and away the better candidate. It needed to be another humpback, and I was only too glad to draw it.

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