Cranky tortoise

Yesterday I sent off almost the last illustrations for “My Sister Has a Big Black Beard” by Duncan Ball. I’m waiting for one Jake the Snake poem and a rough cover to turn into a final cover then I’ll be done...the last poem in the book is a DOOZIE!!!!

A few days ago one of the poems mentioned a tortoise shell plate that somebody was eating from. I immediately thought of the tortoise, of course, and drew him, understandably cranky having had his shell snatched for a plate, but no matter where I put him or how I drew him, unless I drew lots of arrows and signs and explanations there’s no way anybody would have the foggiest idea that he’s a tortoise* let alone the particular tortoise whose shell is on the table.

(*see today’s blog re taking a class to learn how to paint things which are unrecognisable...clearly I was already there)

He ended up being left out of the book which has made him even more cranky so I thought it was only fair to let him onto this page.






This week I also met a little person with nothing to say.



Daylight Savings

Today I was trying to keep up with Duncan Ball’s poems (My Sister Has A Big Black Beard) and was scratching my head a lot! At one stage a cheeky little dog appeared but got rubbed out to make way for somebody else...that happens sometimes. Sometimes I keep such characters and try to build an illustration around them but it doesn’t usually work if they don’t fit the idea in the first place. Sigh.

Here are a few ideas that I was fooling around with as a starting point while trying to find an idea for changing clocks and watches from Daylight Savings, and another about a rather precocious Mozart. Yesterday the challenge was to find a fun one in a cemetery. You’ll notice that sometimes the images don’t mean anything yet but are just something vaguely related to the topic. Hopefully they’ll kick off thinking in different directions.


Scanner spanner in the works




Today I get to do some more drawings for Duncan Ball’s “My Sister Has a Big Black Beard”. Yay!

I had to stop for a few days while I travelled to Manilla near Tamworth to visit friends and met a lovely painter, while I did cartoons for other people, while I crashed my old computer lots when I was trying to re-scan the drawings I’d already sent to the publisher, while I tried to find a new scanner, while I learned how to use it with my new computer and then while I re-scanned everything.

I had to re-scan everything because after sending all of the illustrations I’ve done so far to the designer to be put into place around Duncan’s poems, I discovered I’d had my scanner on the wrong setting the first time around and everything was grey and fuzzy instead of crisp black lines on a white background. Poop!!!

Then the new scans were too big to email easily so I had to learn how to send massive files. But after a cup of tea I’ll see what Duncan’s characters are up to next.

I did some housework yesterday too. I got the leafblower out and blew the dust out of the house. It’s quicker than vacuuming.



Long-nosed bandicoots

Working on Duncan Ball’s “My Sister Has a Big Black Beard” today:

I’m having a struggle trying to get some long-nosed bandicoots to behave themselves...one of Duncan’s poems has me stumped at the moment and the bandicoots in it aren’t co-operating. I love the poem but it has turned out to be a hard one for finding an excellent enough idea for the illustration.

I won’t tell you the poem but have a look at what bandicoots are turning up. These are pencil sketches.


My Sister Has a Big Black Beard!!!

A few weeks ago I began drawings for a fantastic new project!



Duncan Ball, who is a complete nut, has written a book of poems which is called, "My Sister Has a Big Black Beard". When I heard that he had written it, and that he'd like me to do the illustrations, I was VERY excited. I was ready to sign the contract straight away but the publishers (HarperCollins) thought it might be a good idea if I read the book first. So they sent it to me as a manuscript, which is what a book is called when it is just pages of typing and before it has been poked and prodded and turned into something between two covers.

OK, I agreed, it probably would be a good idea to read it, but knowing Duncan and having heard some of Selby's poetry (Duncan writes about Selby who is a talking dog and who sometimes writes poems) I knew they would be fun.




But there was a catch! When I illustrate a novel, I read it lots and lots of times before and during the time when I’m doing the drawings. But with poetry, and I've done a lot of illustrations for poetry in "The School Magazine", I like to read a poem and draw the first ideas that come into my head. The illustrations evolve as I draw them and I invent new bits and pieces, but usually a main idea pops into my head the first time I meet a poem which is why I didn't want to read the ones in Duncan's manuscript all at once before I was ready to start sketching. So, I read a few, I looked at a few others with my eyes closed, and flipped a few more pages while looking at the ceiling, then told the publishers I'd like to sign the contract now please.

A contract is very important...it is the agreement between the publisher and the author or illustrator about what everybody is supposed to do and how much they will pay each other to do it.



This week the editor (who makes sure the words are all OK) and the designer (who makes sure it all looks OK) and Duncan and I had a meeting. The others wanted to read through some of the poems so I had to put my fingers in my ears.

I have started the drawings and am having a LOT OF FUN!!!!!

I'll show you a few bits now but you'll have to keep wondering what they're about until it has all finally turned into a real book in June 2009. I know that seems like a long time but it takes a long time for everybody to finish all of their jobs and there are other manuscripts stacked up in front of the printing press waiting to be printed first, and then the pages and cover have to be stuck together, then the books will have to get to shops and onto shelves...but it’s fun to think that a pig I draw on my drawing table today will appear on a shelf in my local bookshop in June!

I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going!!!!!