At the beginning of the year I created a series of colour in mazes for three books to be published by Award Publications on the themes of dinosaurs, farms and the jungle.
It's taken a while to get my copies, but they've finally arrived so I thought I'd share a couple of the mazes here. Each maze comes with a little explanatory text, which I didn't set, hence it missing from the artwork. I'm sure you can work it out.
I do a few different workshops and talks to schools and groups, but one of the more unusual ones is to the children of Abbotswood Junior School. For the third year I'd been asked back to help kick off their study of Varjak Paw, a children's book by S.F. Said and illustrated by Dave McKean. My part has been to give the children confidence and encouragement in drawing cats, so I've run a short cartooning workshop that includes step-by-step drawings for them to follow.
The idea is to make the children familiar enough with the subject matter that they can go away and draw their own cat characters, complete with personalities, poses and props that suggest a much more rounded and complete feline than perhaps they'd be able to achieve otherwise. Abbotswood have large year groups, and taking several classes in one session isn't normally something I'd do, but such is the organisation that it all goes swiftly and smoothly with plenty of contented faces. Afterwards I also got the opportunity to do several small focus groups with some of the children, which is always great fun to see up close what they can achieve with a little guidance. Have had some really positive feedback from the day and we're already looking forward to next year.
Have just spent a wonderful weekend with some good cartooning chums at the Lakes Comics Arts Festival in Kendal. The Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain was there for a third year recruiting new cartoonists, selling our cartooning gubbins and doing plenty of large scale live drawing that the public could snap up on the spot.
Popped in to see Trojan this morning for a very minor bit of repair work. After several weeks on the trail it ended up with a small scuff on the nose and a chocolate fingerprint, so that's not bad considering the horror stories that some of the artists had to deal with. The Marwell team have been run ragged dealing with it all, but they've done an outstanding job considering it's been full on pretty much all day seven days a week.
Trojan's now all set for his appearance at the Ageas Bowl with all the other zebras from Friday 14th until Monday 17th October, then the grand auction on the evening of the 18th. If you fancy bidding, or know someone that might be interested, get yourself registered pronto.
Shortly after the beginning of term I paid a visit to Poulner Infant School. They were going to be looking at British wildlife and their habitats so I got to share my children's books about the New Forest with them. Each class is named after a different wild animal so we also did a spot of drawing, where the children followed my step-by-step instructions to create their class creature. This is always a very satisfying activity because despite the children being relatively young the process uses just simple lines, shapes, numbers and letters to build up the picture, so nothing is too complicated and the results are always impressive. It also gives them the confidence to tackle other drawings using the same technique. Thanks for having me, Poulner!
The Zany Zebras trail is into its last fortnight, so thoughts are now turning to the Charity Fundraising Auction. This will take place at The Hilton at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Tuesday 18th October 2016, but if you're interested in going along and placing a bid on one (I hear The Trojan Zebra sponsored by Oxygen Freejumping is rather good) then you need to register for tickets as soon as possible.
A link to the auction guide is here, and you can bid in person, on the telephone by placing a proxy bid, or via the EasyLive Auction online.
There are 48 zebras in the auction, from beautiful mosaics to incredible paintings, and one with plenty of sparkle, so there's a very good chance you can acquire some rather fabulous art for your business, garden, restaurant, conservatory, wherever. The Go Rhinos! auction from a few years ago was a tremendous success with the rhinos being sold into commercial and private hands alike, so don't miss out. And if you know somebody with a couple of quid who might be interested, please do pass on this info and encourage them to register now. Don't leave it too late!
If you're heading into Southampton to do the Zany Zebra's trail this summer you might also like to take along a fun sheet for my Trojan Zebra. Spot In The Stripes challenges you to find a number of the lions hiding across the zebra and a very specific zebra too.
Ceratopia Books is pleased to announce Fudge The Jersey Cow, the new book written by Farmer Bryan (Bryan Pass) and illustrated by Simon Chadwick.
Farmer Bryan runs the popular New Forest visitor attraction Longdown Activity Farm and through his books he aims to share about the animals and day-to-day tasks of looking after them. In Fudge The Jersey Cow we get to witness the birth of Fudge's calf, Toffee, milking, and the problems with hoof-clipping, to name but a few.
The friendly, colourful illustrations are inviting with plenty for young eyes to discover as they share in Fudge's experiences.
The New Forest Show was an absolute pleasure this year filled with high points, including the moment I got to meet Rufus, the New Forest Show mascot, face to face. I was asked to create a horse mascot by the show's organisers who then put a competition out on social media to give the mascot a name – hence Rufus, and a good name it is too. If you were at the show you may also have come across a photo opportunity board where you could pop your head through and have your picture taken alongside Rufus with yourself in the guise of a jockey. If that was the case I'd love to see any results!
While I was beavering away drawing animal cartoons in the Longdown Activity Farm marquee at the New Forest Show there was something else going on in the Women's Institute tent. One of the challenges for the various WIs this year was to create a storybook sack showing off their various needlecraft skills (if anyone from a WI is reading this please forgive my inability to use the correct parlance). Marchwood WI asked me if they could use my New Forest Friends & The Litterbugs book as the focus for their piece, and I think the end result was jaw-droppingly brilliant. They've interpreted it perfectly, from the detail of a little knitted Emery the Woodmouse trapped in a discarded bottle to the amazing backdrop, made from felt, that looks just like my illustrated page. But it was the depiction of Beaulieu the Hedgehog that really did it for me – just as I'd imagined a soft toy of him would be like. Congratulations to Debra Rich, Judy Saxby, Patricia Berry, Lynda Butterfield and Sandra Gibson for an astounding piece of work.