Simon was at Totton Rainbows yesterday sharing his children's books and leading a drawing workshop. Using just simple lines, shapes, numbers and letters, Simon builds one of the characters from his books in a simple, easy-to-follow step-by-step method that leaves all the children (and a few adults) with a drawing they can be proud of.
The Rainbows only meet for an hour, so rather than be paid for this time it was agreed that the group would buy each of their Rainbows one of Simon's books, which he duly signed and dedicated for each girl.
Ann Barlow, who runs the Rainbows group said: "Thank you for being so brilliant with the Rainbows yesterday. They loved it and they were so engaged with what they were doing. You really spoke their language!"
If you'd like Simon to come and talk to your group, be they children or adults, do get in touch via our contact page.
Today I had the enormous pleasure of officially opening the brand new Totton College library, or more correctly, the Learning Resource Centre.
I attended Totton College as an A-level student between '89 and '91 so as an ex-student who now writes and illustrates books they thought me a good fit as the man to hand the ceremonial scissors to.
I was told to bring some books along in case people were interested and ended up almost selling out, which was a great bonus. Whether or not the magnificent attendance was down to me or the promise of a lavish spread of food and drink I couldn't say, although I'd be tempted to go with the former.
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.
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.
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.
Spent the morning at Lymington Library as part of New Forest Arts Festival, signing books and doing some live drawing. This is Oisin and his sister Aoife who took home the finished picture. Thanks for looking after me Lymington Library!
Today we were lucky enough to go along to Paultons Park's brand new Lost Kingdom Preview Day to experience their utterly brilliant dinosaur land. Paultons have invested heavily in this new attraction and the result is an outstanding addition to their already popular park. I was given the opportunity to help with art and design on some of the aspects of the Lost Kingdom, and one of the things I got to do was to design the carriages of the Dino Chase rollercoaster.
The Lost Kingdom already boasts two fantastic new full-sized rollercoasters but Paultons are well aware of their core audience and that means catering for the smaller children too. Thos who've been to Paultons before will remember the Flying Frog coaster – well, Dino Chase is a complete refurbishment of this ride. So not only has it been lavishly landscaped with some stunning animatronic triceratops and a stegosaurus, lots of creative planting and rocky outcrops, but it's also been re-imagined to fit its new home in the Lost Kingdom.
I was given free rein to come up with some friendly dinosaur designs, so played around with everything from feathered theropods to a head-bashing pachycephalosaur, but the one that tickled Paultons' fancy was the little galloping triceratops. I then had to proceed conceptual drawings of it from different angles, including the middle car and rear car, which sports the tail, plus an artist's impression, overlaying the then existing ride. Then it was over to the factory for construction. I love the result, and I'm sure you will too. Of course, I couldn't resist having a go...
I've been lucky enough to be involved with Abbotswood School's bid for the OneFamily Foundation Community Awards, something they successfully won to the tune of £25,000 for their library. The OneFamily Foundation have just put a nice little video together about this year's winners, and if you look very carefully you'll see I crop up several times, including sharing my books with some of the children.
Had a great day yesterday at the Ellingham Show selling my children's books and doing a bit of live drawing. I always try to complete a drawing within the course of an event, with no pencilling, so it's straight in with inking pens. I often opt to draw dragons as it's not so obvious if it all goes a bit wobbly, plus it seems to appeal to just about everyone that passes by the stand.