23 October 2014

My illustrations on BBC2 with Monty Don this week!

Wow, what a fantastic week for my illustration! Landscape animation whizz Matt Parker over at room 60 turned my plant watercolours into 'Before and After Monty' sequences for a gardening show with Monty Don on BBC2. That's the title sequence up above there with Matt's butterfly making magic with the 4D effect.

It's on from Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. all this week. 

While I love seeing my work in print, and also watching it develop on paper when I'm painting, seeing it unfold in garden vistas on TV takes it to a whole nother level, I gotta tell you. 

Wow, the glowing box in the living room with my very own agaves and astilbes populating the screen!

Heh heh. I am loving that. A lot. 

So much the better that it's a gardening programme featuring real people with their very understandable struggles to match idea to plot and to reality, with the ever cheery and affable Monty dropping by to deliver solid good advice and, occasionally, a hand in the digging and planting. 

Nice work if you can get it, eh, being a gardening rock star? Here's a review in the guardian.

For now though, I'm happy to stick to watercolour plant illustration. 

Warm and cosy and (mostly) indoors works for me at this time of the year - my South  African hands have never quite been able to deal with planting onions in November.

Below, a keyframe from the series, which is how I supplied the illustrations originally.

09 October 2014

The Big Draw at Hackney Central Library

The first of my three Big Draw workshops for Hackney Libraries started with no less than 60 reception and year one children filing into the activity area in Hackney Central Library. 

That's a whole lot of little drawers, folks. I haven't seen that many 5 and 6-year olds in one room since I taught English in Japan, but at least we all speak the same language here.

Seats found for everyone, coats and high viz jackets removed, hands in the air, don't touch anything yet, listen to the teacher - that'd be me. (I wasn't on crowd control luckily, gentle reader, that was the job of the hard working teachers and their assistants. Masterly they were too. Respect!)

I wanted the children to experience the joy of drawing with charcoal, and asked everyone to listen to the sound it made as they crumbled and squeaked their sticks across a page. 

One boy told me it reminded him of the sound of a fox rustling in the bushes. 

Heh. A sound designer/foley artist in the making, I do believe. Pixar, you read it here first.

(Note to self on charcoal drawing and 5 - 6 year olds: wet wipes. In abundance.)

The next activity I had planned wasn't quite age appropriate - I asked the children to draw the feeling of being on a busy bus. Some tried, but most children went straight into drawing an actual bus, so I went with that. I'm guessing here but 5 and 6-year olds are probably pretty literal minded at this stage, or at least I would have needed to set that up differently. 

The game of 'musical pencils' went down a storm though. It's something I do in the studio myself when I'm getting all tight and stiff with line. As soon a song on iTunes changes, I pick up a new drawing instrument at random and keep working  with whatever I pick up until the next song and so on. Magic often happens that way for me.

For the kids, we handed out different drawing materials, and had a librarian - the very helpful James - stop and start a CD. They loved putting their hands up when the music stopped, and deciding on a new pen or marker.

Library users were not all equally enamoured alas with 'To market, to market' blasting away, but hey. 

Sixty little people had fun drawing, and they learned to listen to the sound of charcoal on a page. Mission accomplished.

Next 2 workshops - free, drop in and good for all ages - are at Dalston CLR James Library on Friday 17 October (more info here) and Stamford Hill Library on Tuesday 21 October, click here for more info. 

Maybe see you there - we'll be rustling pencils either way.