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a visit to alan lee's studio

When the three films of The Lord of the Rings came out, I watched the featurettes obsessively after each one, to see how the enormous teams had crafted the films. Most illustrators work alone in their homes or studios, and the idea of using illustration skills to work together on a massive project like that fascinated me. So of course I came across the work of Alan Lee, who together with John Howe, created the look of the LOTR and The Hobbit films. And then I started working with Philip Reeve, whose own artistic inspiration comes from artists based around where he now lives, on Dartmoor: Alan and Brian Froud (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth) in particular. So I was thrilled to meet up with Alan for the first time last Christmas, along with remarkable artist David Wyatt (who has illustrated several of Philip's books). I never thought I'd actually get to visit Alan's studio and see where he worked, but last week I did!

Philip and I were in Chagford to do a couple events for Chagword Lit Fest, along with Sarah Reeve and my husband Stuart.

Afterward we met up for a pub lunch with Alan and David, and then I didn't know if it would be too cheeky to ask to pop in for a peek at Alan's place (but I really, really wanted to see it). And he kindly let us visit.

A lot of the drawings we looked at were ones he's been working on for The Hobbit Sketchbook, which comes out in September this year, and looks amazing.

Here's Gandalf's staff from the films, with the little pipe that slides out of the knot at the top.

Alan mostly works in pencil - sometimes in charcoal - and keeps a big selection of pencils to hand.

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Last Thursday we drew DINOSAURS! I spent the day at St Olave's Prep School in New Eltham and, as always, I was impressed with how well even young kids can draw, and inspired by all the interesting variations they manage to put into their drawings.

Even though we all drew Dipsy the Diplodocus together, step by step, I loved the ideas the kids came up with, adding extra strips and patterns, and giving their Diplodocuses different expressions just by having the lines in slightly different places.

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pictures mean business: new articles

Two new #PicturesMeanBusiness articles for you to peruse! The first is by illustrator Soni Speight, who has been one of the best things that has happened to the campaign. When I put an exhausted call out for help, she got stuck in right away: on the first day she came up with a list of valuable action points, on the second day she talked with Nielsen, and on the third day she started designing the campaign website we so desperately needed, at her own time and expense. If you don't already follow her on social media, please do! Here's her new blog post:

And big thanks to Sara Keating, who wrote up this interview with me for The Irish Times! You can read the whole article here:

Keep reading...

Sara's been working on Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire, and Philip Reeve and I will be doing an event there on Sat, 30 March, details here.

chagword lit fest 2019

Last Saturday Philip Reeve and I took part in one of the friendliest, most well-run festivals we've been to: Chagword Lit Fest in Chagford, not far from where the Reeve family live on Dartmoor. I started off with a Dinosaur Firefighters event, where we all drew Dipsy the firefighting Diplodocus!

Some of the children drew me, too!

They made me smile and I redrew one of them in my sketchbook.

I've created stories about Dinosaur Police and Dinosaur Firefighters but we brainstormed a few other story ideas.

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world book day 2019 school visits

What does World Book Day mean? It means EARLY MORNING STARTS!

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Sarah McIntyre

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March 2019
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