Adventuremice, work in progress

Right now I'm working on a series of books I'm doing with Philip Reeve called Adventuremice, initially inspired by the mouse ship paintings I made during Lockdown. It's taking quite a lot of time because we're doing each page full-colour, old-school watercolour, but I think it will end up looking more lush for that. Here's a piece of two-page artwork (a 'double-page spread' in picture book lingo) that I finished the other day, I like how it came out.

The gaps in the artwork are where the words will go; there's quite a complicated way of doing light-coloured text on black background that made the piece take even longer, but I think that will make it look more luminous.

In other news, I put in a bit of time today painting another shield for Philip and Sarah Reeve's Arthurian Film they're getting ready to shoot this autumn. I really do love painting those shields, there's something so nice about spreading paint on a big surface after all the more fiddly, small-scale illustration work.

Photo by Philip Reeve

Edit: Here are all but two of the shields we've made, laid out:

Photo by Philip Reeve

Hello, Devon!

We've moved! Despite all the massive hills, our town seems to be very, very popular with cyclists, they are everywhere. (Stuart's already keen but I'm not even attempting those hills unless I get an electric bike.)

After six months staying the wonderful Reeve family, who looked after us while we searched (and then waited for) a house, we now have our own place! (Thank you, Reeve family!!!) It's all still chaos and boxes, but we're starting to make it our own. Here's that merchant chest I painted last year, surrounded by artwork that we don't know where to hang yet, and an old coffee set of Stuart's that I never knew he owned:

Here's my sister's painting and an old sideboard that Stuart and I found for £35 at the Mare & Foal charity shop in Newton Abbot - bargain!

We also found some ratty old pine nightstands at Refurnish and I zhuzhed them up a bit with leftover fabric from some of my dresses (mostly sourced from shops in Deptford).

My last studio desk area in London was amazing, all set up just as I wanted it, but the new studio room is pretty bare and cobbled-together-looking right now. And I need to stop fussing over the house and meet my book deadline, so I won't get a chance to fix it up just yet. I also really want to get stuck into local community life and not spend ALL my time at my desk, something that was awfully easy to do when we were in Lockdown. But short-term, I really must finish this book...

Wordsworth Mermaids

Brother and sister William and Dorothy Wordsworth as mermaids, or Merdsworths, or something like that. A little commission from Andrew McInnes for an exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere. Inspired by students from Rainford High inventing ridiculous mermaids.

Painting Arthurian film shields

As a little sideline right now, I'm painting prop shields that (hopefully) will appear in the background of a small Arthurian film that Philip and Sarah Reeve are making. Stuart and I are still living with them while we get ready to move to a house nearby, and it makes sense to do our bit! (To be honest, it doesn't take any coaxing to get me to paint animals on wood.) Here's one shield:

And here's how it'll appear in the film, hanging from a tree of shields (drawing by Philip):

Here's the process, painting on particle board with house paints. You can see the mer-rabbit before I roughed it up to look like it had been hanging from a tree for awhile.

There are a surprisingly large number of snails in medieval manuscripts, so this was a no-brainer:

I hope I'll get a chance to make lots more!

Philip and Sarah have been busy, too. Here are some helmets that Philip has been rusting up: the one on the left came all shiny silver from a costume company, and I found the one on the right in Deptford Market, fibreglass and painted black (probably an old prop from the Albany Theatre). Philip used coffee, cinnamon and tissue paper to get the texture before painting the to look like rust, and the studio now smells like a yummy Swedish bakery.

Some new paintings

A couple weeks ago, everyone else in our house came down with Covid. We didn't suffer too badly, it was more like the flu, but I wasn't able to focus on my regular work. But I wasn't sick enough to stay in bed, either, so I did some freestyle painting on big pieces of drawing board, without having to worry about how it came out. Here was the first painting, very much influenced by what's going on in the Ukraine:

I liked the colour palette and stuck with it for the second picture:

...And kept going on the cat theme. (I'm studying Ukrainian right now and one of the recurring phrases in DuoLingo is 'Home is where the cat is'/ Дім там, де кіт).

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