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The Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival has 'Plein Air' arts programme where they invite artists to talk about our work, lead workshops and go out with other artists sketching from the local landscape. This year I shared the Headline Artist slot with Anchorage-based artist Jen Jolliff. Here's a drawing I made of her during her talk:

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Last month I got to visit the original Alaskan artist cottage that inspired Grumpycorn! It's the studio of Seldovia-born artist and illustrator Valisa Higman (who is very much not grumpy but possibly part magical unicorn).

If you look at the dedication in Grumpycorn, you'll see Valisa's name:

Here's the cottage where Unicorn rows to work on writing the most Fabulous Story in the World.

Valisa does indeed row to work, and you can follow her coastal adventures and the wildlife she encounters on her Instagram account and the not very commonly used hashtag #IRowToWork.

And here's her studio, which is every bit as magical as Unicorn's!

I was in Seldovia for the Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival, and Valisa hosted a party on her beach. I drew a picture of some of the festival artists, brothers Thano & Demitri Sahnas and Suzanne Lansford, jamming underneath her pilings.

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happy traction wedding

Congratulations on the big day for Jeremy Levett and Francesca Wilks!

Jeremy Levett liked my Mithila art version of a Mortal Engines traction city, and since I was going to his wedding reception right near St Paul's cathedral (which features on the top deck of the London traction city), it seemed only right to draw in the two of them.

If you haven't yet seen The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines that Jeremy and Philip Reeve co-wrote, do check it out. (It's designed by Jamie Gregory and illustrated by a variety of top illustrators: Ian McQue, David Wyatt, Amir Zand, Rob Turpin, Aedel Fahkrie and Philip Varbanov, with maps designed by Lowtuff and illustrated by Maxime Plasse.)

Hurrah, you two! Thanks for inviting Stuart and me to come along!

Philip Reeve has posted some Instagram pictures of the local environs:

books for keeps: grumpycorn in pictures

Unicorn is on the front of the lastest issue of Books For Keeps and BOY IS HE GRUMPY ABOUT IT! (...No, he isn't, really, he's just drawn that way.)

The issue is packed with good things all related to children's books, including an article about the new Children's Laureate, just announced yesterday! (Congratulations, Cressida Cowell!) You can read the whole Books For Keeps magazine online here, and follow news on Twitter at @BooksForKeeps and Facebook here.

Grumpycorn is available at all good bookshops, and you can get a special bookplate edition of either the hardcover of paperback from reliable independent bookseller Page 45 (who ship worldwide). Also check out the free drawing activities on my website!

things i made in seldovia, alaska

If you've read my latest picture book, Grumpycorn, you may have noticed it's dedicated to people in Seldovia, Alaska. A few weeks ago I went back there with Stuart and my parents to stay with my aunt and uncle. In Seldovia, there's a part of the dump where people leave things they think other people might want, so it's actually a lot of fun going there, like a swap meet. Once in 2009, I even found perfectly fitting roller blades, skated, and then brought them back just before I left. (Here's some art I made back then, inspired by that.) This time my Aunt Joy had found a wooden bowl at the dump, which was pretty scruffy, with half the varnish worn off, and she thought perhaps I'd be able to do something with it. And with some help from my dad, I did!

Here's Dad sanding down bowl for me to draw on:

And the finished bowl! I was pleased how it came out. Seldovia always gives me a bit of space to breathe and make things where there isn't the same deadline pressure.

Two years ago when I was in Seldovia, I drew on a lot of rocks for their festival 'Higgy's En Plein Air' art challenge, so this time I drew some more.

We saw loads of bald eagles in Seldovia, once even nine at the same time (fighting over a fish carcass) from my aunt and uncle's deck on the Slough. But the crows are ever-present, and often they give as good as they get with the enormous eagles, squawking and flying at them and making the eagles turn tail. They're kind of funny, and they sit on the deck a lot and stare at us.

Here are a few little paintings I made in advance for the festival Sunday art fair.

Here are a couple Alaskan mermaids, with the seagulls, which aren't quite as funny as the crows, they're silly and obnoxious.

If you've read my Pugs of the Frozen North with Philip Reeve, you might recognise these stilt houses from one of the scenes in the book, where the Race to the North Pole begins. I drew this sitting on the other side of them, imagining mermaids under the pilings.

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Sarah McIntyre

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