This post is about things that go ‘bump in the night’. No, it’s not really. It’s about an illustration that I produced from some photographs and sketches that I did in the garden. I spied this wizard bear (which I thought was rather like an ursine version of Harry Potter) in a local shop. I named him ‘Hector’ and could tell that he would make a cute illustration for the calendars and cards I was producing. Selecting an autumnal part of the garden (luckily it was autumn), and with the addition of some specially selected branches and leaves – of gold and vermilion – I set the scene.
This drawing was quite difficult, as after drawing nine blades of grass in minute detail I start to go a bit stir-crazy. I have even seen me go to the kitchen sink and wash a pile of dishes, rather than draw and shade one more blade of grass… The wizard’s gown and hat were quite an ordeal too, as the gold dot, moon and star pattern kept getting tarnished by the ultramarine and indigo blues surrounding them.
I loved the jack-o’-lantern and pumpkin that I used in the picture. I ordered them especially for this illustration from a up-and-coming teddy bear company in America. In fact, I liked them that much that I purchased several of them to get the very one I wanted. I realise a lot of people look at my illustrations, some with disinterest (you can’t please everyone), but others say ‘That’s nice’, without realising the amount of hours – setting the scene – dressing the bear – finding the props – and then the laborious hours spent at the drawing board. However, during the time I was creating the teddy bear illustrations there were a number of customers, who would point out certain details, saying ‘The details here is marvellous, do you incorporate photography into your illustrations?’ Comments like that made all of the hours spent drawing a lawn, or whatever, seem SO worthwhile.
I dedicated this picture to my friend, Tracey A. Dixon, who greatly appreciated it, so much so, that I believe she owns the original illustration and Hector too!
May this night the ghosts be seen,
On the feast of Hallowe’en.
Don’t be worried if they’re there,
Remember you’re a big brave bear!
I was approached from Judith, a former work colleague and friend, to do three illustrations for her adorable grandchildren: Eleanor, Felicity and Matilda. Felicity and Matilda are twins, so I tried to use similar colours for their birth names, but gave them totally different themes.
Judith thoughtfully and wisely provided me with a list of ‘favourite things’ that the girls liked and enjoyed doing. With Felicity and Matilda she also provided me with the first two words that the girls could utter. Felicity’s was the rather advanced word ‘teapot’ and Matilda’s word was rather cute – ‘goggly’. I decided to use these two key words to provide the basis and theme of the illustrations. Felicity is making her friends a cup of tea, from the aforementioned teapot, whilst Matilda is hanging out her washing (another one of her favourite things) with a t-shirt with rather goggly eyes.
I was delighted to do this trio of illustrations (I will post a picture of Eleanor’s illustration at a later date), and was equally delighted that the illustrations received full approval from Judith, whose comment is shown below. I do hope that the girls will treasure these illustrations as they go through life and that they will always give them some delightful childhood memories, as well as remind them of a special love, given to them by a grandmother, that commissioned these illustrations especially for them…
Thank you so much for the beautiful pictures! Lots of love from Judith xxx We will cherish them!
To see the process of how I create these bespoke, hand-drawn illustrations, please take a look at the posts in May (Phoebe) and June (Joshua).
I was never considered academic at school. The fact that I came out of Grammar School with any results at all is still a mystery to me (and probably my teachers too!). I remember my French teacher saying that I spent most of my time looking out of the window drawing butterflies. I don’t think I was his most favourite (or attentive) pupil. I do remember looking out of the window (now and then), but I must admit to doodling during lectures. I am not sure if the subject matter was always butterflies (or any other insect for that matter), but I do remember doing lots of squiggly, whirly shapes, which I shaded in a cross-hatching fashion.
The subject of doodles has somewhat been a fascination to me and I wonder what psychologists would make of my doodles*… Perhaps there is a lot to tell from the way that we scribble in the corners of our notepads. Writing that last sentence filled me with certain sadness, in the fact that doodles are probably a dying art. How many people actually have a paper notepad anymore? Nowadays most people use computers or personal mobiles to record information. Do these allow one to doodle? Being an old-fashioned pen-and-paper chap I still love the art of doodling, when time allows of course.
Despite my lack of good examination results at school, I redeemed myself in later life… When I worked at the local college, I re-studied a lot of my essential subjects and with the help (and patience) of two fantastic teachers, namely Mr S. Lane and Mrs C. Johnson, I passed my examinations in English and Mathematics. Passing my Maths exam was one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, as I am so bad at that subject. Admittedly, I gained a much better grade in English (an A*), but it was my Maths that gave me the greatest pride in my achievements. I am sure that my senior school teachers would have been proud (and flabbergasted) too.
*On second thoughts, I would not really like to know what psychologists would derive from my doodles. I have a sneaky feeling that the results would be all too depressing!
Doodle. Noun: A figure, design or scribble drawn or written absentmindedly.