Friday, 13 February 2015

Hospital adventures, and drawing recognisable characters, and never using a laptop for writing my blog

Well... it has been a very busy week, and I am attempting badly to get this blog written on my new laptop. It took three attempts at sending the photos from my phone at the right size for this to work, and I still can't work out how to get the photos in the middle of the column so it may look all wrong but I am an idiot so please excuse me! Now I can't manage to add text in between the images. This is all going quite wrong. I think all the pictures may end up at the bottom of the blog annoyingly.

First of all, here is a small portion of an illustration for a new book I am illustrating for Frank Cottrell Boyce. It will be out this year (Barrington Stoke) so more about that in a few months. It was only when I was colouring it in that I realised I had subconsciously drawn a friend of mine in the crowd. She is quite pleased indeed! I think I probably usually base my characters on people I know, or have seen. 

Today was day 3 in a row at the Sick Kids Hospital. Today Linda and I ran a Valentine card workshop in the Radiology reception, and we had some great cards made by patients, parents, surgeons and junior doctors. It was quite a lot of stupid fun and I was pleased to be making use of my degree in Printmaking again, even if it was just printing letters on an ink pad. Yesterday we spent the whole day in the Lothian Health Service archives at the University library. I love going in there and reading minute books from the 1840s. Some of the writing is quite hard to read but I have traced some interesting story lines, and am starting to piece together an idea for some work. On Wednesday we worked with a lovely girl on ward 1. We wrote and illustrated the beginnings of a very good story.

I will now attempt to add some more photos of illustrations I did with Katie on ward 1. If there is only one photo here it's because I gave up and had to have a nap. Yeah...that looks a mess and I think next time I will not use my laptop. Lesson learned.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Happy New Year?

After a horrible end to 2014 and a bad start to 2015, I am starting to get back to normal, or as normal as I ever am, or as normal as you can be when you lose your second parent (and thank goodness I only had two).

But things are going great career-wise, so here are a few things that have been happening...

The Scotsman newspaper published a Christmas story written by my hospital partner-in-crime, Linda Cracknell for the second year running, and illustrated by me. This year she concentrated on the Ebola epidemic, and I worked with my idea that the virus itself looks a bit like a macabre Christmas decoration.

I have been colouring-in a LOT and here is a probably-not-allowed look at one of the pages I have been working on for Hachette. The series is about a Stone-Age family, written by my good pal Vivian French. This big guy is my favourite to draw.

I have also been working on the second Squirrel Boy book (Phoenix Yard). This is how I work, doing the ink line work over the pencil drawings on my light box. I can't believe I have been an illustrator for so long without a light box. What an idiot.

At the end of last year I travelled to Burntisland Primary School with Lari Don to be a prize in a reading competition! I love working with Lari (luckily we are working on another book together at the moment, yay!) and I also like when kids copy my drawings of animals really well.

Here is a big pile of books. SQUIRREL BOY VS THE BOGEYMAN is hitting the shops in a few weeks. It is a really funny book but I didn't write it (probably for the best). I will be doing an event with Dave Lowe at the Edinburgh book fest this summer and I'm looking forward to meeting him.

That's it really. I tried to update all this on my website blog, but it was being a pain in the bum and it only takes a very small amount to make me utterly furious at the moment, so I gave up and have returned here. Thank you for reading.
Oh, and happy Australia Day!

Friday, 31 October 2014

My blog is moving!

Hello, I know I am completely rubbish at blogging but I do like to share pictures of what I've been up to from time to time.
If you would like to continue to see things like drawings by kids or me talking nonsense at book events, please head over to my new website and click on the link to my blog there. I may well work out how to import this blog onto my new website but who knows? Maybe not.

Meanwhile I will leave you with a lovely photo.

Cate xxx

Monday, 9 June 2014

Radioactive hospital fun and other adventures

Here is another collection of good things to look at. It is meant to be summer now and I can't remember how many times I've had soggy feet through wearing sandals on the wrong day, but I have been having some lovely times in the sun too (this morning, not this afternoon, for example).

Sooooooo...what on earth have I even been doing since March? I don't know. I can't remember. I went to Paris, drew some book covers for ace books that are coming out next year (interior illustrations still to be done), became a lax member of a book group, watched my friend's band Book Group, visited a million primary schools with many metres of lining paper (my felts are RUINED), bought a new jacket and other non-related things like eating amazing food and reading my friends' YA books. Speaking of which...

I will start with this picture of me and Lari Don (who wrote a brilliant book called Mind Blind which I just read) in Kirkcaldy Galleries last week. We did a Breaking the Spell event and it was loads of fun. Lari is a fantastic storyteller and I draw what she says (apart from when she says 'horse'). Here we are with our book, out now in paperback!

I have finally finished the gamma camera decorating and I have now moved on to decorating the chemotherapy treatment rooms. I think a forest theme is happening in one and a beach theme in the other. Many months of work await me for this and it is exciting. Here are a couple of photos of the vinyls on the gamma camera and walls. It looks ace, even if I do say so myself.

Also at the hospital I have been making books with Linda and the kids, and drawing animals. I think this girl was copying me a bit...

Also illustrating a whole book because the girl we were working with had partially amputated a finger (a likely excuse!) was totally exhausting!

I have been collecting views from the existing hospital to maybe be used in an exhibition, and also in the new hospital. I like this one. It won't be quite so dramatic looking out the windows of the new hospital so I think it's important to save these views.

That's all my pictures for now. Here is a link instead
which is all about what I do all day and being an illustrator and books and stuff like that.

The end for now.

P.S. Sam, I miss you xxx

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

5 months later...

I have not done a blog in ages because I am rubbish. Lots of thing I am working on are not going to be published for either a while or absolutely ages, so that can't be on here yet. What I can show off is all the billions of work I have been doing with lots and lots of kids. They are mostly brilliant pieces of art and deserve to be seen, so here are some now.

Firstly I have some amazing drawings from Towerbank Primary School in Portobello. I was working there with eca illustration students as part of a collaboration called Drawing Book. This is the 5th year that this has run, and I love it because I get to work with my pretend Mum, the amazing Vivian French, and Mr Jonathan Gibbs from eca. This is usually the 2nd year students' first experience of working with children and on the whole it goes pretty well.

This guy at the bottom knows a thing or two about drawing monsters. I love that he draws with a biro!

Last week I went to Maddiston Primary School in Falkirk and had the best morning ever with Heather from the Scottish Book Trust. I worked with 55 P2s, explaining the processes involved in the production of a picture book and I was so impressed with their storyboards.
In the hall was a wall covered in billions of book reviews about two Lollipop and Grandpa books. Here are some of them. It's really interesting to see which bits of my drawings they liked and copied. These kids can draw!

I am pleased to announce that my residency at the Sick Kids has been extended by a further two years, and will now run until June 2016 YAY! Here is a cheetah and a giraffe that were drawn on Ward 1 a while ago now.



Also here is the finished, mounted, framed and hung drawing that I was working on for months and months. It is called 'How would you move a hospital?' and that pretty much describes the contents of the drawing. It was done by me and also lots of patients and staff of the hospital. On the left there is a smaller framed print which explains the drawing's individual elements. If you should ever find yourself in the hospital, they are next to the pharmacy.

And one more thing because I am super-proud of it...the gamma camera! Months in the making and almost finished. We have a very important person coming to open the room in the next few months so I will probably blog about that. I was given the task of making this massive scanner less imposing and here is the room about halfway through the installation. It's still not quite finished but it's almost there. I am now a vinyl application expert.

Ok that's more than enough of that. I will get more stuff up here so you can see what I get up to outside the world of book illustration. My time in the studio is great, but I do love being out and about and doing all this other unusual and interesting stuff. I go mad if I stay on my own for more than one day. And on that note I am going shopping. BYE!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Wigtown, Breaking the Spell and moving a hospital.

Hello! One month on and lots has been happening. It is now autumn, I have become addicted to the gym and it seems like everyone is launching a book or opening an exhibition, which is all lovely.

I have been travelling on lots of trains to draw for many hundreds of children, starting with The Spirit of Moray Festival which takes place in Elgin library. What a lovely library it is too. In my first session 109 P1s arrived en masse, and left an hour later as dinosaurs clutching signed books, hooray!

Then there was Wigtown. I have never been to Wigtown before and didn't really expect to be staying in the most beautiful country house hotel! It was another Miss Marple weekend and I loved it. Luckily for me, Lari Don was also there to tell stories from our amazing new book Breaking the Spell (Frances Lincoln). I roped her in to my 90 minute workshop and I enjoyed her event a lot. We even went for a 7am walk in the countryside in preparation for breakfast. We also may have been plotting over herbal tea...

Here are some photos from my Wigtown workshop. It was all about dinosaurs and monsters and I worked with some hugely creative and imaginative people, big and little.

talking utter nonsense

designing a monster in groups

I drew the tail, a child drew the rest

After the monsters were created, each group wrote a description of their monster and passed it to another group, who tried to draw the same monster from the written description. If that makes sense. Good results were achieved.

The beautifully produced Breaking the Spell.

Also keeping me off the streets and out of trouble has been my residency at the Sick Kids, which is now half way through unbelievably. Linda and I have been working on autumn themes, hanging out in the Drop-in Centre with Alex Salmond and a room full of TV cameras and journalists, encouraging poorly children to draw and write, and lots of other fun things!

In my studio I have been working on so many different things inspired by the Sick Kids visits, including finishing the large wall drawing that will be hung next to the pharmacy. It is the culmination of our call-out for ideas about how to move a hospital. Here is a wee snippet. I like that word.

Last thing...Walker Books have published a Book of Bedtime Stories (name of the book) in collaboration with Mumsnet and Gransnet and I illustrated one of them (the best one!). Here is Theo and his atlas.

I think that is enough for now. There has also been a lot of Christmas stuff going on but that can just jolly well wait for 2 months. See you!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Update on loads of things

Well it really has been an age of man since I last updated my blog and this is because I have been REALLY busy but also because despite this I don't have much that I can actually show you yet.

As ever I have been collecting amazing drawings at the Sick Kids. Linda and I are working on a story about the hospital moving to Little France in 2017, and instead of making it into a book, I have been illustrating the work as a large drawings for the wall. Here is the first image in half-finished form. I have lots of work to do on it still, and I want to include a lot more of the young people's drawings.

I think my favourite bit is the dragon on the roof, although the lorry is also great. I drew some of it but it is hard to tell which bits really.

We are also working on a book of 20 postcards which I saw a proof of yesterday and it is going to look brilliant (and not just because I designed it). They will be available to all, for a donation. Here is one of them. It is from the story of Edward the Medical Notes, which is yet another project we are working on.

I have JUST finished a book for Penguin Young Readers and although it is top secret, here are two tiny bits of some pages. I like drawing animals but not necessarily anatomically correctly. This is cat and a dog.

Apart from all of this I have been doing lots of designing of stuff for Paper Tiger and Studio One. I have a pack of 6 Christmas cards coming soon to Paper Tiger, and also one for the Sick Kids so I will keep you updated about how to get your hands on these (in Paper Tiger, obviously). 

It has also been the season for book festivals, and indeed still is. Next week I will be in Elgin Library for the Spirit of Moray Festival, and the week after at Wigtown Book Festival. I had a great time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with Lollipop and Grandpa author Penny Harper. It was our first event together and was brilliant fun getting the kids to invent dinosaurs.

Soon I will be able to show you the ace CD cover that I have designed for Fraser's band. They are called Titus Pullo and they are quite handsome.

I need a cup of tea after a morning at the Sick Kids Drop-In Centre with the First Minister of Scotland and some well behaved young artists. I will probably be on the news tonight with a fixed grin. I will go away now.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer is making me lazy

Hello again! It's one month since I posted anything, and this is largely because 
a) I have been working on secrets, 
b) I have been doing lots of work out of the studio, 
c) I went to Barcelona and ate lots of food, 
but mainly due to 
d) We are having some kind of heat wave in Edinburgh so I am enjoying it while it lasts.

But I have a few things to say so here we are...

The Sick Kids hospital has been a busy place for working in, although luckily there aren't too many actual sick kids just now. Linda and I decided to make the most of the quiet times and visit the outpatients waiting areas and all the other usually busy places, and we took with us a hand stitched (by Linda) book for the kids to contribute one page to a continuous story. Here is one page which I especially like.

Here is a picture of one of our library workshops. We are there twice a month in the library of the Sick Kids which I think is on the second floor. You don't have to be a patient to attend as we see here. If you are interested in writing and/or drawing, come along! The dates are fairly random but I will try to remember to announce upcoming ones. The next one is on July 26th and they are always 2-3pm.

I keep trying to keep sketchbooks because they are ace, but I keep forgetting them. But last week I remembered, and now I have these pages of utter genius sketches (not really). These drawings have amazingly come in handy though. I like to look at sketchbooks so hopefully you do too!

It seems like an age since I started this book but it really isn't, and now IT IS FINISHED!!! Grandpa and Lollipop and the Christmas Baby will be hitting the shops in time for Christmas!
Here are two bits of it. One is the cover and the other is just a funny picture of Grandpa.

Well I think that's all. I am also working on a Wizard book, and have some other things in the pipe(book)line so I will mention those as they happen. I am really just thinking about having a nap now...

Monday, 17 June 2013

A very busy week

It is Monday lunchtime, so before I make my sandwiches and sit in the garden to top up my sun vitamins (a thing) I will tell you all about my week last week because it was fun, despite being ill with a stupid cold/cough.

The beginning of the week was spent napping, but once I got that out of my system I got to work and did MILLIONS of hours on the next Lollipop and Grandpa book. I have just sent all of the pages to my publisher which seems to have happened really fast this time. Here is a tiny peek at one page. I don't like the look of their Christmas dinner much really.

At the Sick Kids on Thursday Linda and I decided to run a drawing workshop and get the participants to draw a composition of carefully selected rank items from the charity shop. I became an obsessive hand washer immediately after this. Chris wasn't feeling very well at all, but he managed to do a really good drawing.

Then we have a lovely drawing that started off as observational and went completely off track and ended up as a girl flying into a tree. Nice.

This is my drawing. The objects were a camel made out of a camel, a bird thing that I added a golf ball hat to, and a piggy bank. All three things make me feel a bit sick to look at really.

On Saturday I went to participate in the Sick Kids Friends Foundation annual Teddy Toddle at Meadowbank stadium. The stadium itself is a little bit run down but I liked these seats which look a bit like people's faces.

Also I got asked to do a screen test for a new Bank of Scotland tv advert and for a quote for some scribbly drawings I did of Mark and Alison from The Hotel. They were fun things.
That's more than enough. Sadly I didn't see much of the pointy eared Fraser last week, but we did manage to laugh our way through a very nice curry and we probably went shopping, who knows. More curry tomorrow, yessssssss.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Paper Tiger Roooooooar!

Good afternoon to you. I have just had a nap and some crisps so I feel great. Hope you do too.

Last night I attended the Edinburgh College of Art 2013 Degree Show business view with Pointy-Ear. It was lovely to see so many of my favourite people who roam in the illustration world. I only got as far as the illustration show because talking, but I was very impressed with the work this year. My made-up award of Business Card of the Year goes to Eilidh Muldoon with Oliver Ninnis a close second. You should definitely go and see it and buy a lovely print.

Also yesterday was my third day of the month working at the Sick Kids. I only do 3 days a month and hadn't been for 4 weeks which felt like ages and ages. The Day Case Unit was stuffed full of children which made for a fun time in the playroom. We worked on drawings and poems of what they would like to see out of the window. I worked with a 6 year old boy who drew his favourite person (a self portrait) and some fish and chips copied from my drawing (top left). Obviously the other things are a dog, a swimming pool and a football pitch. Then he got bored and started painting some plaster of Paris stuff.

I do a lot of work as Paper Tiger and Studio One's illustrator. For non-Edinburgers, Paper Tiger is a really really good card shop which also sells stationery and nice things. Studio One is its sister company and is just the best shop ever. It sells lovely things. Anyway...we have joined forces and created a range of cards that are a bit cheaper than your average card. Most occasions are covered and more are being added soon. Here they are on the website and here is my favourite one. I do love champagne.

That's quite a lot of things for now. Next week I have loads of things to draw and an exciting book event to attend so I am sure I will be bothering you with news of all that nonsense. Have a super weekend.