Day 130: On Millinery and The Wearing of Hats

Possibly one of my darker posts. A lifelong inability to Look Good in a Hat has left me with a strange reverence and admiration for them. Particularly the type of hat which is Of No Practical Use. E.g. Provides zero protection from sun, rain or falling bricks. I speak of the top hat, the bowler, the mad hatter. The wearer of such hats could be likened to the triumphant reindeer. His antlers proclaim evolutionary superiority; he has thrived and flourished despite the enormous weight of his hat.

I massively digress. The point is I drew some hats cos I think they’re cool.

hats-editI’m still working on Flossie and Wol, its just taking a while so I thought I’d have a break and try something new.


Day 123: Magic Mushrooms

I now have storyboards coming out of my ears, the flat is sinking under them! Still not happy with the story. I’ve been reading ‘Writing with Pictures’ by Uri Shulevitz, which explains pictorially how to tell a story without words. Everything he writes seems blindingly obvious however I seem to have contravened every rule he outlines. Repeatedly. So that’s a work in progress.

In other news I’ve been designing patterns to have printed on fabric. I had a very specific idea of how Flossie’s dress should look and it seemed easier have my own design printed onto fabric, rather than struggle to find the exact pattern in a shop. Below are my sketches and plans for the design  and the final printed fabric which arrived today! It was very exciting. And then I couldn’t help myself from trying it out in situ, so below you’ll find Flossie featuring ‘tiny mushroom’ wellies.

mushroom illustration


Day 107: The wild swan’s death-hymn

Melodramatic title, apologies. I’ve been stuck in bed with a stinking cold this weekend, I therefore blame all the inadequacies of this post on lemsip max.

It hasn’t been all bad, I’ve watched all the period dramas Lovefilm has to offer (a ‘tolerable’ selection) and I’ve had some time to re-draft my storyboard. I can’t pretend I’m especially happy with it, whilst the story flows over the pages a bit better now I keep spotting new things that don’t work.. I’m either satisfied with the words, or the pictures, but not both. In the original story Flossie talks to Wol about all the things she loves to do, then at the end when she realises Wol doesn’t really like doing any of this she asks him: “Wol, do you love me?”. On the following page there’s a picture of Wol jumping up to give her a big hug and Flossie says: “I love you too, Wol.” At some point I decided that neither of them would speak and the story should be told in the third person, but I think I should probably change it back because the potency of Wol’s unsaid words are lost when Flossie is also silent. Or I could just be over-thinking it..

Anyway, I am including storyboard #2 below, again it bears the disclaimer of being ‘very rough and subject to change’. This time I had a faff around with felt-tip pens, mostly because I like colouring in and think white space is boring. But a little bit because I want to use two different colour schemes to represent Flossie and Wol’s respective outlooks… arty arty yadda yaa…blues sad, oranges happy etc. But I got carried away with the grey pen and Wol is now perpetually sad, woops!

storyboard #2


P.S. Will try and post something pretty next time!


Day 102: The story revealed

Well sort of. Below is the first – very rough – draft of my storyboard (my inner perfectionist hurts). You probably can’t read very much of it..but its going to completely change anyway. I realised a lot of stuff about the story as I was scribbling away, like how is the scale going to work? (small toys, large house, how do you fit things onto pages and make the characters big enough to see?) and does the story even make sense? and how have they jumped from this scene on one page to this scene on the next? I think with a bit more head-scratching and pencil-chewing we’ll get there. That’s the point of making storyboards – you aren’t supposed to get it right first time.

One thing I’m quite happy with are the words themselves, although I’ll undoubtedly change them a bunch more times. So what’s the story? Well..its all about the friendship between Flossie and Wol. Its a lot like many friendships I’ve known and indeed have. They get on well and love each other very much, but they don’t share everything in common. Its about being friends in spite of that and maybe a little bit of compromise too…But you’ll have to read the book to find out more!

storyboard 1


Day 93: “I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

How did I ever think a year was going to be long enough? Maybe “Don’t Panic” would be a more encouraging/optimistic title (in large friendly letters obv). Absolutely no work has been done on The Book over the festive season (and the Christmas tree has only just gone away so that means  its only just over).

Last night I eased myself back into the flow by throwing together a mood board over a glass of wine – yes it was as messy as it sounds. Also very satisfying, mood boards have to be the most childish way of looking professional: you get to use pritt stick, scissors and sellotape, you don’t have to be neat or colour inside the lines and you can steal other people’s art in the name of ‘inspiration’. Plus I had the fantastic idea of using melted candle wax to look like rain. I went very very over the top with it and also nearly gassed myself when the rubber melted off a paintbrush. Next time I shall consider removing wine from the equation. But if the Pre-Raphaelites did it…

Wol rain mood board edit

I also had a go at illustrating Wol in the style I want for the book. I ordered a sample of natural hessian fabric (I actually wanted to do all my illustrations on old potato sacks but apparently these are harder to get hold of..) earlier in the week to have a go on, thinking they would send enough to play with. The postage stamp they ACTUALLY sent wasn’t quite what I had in mind so had to scale-down my efforts but I’m still quite pleased.

wol in the rain collageWol in the rain


Day 66: Tilly and Milly

I’m back at home for Christmas and whilst looking through some old art things I found my old illustrations of Flossie and Wol’s predecessors. I came up with the basic outline of their story about 9 years ago, and it centred around a little girl, Tilly, and her dog Milly. Aesthetically they have changed a lot, as I have grown up and my style of illustration evolves. But they are still essentially the same, or at least the characters have the same relationship. I’m not sure whether writing a story about toys means I have to justify why they are able to speak to each other.. Or can I just assume that everyone accepts their toys come to life as soon as you turn your back? Because obviously they do. People know that right?

old illustration collage


Day 45: Tis the season to be jolly busy.

I’m suffering a crisis of inspiration. I could use the time to sort my life out… my flat is a state, there’s a mountain of laundry to do, need to go food shopping, should attempt some sort of academic progress, Christmas shopping,  blah blah etc. AND my landlady is coming to inspect on Friday – suspect reasonable grounds for eviction. Flossie is being less than helpful, she insists its time to get the Christmas decorations out and there has been some confusion about what exactly we’re decorating.

christmas wol

I’ve been trying to think about what makes a classic a classic. Beatrix Potter for example, her Peter Rabbit has been adored by children for over a century; so what is it that makes a character endure? I haven’t come up with anything sensible. Wol thinks Peter Rabbit probably had his wings sewn on better. Flossie already sees her name lit up amongst the likes of Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins. Everyone has a favourite childhood book, so this is my Christmas appeal to you: tell me what yours is and why did it appeal so much? Over and out.


Day 40: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

If talking to oneself is the first sign of madness, which sign is spending the evening attempting to placate outraged inanimate object after fellow inanimate object was knitted winter accessories? And subsequently feeling guilty for calling them ‘inanimate objects’? I thought Wol’s neck looked a little bare you see, so I made him a scarf. The ensuing insanity, whilst possibly disturbing to the casual observer, was actually the sort of thing I was hoping would happen by creating my characters. It helps me get to know them and gives me ideas about what might happen in their story.

In other news I went to see the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform The Nutcracker last night (stunning, inspiring, awesome). And so I was listening to Tchaikovsky’s music whilst the above unfolded. Thoroughly recommend popping on ‘Trepak’ or the ‘russian dance’, as appropriate soundtrack to the following:

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Day 35: “One can never have enough socks.”

Wol collage

It’s just occurred to me that at my current sock consumption rate I don’t have enough to last the year. So if anyone needs an idea for a Christmas present… just saying. Four have been sacrificed this week, I made a sock owl. This is Flossie’s world-weary, put-upon best friend, Wol. In my family we have always called owls ‘wols’, presumably because at some point a child got it wrong and the name was perpetuated – or we’re just that cool. Who knows. But the name suits him I think.