Sunday, 24 February 2013

I've moved!


This blog is no more! I've now moved to the more retro-inspired  See you there!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Tigers, morals and good old-fashioned nakedness.

Well it's now July, although interestingly the weather still remains exactly the same as when I last got down and bloggy with it back in ruddy winter. Anyhoo, my new picture book The Last Tiger is due for release on 20th July and I'm having a little book launchey-thing in it's honour at WHSmiths Bookshop in Sudbury, Suffolk at 11am if any of you lovely people would care to join me? Here's a flier giving you all the relevant juicy details;

The book is set in a bleak smog-ridden industrial-wastey future when there seems to be no trees or animals left at all until a boy discovers the last living tiger hiding in a cave amongst all the rubbish and waste. The book then revolves around their friendship until tragedy strikes when faceless authorities discover the tiger, take him away and put him on public show. But then the boy discovers that inside the tiger’s cave is a secret garden and ... basically it all ends happily with a hopeful view of the future once the people have been reminded of what the world once was and what it could be again....

Fairly ambitious plot for a picture book I realise! Luckily I have a fairly ambitious publisher, Lion Hudson, prepared to put my books out. In the current climate so many publishers are retreating to ‘safe’ picture books about mice and bears having a cuddle where as I like to write children's books with a bit more meat on the bone.

The last thing I want to write, however, is a preachy book but I do think kids are quite receptive , eager even, for big challenging ideas, as long as they’re presented in a fun way that they can relate to. Hence my two books Just Because and Sometimes based around my children, one of which has severe cerebral palsy, and Zoo Girl which came out last year about a girl in care who ends up being adopted - and now the Last Tiger which is about the importance of looking after the planet. These are all big broad themes - adoption, disability, conservation, yes, but my main aim and starting point for each book is always just to write great, exciting, fun, funny books that engage a child’s imagination - the last tiger is essentially a fun book about the friendship between a boy and a tiger - if a secondary theme can come along for the ride adding extra weight to the whole project then all the better.

Not that I'm always interested in a deep moral or theme. I've just finished a book called Naked Trevor which is frankly just a straight-forward ridiculous and funny tale about a sparrow refusing to wear his 'sparrow costume' - a book purely designed to make children giggle and there’s nothing wrong with that either. But still perhaps I hope it has something more to 'say' than a book about safe fluffy mice and bears having a cuddle? Perhaps not. But nakedness is always funny. That much I do know.

Oh and in other news I'm currently fat with child (and all the cakes, chocolate and crisps I'm consuming under the all-encompassing excuse of being pregnant) due in September so I'm aiming to take at least 6 months off to look after said sproglet and also write that children's novel I started so long ago and my lovely agent keeps rightly nagging me for. Whether or not I actually posses the skills necessary to successfully write a novel remains to be seen. Whether or not I actually posses the skills necessary to successfully parent a third child also remains to be seen. Wish me luck. xx

P.S. Not sure whether I've ever talked about Signed Stories here? Well, if not (and yes I do realise my insane laziness at not looking through my previous blogs to check this. Deal with it, I have.) check them out here - they have signed animated versions of Just Because, Sometimes and Zoo Girl. Enjoy.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Tigers, gifts for spiders and Emos...

Right, yep, so I have an exhibition thang private view this Sunday - so private that you're all, the whole of the interplanet webule blogosphere, invited. See the flier below for more juicy details.

In other news I've just finished the artwork for The Last Tiger... here's a sneak preview...

Oh and if it's possible to talk about one's 'band' without sounding like a desperately pathetic 14 year old Emo, then band now has a 'web presence' (not to be confused with what spiders get at Christmas)... so if you're in dire need of a poppy/bluesy/jazzy/folky/souly covers trio in the Suffolk area don't hesitate to get in touch...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

A-hem. Right, so... it's been a while, February if you must know... look I'm doing my best....I've been busy....stuff happens....the dog ate's not you, it's me....I don't have to explain myself to you....leave me alone....
Is anyone else constantly bullied by their nagging guilt-inducing blog? Nope? Just me then.
Anyhoo, I don't intend to bore (but then the road to hell is paved with good intentions) so here's a potted history of my doodling activities (amongst others) over the last 8 months...

- exhibition in Saffron Walden Library with Cee Biscoe - Cee sold 2 paintings, I sold 0 paintings. Not that I'm bitter....
- illustrating various books for Cowley Hunter, Parragon and Publications International...
- Join a gym for the first time - this is it, the dawn of a new fitter, thinner me...

- Couple of lovely school visits - Acton School, Suffolk and Howe Dell, Hatfield.
- First mini-gig with my musical ensemble 'My Man Jeeves' (we have yet to do our second)
- Quit the gymn. What was I thinking? I don't belong here.

- Write new picture book The Last Tiger

- Toby's 3rd birthday - made a passable Herbie cake...
- Top That agrees to publish my second book for them, 'Cub's First Summer'

- My agency gets a deal with Lion Hudson to publish The Last Tiger
- Visit 9 schools in Haverhill with the Torchbook project - (getting a group of schools to write and illustrate one book together)
- Sometimes is published


- Start illustrations for Cub's First Summer (Cub's First Winter came out last year....hmmm....I'm thinking there may be 2 more possibilities in this series...)
- Various marvelous events - Book readings and signings in Waterstones, Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich Children's Book Group event in, well, Ipswich, Storytimes in the local's all guuud....
- Zoo Girl is published and get's Highly Commended in the Junior Design Awards
- EADT article about my 'idiosyncratic' life!?!

- Start running a 6 week children's book illustration and writing course in Bookends in Sudbury
- working on illustrating. 'Little Donkey Close you Eyes' for Parragon

- Perform my sell-out show at Edinburgh Book Festival! Ok, so it was one date in a venue that holds 45 people but, hey, I got to 'do' the Edinburgh Book Festival! Just fabulously exciting and wonderful.
- Greenbelt Arts Festival - workshops and bedtime readings, and free tickets to an event we attend every year anyone... I am a lucky chicken.

- My agency Bright holds a summer picnic on Clapham Common and I get to meet one of my all-time illustration heroes Sebastien Braun. He (and his wife) were utterly charming.
- Start writing a children's novel. I have literally no idea what I'm doing but love doing it anyway...

-Zoo Girl gets nominated for the Kate Greenaway medal and I almost wet myself with excitement
- Write new picture book 'Naked Trevor' about a bird who's, well, totally nude...

- Start 'Clembeau' - a new driftwood Christmas tree company with my Dad.
- Fragoline ('Frangoline' in the States)is published and is only reviewed in the New York - ruddy- Times!
- Start illustrating The Last Tiger

- Realise I haven't blogged in months, start to panic, write an overly long blog entry which no-one in their right minds will get to the end of. Ho hum. I'll be off now, see y'all soon. And if not, Happy Christmas, Happy Easter, have a great summer....

Friday, 4 February 2011


Ok so people often ask 'how do you work - what's your painting process?' (Ok so not that often really but there has been the odd occasion.... honestly) Anyhoo, so for those few who might be interested, here's some step-by-step photos I took when creating a spread for Cub's First Winter

So first I start with a pencil rough which I often draw smaller than the final piece. I scan it in, play around with it in Photoshop if need be, then email it to the client and when it's approved print it out. I only have an A4 printer though so I print it out in 3 sections. You'll notice that in many cases I don't have the right equipment and just busk it...
Then I trace it onto Daler-Rowney acrylic paper... people who do things properly use a light box for this. I either use my glass desk with a lamp underneath it or hold it up against a window - although this last method can involve extreme arm pain but hey, you've gotta suffer for your art man...

Then, after staring at the blank page for some hours full of panicky self-doubt and fear of ballsing it all up big-style, I start blocking in some background colour - I use cheap and cheerful Galeria System 3 Acrylic paint...

... once I've got the sky sorted I start working on the next things in the foreground - in this case the trees and keep adding layers of paint...

(I also start to think 'oh crikey this looks terrible should I start again?' and have to remind myself they all start looking like this and just plough on...)

It's easy to keep adding layers of paint until you totally loose the line of your foreground characters so at this point I white them out...

Then I start to block in some colour and highlights to the foreground characters and some extra shading and shadows to the background. Bored yet? Feel free to leave, I won't be offended.

It's normally at this point that someone walks in, takes one dismissive look at the painting which frankly looks appalling at this stage and says 'Oh that's lovely' with a slightly perplexed and patronizing look on their face. At which point I'm likely to overreact and scream 'No it's not! It's not finished yet you IMBECILE'

Now it's time for the foreground details - the leaves and tree in this case, and I start to add some fur-like brush strokes to my little foxes.

More fur is added....more paint get the idea....

And finally the finishing touches and details - including an owl in the background overseeing the proceedings.

So there you have it. It's a bit hap-hazard, a bit messy, a bit angsty but we get there in the end.


Monday, 24 January 2011

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cobwebs, Saffron Walden and twits.

Helloooooo, is anybody still here.....

I can only apologise for the extremely rude and entirely massive pause twixt this post and the last - I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation for months and are probably now wasting away and covered in cobwebs but there you go. There's nothing I can do about it now. Get over it.

So the exhibition has both been and indeed gone and was a bit of a success really - lots of people, lots of sales, lots of fun - here's some pictorial evidence:

And I've also visited a ton of lovely schools which looked something like this:

And I've also finished Zoo Girl and have written a couple of new books which are currently in the wise and all-powerful hands of several big publishers so fingers and everything that can be crossed are, indeed, crossed.

Another exhibition is about to start up at Saffron Walden Library and will run from Monday 1st Feb to Saturday 26th so if you find yourself in the area do pop in.

Oh and Christmas happened at some point.

And finally I have at last made my first steps into Twitterdom - come and sniff me out at:!/BecElliott

That's it for now. It's been fun. I've missed you.