Sunday, 23 November 2014

the creative process

The creative process is a funny thing. For example, this weekend I had an idea for a new picture book. Contrary to the pictures accompanying this post, it has nothing to do with penguins! But the idea was led there by penguins.

It started when I bought a pair of penguin socks in New Look. I really really loved the little ice skating penguin on the socks so much that I bought three pairs.  Look how adorable he is!

Then, on Friday, I was making mini Christmas cards with Celestine. We made the usual, Christmas tree ones, reindeer ones snowman ones... and then I remembered my socks and thought 'penguins!'

I just loved the design of the little penguin so much that I painted some bigger ones in my sketchbook afterwards. And I though 'hmm,' this little penguin would make a good little character- though of course it was still a blatent copy of the sock penguin at this point.

Then, led by that thought another thought came and I developed the penguin into another character- still a bird but not a penguin. And I LOVED my new little character (which I am not going to show on here just yet) and a story idea for her popped into my head.  And so a new book idea was born.

And I just thought how interesting the creative process is. You never know where it's going to take you. You can end up with something completely different and surprising from what you started with.

Pink Fireworks

I couldn't resist trying out a different colour combination for this picture. Also edited her face slightly. I'm sure no one else can really notice but I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my work. I change the teeniest tiniest things and to me, it makes all the difference!

I love Celestine! 
And also Victoria Stitch of course. (She would be furious if I didn't mention her!)

Friday, 21 November 2014


That is a little sketch of Celestine I did when we went to see the fireworks a few weeks ago. She has to wear earmuffs because she doesn't like the bangs. I don't have any actual photos of her at the fireworks because I didn't bring my camera. But here's one from last year that I never put on my blog.

Celestine loves fireworks. Her favourite are the big gold sparkly ones that look like chandeliers dripping glitter from the sky. We had a nice fireworks night because we walked up the road to see them with some friends.

Anyway November, November. I have mostly been busy with sketching out a dummy for a new book which is taking a while. I don't know why but dummy books always take me agggges. So I have nothing new to show here really. 

It's definitely cold now. Last night we popped out to the shop and I was surprised to feel how cold it's got. And it's so misty at the moment. Misty mornings and misty dark driving. I bought a cream fur coat with a hood when we visited Henry's mum at the weekend. It is so soft and pristine that I have put it in my wardrobe and not worn it yet! But it is for wearing and I must get it out. One thing that always delights me about the winter months is the amount of sparkle in the shops. I always say that when you start seeing gold glittery heels in the shops, you know Christmas is on it's way. 

I loooove these gold booties. I didn't buy them because I don't have the legs for that style of boot so I took a picture instead. Sometimes I think taking a picture of something you love is almost as good. It still gives you that nice feeling when you look at it.  Glamorous, glittery, Christmassy, wintery boots.  Actually they are exactly the sort of things Celestine might have in her wardrobe. She loves gold.

Oh you know what else I've been loving lately. The M&S Christmas advert with the two fairies flying through the snowy city, making magic, flying through the chimney smoke, shooting red and white sparks from their fingertips. Definitely the best advert of all the big Christmas ones this year. I much prefer magical Christmas adverts to those over sentimentalized ones.

For all this talk of Christmas though, I'm not actually feeling very Christmassy yet. Unrelated but Henry and I really really thought we would be in our own house for Christmas this year but things have not gone to plan with that. There's been some complications with the house we were trying to buy and we have had to pull out. We were so sad about it as we love love loved the house (technically it was a flat but it felt like a house because it was on two floors) but I think it will be for the best.Well, I know it will be for the best. I won't say any more about it here as I don't want to jinx anything this time! 

I have really realised what a stressful business trying to buy a house it though. Seriously, we were up and down like a rollorcoaster for ages! 

November is for: Changing up my hair. I wanted to do it half black half white but I managed to refrain myself from doing that. Would have been a nightmare to upkeep. 

November is for: wearing gloves and my new furry hat, making Christmas cakes with the children at Craft Club. Nutmeg and cinnamon and candied peel, marzipan-ing and making a wish when we stir. Cycling in the early morning mist, chocolate truffle treats from the supermarket, shopping and house viewings, watching Mr Brooks (good film) and Rosemary's Baby, starting to make Christmas cards, listening to Affinity and reading Goth Girl, orange and yellow roses, discovering diamond star necklaces that are far too expensive to buy *sniff* and...

A tiny toadstool card/letter in the post from Polly. Celestine has stolen it away to put up in her castle.

Aaaand that is all!

Hope you're having a nice November.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Autumn Cornwall

Over half term we went on holiday! To Cornwall. My favourite place in the whole world. It was actually a birthday present bought for us way back in March by my grandparents (March is when mine and Henry's birthday is).

It was a really nice birthday present! We don't usually get presents as big as this for our birthdays but I think it was becasue we got married this year.

It was such a nice week. I have never been on an autumn holiday before. The beaches looked so different to how they look in the summer time, more seaweedy and pebbly and the cliffs were all orangy greeny brown.  I am usually accustomed to a bright, sun soaked, flip flop wearing, beach-sitting, surf-y kind of Cornwall holiday so this one felt rather different! It was just as nice though.

The weather wasn't brilliant, cloudy every day, but it didn't matter. Usually it would have mattered to me, I am very affected by the weather, but for some reason this time I didn't mind. Everything just felt nice and cosy.  Also the clocks changed while we were there so it started getting dark earlier which I also enjoyed. I love autumn evenings.

The only thing Cornwall wasn't so great for was my broken toe! (Oh I am so annoyed I broke my toe a week before holiday!) It meant we couldn't walk around too much, and if we did I ended up hobbling. In a way though, having a broken toe contributed to my not-mindingness of the grey weather. I think having a broken toe in beautiful sunshine would have been very frustrating becasue I would have wanted to be out walking on the clifftops all the time.

Here's Celestine. Of course. She wouldn't miss out on a holiday! She wore her witch's hat to the beach because it was almost Halloween.

She also wrote her own tiny postcard because the mood took her to do so.

Look how much sea weed was on the beach! I couldn't believe it. I am usually used to seeing this beach all golden sand and bright turquoise sea. 

On the first day we did actually do one long walk (and that was the reason why we couldn't do any more walks after that...)

So we walked all the way to Newquay and had soup and pasty in a cafe and looked round the shops. We went to the aquarium because Henry loves to see the giant octopus there. Celestine liked the baby starfish becasue it was smaller than her!

We cycled twelve miles to Bodmin on a tandem one day. It turns out cycling is fine for my toe! We had mint tea in a cafe (ahem Costa) and cycled the twelve miles back to Padstow. 

We had a lovely afternoon in Padstow. We looked round the shops and bought some Chrsitmas decorations. Glittery fairy for me and wooden santa for Henry. I like the bear shop in Padstow because they have a whole selection of tiny miniature bears. I may have bought something for Celestine in there... Also we visited the fudge shop, got to buy fudge while in Padstow!

Celestine had an ice cream on the harbour even though it was October and a bit chilly!

In the evening we went to Rick Steins fish and chip restaurant in Padstow. We were lucky because we were the last two people to get a seat in the queue. It was good fish and chips! Henry was especially impressed (I actually like mine slightly greasier haha.) We bought a chocolate pot to take home with us (below, top right) which was deeeelicious. It was like fondant with creme fraiche on the top. We ate it whilst driving back to the holiday house in the dark. 

Bottom left is Henry's friend the octopus in case you couldn't guess.

I just can't get over how much seaweed was on the beach! Also you can see how much Henry enjoyed having fish and chips! (below)

 Autumn beach

Celestine did lots of boating down the streams on the beach. She did in fact capsize one afternoon and had to spend the rest of the day sitting by the radiator to dry her hair and eyelashes.  She didn't get hurt though. Her boat just snagged on some seaweed and tipped over. Also some part of the stream were very fast and wooshy!

floating around the mini lagoons was also fun...

We used Celestine's boats for a boat race too. Mine won!

Celestine has her own mini boat to play with too...

It was such a good week. We just felt so relaxed. I think Henry especially appreciated the break after his very first and intense term of being a teacher. We bought all our favourite foods to have in the house, smoked salmon, chocolate mini rolls, avocados, yoghurt and berries, fry ups in the mornings. Henry made bread and I made lentil soup. We ate out a lot too which is something we don't do a lot. Scampi and chips for me! 

We visited a friend who is an artist and she gave us a beautiful framed picture for a wedding present which we are so excited to hang in our house. It was a lovely surprise. Then we had a cream tea which was delicious. Henry ordered a large slice of chocolate cake. Oh everything was just so good about this holiday!

We drove a round visiting places on one of the days. Made it down to Lizard point and Kynance Cove except we didn't see anything becasue the weather was SO misty that day. There were lots of crystal shops all around which we looked in. I found a beautiful glimmery star necklace in one of the shops where the stars were carved out of some special shimmery stone. I tried it on though and it didn't suit me. But it was so pretty.

We bought some multicoloured lanterns for our future house, in Newquay which I am in love with.  There is something about rainbow glowy things that just DOES it for me.

On Halloween Henry carved a pumpkin with a pirate face. We watched lots of episodes of Hannibal too while we were away. We finished the second season. So good!

We were both sad to leave on the last day.

When we got home there was a package waiting for Celestine from her new pen pal Ted which was very exciting. When she opened it she found a letter and a pumpkin garland and a badge. Even though Halloween is over Celestine has put the pumpkin garland over her bed for the time being (she is still living in the castle turret at the moment) and the badge she has put on her bed as a cushion. It was a little big for her to wear!

Her 'room' looks very cosy and autumnal now!

Thank you Ted!

Saturday, 18 October 2014


Autumn is definitely here and Celestine is enjoying wearing her red coat and looking at all the red berries. She likes autumn especially because it is her birthday season. 

I made Henry the scarf that he is wearing in that picture. I made it for him as a surprise. He was very pleased with it and her wears it every day to work if it is cold enough. I guess you can't really see the colours that well in the picture above but it is all autumnal colours, browns, greys, oranges. I like to make surprises for Henry.

The evening that we took those photos was a beautiful evening. I barely did any photoshop on any of those photos! We went to a place that we don't often go to I think because we needed to get out of the house. To get there we drove past the place that we are moving to and had a peep at the house we are (hopefully) moving to. We are so so so so so so so SO looking forward to moving into our own house and we have all our fingers crossed that we will be able to move in soon. It has seemed to take a while to get everything though- it has been almost 3 months now what with all the bank stuff and solicitors etc. I don't know why it takes so long!?! Anyway hopefully I won't jinx it by talking about it because we haven't actually signed anything yet so it could still fall through at this point.

Please don't let it fall through!

A few weekends ago - I know I am really behind! - Henry and I went up to Derby to stay in his mum's house while she was away and to visit his gran in Nottingham. We took a trip to Dovedale park in the peak district which was quite nice though for some reason we both felt really lethargic so just walked slowly up the side of the river for a couple of miles. Last time we went we were scrambling up the side of the steep hills! 

Dovedale park is really nice. There's a river with these wooden pontoon type walkways along it in places and it's surrounded by hills. The weather wasn't particularly great, it was a bit grey, but it was still nice to go. This would have been just at the beginning of autumn I think so Celestine was wearing her special autumnal cape and she also had her brown satchel with her that she's never actually used before, even though she's owned it for well over a year. She has so many clothes and bags that she struggles to use them all- what a hard life!

Also here are some close ups of some of the cards Celestine made and wrote when she did her great card making spree the other week.

One to Polly,

One to her friend Matilda the mouse. You might remember her from here.

And one to Steph who is an old schoolfriend and who had been doing amazing things lately like skydiving for charity.

Workwise I have been doing various different things including character designing for a new picture book which is turning out to be harder than expected. These are NOT the final designs by any means! (still haven't got a final design but I did think some of these were cute)

I got the f & g's for my second witch's cat book in the post which was exciting to see. That's coming out next July. Still quite a while to wait...

Here's a very small snippet from it, don't think I should show more than that at this stage. It's sort of appropriate as we are coming up to Halloween. I am looking forward to this book coming out. I created and finished it over a year ago now! 

They are in a fancy dress shop and there is lots of glitter and multicoloured fairylights. 

Been seeing the Glitterbelle books that I illustrated popping up online recently. They're out in January or sometime around then. There's four. Three are activity books and one is a picture book. I am especially pleased with the princess secrets one. I can't wait to see them in real life!

Also my secret project that I mentioned a while back has been sent to publishers now so I have my fingers crossed that someone likes it!

Here's a teeny snippet from it:

So I have lots of little things going on at the moment work wise but I am not intensely stuck into one major project, kind of flitting about doing little things for a few projects. That doesn't actually work well for me, I like to get really focused on one main thing and see it though until the end. Sometimes things don't work out like that though and then it's a juggling act. Which I hate and my brain find hard to do. I am compulsive that's why.

While I seem to be listing all the things I'm doing right now I may as well also mention that I am writing a YA book to practice my writing. I find Wednesday nights are very good for doing this when Henry is out at Tai Chi. For some reason I find it really easy to get into the mood for more adult writing then. 

ALSO been continuing with my Celestine book. Really want to get that finished but I'm not sure if I'm going to manage that before Christmas.

Here's a couple more spreads from that:

A few people mentioned in the comments that they would like a Celestine book when it is finished so I will address that here. I am going to make it on becasue I've used them before and I like the quality of their books. It's going to be a pretty long book, may even need to be two volumes so I think it's going to be very expensive to buy. I printed my Witch's Cat book on there when it was a university project and that cost me about 30 pounds for a 32 page book. This one is going to be waaaaay longer! I imagine it's going to end up being about 50 pounds upwards. Maybe. So I'm not expecting anyone to want to buy it apart from me! What I will do though is I will make it available on blurb in case there is anyone who still wants to buy it. There's nothing I can do about the price though, that's just the cost of printing on blurb unfortunately. 

Anything else I can add to this mammoth blog post? Oh yes I know, I went to a miniatures fair last weekend and picked up loads of different coloured mini wool so now I am doing more mini knitting which is fun and relaxing. Rainbow scarf here we come! I find knitting to be very therapeutic. I remember the days leading up to the wedding I sat furiously knitting haha.

So yes Celestine is going to get a rainbow scarf at some point when I've finished tying up all the ends.

Also I broke my toe!

And that is all.

Have a lovely weekend!