Saturday, 11 June 2011

My Second Sketch Fest Weekend

It was Sketch Fest weekend again! Yay!  I look forward to them since I was hooked last month.  Here are the sketches I did this time.  I'm hoping that I'll get round to finishing them off at some point, maybe even painting them :)

Prompt - 'Dancing Shoes'
Model from Aehireiel Stock

Prompt - 'Dancing with the wind' 

Prompt - 'He loves me not...' 
Model from Eirian Stock

Prompt - Ophelia

Prompt - 'Swan Maiden'

Prompt - 'When I have a moment'
Model from Linz Stock



Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Oliver Jeffers in Hay-on-Wye

I thought I would write a bit about the 'Illustration Master Class' I went to in Hay-on-Wye festival yesterday.  I was lucky enough to see the wonderful illustrator Oliver Jeffers talk about his work and found him very inspiring.  Armed with my trusty sketchbook and pencil, I jotted down some notes, took some dodgy photos with my iPhone (of which only one photo - below - was any good), and sat back and listened.


Oliver started off with a humorous look back over his life, which set the precedence for the rest of the talk that had me chuckling all the way through. I particularly enjoyed his pie chart of how he spends the day (it involved a lot of tea and coffee drinking, hehe) and I found his inventions amusing and clever.

Oliver walked us through the process of how he comes up with a picture book, jotting down ideas in his sketchbook, producing thumbnails and working out the page layout, likening the process to film making. He also told us he tests his ideas on kids first as children tend to tell the truth if they hate something.  He writes his stories with as few words as possible, letting the pictures convey the emotion, such as a character's pose or his use of space:  a tiny boat on a huge expanse of sea in Lost and Found for example, suggests to the reader a sense of loneliness.  

Oliver showed how his work has progressed from watercolour beginnings to a more experimental style by using anything at hand, for example house paint and collage.  He showed us examples from The Incredible Book Eating Boy, where he used scraps of vintage paper as backgrounds. This also resulted in him progressing to Photoshop, as a result of wanting to clean up his pictures and be more in control of his designs!

At the end of the talk, there was a question and answer section.  Oliver was asked which illustrators had influenced him and he replied with three: Tomi Ungerer (Moon Man), Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and the Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake partnership. His paintings were influenced by John Singer Sargent.

Oliver also gave advice to illustrators starting out. I quickly jotted them down as he spoke so I could post them on my blog.  Here’s what he told us:



  • Nothing is original
  • Be open – open to new ideas, advice etc.
  • Take a business course - Oliver took a short business course to be able to deal with this part of illustration.
  • Act the part of an illustrator – Oliver explained how he often felt like a fake, but thinks he has now become the illustrator he was once pretending to be.
  • Be a sponge – be curious.  Oliver pointed out there was no such thing as a stupid question. 
  • Be nice – I loved his father’s saying, ‘you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar’.
  • Don’t fear white space (of the paper)
  • Make it pretty – which doesn’t mean over embellish as the illustration can still look pretty if it is understated.
  • Find your own way.
  • Work harder – work hard and then work even harder!
  • Enjoy yourself  :) 

Oliver Jeffers signing my book. He seems a lovely, funny chap :)