Firsts and Seconds

I’m guest blogging over at David Fickling Books this week.

The topic is ‘creating your second book’, which is not particularly relevant to my career, so instead I wrote a little about my second-ever book cover commission. To link these two blogs I am revealing my first-ever book cover, created for Puffin books way back in 1991. It was a collection of Edgar Allan Poe stories edited for children. I specialized in spooky covers for a while after that – I didn’t do my first fantasy piece until a year later, illustrating Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic. Unfortunately the original artwork was lost. 

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What Happens When You’re Not Looking

Once more to my favourite subject (no, not me, although this is a sort of
self portrait).
I had quite a lot of trouble with this one, mainly due to the dappled light.
It took a lot of repeated layers of watercolour to get the necessary
contrast, and when that didn’t do the trick I went over the whole thing with
a dark pencil. Consequently it looks less watercoloury than I would have
liked, but you live and learn…
Below is the very first pencil scribble and subsequent tonal study that led
to the finished thing, plus photographic evidence of one of my favourite
places to sit and dream up these flights of fancy.

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Recording Birdsong in the Wild

I managed to squeeze these Local Characters out in between ‘normal’ work.
These owls have been in my mind, making a racket, since a spring walk in
nearby Whiddon Deer Park. The magical entrance is depicted below (sculpture
by Peter Randall-Page, photographed by Sarah Horsman), and leads into a
world of gnarly trees, one of which inspired this bit of arboreal silliness.

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