Saturday, 31 July 2010
I recently posted a piece about my dear friend Margaret Hickman-Smith, CLICK HERE to read "Riding a Carousel with Margaret", who wrote about me for Carousel magazine. This is now online and if you want to read it CLICK HERE. She's an amazing woman and I am eternally grateful to her for all she has done for me over many years of friendship, and now for her kind words here.
Here's a picture taken many years ago at her school in Tacolneston, Norfolk: a parade of children appearing as characters from famous paintings!
Thursday, 22 July 2010
What an afternoon! I confess we didn't count the entries - there were just too many! But we think there must have been OVER 300!!!
After laying them out on tables - we had to do that in three waves of pictures as even the biggest conference room was swamped - my editor Liz, and Victoria and Emma from the marketing department helped me whittle them down to fifty or so. Then I had to find the ten that will be featured in a special exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Edinburgh, and a winning entry - which will be published in "Katie in Scotland".
For this there were particular needs. The picture needed to be clear and easy to see when reduced in size, so not too highly detailed, as this wouldn't work well in the book. It was so SO SO hard!!! The hardest two hours of my life - EVER! But we finally settled on a winner, and I think it's a peach of a picture, as the whole body of Nessie makes a lovely graphic shape.
So who was the winner?
Ah! I can't say yet. All the winners will be notified by post at the end of August. So you will have to be patient a bit longer. Meanwhile, look at these photos and see if you can spot your picture.
I would just like to say that the standard was astonishingly high, and there really wasn't a single picture that didn't deserve a fabulous prize so WELL DONE to EVERYONE who entered, you should be incredibly proud of yourselves!!!
It's clear that there are lots of budding artists amongst you, and some wonderful drawings didn't win because although they were absolutely superb, they were just too scary or monstrous!
As soon as I'm allowed I will post more about the winners. For now, THANK YOU to everyone who entered, it's been an incredible experience!
Today's the day - this afternoon I will go to London to choose the winning entries in the Loch Ness Monster art competition. I can't wait, as I haven't seen any of them yet. Of course I always find this sort of thing difficult - I love children's drawings and I expect I'll want them ALL to win!
Meanwhile Orchard Books have requested a piece of finished art from "Katie in Scotland" for their Frankfurt Book Fair catalogue, so I'm going to pass on this piece, which is NEARLY finished. I'll whip it into shape this morning before hopping on my train to London!
And as soon as I can I'll post some info about the winners of the competition. It may be that Orchard will wish to notify people by post first, in which case I'll have to be patient. But watch this space!
Monday, 12 July 2010
With in excess of 200 entries, the task to find a winner will be difficult to say the least. But next week I will go to London to help Orchard Books sift through the entries and find the ten pictures that will be exhibited at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the one single picture - the WINNER - which will be published in "Katie in Scotland", appearing as "Katie's" picture of Nessie!!!
I'm incredibly excited and as soon as I have some news I will post it here.
My thanks in advance to EVERYONE who entered. Orchard Books have told me the standard is exceptionally high, so there are obviously lots of talented children out there - hurrah!
Meanwhile, Katie in Scotland is well underway, racing towards the delivery date, August 12th. My table is already a terrible mess... oh dear!
Sunday, 4 July 2010
After looking through the rough sketches my publisher, Orchard Books, were concerned that Nessie was not entirely consistant throughout. They also wanted her to look a little more rounded and appealing. So I have revised her a little, as you can see in these sketches. She's much more of a character now...
BY THE WAY, an important message to all children: there is still JUST time to enter Katie's fantastic Nessie Art Competition. Closing date in July 10th, details are listed above. Over 200 entries have already been received - but the more the merrier, so why not give it a try and see if you can become a published illustrator?
Friday, 2 July 2010
I recently posted a piece on my OTHER blog (JAMES MAYHEW) about a piece of art being auctioned tonight to raise funds for Lister Hopsital in Stevenage. And I was reminded that the book it came from had a complicated history. Katie and the Dinosaurs was the second Katie title, and in those days I had no idea that there would be whole art series. Rather, I imagined Katie would skip from museum to museum: Science; Geology; Anthropology... all awaited her inquisitive eye. But things went in another direction of course!
Katie and the Dinosaurs began as a story in which the Natural History Museum reveals a terrible secret: that it has a forbidden door to the past. And having passed through, Katie had a dangerous and exciting adventure. Here are the rough sketches from the original dummy book, created a full twenty years ago.
Unfortunately the story was TOO adventuresome for my publisher, Orchard books. And big changes followed.
In the original, Katie is left alone as Grandma snoozes. She then steps through a door clearly labelled "No admittance Whatsoever" and discovers a prehistoric jungle on the other side. Naturally it is inhabited by (rather benevolant looking) dinosaurs. Katie is scared and climbs a tree to escape them, only to be carried up into the sky by a passing Pteranodon. Such is her squirming, he drops her and she lands on a Brontosaurus (sorry all you paleontologists; I know they never really existed). She slides down his back and tail straight into the clutches of a hungry Tyrannosarus Rex (apologies again; wrong era - Sauropods and Tyrannosaurs never co-existed apparently). And Mr Rex then does something unforgiveably wicked. He EATS KATIE. Yes it's true!!! If you look through the images you will see an image of Katie tumbling into his crimson belly.
I was thinking Jonah... Pinocchio...
For Katie escapes; she has with her a "trannie" (or a CD player), and plays rock music at such a volume as to cause a bit of prehistoric indigestion. Tyrannosaurus loses his (thankfully unchewed) lunch and regurgitates Katie intact. She teaches T Rex to dance and the other dinosaurs gather and begin to tap their feet to the beat. None of them have heard any music before and they all have an irresistable urge to dance.
Katie foolishly runs off - with the CD player - and is chased. She assumes she will be, once again, eaten, but they only want her music.
So the story ended with Katie giving her CD player to the dinosaurs to keep, so they can enjoy a dance whenever the mood grabs them. Katie then returned to the museum and Grandma (who may well have had something to say about the missing CD player!)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when I visit schools, children much prefer this to the published book, which is an entirely different story. I can understand Orchard's reasoning that this original is too scary for the very young. In the finished book Katie isn't eaten and in fact meet a baby herbivore Hadrosaurus who accompanies her. A Tyrannosaurus Rex does appear, but is rather easily pacified with Katie's packed lunch.
I wonder what the fate of the book would have been if the original had gone ahead. More than once critics reviewing books of mine have said the stories are a bit ordinary and lacking in real excitement. If only they knew! Meanwhile I have happily returned to prehistoric beasts for Katie In Scotland; the finished art is underway and I'll be posting stuff regularly so you can see how I'm getting along...