witches at Ramsey Ram Jam

Witches were abroad at Ramsey Ram Jam this Saturday! By and large they were about 50cm high, made of paper, card and various sparkly things and looked a bit like Bella Donna

The children who took part in my workshops made some truly magical work and I think they were extra inspired by the previous day’s visit from Ruth Symes who is the fantastic author responsible for penning the Bella Donna series.

Ramsey Ram Jam is a super event with all sorts of workshops and talks from authors and illustrators who this year as well as myself included: Matt Brown, Nicola Killen, Lizzie Finlay, Steve Antony and Helen Moss. Thanks to all the children and parents who came along and the library staff and volunteers who make Ramsey Ram Jam a wonderful event for us all to be a part of. Below are some of the stunning results from witch class:

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witchy-medley1

witchy-medley2

witchy2

witchy21

witchy15

witchy18

Maisie travels the world

I’m delighted to find myself in possession of some of the co-edition copies of the first three Maisie Hitchins stories. It seems that intrepid Maisie has now travelled to France, Poland, Indonesia and America! I love to see the differences between the books, the Amercian edition for example uses a little scroll for the series title “The Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins” and underneath its dust jacket the book is a perfect reproduction of the notebook that Maisie carries everywhere with her – what a lovely detail. Thanks so much to Emily at Stripes Publishing for rounding these up for me!

The Case of the Stolen Sixpence in American and Indonesian editions.
The Case of the Stolen Sixpence in American and Indonesian editions.
The Case of the Phantom Cat in American and French editions.
The Case of the Phantom Cat in American and French editions.
The Case of the Vanishing Emerald in Polish and French editions.
The Case of the Vanishing Emerald in Polish and Indonesian editions.
American hardback copy of The Case of the Phantom Cat
American hardback copy of The Case of the Phantom Cat
Phantom Cat interior - American edition
Phantom Cat interior – American edition
Maisie book stack
Maisie book stack

Maisie Hitchins – The Case of the Weeping Mermaid

May saw the launch of the last story in Holly Webb‘s wonderful mystery series Maisie Hitchins. This book is called The Case of the Weeping Mermaid and its action centres around dark and mysterious London docks which were the perfect setting for a front cover. I took photos as I was painting the cover so that I would later remember the different stages and here they all are below from the sketchiest beginnings to the final scan. I always find it challenging painting covers, they seem to go through a lot of different stages and look fairly awful for most of the time until suddenly at the end it all comes together – always a bit of a relief!

Here is the sketch for the cover ready to be transferred onto watercolour paper, as you can probably see I changed my mind about how the clouds were going to look!
Here is the sketch for the cover ready to be transferred onto watercolour paper, as you can probably see I changed my mind about how the clouds were going to look!
Here is the cover all drawn out on watercolour paper and I've just begun painting with the most important bit - Maisie!
Here is the cover all drawn out on watercolour paper and I’ve just begun painting the most important bit – Maisie! As you can see the sketch is to hand and I’m working in acrylic ink. There is a lot of empty space here which is to allow for the title and Holly’s name which will come later.
Here you can see the monotone background is beginning to appear, everything is still quite pale.
Here you can see the monotone background is beginning to appear, everything is still quite pale.
I've kept on working into the background to boost the colour and tone and to strengthen the shadows, and Maisie is getting more vibrant too.
I’ve kept on working into the background to boost the colour and tone and to strengthen the shadows, clouds are beginning to appear and Maisie is getting more vibrant.
Now the cover is nearly finished; I've added highlights to give the feel of moonlight and everything has an outline to bring it all into sharp focus.
Now the cover is nearly finished; I’ve added highlights to give the feel of moonlight and everything has an outline to bring it all into sharp focus.
Here is the finished image, scanned this time. The tendrils of mist were the last thing to arrive, they were made by painting dilute white acrylic ink over the top of the painting.
Here is the finished image, scanned this time. The tendrils of mist were the last thing to arrive, they were made by painting dilute white acrylic ink over the top of the painting.
Here is the finished cover as it looks with all the text in place - what a difference!
Here is the finished cover as it looks with all the text in place – what a difference!

52 Stories

This weekend it was my turn to take part in 52 Stories which is a fantastic project thought up by Cherry Hinton’s Spinney Primary School together with the surrounding libraries. The idea is that each and every Saturday for a whole year a different reader comes into libraries and reads stories to children. The readers can be anyone with a love of books and this Saturday it was my turn. I had great fun reading Ready, Steady, Ghost! by Elizabeth Baguley and Ping! by Chae Strathie and showing the children my original illustrations for the books. Afterwards the children did some drawing and created a character who was naughty, stripy and had red hair and wings – you can see a few of their brilliant drawings below.  It was a lovely morning and I’d like to thank all those from Cherry Hinton Library and Spinney Primary who organised everything and made me feel so welcome!

character1

character2

character3

This is a drawing I did after the session was finished, the idea was to leave something behind for the library to put up on the wall - it was rather fun collecting characters from different books and putting them together in one drawing, though I'm not sure if they'd really get on very well together...
This is a drawing I did after the session was finished, the idea was to leave something behind for the library to put up on the wall – it was rather fun collecting characters from different books and putting them together in one drawing, though I’m not sure if they’d really get on very well together…

The Case of the Blind Beetle…

A new Maisie Hitchins book has hit the shelves, this one is the 7th in the series and a special favourite of mine because it is so very yellow! This book has an Egyptian theme so I got to draw mummies, sphinxes and burial chambers which I can tell you is a first. Holly Webb has excelled herself this time and Maisie gets into more trouble than ever – it’s a good one! Here are some pictures:

not sleepy

leggy

the parcel

Covers – The Case of the Feathered Mask…

I was asked recently to do some writing for a rather lovely blog called Wonderous Reads which is all about books! Wonderous Reads were interested to know what goes into making a Maisie Hitchins cover, so I put together my thoughts as well as a couple of early sketches for The Case of the Feathered Mask and made a post. It you would like to read about how the Maisie Hitchins covers come into being then have a look here: Marion Lindsay Talks Covers It is a super blog and well worth keeping an eye on if you are a book-lover like me!

MH4_cover_rough2

Dragons at the Book Jam!

On the 7th June I am going to be taking part in the St Ives Book Jam for the third year running. The theme for this year’s summer reading challenge is “Mythical Maze” which has inspired me to want to make DRAGONS!  This year I will be holding a collage and drawing workshop at 11am at the St Ives Library and the children who come along will be making dragons from all sorts of collage materials including glittery stuff and anything suitably dragony that we can make stick.

I will be writing a bit more about this before the event but for now here is a little dragony inspiration to be going on with from my book Ready, Steady, Ghost!

dragon

Maisie Hitchins is on the loose again

I have new Maisie Hitchins books to report!

Holly Webb has been doing lots of writing and I have been doing lots of drawing and the result can be seen in the form of  The Phantom Cat, The Feathered Mask and The Secret Tunnel which are all out now. As well as scampering all over London in her adventures, Maisie’s stories are heading over to America where the first book in the series “The Case of the Stolen Sixpence” is going to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September. The Case of the Spilled Ink will be coming out in the UK in August too, but I can’t show you any pictures yet I’m afraid! For now here are the new covers:

The Case of the Secret Tunnel

The Case of the Feathered Mask

The Case of the Phantom Cat

American edition Stolen Sixpence

Creepy House!

Today I visited Cambourne Library and helped children there create a rather excellent Creepy House collage for the Summer Reading Challenge. My book Ready, Steady, Ghost! is one of the selected titles this year which is very exciting indeed!  It was great fun today and the children were brilliant – the best thing is that I get to do it again tomorrow at Comberton, then it’s Cambridge on Friday and Huntingdon on Saturday! Here is the result of all today’s drawing, snipping and sticking:

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