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Saying YES!

Hello there!

Thankyou to all the visitors since my rather long (ahem) absence. Truth be told, I’ve been saying “yes” lots to some exciting projects…some larger, some smaller.

My first “yes” was this cup a dear friend and writer asked me to create for a project she was working on. We had shared rather a magical afternoon over tea and biscuits, discussing our favourite books, illustrators and picturebooks etc. This was the cup she had become rather entranced by, and asked me to capture the essence of it for her project. This dear friend had supported me greatly through my Ma, so I leapt at the chance to say thankyou.

Jane Sunbeam - Magical cup of tea
Final piece in sketchbook for “A Magical Cup of Tea” project

This little piece of thanks grew into rather a good companion, and every time I drank from my cup, I thought of the faith my friend had in me and my work and our magical time together. And as the image sat beside me and the Ma show loomed ever nearer, I needed to think of designs for business cards and publicity postcards – I knew which image to choose, and this little illustration took on a new lease of life – joining me on the next stage of my journey.

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Publicity postcard

So, why this post now? Well, it’s a year since it’s creation, and I meant to write about it at the time, but so much was happening, and also it started the pattern of ‘yesses’, that has lead to exciting times, so it seemed apt to revive myself with this particular cup of tea.

If you wish to see more glimpses of my latest projects, please do visit my Instagram page…

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Meet Pepe – #WorldBookDay

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Pepe’s Amazing Tale – I hope one day a child with be reading this book on World Book Day

Happy #WorldBookDay to you all from myself and Pepe! Some fellow illustrators have felt like they have had a “world book week” so I am not too late…..(I am good at being late, you may notice a pattern here, but I am getting better at being less late! It all takes practice).

I’ve seen so many lovely bookish things this week – visiting the library where I used to do the craft activities at the toddler times, seeing old faces, and the now grown children dressed up as their favourite characters from books. For me, books can transport us to magical places, give us much needed knowledge and information, educate us, and inspire our dreams and aspirations. They do not require batteries or chargers, and can be gifted to a stranger we meet or a dear friend – to be returned or to be passed on and on around the world, gathering marks of its journey – folded pages and tears, rips and drink stains.  I have had fascinating discussions about how a book involves a commitment – if its only one of a few taken on holiday, we take the time to read through the more challenging pages, rather than skipping through the list of 50 books on our ereader to find an easier or lighter read. For me, there is something magical about the form of the book – that yellowing of the pages, and the mustiness that comes with age, or where it resides in an old bookshop filled to the rafters with lost books awating new homes.

Long live the book, and once again, have a great World Book time! Wherever and whenever it may be……..

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London Ma Show

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Here are a couple of pictures from the show…Sadly Gertie did not get to hold the pens for the comments book (there were a lot of lovely children who wanted to meet her, but she felt it was safer to sit and watch from above!). More pictures to follow, along with insides from the books. Its odd that this time last week it was all up and had a day of visitors, and now it’s over. But, it was worth it, with lots of great feedback and possibilities. But for now I am having a much needed rest…….

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After the Party

Well…. it’s almost halfway through the month and I finally have the time to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I hope it was wonderful and that the new year brings you all great adventures and happiness.

I have been busily working away on the Ma hand in for my last module, and have just uploaded images to the Ma website for the final show in London. Its all incredibly exciting. Please do visit the site – there you can see not only my work, but that of all my lovely fellow students. I feel very privileged to be surrounded by so many talented people.

But for now, here is After the Party – an image started whilst doodling in my local, drinking tea. Its wonderful for drawing people, as there is a Zebra crossing outside the large windows.

Initial sketch
Initial sketch….

I wanted to show that the magical world of the child is everywhere. I think the original child was in school uniform and I thought “what if……..?” The greys show the world as some see it – mundane, but for many of us, it is not – it is full of colour, magic and intrigue. I would love to be this girl and wearing her cat costume.

Jane Sunbeam Childrens (31)

 

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Happy Yule – a card for you all

Happy Yule! It is now less that a week to Christmas, but for me, the most important date is the Winter Solstice (this year its on 21st December) where the days are their shortest in the Northern Hemisphere. From Tuesday , slowly at first then ever faster, the days get longer and longer until the Summer Solstice, and then the days retreat. These dark, bleak days are really brightened by seeing the sparkles of Christmas trees (Yule Trees) in everyone’s homes, and decorating our homes with greenery. As this festive period will be spent mainly at my desk working for the last few weeks on my Ma I have a beautiful vase of greenery – fir, holly, gold leaves and sparkly fir cones – so I feel very festive indeed!

My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk
My vase of greenery to brighten up my desk, complete with hanging robin

So, for you all, Happy Yule – and here is my card to you all…..  I designed it to look like a spread in a picturebook, so when the card is opened full you see the page and the text. It is based on the Earth being seen as a person, and as she goes to sleep to rest,  the animals wait patiently for her to wake once again.

Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam
Yule Card from Jane Sunbeam

I feel that I am now starting to understand the translucency and layering that can be achieved with watercolours – my anthem is still dilute, dilute and then dilute some more….

Watercolour underpainting
Watercolour underpainting

It’s a bit hard to see all the details, so here are a few…..

Sleeping Gaia
Sleeping Gaia
Jane Sunbeam detail
Animals waiting – can you spot the hedgehog playing on its back?
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Gaia and the owls
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Owls and Squirrel
As she slept.....
As she slept…..

So, Happy Christmas, Yule and Solstice to you all. I hope you have a wonderful festive period, and as the Sun returns you enjoy great warmth in your hearts.

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My Catalogue page – Mermaid

Hello there! How time is still flying past….

I am still working away on a few projects as ‘ the end of the Ma. Today I want to share the image I created for the design for my  page for the Ma show catalogue. Initially I looked at all my images that I loved, but none sang out to me as ‘the one’. And as mermaids are close to my heart I decided to make a special image for this occasion – after all it was going to go out to some exciting places (publishers, our show, reviewers, past and current students).

I started, as I always do with a sketch, and then decided to bring her to life using watercolours (various makes but Daniel Smith in particular)….

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My mermaid with background

But I had made the background far too “heavy” – and the horizon too high, almost chopping her at the head. So I tried taking the background out, to leave room for my contact details….

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No background – but too plain?

But, rather like Goldilocks who was seeking the right chair, porridge  and bed, it was now “too plain”. Where was she gazing to? What was happening? Where was the drama or narrative? And so I created a second background to add in – and scanned on a couple of different settings…..

And then put them together….

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Final image, with lighter background and lower horizon

Now there is a narrative, and questions to draw the reader in. Where is she gazing?is the ship coming or leaving? I will never know whether this was the right image for the catalogue… but I believe it is.

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And now for some Cats…..

 

Mog and Daniel Smith
Mog…. who is guarding my Daniel Smith “dots”

Cats surround me at the moment, from this delicious little chap (Mog’s doppelganger) who sits at my desk keeping me company whilst I work, to the numerous ones that live around me, many of whom were happy to sit on their front lawns in the late Autumn sun whist I sketched them. Now, there is only one little cat that braves the cold,  sitting on the many sheds watching over his territory. I have always loved  drawing cats, and my favourite book is Andy Warhol’s Cats, Cats, Cats – a copy of which I have treasured for many years.

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My copy of Andy Warhol – Cats, Cats, Cats

I myself have no cats, but have several “friends” I meet when out and about, and  do have my Mog – the perks of illustrating children’s books is that I simply have to buy the toys and the books. It’s all research….. honest!

So now to the stars of this post….. the cats themselves:

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follow me

 

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waiting

and some more cats….. (click for them to appear larger)