Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Not Enough Hands

Well as many of you know, I rent a little studio, and at this time of year it becomes encased in ice, and I have to chip my way in, and then a friend or family member has to chip me and the dog out again at the end of the day. The sub zero temperature has not helped my injured fingers (my fingers aren't great at the best of times) and it took me all day (and more than a little pain) yesterday to engrave this image, for the first page of my book:-

When I was printing it, I realised I had completely missed out Bea's other hand. A Freudian slip, perhaps. So all in all, a failed day, hand-wise.

I can't decide whether or not to brave the journey to uni today. Maybe I will chip my way into my studio and see which body parts I can leave off my characters this time.

Friday, 26 November 2010


Sorry once again for my absence...I have just got a new job with more hours so have even less precious time for my coursework. So you can imagine how I chortled when I stumbled down my steps last night while putting the rubbish out and hurt my RIGHT hand while trying to save myself! Oh, I roared with laughter, I can tell you. I was in denial at first, and went to work today as usual - but the fingers swelled and were stiff and painful. So I ended up having to go to hospital. Luckily it's not broken, just bruised and inflamed. But the doctor told me it could be like this for TWO WEEKS!! Two weeks!! Well, I won't allow it. I can hold a pencil and draw a little (albeit wobbly) but I can't curl my hand round an engraving tool at all at the moment. Hand in date is 5th January. What a hoot!

Here's a rough I did just before IT happened.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Crit Day

Here's the drawing I did yesterday on the way to Cambridge. He had very big unruly hair, something I am very much in favour of. He reminded me of the eagle newsreader in The Muppet Show (which I am also in favour of) and was reading a book about Otters and Martens - breaking off to type important looking things on his Mac book. It's reassuring to know that while we ordinary mortals go about our mundane business, someone is keeping track of the Otters and Martens.

So, it was the Big Crit day at Uni, and, as if this wasn't stressful enough, there was a Japanese tv crew there, filming it. I mean, what next...naked crits? Crits while someone is whacking us with sticks or throwing water at us? (Luckily, though, they were only really interested in the, er...less mature students. Just as well because our tutor could not have held his stomach in for much longer!)

A tube strike meant that I had to break my journey to panic and get lost in London, phone home and cry, vow to give up my course and resign myself that I would never ever escape from the crowd I had found myself swept along in. Once I had done all that, I simply got on the tube as usual, (which ran completely normally), and carried on to make it home in better time than most weeks.

Here are the two drawings I did on the way home. Out Of Proportion Arm Woman, as I affectionately call her, was not at all happy about whatever she was reading - she kept shaking her head and tutting. She does have a hand, at least. Someone in the crit got their hand drawing criticized - and most of us admit to avoiding drawing them at all costs. One look at OOPAW tells you why.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Not really catching up.

No uni this week - I've been feeling a bit under the weather - plus it's half term, so I thought instead of abandoning my child I would try and catch up a bit at home/in the studio. That was the theory but, of course, millions of obstacles were put in my path. You know when you have one of those bad dreams when you're trying to get somewhere or do something and you can't move properly or you realise hours have gone by and you've missed something really important? Well that's real life for me buddy! Anyway I did get to try a bit more engraving.

Bea and her (newly acquired in the re-write) cat:-

And a mouse I did for my New Address card:-
Thank you and good - Nytol enhanced - night.

Friday, 22 October 2010


I had a nightmare journey to Cambridge this week and was stuck on a train for ages due to points failure. That meant I only attended uni for the lecture before starting the crappy journey home again. To top it all I forgot my sketchbook - so no train sketches to put on this week.

Then at my studio yesterday I spent the day trying to storyboard my book which is definitely not fit to be seen here yet!

I've been thinking about picture books, as I have done a lot over the years, and in particular, the characters in them. I got to thinking about children with disabilities, and how it must feel to be so un-represented in picture books and literature; to feel different to any of the characters they read about or see in illustrations. When I worked in a children's book shop, the only picture books featuring any disabled people were books designed to "inform" children about the disabilities. Like "Emma has Cochlear Implants" or "My Mommy has a Wheelchair" (Not actual titles but you get my drift). The story, if there was one, was about the disability. Some were OK, but quite a lot were dreadful.

Anyway I looked around the good old internet on the subject and it turns out there is an organisation dedicated to this very matter. There are examples of work by lots of illustrators including Quentin Blake and Jane Ray (who is a passionate believer of inclusion in children's books and has written widely on the subject). There seem to be more books published now where disabled children feature, especially in books for the very young. The publisher Childs Play certainly seems to be the most inclusive at the moment.

I don't know yet if any of the characters in the book I am working on now will have disabilities. But it's certainly something I will always think about if I ever have a "career".

By the way the lecture was great - Fabian Negrin - absolutely stunning work and a lovely man to boot. (What a strange saying "to boot" is)!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Well, that all took longer than I hoped. What a faff. In short, I got huffy, Sky got dumped and I'm now online courtesy of BT. So, normal service has been resumed and there's some drawing to be caught up on. Not much, admittedly...but here's a few from the last couple of weeks. Alexis Deacon in a lecture...
And later that day a hideous journey home which didn't end til after ten and involved torrential rain...

Last week's train journey to Cambridge...
No drawing on the way home last week.
Back at the studio today, and I am still at the early stages of my new project. Wrestling with the story, and meanwhile learning the printmaking technique. Here's my character again only printed with oil based ink (as advised by the wonderful John Lawrence who I was lucky enough to talk to last week) on nice paper. And with added colour at no extra charge.

I love printmaking but I always seem to be in need of something crucial yet really expensive in order to carry on. I would so love a would make my life so much easier and so much more enjoyable! And it wouldn't make my hand joints hurt so much and I could do etching as well as relief....sigh.

For someone who is proud to be non-materialistic I sure do want a lot of things.

In other news, I had cleared up three piles of poo before 8 am this morning (one cat, two dog.) The glamour.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Commence the Dancing...commence the prancing!

Well I will be off t'interweb for a few days (thanks, Sky!) So meanwhile, here's something brilliant to look at.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Back to Uni! Hurrah!

Well it was my first day back at uni today and we're now second scary! I came away feeling daunted, but inspired. So-o-o-o pleased to see my friends, and of course all their fab ideas for this semester. (Which of course all seem so much better than my ideas!)

Anyway, here are my train sketches.

I was going to crop out the song lyrics I doodled, but then changed my mind...Florence was part of my journey after all!

On the way back...much harder to draw pretty people with no wrinkles/glasses/double chins! And I think no matter how many years I travel by train it will never, ever become interesting to draw the seats.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Another Go

So after faffing about with resolutions, fonts and all that malarkey, here's a better version of the spoof ad for BANG's White Night comic. Hey! You can even click on this baby to make it bigger!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Trying Out Tools!

Well I didn't let the lack of a press or any proper paper thwart my efforts at trying out the engraving tools! Printed on brown paper with a spoon (which really does hurt my hands!) .

May not be much to show for a few hours' work but I enjoyed doing it and learnt a bit too! (Like why John Lawrence suggested darkening the surface with ink - it would have been much easier to see where I had scraped away!)

In other news, we have fleas. Fleas which I must get rid of before moving. It's all glamour, glamour glamour in my life, I tell you.

Monday, 13 September 2010

It's a Start! Jeez!

Well I had a good time at my studio - mainly cleaning the thick layer of dust that had accumulated since my last visit, and mourning my mangle press which someone has recently rendered unusable. (Grr!)
But I did settle on a story for my next project - it's an idea I first thought of years ago but never developed. It's for a picture book. So I will be writing a draft of the text in the next couple of days and meanwhile starting to develop the character, Bea. She's going to be about 2/3 and a bit feisty. Just started doodling an idea of what she might look like.

As I like to work on two things at once (so I can send one to Coventry when it misbehaves) I shall also be doing an animation with this character I think.

I really want to do some more printmaking before I go back, too. The engraving tools I was kindly loaned over the summer keep glaring accusingly at me. So tonight I shall remind myself how to prepare an engraving block and draw out a little design.

Also I have been thinking about opening an Etsy shop, so have also been thinking about things I could make - as well as things for my new beautiful and trendy home (which I will have one day).

So although it may appear that not much is occurring, in my tired desperate mind, it is! (It's competing with day job hunting and moving, but it's there and I am trying to keep it going!)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Today I am going to the studio so watch this space! (Well, not THIS one, onviously, but the next one.)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Don't say I don't keep my promises! Just managed this little spoof ad (well a first draft of it anyway) for BANG (Brighton Animators Networking Group) who are planning a fantastic event of animation, comics and theatrical delights at Marlborough House, Brighton in October - details here. Can't wait to join this creative bunch - once I can really call myself an animator, which I am going to tackle this semester!

A frustrating couple of days...I seem to have lost a printer and also a printing press, which is a real setback. But I am trying not to let it get me down!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

I'm Alive!!

Dear Blog,

I am so sorry to have ignored you this Summer. You know when you suddenly have a massive personal crisis, get ill, get side effects to medication, get a destructive dog, get a seriously ill loved one, have work problems, money problems and family problems all at once? No? Well lucky you then. But all these things have happened to me during this summer of doom, and therefore Fluffycloud Studios remained empty and neglected.

However! Things are getting better I hope. A new uni semester looms, and two things happened today.

1) An email from my tutor arrived, gently reminding me that we are expected to arrive with ideas for the new module.

2) I met my lovely friend for coffee (who is herself a creative whirlwind) and she has inspired me to put pencil to paper again.

So due to the combination of these factors I hereby declare that I WILL post some artwork here in the next few days. And it'll be as if we've never been apart.

Liza x

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


I managed a couple of hours at the studio today. Finished the sketchbook I have been making from another recycled hardback. Here it is with its innards stripped out and the new signatures cut and folded.
Here are the signatures after the holes have been made...(thrilling, eh?)
And then after I sewed them together. It's really easy and actually relaxing.

Finally an abysmal attempt to do some drawing...I really need some inspiration.

Monday, 28 June 2010


Still not really working creatively, so meanwhile, some extreme hattage.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Some sketches of Charlie from my recent stay in Cambridge and just a page of doodles in my new sketchbook...bit meaningless really, as I can't seem to get stuck into anything. I did make the signatures for another sketchbook though ready to sew together next time.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Good Luck England

Get yourselves Englanded up and hope for the best. x

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Having a break

Just wanted to let you know that I'm having a break from blogging (and normal life in general) at the moment, because my mum's seriously ill in hospital.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my wonderful, wonderful friends who are helping me through this, and the other difficulties I have recently know who you are and I love you.

Hope to be drawing and posting again soon. x

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Thursday, 27 May 2010


Here's my finished sketchbook. I refilled an old hardback that was going to be thrown away, and sort of followed these instructions, which are for reloading a moleskine.

I chose this one because of the handy size and also because I thought it would confuse the rail staff when I am working on the train.

I used some of the original pages for endpapers, and also kept the title page.

The pages are a bit wibbly wobbly, but that doesn't matter for a sketchbook. Well not to me, anyway!
And I end today's broadcast with a quick ink sketch of Poppy, done at my studio with a brush pen and quink. (No pencil, Ladies and Gentlemen! No rubber! No safety net!)

Ooh! An exciting parcel has just arrived from Amazon! I shall resist opening it til my birthday!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Beach time!

Well it was my first day back at the studio today since The Big Hand In. Poppy came with me, and was brilliant. She met the dog of my studio neighbour who did have a quick attempt at raping her...but she forgave him.

It was really strange not to have my speed dating book to do! Anyway I did one of the first things on my list of things to do...I made myself a sketch book! With signatures and everything. Just gotta attach the cover and I'm all ready to fill it up! I took my camera to prove it but forgot the memory card. So instead here is a picture of Poppy's first trip to the beach (that I know of!)

She absolutely loved it and ran for miles and miles - she even paddled in the sea!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Introducing Poppy!

Look who's come to live with us! It's Poppy, an approx 8-month old Bassett cross (they think crossed with a Collie). She came from this rescue centre and was rescued on her last day at the pound before the chop!

She is absolutely adorable and loves people - when you stroke her, she just slides to the floor!

It was a real eye opener looking at the rescue websites. I work for an animal charity and even I had no idea of the sheer number of unwanted dogs in this country. Lots of the dogs from this place are ex-breeders - after seeing all this I'd never buy a puppy. There's just no need to.

Anyway I'm sure I'll do some drawings of her soon.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Well here is it, what you've all been waiting for...and it's even better than we could have hoped.

And men, guess what, you don't have to feel left out in this fashion bonanza! These two hunks are probably pointing at the sad fools who don't have their genitals cradled with lovingly knitted trunks.

In case the pic won't enlarge, the text says "these trim fitting trunks for a teen-age boy and his elder brother will make a welcome gift." Well I have two teen-age boys....hmm....I wonder, what with summer coming up....

Well all the uni work's been handed in! I can't believe the first year has gone's flown by. Feeling a bit flat now actually. Oh well...if all goes to plan I could have some fab news to tell you on Sunday.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Proper book

Yay! Look what arrived from Blurb this book, all proper!

I'm really pleased with it. The cover turned out a bit strange but hey - a small price to pay for having to do next to nothing in order to get a nice book.

Under the table in the top picture, you can see our family's World Cup sticker album. I suspect there will also be a wall chart in due course. (There won't be flags, though...what do you think we are - losers or something?)

Oh, and if you have a spare tenner (or any amount of money) and are up for being incandescent with rage, look at this. (Isn't it funny how rage is the only emotion you can be incandescent with?)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


While I am busy writing an essay, a reflection on my work and a proposal for the next module, I'll leave you to enjoy these high fashion hats.
I hope my friends would put me straight if I were ever tempted to wear anything looking like a cottage loaf on my head.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Belated Response the election result. Brighton - WOOP! WOOP! Rest of the Country - eh?

PS...two of the eggs have hatched!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Did You Know

...that you are allowed to go and cast your vote dressed as a pirate, or wearing your pyjamas - but you are not allowed to wear a giant rosette?

I thought I would tell you now and catch you before you go to the polling station.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

No matter how I drew this woman on the way to Cambridge this week, it always looked as though her head was on back to front. I came to the conclusion that it really was, and thought about pointing it out to her, but decided against it.

It was the Big Crit this week so an intense day - but great to see the diversity of everyone's work. Very inspiring. Also got to see John Lawrence! I showed him my new Spitsticker and he tried it out and said it was really good...I am extremely pleased that the first person to use my Spitsticker was the one and only John Lawrence and am now hoping it is enchanted with a bit of his magic!

My scanner and computer apparently fell out with each other in my absence. The computer insisted there was no scanner installed and the scanner said it now worked for someone else. But I turned them both off and on again a few times and they have at least made friends for long enough to scan this woman who had a lovely little dog with her on the way home - who resolutely faced the other way for the whole journey!

Ooh, it's voting exciting. I very much hope I am not going to be extremely disappointed, scared and depressed by this time tomorrow. But I rather think I am just going to be confused.

(It really is voting day, even though the computer says it's Wednesday!)

Monday, 3 May 2010


I am sulking. You are the only person I am currently communicating with.

There are, today, three able bodied - in fact, some would say, strapping - young men in my house. There are, in my garden, three broken fence panels and one trellis which has been smashed to smithereens by the wind and my neighbour's kids. I really want the fences and trellises secured. I don't even care too much what they look like and I have offered the deposit on a Bestival ticket (which let's face it will probably end up being the whole ticket) in return for even a bodge job. But the response has been less than enthusiastic. One is watching cricket, one is on his i-phone and the other on is on his PSP. All activities which left unattended can go on for hours, if not days. The consensus is, the fence can't be repaired. Why can't it? I'm too old and tired and busy to mend the fence. I'm not interested in it, I don't want to go and buy things for it. I just want it to be whole. Most people have fences...why is it so hard for me to have one? WHY?

Anyway here are a couple of the photos Charlie helped me take yesterday, of Ophelia. I couldn't borrow a decent camera so I had to use our awful one which shows the tones in reverse and no colours at all.
They turned out pretty well I suppose, considering the taking of them was so awful and involved me barking instructions and screaming.

I have recently been having a bit of a health worry, which is exacerbated by stress. I've been trying not to get stressed about things. Can you tell?

By the way, in all the time it has taken me to write this, no-one has noticed that I am sulking. I think I will go and finish my sulk upstairs. Until Coronation Street starts anyway.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Well another action-packed visit to Cambridge, including much cutting and sticking, which I am not very good at at all. But my little dummy book is now as ready as it's ever going to be for its cover which has been letterpressed (above!) and I will attempt to put on the book tomorrow!

No train drawings to show today because the person I started drawing on the way there got off almost immediately, and on the way back I just didn't feel like it!

In other news, I walked to John Lewis in my lunch break, somewhere I have never been. They didn't have what I wanted (tape for bookbinding), and somehow, I left the shop from a different door to the one I entered, and ended up in a weird arcade/shoppping mall where I most certainly didn't belong. Disorientated and late, I floundered around amid lots of posh people for a while and did seriously consider crying. But instead I adopted my "calm, capable woman" persona and searched for natural light. From there I guessed which way back to uni and was right! Never again will I venture to John Lewis.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Cheer yourself up

...and look at this! In previous years you have been able to look at pictures from the Peregrine Falcons' nest on the Brighton tower block. Well this year there's a live webcam and it's fab! Will all the eggs hatch? It's so exciting!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Arty Fun

A happily busy time in Cambridge this week, watching Photoshop demos, scanning in my Speed-dating images and starting to print them, and even going down to lovely Letterpress to make my front cover. (At least, I set the letters ready for printing next time).
Here are the usual train sketches - above on the way there and below on the way home. The man above's companion took photos on her phone the whole time, making really loud "shutter" noises. Every time he dropped off to sleep she did it again and woke him up. He never said anything though!

I was just thinking as I was drawing this man's hair how awkward it was to draw, when I happened to look at the piece of paper he was reading. It said "Firstly please accept my apologies for my atrocious hair." (At least that's what I thought it said until he moved his thumb revealing the word "handwriting." But I like my version better.)

Another common exchange in my life:-
SOMEONE: So, what are you doing at university?
ME: An MA in Children's Book Illustration.
SOMEONE: Oh! So you're arty then, are you?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


...I think these two are going to be creating a LOT of static.

No new work to show - I made a tentative visit to the studio (no illness today thank goodness - the very nice man next door has agreed to leave the heater off for a while to see if it makes a difference) - and played around with a shadow puppet tree for Ophelia to drown beneath. Just a mini version, until I make the real thing.

An unrelated point...the following is a very common exchange in my life:

SOMEONE: So, what are you doing at university?

ME: An MA in Children's Book Illustration.

SOMEONE: Oh. So, what do you want to do at the end of that, then?

Er...I think the course title gives quite a big hint, don't you? It makes me feel silly answering. I think I'll start varying my answers, perhaps saying, "Well I thought I'd start off as a quantity surveyor and if that doesn't work out, I'll have a go at cage fighting."