Some thoughts on “style”…

…and I’m really just thinking out loud here but “style” is a thing I have thought about a lot over the years.

Are we illustrators supposed to have just one? Should our style be strong and solid and easily recognisable? Or, should we be continually playing with and exploring new mediums, new ideas and new ways of doing things?

I don’t know the answer to that, or even IF there is an answer to that. I only know the way I do it…which sometimes frustrates the heck out me and other times makes me want to fist pump the air.

You see, I just can’t seem to settle on any one “style”.
My desire to experiment and play and try new things is strong – and I know exactly where that comes from – it comes from 20 years of living with a graphic designers brain.

As a graphic designer, the last thing you ever want to do is repeat the same thing over and over and over again. Big mistake! Boring! That will never win awards! Also, as a graphic designer, you’re constantly looking out into the world to see what’s new. Your work is influenced by fashion, by street art, by typography and photography. You follow trends … all while trying to set trends at the same time (yes, that is as tricky as it sounds). As a graphic designer everything you do is one big huge work in progress with the end result being a dynamic, exciting portfolio that demonstrates problem solving, versatility and innovation.

That’s how my brain has been trained to work and now, when you take my brain out of the design world and you drop it into the world of writing and illustrating for children it has to come up with a whole new way of thinking. And it makes me wonder. A lot.

Mostly it makes me wonder if I’m doing this illustration thing right! Ha!

I really admire illustrators whose style is so consistent that you can pick their work from even the smallest snippet. I admire the dependability of their work and I admire the commitment to their style.

Ooh! Maybe that’s it. I have commitment issues!

No. I don’t.

I’m an explorer.

Each new project, new blank page and new manuscript is, for me, an exciting new world of possibilities and challenges. It makes sense to me that they should all have their own personality. It makes sense to me, the graphic designer.

Me, the children’s book writer and illustrator, is working  on finding that lovely balance where every new project feels fresh and innovative but still has my stamp all over it.

I think I’m close. I will get there. I love doing this job too much not to get there.

Also. I’m a perfectionist.

Also. I may be somewhat of an over-thinker 😀

Also. I may even be there already and just not know it.

 

In other news, Phil Pickle, the picture book Kenny Herzog (author) and I made together is publishing  March 1 with Peter Pauper Press. Not long to go now!

Woo!

9PhilPickleCover

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Book Week 2015

WOW! That was a week!

I was exhausted come Friday afternoon but it was so so fun and yep, I’m already looking forward to next years!

This was my first Book Week as a published author / illustrator and although I have done several school visits before, I’ve never done a week on this kind of scale.

The week began Friday August 21 when I was invited to Palmyra Primary School where the students from Room 24 had turned my book into a play for their assembly. Of all the honours in all the world…! I even had a tear in my eye as I watched, it was fantastic and so well done. When the assembly was over we all headed back to their classroom and did some drawing…after answering many many questions about the book and about being an author and about drawing, that is!

Friday evening it was the Children’s Book Council of Australia (WA Branch) dinner to launch book week, hear who had won what (although most of us had eyes glued to twitter from around midday), and eat cake… Norman Jorgensen was the guest speaker and had us all enthralled and inspired.

Sunday it was my turn to be a guest speaker (yikes!) at the CBCA-WA “Make Your Own Story Book” awards ceremony. I have a ridiculous, almost paralysing, fear of public speaking so this was quite the challenge! Talk about throw yourself in at the deep end. The good news is though, I think I have now conquered that fear!

Some pics from Friday to Sunday…pictured in the main photo are: Meg McKinlay, Rebecca Newman, Norman Jorgensen, Deb Fitzpatrick, Jen Banyard, Renae Gibson and myself – yep, very serious literary people doing silly things with torches!

Montage2KellyCanby

Next came Book Week and several school visits, about 500 students and driving to the wrong campus of one school but still making it on time to the right campus! Phew.

The week also included reading books, charcoal drawings, slide shows, sketchbooks, Olives, Pickles and a tasty cheeseboard in a library. Hopefully there were also a lot of laughs.

The great great thing about presenting to a group of children is that, if you can draw, you’re already awesome in their eyes! You walk into the room and they’re all already on your side so it only gets better from that moment on.

Some Book Week 2015 highlights:

MontageKellyCanby

Then of course, it wouldn’t be Book Week without costumes, right?! So on the last day of Book Week, before I headed off to another school, I was able to watch my son’s costume parade. This year he chose to dress as the penguin from Oliver Jeffers beautiful book “Lost and Found”…

Montage3KellyCanby

And then Saturday came and it was all over  😦

So now I’m just going to end this (already quite long blog post) with a big thank you to ALL the teachers and librarians who make Book Week so special and so fun, for us visiting authors and illustrators, and for all the kids who take part. You’re all so awesome!

Also big thanks to CBCA-WA, The Literature Centre, Palmyra Primary School, Subiaco Primary School, John Septimus Roe Primary School, Helena Valley Primary School and my good good friend Narissa for picking up my son when the traffic was so bad that I wasn’t going to make it to collect him  from school on time.

You all deserve a big pat on the back! And cake.

Alrighty, see you later Book Week, until next year!

Well, now that I have a cover…

A few nights ago I sketched a little ghost story scene in my Moleskine and today I gave it a bit of colour, just for fun.

THEN, because I have this very long history in graphic design and well, once a designer always a designer, I couldn’t fight the urge to turn this newly coloured sketch into a book cover, just for fun.

All I have to do now is write the story! Ha.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to see the progression…

TappingGreyKellyCanby

TappingColourKellyCanby

TappingCoverKellyCanby

The stuff I do for fun.

Wow.

Now that the wonderful madness of a book launch is over, and now that I have just (yesterday!) completed all artwork for the next picture book I am illustrating (called “Phil Pickle”, written by Kenny Herzog and published by Peter Pauper Press in the US) AND now that I have just (today) finished writing my very first 96 page lower middle grade book, I can relax a little and focus on some fun and quick personal illustrations before the next wave of work rolls in.

Usually in the evening, when I’m not working, I tend to scribble away in my sketchbook. I find it quite therapeutic and relaxing, especially this time of year when its cold and the heating is on. I get all cosy on the sofa and draw. Its wonderful!

And then because I like to see things finished, I usually pop the sketch into photoshop and give it a bit of colour.

Here a few I’ve done this week. Coloured version:
(click on images to enlarge)

fireplaceKellyCanby

sailorKellyCanby

beautifulKellyCanby

monkeyKellyCanby

And here they are as my cosy sofa sitting sketches:

greymonkeyKellyCanby greyFireplaceKellyCanby greysailorKellyCanby greyBeautifulKellyCanby

I’m pretty sure I can’t go a single day without drawing!

A tale of a very fun school visit…and a book cover reveal.

So it has just occurred to me that I haven’t yet shared my book cover on the blog.

WHAT?!

I’m so sorry. You used to be the first people I came to with big (and small) news but I’ve since been seduced by Twitter and Instagram and Facebook and the challenge of fitting everything I want to say into 140 characters. And it is a challenge, too. Because I do like to speak (type) the words.
Many many many of the words.

Anyhow, I am here now to reveal to you….the cover of my debut author/illustrator picture book!

…drumroll…

LostThingsKellyCanby

This is Olive, the star of “All the Lost Things” coming out 2015 – published by Peter Pauper Press NY.

I’m a bubbling mix of excitement and fear and nerves and all of the feelings.
I hope it turns out good, and that people like it. My fingers are firmly crossed!

In other news, school visits. I love them!

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with 48 amazing
Year 1 students at Freshwater Bay Primary School and we had such a great time.

We talked a little about stories and how you can use pictures to help you come up with a story and then we drew pictures and then we painted stones. And then when we were meant to be cleaning up some of snuck outside and drew more pictures but sssh don’t tell Mrs King 😉

The activity was to make story stones by painting people/animals/items on stones and then using those stones to create stories on a scene that the kids had also painted.

Here are some photos!
(used with permission from Freshwater Bay Primary School)
FWB1 FWB2

(There were a lot of penguins painted. Penguins must be very popular with the kiddos!)

And once again, when I got home, I was reminded just how hard our school teachers work and what an incredible and precious job they have. Thank you, teachers, you’re awesome!

This morning I was sent some of the work the Year 1’s had done since my visit, they wrote stories about our day together and oh my if I didn’t cry actual real tears!

FWB3

“And that was the best day oth my lif” ❤

Mine too! Or at least one of the very best days I’ve ever had.

Thank you Irene King and Freshwater Bay Year 1’s, you guys were the absolute best!

Some very colourful ladies.

Wednesday was a studio day and I had the most fun! Ever.

I coloured a couple of the ladies from my sketchbook and then I coloured a sketch I had done for Daily__Doodle the night before.

The best decision I have made lately was to NOT take my computer upstairs to the studio. It means I’m not tempted in the slightest to scan a sketch and quickly colour it in photoshop, these are all by hand! Gouache and colour pencil.

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KellyCanby2KellyCanby4

Daily__Doodle ‘Crazy Scientist’ came from…KellyCanby5

 

…this sketch.KellyCanby6

 

Finally, I wil have some VERY exciting news to tell you soon. VERY. Like, really really exciting…but I just can’t tell yet and its killing me!!!

But soon 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

From my Sketchbook – April 2014

I thought I might start a new monthly sketchbook show & tell type thing as I do A LOT of sketching in that ol’ book of mine. Everyday, really.

So, lets show some stuff!

I have been making an effort to work on character design lately so I seem to be drawing a lot of faces – lots of faces, different expressions, loads of fun! It’s amazing that since I started doing this, my drawing has really improved, I can certainly see that practice is a good thing.

A small sample of the faces I have been doodling…
characters 1KellyCanby

And some character doodles (you can see here where my photographer came from here)…
characters 2

characters 3KellyCanby

I have also been participating in @Daily__Doodle on Twitter. Everyday Daily__Doodle posts a new #theme and well, you doodle it and post your doodle back! Its great for when I can’t come up with an idea for a doodle on my own and also makes me doodle things I wouldn’t ordinarily doodle.

I feel like I’ve just said ‘doodle’ a lot.

Anyhow, some of my @Daily__Doodle’s…

#TheGingerbreadMan
gingerbreadmanKellyCanby

#TheFrogPrince
frogprinceKellyCanby

#GirlInFancyDressgirl in fancy dressKellyCanby

 

#ThreeLittlePigs
3 pigsKellyCanby

#DogAsBatmanCatAsRobin
Batman dog Robin catKellyCanby

#GirlWithPetMonster
Girl with pet MonsterKellyCanby

I actually really look forward to the new theme each day…I’m hooked!!

If you’re a doodler, give it a go!
(And one last time, here’s their link 🙂 @Daily__Doodle)

Finally, from my sketchbook, is Olive.
Finally, I think I have just about finished my first ever manuscript.
Finally, I can get to work on what it might look like.
Finally, I am drawing stuff for it!

I thought I had finished this manuscript a couple of months ago but when I re-read it last week I found so many words that just didn’t need to be there! So, it’s now only half the size but I think it’s twice as good.

It’s about a girl called Olive and this is what Olive looks like…today…
OliveKellyCanby

I’m really loving working on a project of my own and ideally I’d like to develop the story and the character and the look of the book to a point where I feel good about showing people, and by people I mean my agents and publishers and anyone who might want to help make my book into a real thing 🙂

Thats the dream!

And that’s it from my sketchbook this month.
It was just a small sample, I tweet way more doodles and sketches so if you want to see them, come follow me @kelcanby

Happy first day of the week! x