I'm just back from The Story Museum in Oxford, a fantastic museum devoted entirely to children's literature, where I was for the day. I was situated upstairs in the "Illustrator Zoo," where children and adults alike could come along and chat about my process, books and work in general.
I spent the day drawing, reading, chatting and collaborating with some lovely, enthusiastic children. Below is Charlotte, who drew the most wonderful cats and a witch next to my Mean Cat.
And Lucy drew a brilliant Jack Russell (kindred spirits?), a gondola, a rat and a chicken.
Fun had by all.
Thanks, Story Museum.
I'm taking bookings for my Make Your Own Scary Book camp. There are still some spots left in my illustration classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays too. Click here for more info: www.sheenadempsey.com/courses/
Last week I ran a "Make Your Own Book" summer camp for kids aged between 7 and 11 in the conservatory at the East Dulwich Picturehouse. I had the most fantastic bunch of kids and we had so much fun. There were emerald cities, people perceiving other people as balls of fire, shrinking boys slipping into underworlds populated by strange, red-skinned citizens, piranha-breathing dragons, glorious golden keys, henhouse prisons, Yonderlands, courageous mice with too-large eyes, Harry Potter fan fiction, desolate 4D worlds, castaways, a white stallion called Halo and a spooky, booby-trapped house in a New Zealand forest. This week I'm back to my own work and confess that it seems a bit dull by comparison...
Some feedback from parents:
"It was really great and Arbel enjoyed it tremendously" - Einav Avni
"It was a brilliant course, she really enjoyed it, and she's very proud of what she produced" - Paul Tangney
"The girls were really excited when they came home and proud of their writing. This is the kind of children's activity that really develops a child's love for the creative process." - Ainslie Beattie
I was clearing out some portfolios and found these old illustrations from the first version of Bye-Bye Baby Brother! that I made on my MA. There was such a freshness and looseness to this work that when I look at what went into the final book and my more recent work, sometimes I wonder if I've been on a huge regression these last four years. Surely not...
When Bye-Bye Baby Brother! came out, Walker Books asked me to blog about the process and I did, here.
A while ago I wrote a piece for Children's Books Ireland about the #picturesmeanbusiness campaign, which author and illustrator Sarah McIntyre began a few months ago. Its aim is to properly credit children's illustrators on book covers and on social media and to raise their visibility in sales logs such as the Nielsen Book Scan. This was my two cents... http://childrensbooksireland.ie/features/picturesmeanbusiness
Last night I finished a bespoke commission I'd been working on for a family whose son's name is Duke. Pen, pencil and watercolour.
My agent, Felicity Trew, commissioned me to produce an image for the Caroline Sheldon summer drinks party invitation.
There's a marriage referendum happening in Ireland in May in which the whole country will decide on whether gay people should be allowed to marry each other. As if that's anyone's business but their own. I drew a picture for the #YesEquality campaign. Naturally I decided to incorporate some dogs.
I was asked by the Bath Children's Literature Festival to donate a piece of artwork for auction. It was a super fun brief: draw a red armchair with some of your characters. I drew it using pen, watercolour and colouring pencils.
A drawing for my friend who is turning thirty and loves Audrey Hepburn.
A little update about the last couple of months. I illustrated a couple of chapter books, one was the sequel to the first "The Powers" book by Kevin Stevens. This second book in the series is called "Pucker Power," and it has nine dogs, a Persian cat and is set partly in Paris so it was a lot of fun to illustrate.
I think that one comes out in May and it's already had a lovely review in the Irish Times:
Next was a book published by the Irish language press, An Gúm. It's called "Hubert" and it's a story about a little white imaginary bulldog and a boy called Gary.
December was a busy month of bespoke commissions, there's more info on these under the "Bespoke Commissions" section on the homepage or click here: http://www.sheenadempsey.com/#/bespokecommissions/
Some are below.
It's been so lovely to see children interacting with the book and they really seemed to enjoy it too (phew!). Zoe Toft's brilliant blog Playing by the Book saw the kids recreating a scene with Brio toys, lego and broccoli. (I thoroughly approved of the addition of a Kit-Kat on the snack bar train). In Zoe's words: "Deadpan guinea pig humour (yes, really!) and fabulous illustrations full of new details upon each reading add something special to this tale about friendship, imagination and looking after pets. We especially loved Bruno's passion for invention, right down the the poster of Einstein by his bed."
Follow this link to read the full Playing by the Book blog post.
Photo courtesy of Zoe Toft at Playing by the Book blog
The Boy and Me blog seemed to like Bruno and Titch too, judging by this happy camper:
Follow this link to read the full The Boy and Me blog post.