I am so excited to share the cover for my new book with you, I really hope that you love it because Georgie is very excited!
When Georgie Grows Up is the story of a very imaginative child who isn’t really sure that the promise of eating their vegetables is really worth growing up big and strong for! A 32 page long picture book in full colour which will take you to the moon and to the depths of the ocean.
Georgie is an intentionally non-binary character so that as many of the children reading the story can identify with Georgie’s wild imagination as possible!
What do you want to do when you grow up? Are your dreams as outrageous as Georgie? Read my brand new story when it is released on 20th June 2022.
You can preorder your copy now from my Folksy shop or get it on release day from my Amazon book shelf! All preorders will come with an extra special gift too!
The book is almost ready to go to print and has been dedicated to three of my beautiful nieces and nephew, Bonnie, Betsy and Noah. Being surrounded by children keeps me young and my imagination overflowing, I am very lucky to be their aunty.
Thank you for joining in with my excitement as it draws closer to launch day, there will be plenty to look out for across my social media accounts!
I decided to join in the Our Planet Week illustration challenge this year because in my small way I would like to raise awareness of environmental issues especially where it concerns the animals who inspire my artwork. Our Planet Week was founded by artist Asia Orlando and you can find out a lot more about it on the website.
There were six prompts to follow with the added incentive that if you completed the prompts then One Tree Planted, a charity which plants trees around the world, promised to plant a tree for every post tagged with the hashtag #onetreeplanted during the challenge dates.
These are my six illustrations for the challenge …
Earth Day –
Did you know that ants are amazing? As they grow their ant homes below ground, twisting mazes in the soil, they are aerating the soil and allowing nutrients to be recycled which helps new plants grow, thereby reducing the need for chemicals!!!
Tiny but mighty Earth protectors.
2. Green Living –
When we went to Dartmoor Otter and Butterfly Sanctuary last month we had an amazing day seeing how they help these adorable creatures. Their website is a wealth of information on all species of otter if you would like to know more! Sanctuaries like this exist around the world to help animals who are effected every day by climate emergencies and human errors. Visiting can help them raise valuable funds and raise awareness of how we can live greener to protect them.
3. Oceans –
Did you know that seals are helping scientists to study climate change? By wearing tracking devices, which help to monitor water temperature, salt levels and animal behavioural patterns. Monitoring changes in the Antarctic Ocean can help us understand the effects of climate change and devise plans to slow and stop it where possible! Sadly they are also one of the animals suffering most from climate change and who need our help the most.
The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is an incredible place helping these beautiful creatures and is well worth a visit if you get the chance. The seals are absolutely enchanting!
4. Breathe –
Did you know that alligators are really important for the ecosystems that the inhabit? They dig holes and leave trails throughout marshes, they create habitats for fish and marine life. They also keep invading plant life from destroying ecosystems. Without these ecosystem services, freshwater ponds and shrubs and trees would fill in coastal wetlands in the alligator’s habitat, and dozens of species would disappear. They help the environment to breathe deep!
Alligators are a species who need protection.
5. Climate Heroes –
These little creatures sure are heroes!
Did you know that beaver populations help to control water flow which is vital during times of extreme weather fluctuations such as drought and floods! Beavers natural instincts to create dams means that they are building ponds which attract plant life, birds and even fish! The dams themselves create homes for other mammals such as otters and mink too!!
It’s the last prompt for Our Planet Week and I chose a squirrel because amazingly they plant many many trees simply by forgetting where they buried their stashes of nuts (seeds). Luckily they don’t keep all of them in one place so they hopefully have plenty to eat but those forgotten seeds often sprout into beautiful trees!
I hope you enjoyed my illustrations as much as I enjoyed creating them, it was a lot of fun to do more research into how these amazing creatures help our planet to survive and how they are vital for helping different species coexist in this crazy world.
What is your favourite animal? I bet it does a lot more for the environment than you could ever imagine, perhaps even more than humans will ever know.
I am a sucker for a bargain especially when it comes to art supplies and I really don’t think you will find a better bargain than the Scrawlrbox sale. Throughout the year the previous subscription boxes are reduced, sometimes as low as £5 which includes postage. You have to be quick though because as you can imagine, they sell fast!
In the latest sale I managed to buy the May 2021 box. An added perk being that you already know what is in the box unlike the subscription. I have been tempted by the subscription many times because even at full price it is still a bargain but I find them to be a bit over zealous with the pens which I know I am not fond of.
I chose the May box for two reasons, the first being that I wanted to try the Posca pencils and the second because I have never tried Pearl Burnish before, I’ve never even heard of it.
The box arrived impeccably and quickly as I have experienced before. Everything is wrapped nicely and they always include a sweet which is a nice touch. This box included the scrawlrzine, a menu card that explains what the supplies are, an art card from the featured artist, 6 Posca pencil crayons, Pearl Burnish, Derwent black fine liner, paint brush and a 16 sheet pad of cartridge paper.
The pencils are the main part of this box and the selection of colours are beautiful. They are some of my favourite colours in fact and make a lovely set. I swatched them out on the cartridge paper and had a play to see how well they blend too. I am not an avid pencil crayon user because I do struggle to blend and layer them. These blend really nicely however the colours do not get more intense when layering unless you layer on top of a darker colour. Most pencil crayons will get more vibrant as you layer or press harder but the Posca pencils did not. They are extremely pigmented right away though without cramping your hand to get maximum colour like some other brands. They are a very soft pencil, perhaps this is why they blend so easily. I did try smudging too but it had little to no effect.
The Pearl Burnish is a liquid white pencil crayon which is sort of like Tipex only more vibrant. It was extremely opaque at covering the swatches in my test but didn’t lay down smoothly. It is intended for highlights to finish the work and I was excited to try it on an actual piece. The tiny bottle is very adorable.
The fine liner is much too fine for my tastes honestly and it was scratching at the paper right from the start. I would assume that to have it this thin it must be reinforced to stop the tip snapping which causes the scratching but I could be completely wrong.
I drew out my little mermaid, it was a May box so I suppose I had Mermay on my mind but they also seem like mermaid colours to me. I used the light orange Posca to draw an outline and the fine liner to go over a few bits. The fine liner did not like drawing over the pencil at all, it skipped, jumped and went all over the place. It will not be a permanent addition to my pencil case!!
I coloured the mermaid in, it’s not a very adventurous piece but she has some charm I guess, she has found a human planter on the bottom of the sea and intends to take it home. The pencil crayons are lovely to colour with but I think to get the kind of results you see in the scrawlrzine you need to do a lot more layers than I was willing to do. This was five or six layers of each colour and that’s enough for me.
I tried to use the paintbrush to apply the Pearl Burnish and that was a disaster, this brush is an absolute waste of time! It washed off ok and I managed to do some little spots on the mermaid tail but it was frustrating and an odd choice to add into this box.
I managed to create an illustration with everything included, it isn’t my favourite illustration by a long shot but for £5 it was an hour of fun experimentation.
The Posca pencils were one of the reasons that I chose this box, they claim to be able to colour onto light and dark paper, wood, metal, glass, plastic and stone. I thought that sounded amazing since I always seem to make a mess when I use Posca Pens but as a family we are big fans of pebble art which we hide in the local parks for people to find. I had a pebble handy that I decided to turn into a dragon face. I used the Posca pencils to draw and then colour it, the Pearl Burnish to add the white of the eye and a trusty Sharpie marker because that fine liner had been thrown across the room! I could not find any information online that said wether the Poscas were permanent so I will be sure to varnish the dragon before we hide her.
I really enjoyed this box, I think with a little practice I could get used to using Pearl Burnish for highlights on my watercolour illustrations and I would use the pencils again for ideas and doodles in my sketchbook, beautiful as they are I just don’t have the patience to get a fully rendered illustration out of them. The paintbrush and pen have been popped straight into the Webblings art supplies so they won’t be wasted.
I have always loved children’s books, I have kept a collection throughout my life and it keeps growing. I wanted to be a children’s author my entire life and I didn’t truly think that it would be possible. So I can’t get my head around it, I am celebrating, it seems unbelievable to me but I now have 10 books available on Amazon. All children’s books but they are done in a variety of art mediums. I love creating books but love to learn about new techniques and to combine them where possible. If you have read much of my blog you will see that I really enjoy experimenting with all kinds of art supplies. Five of the ten have been created from fibre art (felting and embroidery), two have watercolour illustrations and three have digital illustrations. They each have their own benefits and I have two books which I am currently working on, one with watercolours and the other with digital illustrations.
10 books seems like a milestone and an achievement despite the fact that I am pretty useless at marketing so my sales are slow. I am really proud of every single one of my books and I really feel that they are getting better and better with each book.
I have heard rumours that the Amazon algorithm gods are pleased once you reach 10 books and will start placing your titles higher in the searches but I am yet to see any evidence of this, maybe I will do in the coming months. I am aware that getting reviews on your books helps the most but it is very difficult to get the reviews because when Amazon sends books out to people I never find out who purchased it or where in the world it even went.
Amazon books are great quality in my experience. I have had one really peculiar book arrive that had different pages inside but Amazon were really good at replacing it straight away. I do feel a little out of control with the books because I can’t quality control each and every one of them before they are posted out but having the print on demand available on Amazon has meant that I can produce quality books without a massive upfront cost which I wouldn’t be able to afford so my stories would be relegated to my sketchbooks forever. I am really grateful to Amazon for allowing me to follow my dreams.
If you are thinking of publishing your own book on Amazon, through Kindle Direct Publishing it can seem daunting at first but you have unlimited amounts of edits before you press that ‘publish’ button and you can even order sample copies of your books before they get published so that you can check everything is as you want it. I would suggest that you purchase your own ISBN numbers though, you can get free ones from Amazon however if you use these then you are not permitted to sell your books through other avenues. I personally choose to sell through Folksy so that I can offer signed copies, I have books in a couple of independent book shops and I sell at festivals and events which would not be possible with the Amazon ISBN allocated numbers. That feeling of holding your final product in your hands after months of hard work is one of the best feelings in the world. Seeing a child enjoy your story tops that even more!
I feel like I am just at the beginning of my creative journey, I have not even got off the starting spot when it comes to marketing and I have so many more stories to tell. Have you read any of my books? which is your favourite? I would love to hear from you.
Harry says he would give all my books 5 out of 5 webs but he is completely biased!
Sass Feels Lonely is the first book that I have written with very simple sentence structures which appeal to younger readers and reluctant readers or those who struggle with more complex books but still want a bright picture book to read. The pages only have one sentence each and children can learn the book easily through repetition which in my experience (as a mummy having to read the same stories over and over again) gives children a sense of accomplishment which can guide them towards a love of reading in the future.
My original story for Sass was much longer and more in depth but as I was writing it I became aware that Sass could tell his story through the images as much as the text which would give children more freedom to develop Sass’s story in their own imaginations.
I am incredibly proud of Sass so when the publisher sadly had to withdraw from publication and close down, I knew that I wanted to independently publish Sass Feels Lonely under my own publishing brand Moby and Puddle Books. I have spent the last few weeks taking the necessary steps to do so and I am happy to announce that Sass Feels Lonely is now available on Amazon.
I also have limited amounts available on Folksy which are the first edition copies that I have purchased from the now defunct publishers. You can even find keyrings there too!
To celebrate the release of the second edition of Sass Feels Lonely I have decided to run a giveaway across my facebook and instagram accounts. It will run until Midnight on Monday 4th April and winner announced on my blog Tuesday 5th April. There will be two winners, the first will win a signed copy of the book and a soft toy that looks a little like Sass (a cousin perhaps?) and the second will win a signed copy of the book with a Sass keyring and sticker. Due to ongoing postal issues the giveaway will be exclusively UK based.
I hope that however you get your hands on your copy of Sass, that you enjoy it and that you fall in love with this big fluffy creature who lives in the forest just as much as I have. One setback won’t stop him, after all Sass is on the lookout for more friends!
Written by Leon Howlett, Professor Von Schmell and his Fart Powered Bike is as random as they come. It is a little bit of mayhem wrapped up in a glorious story about inventors and a race. If you don’t like your children to read books about farting, burping or other bodily functions then at least it is right there on the cover for you to see and keep away from. It isn’t hiding anything or pretending it is some great moral story, it is however blatant fun in the form of a picture book.
Harry is 10 years old and he finds farts and burps hilarious, why wouldn’t he? life is far too serious as it is, especially at the moment, so seeing him giggle and chuckle as we read this book was brilliant. He is also a massive fan if inventors and crazy inventions (he adores Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) so this book definitely fell into the hands of its target market and we thank Stour Valley Publishing for sending it to us for review.
If I had to pick at anything, (As seems to be the thing that I complain about most in childrens books) it would be the lack of punctuation. It really makes it a lot more difficult to read out loud, maybe this is just me? But the right punctuation or even the wrong punctuation but in the right place really does help the rhythm of a book keep going, especially when it is a rhyming book. This book is not great with punctuation and has very little on some pages. When it has a second edition which I think it will, this would be a massive improvement.
The illustrations by James Gibson are fantastic, our favourite being the parrot in his dressing gown which really is worth buying this book for. James has a way of creating humour within the story and also in the background with so many different details that keep you lingering on each page more than you otherwise would. I am a big fan of James Gibson’s work and think that the book is worth getting to enjoy the artwork as much as the story.
Harrison awarded 5 webs out of 5, ignoring the lack of punctuation due to the amount that the book made him laugh and laugh. We are sure to read this one again and look forward to reading more from both Leon Howlett and James Gibson.
I received these Marabu art crayons in a Scrawlrbox and had never tried them before. They came in these three colours and were all individually sealed. They were sealed really well too because it took me forever to get the wrapping off of them. They feel really nice to hold in your hands because of the black grip and the lids fit to the bottom of the crayons while you are using them which is always handy if like me you are prone to loosing lids whilst you are working.
I swatched them in my sketchbook, they are super creamy and they remind me of the Gelatos by Faber Castell. They do not have a pointy tip so they are hard to draw with just like the gelatos too.
I smudged the colour swatches and used water on a paint brush to see how far they would spread. The smudges weren’t overly impressive but the water soluble swatches came out better than I could of hoped and you cannot see much ghosting from the original square that I drew at all. They really do dissolve in the water and stay very vibrant.
You need to be careful when winding them on, they twist upwards like a lipstick but do not twist back down. I wanted to see how much pigment you actually get because it is encased in a pretty heavy duty casing but I didn’t dare see how much further it went once I realised it would not go down again.
I used water and a paintbrush to take pigments off the end of the crayons but they were so pastel and translucent that the teddies above took layer upon layer to build up the smallest amount of pigment. I think they are definitely intended to be used colour straight onto the paper.
I used the crayons once the teddies were dry to add a textured outline. I was trying to use them way too small for how big the tip of the crayon is but they still have a little charm to them I think.
I wanted to see if they would blend or if I could make more colours because I was feeling a bit uninspired by the colour choices. I managed to create a really nice orange but the purple mixing with the other two just looked muddy. I feel like a blue may of been a better choice when giving three colours so that I could of created a green and a purple so keep that in mind if you are buying them separately. The crayons do not have colour names on them either which is frustrating.
I decided to add some black finaliser and create a little multicolour teddy bear. The crayon was drawn straight onto the paper and then spread with the water. I think that it creates a nice fluffy bear effect and even though I really do not like this illustration (sorry bear!) I do like the texture in the pink and purple. The yellow is the most water soluble and the texture completely disappeared. When moving from the purple crayon to the yellow I hadn’t cleaned the brush thoroughly enough so it caused a big mess than around his mouth which doesn’t endear me to him either.
I did not have the best time with these crayons, they didn’t smell particularly great although the smell goes once it is dried on the paper. You cannot get any fine detail and you cannot get variation in the saturation, it is either completely watered down or far too vibrant when used without water. I think the colours were a factor in the fact that I didn’t enjoy them, the yellow just melted into the paper and could hardly be seen and the other two really compete with each other. Perhaps with a better combination of colours I may of had better results.
I will use these again but in conjunction with other art supplies, possibly in collage. I am glad to have tried them with scrawlrbox because it gave me the opportunity to try them out without spending a fortune first.
I hope that my first test has been useful or entertaining for you, what would you have created with these colours?
I saw Brusho first used on a Youtube video and I am sad to say I can’t find the video that I watched which intrigued me but there are lots on there if you fancy watching people who know what they are doing but this is my first experience of this very messy medium.
You can get Brusho in a range of colours, I got the starter set of colours because it worked out much cheaper, mine were purchased on Amazon and arrived quickly. They come boxed and in little tubs, my box came with some wax sticks too for adding extra details which you will see later.
After watching videos and seeing just how messy this can become I decided to use the method of poking a hole into each tub instead of opening them properly. I also labelled them at the top because I will be keeping them in the box and it is easier to see than reading the labels each time. The labels do not have colours on.
Brusho is a pigment that comes in powder form and you can use it in a variety of ways, for my swatches that will be kept for reference in the box I decided to wet the paper first and then sprinkle the Brusho pigments on top. I taped off each square and I am glad I did because these pigments are hard to control. Each pot has a range of colours to make up that particular colour and you can see how it spreads. I was a little overzealous with the dark brown and it spread into the Emerald so quickly.
I decided to try more swatches because this medium is like nothing that I have tried before and I wanted to see what the difference would be. So this time I sprinkled a little of each pigment onto the square and then spritzed each one with water. This was even harder to control.
I really love the chaotic movement of the sprayed pigment, the pigment did spray all over my desk though and went everywhere so you need a lot of extra space around you or things you don’t mind getting covered in different colours.
I thought that I would give a galaxy a go but it was so hard to actually control where the pigment went and how it blended. It would probably look ok with some stars on it but I gave up since it just reminded me of a bruise by this point.
I thought that I would try the resist with wax, this did not work for me, it leaves the white somewhat how I wanted it but the wax is hard to get any refined shapes, you can’t draw or paint over it after at all so it isn’t good for masking and again the colours were just uncontrollable. I think that this might of worked better with a hot press watercolour paper which is smoother but I tend to use all cold press and the resist just didn’t work well.
Since the resist didn’t work I got out a Molotow masking fluid pen to try. I wanted to work with the unpredictable nature of the Brusho and thought some hand lettering might be nice. The masking fluid did not want to leave the paper though and since I sprinkled the pigment on first and then added water there was still a lot of pigment left on top of the masking fluid which just smudged and spread all over the place! This was so messy and my hands were stained for the rest of the day!
I wanted to see if I could use the pigments in my usual way, I popped a little of each colour onto my pallet and used them like watercolour but I tried not to mix the pigment into the water too much so that you could still see the different hues in each colour. I also tried to mix a colour on the paper as you can see in the middle image above but it soaks into the paper and can’t be refitted, this stuff stains your paper and fast. I think the little bear came out cute and I like the way the colours haven’t fully mixed in the water. This effect is much easier and cleaner to do with standard watercolours though. They also don’t layer the same colour well as you can see from bears snout.
I really wanted to make an illustration that used the best of the Brusho effect, being unpredictable and having so much texture but in one of my illustrations and I think this one was my favourite. I added water first to the hair, put sprinkle after sprinkle of the brush and moved it around where I needed it to be with a paintbrush trying hard not to mix it. Once it was all dry I took off the masking fluid trying not to smudge the excess pigment and then painted in the rest of the image. I honestly think that if I use Brusho in my illustrations then this is the best use of it for me. It is never going to be easy to control but with practice you can get some really organic looking effects.
This was my second attempt at using the Brusho like a watercolour or ink. I think it came out well but doesn’t show the beauty of the chaos that is Brusho. Brusho is a lot of fun, a lot of mess and you never know what you are going to get. I will be using it when I make collages in future and to add some crazy backgrounds to my digital art.
Thank you so much for reading, if you have any tips or tricks I would love to hear them. Samantha x
When I found this art supply in a branch of TK Maxx (I wasn’t even aware that they sold art supplies) for the bargain price of £2.99 it was an absolute no brainer, I had to buy them and I would of got more colours if they had them but they only had greens. According to the package they are water soluble and for some crazy reason they have named them Gelatos which is Italian for ice cream and I love ice cream. Spoiler alert though, do not lick them, they do not taste good, imagine licking a nail polish and you would have a good idea. In fact don’t be daft like me, don’t try eating any art supplies.
When I opened them one of the gelatos had a weird sticky substance on the end. I am guessing this is some kind of separation from the binder that is used to create them but it was only present on this one colour and from what I could tell it didn’t make a difference whilst using the gelatos.
I swatched all four shades, they really are lovely and if you are going to have multiple shades of one colour then greens are definitely one of the best options. My personal favourite is the bottom one. There are no names or numbers on the gelatos so I am unable to buy just the shade I want if I were to run out. They are soft and squishy, touch softer than wax crayons and they spread easily but I don’t think they would last very long.
I tried smudging them and then tried to use them as indicated on the box with water, they did spread but the initial marks were still very visible so they are not completely soluble. The brush is really lovely though, it is flat handled which is new to me but it held a lot of water and had a nice precise tip.
The set included a stamp but no instructions so I tried painting the colour onto the stamp and then printing it. Honestly it was a bit useless and I can’t imagine where I would use it in my illustrations but it might be good for scrapbooking or card making, it is a lovely pattern. I haven’t managed to find any other sets of gelatos so I am wondering if you get a different pattern with each colour way.
Of course when thinking about an illustration or character that I could do with only green supplies the first thing that came to mind was a dinosaur! I tried to use water on the paintbrush to get colour off of the top of the gelatos which was possible but they painted on very lightly and transparently with very little pigment. It didn’t look too bad when you used the gelato like a crayon once it was all dry to do the outlines. I think that my little dino, lets name him Gene, looks kind of sweet.
I tried a similar technique on the leaves above just to see if it would be effective with all of the colours. It is impossible to get a precise or detailed illustration which is partly because of the shape of the gelato, they are completely flat on the top.
I decided to try laying down lots of pigment first and then dissolving with water after and it looked quite cute with the little turtle, I love how much texture it leaves behind. I used a fine liner for the facial details because it was not possible to create them with just the gelatos.
My final attempt to create a cute character came out the best I think with this chubby little alien. I used fine liner, gel pen and a red crayon to add details. I really love him and think he has a lot of warmth and potential. As you can see from the little dot just to the side of his head, once the tiniest dot of gelato hits the paper it is on there for good, there is no erasing it.
A few days after finishing up my tests and using my sketchbook again I realised that the gelatos had smudged all over from one page to the opposite in my sketchbook making our little alien friend here all mucky and messy. This is why I like to test supplies thoroughly before using them on final pieces. If I want to use these gelatos in a final piece I will have to be very careful to archive them with a sheet of tracing paper on top to avoid smudging or a double mount of they are to be framed. However these have no lightfastness information so they may fade if framed.
I had a lot of fun playing with the gelatos, I still have no idea why they are called that, they are really messy and not at all accurate but they are expressive and they are textured, the results are unpredictable. I think that if you see these (especially at such a reasonable price) then you won’t regret having a play with them. I would like them in a few more colours to make some full illustrations with them but adding more supplies like the fine liners they could be used for some vibrant collages.
Thank you so much for reading my review, which of my illustrations did you like the most?