Tuesday 14 January 2014

12 Books Of Christmas - Part 2

Happy Tuesday!

Well... any cause for a celebration eh? The weather here is wet and dreary, but even with the damp and cold and chill there are THE most beautiful skies to be seen and celebrated!

Yeah. I know.  So anyhoo, I thought it about time that I wrote a part 2 for that 12 Books Of Christmas - I'll still need a part 3, but I promise that's not far away.  So....where were we...? Up to page four I think......  yep. Here we go:

Page 4:Gus The Theatre Cat by T.S. Eliot

This page was painted completely with Derwent watercolour pencils - they're so easy to move around on this lovely Bockingford paper. Using the brush to take colour directly from the tip of the pencil gives a nice vivid colour where needed too. I added detail with Uni Pin fine liner pens (0.1 and 0.3),Uni Ball Impact gel pen (1.0mm) and gorgeous, rich Winsor & Newton gold ink.

Die-cutting the page added a layered effect - I like that!

I love Eliot's work, but I wanted to choose one of the poems from 'Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats' in particular - partly because mum and I both love musical theatre (yes, I know, but we do) and also because we've always had cats for pets, and this poem about old Gus reminds me of a cat we had when I was little. His name was 'Tuesday' (go on - guess on what day mum found him...) and she rescued him after he'd been abandoned (horribly) by some scumbags. She nursed him back to health, and although he remained thin and scrawny all his life, he was tough as old boots, defending his territory against all manner of invaders.... foxes, other cats...the invading undead hoardes...you know the sort of thing.

  ...hey! Where'd the cat go?!

Page 5: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

So - there HAD to be a mermaid, right? The story of the Little Mermaid was so beautiful to me when I was a child. I think Andersen's stuff is way less creepy when viewed from a child's perspective...as an adult they can be...um... a bit depressing! But then - there was the wonderful Danny Kaye, who made it all wonderful, then Disney with their sugar sprinkles and singing crustaceans and kapow! A whole big McFilet o' Fish of awesomeness! Mermaids are fabulous. I decided to give this one a golden tail and seaweed hair - and a li'l seahorse (have to give SOME nod to Ariel!)

I used the Derwent pencils to set down the base colours and then used Neocolor II soluble wax pastels from thereon in. A Uni Ball Impact gel pen (white 1.0mm) added texture and detail once a quick spray of Chestnut lacquer added a base, and I highlighted with that yummy Winsor and Newton gold ink.

I also added some Tattered Angels glaze (Mellow Yellow) to the tail and super-heated with my heat gun to make it bubble, then highlighted the textured surface with some 'Treasure Gold' gilding wax.

I cut away quite a lot of the page as I wanted to have her look like she was floating to the surface of the sea in a whirl of bubbles...kind of thing. I resisted the urge to 'Disney' her up and gave her a look of longing, which seems appropriate for the original story. 

Page 6: The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

This was done using a combination of Derwent Watercolour pencils and Neocolor II soluble wax pastels - they blend so completely beautifully it's a delight!  I was given an illustrated collection of these short stories when I was about 9 years old and completely fell in love with them. I chose this one in particular as I recited a large extract in a 'speech and drama' competition/festival thingy and my mum remembers it fondly.

This picture represents the part of the story where the little swallow, left behind to brave a freezing winter, sheltered by the glorious statue of the Happy Prince, takes flakes of gold from the statue to deliver to the poor people of the city at the bidding of the Prince who can't bear to witness the suffering that their poverty brings. It's a tragic but beautiful story. I'd recommend that you read it - and have a tissue ready for when you have a good old cry!

Detail added again with Uni Pin fine liner pens and that Winsor and Newton gold ink is just perfect for the gold leaf. Again - LOADS of die-cutting! WOO!

Page 7:The Marvelous Mongolian by James Aldridge

Yuh-huh....second only to mermaids.... there HAD to be a horsey! I read this book when I was 11 years old and when my mother found me sobbing as a result she took the book off me and read it herself ....and sobbed! Oh it's a wonderful book, written in the form of letters between pen-pals, about a wild Mongolian stallion, and a small tame pony. Read it. More tissues. You'll sob too or else you're not human and/or alive!  This, along with 'Black Beauty' affected me SO MUCH that I can't read a book about horses, or watch a film about horses without sobbing uncontrollably if anything happens to them! In fact - I'm not permitted to OWN a copy of the Black Beauty movie for the sake of my own health and sanity! Pathetic, yet true...

I used the Derwent pencils for this one with plenty of gold ink swirls to represent dust. Before anyone points it out - yes, I did give horsey a longer mane than these ponies actually have, but I like him this way - he looks more wild, so shush.

Page 8: White Fang by Jack London

Hmmm....another weepie! I'm an emotional wreck! I must have read this book a hundred times as a child and loved it more with every read. There's a darned good reason that this is a classic.

For this page, I used the Derwent pencils as a base colour agent and then Neocolor II pastels for layers. As this book was done for my mum, I chose an extract from the beginning, about White Fang as a cub with his mother and reflected it in the illustration.

Detail added again with Uni Pin fine liners and Uni Ball Impact gel pens.

Ok. I'm going to leave that there for now as I have a stack of journals waiting to be bound and/or decorated and they're making me feel guilty for avoiding them! Grrr...  I'll be back in no time to finish this set of posts with the last few pages and HOPEFULLY some finished journals for Etsy. I'd love to hear what you've been up to, or hear your thoughts on these pages. Please feel free to leave a comment as it's awesome to hear from you, and very encouraging. If you'd like to have updates on new posts you might like to 'follow' my blog - just click the link in the right-hand border.

Thank you for visiting! Huge hugs from Shroo :) xxx


  1. Little White Fang is SO cute!!!! Great post and amazing work as usual!!!! x x

  2. Thank you ! I would have given AT LEAST both my kidneys and half a spleen to have White Fang as my pet companion! I'm not sure Harvey Fluffpants would be thrilled with the competition though! xxx

  3. Your work is breathtkingly beautiful, love it all. The sky photo is also lovely, I have been spending a lot of time just walking and taking pictures of the sky! Hugs from Rhineland, Valerie

    1. Thank you so much :) I love the skies we have right here - we get some dramatic weather but the gorgeous colours and cloud formations make it worthwhile. I love the fact that you share your wonderful walks with us on your blog - it does so cheer me up! Hope you're well and taking care of yourself. Bug hugs from Shroo:)xxx

    2. ...that's 'BIG' hugs.....not sure what 'bug hugs' are... .I can't type...!

  4. WOW! All so beautiful! And what a body of work! Again you make me wish I could paint/ draw! They are all lovely but as a dog lover I have to pic White Fang as my favorite!

    1. ...yeah and I'd happily give most of my internal organs to be able to produce awesome work like yours! Thank you so much for your comment - and I'm really glad you liked the White Fang piccy! i DO so love that book! Hugs from Shroo:)xxx

  5. I'm officially jealous of your Mum. And quite sad that I didn't read most of these books growing up - Hans Christian Anderson - yes. Yes and the Brothers Grimm! I discovered Mr Wilde later in life and love The Picture of Dorian Grey but will have to look for this story! I used to read animal books... but mostly cat ones ;)

    You make coloured pencils magical. You really do.

  6. p.s - I'm not mad - the Danny Kaye film had animation in that he interacted with didn't it? When he sung? Every copy I buy on DVD doesn't have the animation and people tell me I must be remembering it wrong. I swear it did.

    1. I'm a sucker for animal stories...I generally have more sympathy for cats and horses than I do for humans!! Ha!

      Thank you for your comments, although I have to say it's hard to go wrong with these Derwent pencils...they're WELL sexy! (to coin a popular phrase and/or saying...). I always liked Faber artists pencils for dry work as they blend gorgeously, especially when combined with graphite, but the Derwent are yummy for watercolour. *sigh* I'm gonna go hug them now.

      Re Danny Kaye... there was an 'Emperor's New Clothes' animation.... if I remember correctly.... or are you thinking of that movie where Gene Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse? Dammit...I'm gonna have to go check 'yootoob' for this. Dammit.....

      Hugs - Shroo:)x