2017 – A Year of Art and Climbing Everest!!!

2017 has been a strange year and on more than one occasion I’ve heard myself saying “This can’t be reality?”, as if I’d slipped into some dream state without my knowing…I mean come on, apart from the dreadful and embarrassing debacle that is ‘Brexit’, we’re now living in an odd dystopian universe where an unhinged, dangerously narcissistic, orange, sexual offending, racist twat is the American President with his short fat fingers on the nuclear button!

Yeap, 2017 was a weird year. The saddest thing to hit early in the year was the loss of my hero David Bowie. Anyone with any inkling of creativity in them mourned his loss and feels it still.

But despite the sad loss of Bowie and wonderful actors like John Hurt, 2017 did bring up some revelatory surprises too. For me personally, this was undoubtedly the ‘Year of Art’.

I started the year committing myself to the 365 day Artmaniac Challenge (following in the footsteps of Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell), by creating a new piece of art EVERY DAY for a whole year! I started well, in fact for the first 3 months of the year I did create a brand new piece of art every day, firstly rough sketches and then portraits! It was exhilarating, I hadn’t done any portraits in 20 years and was thrilled that I could still do them!

I also began the year finishing a fantasy map art commission for the lovely fantasy author, Anna Smith-Spark, which became a commission for HarperCollins as they approached me to become one of their illustrators! I was amazed and flabbergasted! A second HarperCollins commission quickly followed for the equally lovely Anna Stephens for another fantasy map. The year continued like that, in a blur of deadlines and commissions. I’ve never been busier and considering I don’t advertise and still use a free weebly website for my illustration business, I was astounded at the interest I was getting.

Both fantasy maps for HarperCollins ended up being picked up and bought by other publishers around the world, Dutch, German, US publishers like Orbit and Random House – I was suddenly glimpsing through the keyhole of big league success – it really is a whole different story to the indie world I’ve lived in for so long!

The year flashed by and before I knew it the giddy pleasures of summer had come and gone in a haze of excitement, silk painting, BBQ’s (with my lovely Grimbold posse) and writing.

It is true to say that 2017 was not a great year for my writing, in fact I haven’t written anything now in months following a crisis of confidence a few months back. I will eventually return to writing as I always have, but I don’t have that belief in my abilities anymore the way I used to, I’m hoping given time that I will find my voice again somewhere but for now I’m happy just to follow my art and get my creative fulfilment that way. BUT, 2017 was a great year for other writers, most notably my amazing publishers, Grimbold Books, who were not only nominated for Best Independent Press in the British Fantasy Society Awards (BFS Awards) … but actually WON IT!!!!!

YAY!!! Go Grimbold go!

The end of summer came (and my dreaded birthday) and I was neck deep in prep for October’s BristolCon where I’d be exhibiting my artwork – gulp, my first art exhibition for 20 years! I was nervous to say the least but it went amazingly well, better than I could have dreamed of in fact! 😀

A huge thank you to my Grimbold family and to awesome authors like Gareth L Powell who actually helped me put up some of my pictures (and who also very kindly told me about the V&A Illustrator’s Competition for illustrations published in 2017!) THANK YOU! ❤

After the wonderful BristolCon I was then approached by Penguin Random House for a commission for them! A few weeks later I also started my latest commission for the inspirational Dan Holloway and Oxford University – a massive commission for 50 unique images! I’m manically producing them as I type this last blog entry for the year! 😀

2017 has definitely been a peculiar year, a year of creative highs and depressive lows, of hopes and dreams and major steps forward for the future. Professionally – it’s been the best year of my life as an illustrator and I feel very blessed and lucky! Personally – it’s been more of a rollercoaster ride. I’ve found myself in the grips and depths of depression a couple of times this year, which has been a struggle and heartbreakingly, another friend, the amazing Lisa Scullard suddenly and shockingly died while 38 weeks pregnant. She had so many hopes for this year and next and they were suddenly snatched away. 😦

The only positive I can draw from such a cruel tragedy is that it really put a rocket up my arse – life is fucking short and precious folks, if you haven’t accomplished what you want, DO IT. If you doing something you don’t want to be – STOP and CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Life goes in a flash. So yes, I am following one dream in particular, a dream I’ve had for the last 14 years and I am doing everything I can to achieve it. Hopefully this time next year my life will be dramatically different…please keep all your fingers, toes and everything else crossed for me, I have an Everest to climb, the odds are against me, but still I’m pursuing this goal – 2018 will be make or break.

So, as the year closes, with only minutes to spare…I want to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR and a coming year of dreams and hopes.

Hold your heart in your hands and cradle those dreams, whatever they are, and never give up. Love to you all. ❤ xxxxx

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April Showers…

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The last days of April for me, always herald the coming of summer…that glimpse into the near future of what you want your short-lived but longed for summer to be. All that promise, all those hazy dreams, just around the corner…

We British have such short summers, so few days of truly warm and glorious weather, that our all too brief summers take on an almost mythical significance. Even if it’s cold as ice outside, if the sun is shining, you’ll find some optimistic soul wandering around in nothing more than a thin T-shirt and shorts!

It is perhaps why we British are so obsessed with the weather over here, not just because our climate and seasons are so wildly unpredictable, but because it dominates our consciousness in a rather profound way. We invest so much time and energy into squeezing every last drop of enjoyment out of a sunny spell, no matter how fleeting, that we find ourselves almost lost in perpetual gloom when the skies cloud over!

It is for this reason, that I smile at April showers, a passing incumbrance which will inevitably lead onto to the warmer airs of May and then into summer!

Ah, our beloved showers, our glistening lawns groaning to be cut once more, our jewel like flowers bursting amongst the verdant green. The daffodils have faded now, replaced by a cobalt sea of bluebells…ah yes…goodbye to April showers and hello to the gentle bee-buzzing of May and beyond! 😀 xx

Oscars 2014 – predictions and hopes!

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Lol, although I know this post will become dated more quickly than I can sing Happy Birthday to you, as I’m chatting about an event which is happening in only a few hours and will be yesterday’s news…er…yesterday, BUT, I can’t help it…

Okay okay…I’m a REAL cinephile and tonight is the night for all avid film buffs. So, with the Oscars nigh, what are my hopes and predictions for the winners?

Here we go:

Firstly, these are my PREDICTIONS for the people that I think will win:

Best Film: 12 Years A Slave.

Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (for Gravity).

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey (for Dallas Buyers Club).

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (for Blue Jasmine).

Supporting Actor: Jared Leto (for Dallas Buyers Club).

Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o (for 12 Years A Slave).

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Now, these are the people I would LIKE to win, that I think are most deserving:

Best Film: 12 Years A Slave.

Best Director: Steve McQueen (for 12 Years A Slave).

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (for 12 Years A Slave).

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (for Gravity).

Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave).

Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle).

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In reality 2013 has been a great year for film and I’d be happy with any of the nominees getting that golden gong as they’re all such wonderful, substantial and beautiful films, with one notable exception. Although I love Cate Blanchett and think she is a phenomenal actress, I really don’t want ANY of the major awards going to a Woody Allen film. My own personal preference here, but on moral grounds, I really cannot condone or support a man who thinks it’s completely acceptable to have a sexual relationship with their daughter, whether she is biologically theirs or adopted. It is a terrible case of child grooming and abuse, and for Hollywood or anyone to just accept it and then give the man adulation and an armful of awards, for me, is just wrong. Rant over.

On a lighter note, I’m looking forward to the award show. I wish Billy Crystal was doing it as he’s always the funniest and I love the film snippets he does where he puts himself into each frame, but I’m sure Ellen DeGeneres will be great.

So, this film buff has her sleeping bag on standby, snacks at the ready and…ahem…4 doggies to keep me warm as I stay up to watch live coverage in a few hours time.

So, which film do you think deserves the top accolade? Who would get your vote? 😀 xxx

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WOW, EVERY one of my predictions came true!!!! 100% correct!!! Woo and Hoo!!!! I DO wish Sandra Bullock would have won, but didn’t think she’d snag it, wanted Chiwetel Ejiofor to win for 12 Years A Slave, but again thought it would go to McConaughey because the Academy love rewarding actors who have made a come back and have transformed their bodies for a part. Also wish Steve McQueen had won for Best Director, but I DO like Alfonso Cuaron too. My biggest thing, was not wanting any awards to go towards a Woody Allen film, but Cate Blanchett was a shoe-in. Anyway…NEXT year, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and bet on my predictions!!!! 😛

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