Monday, 23 July 2012

Michelangelo in Monochrome

Things are so hectic right now I can hardly stop to think. Daughter and I have just moved house, and before we have a chance to unpack we'll be off to Japan for the rest of the summer where I'll be exhibiting and running a workshop. Nevertheless I've just time to post a few images of work-in-progress from my current project, a non-fiction picture book by Jane Sutcliffe,  The Stone Giant, the story of Michelangelo's creation of the statue of David, which will be published by Charlesbridge in the United States sometime, erm..... after I've finished! The house move and Tokyo trip have inevitably put things on hold for the moment, but I've completed all the pen-and-ink line work and will get straight into painting watercolour when we get back from Tokyo.

So here's a sneak preview at the black and white stage!

Naturally a lot of research was necessary (and boy did I love that!), and in some cases a degree of estimation. I hope the results are not too far off the mark.

I'm trying to steer a path between imagination and historical accuracy, a flavour of the period, and a flavour of me so to speak.

The final spread showing a panorama of the Piazza Signoria from the Palazzo Vecchio. There are no historical images from this angle that I know of and none of these buildings exist now, so a lot of detective work was required to estimate the architecture of the square in the Renaissance. Fingers crossed the experts will be happy!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day: Breathing Life Into Your Pictures

Here are some details of an event I'll be running in Tokyo in August with SCBWI. Please do come along if you're able!

SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day with John Shelley:

Breathing Life Into Your Pictures

Power up your pictures! Give your illustrations vitality and zest! This SCBWI Tokyo Illustration Day featuring illustrator John Shelley will focus on techniques that children’s illustrators use to create resonance in their work and will explore how visual psychology works to convey mood, emotion, and movement. The Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment to be completed in advance of the workshop provides an opportunity for illustrators to develop their craft through open critiques at the event.

Time:  Sunday, August 19, 2012, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

Place:  Tokyo Women's Plaza, Audiovisual Room, A & B
5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the Children's Castle and United Nations University). For a map see


Full program: (includes all sessions plus sketch review and open critique of the Action and Emotion Assignment): SCBWI Members 5,000 yen; Non-Members 8,000 yen. Advance registration and advance payment required; email contact (at) Advance payment is due by July 10, 2012.

Audit/At the door: (includes all sessions but does not include sketch review or critique of Action and Emotion Assignment) Members 4,000 yen; Non-members 7,000 yen. Reservations required: email contact (at)

This event will be in English. Japanese interpretation is available with advance request.

This Illustration Day is made possible in part through an Illustration Grant from SCBWI.


9:00-9:20 Registration

9:20-9:30 Opening Words

9:30-10:30 Drama in Pictures
Using examples from children’s books past and present, this talk will focus on how composition can improve depth and energy, how illustrators use color, texture, space, and lighting to affect mood and create tension and atmosphere in their work.

10:45-11:45 Character Dynamics
Movement of characters is crucial to narrative in children’s books. This session will focus on the use of posture and detail to emphasize character. Using example illustrations, we will consider how gesture, motion and composition can improve narrative flow and energy.

11:45-1:15 Lunch--bring a bento or enjoy lunch at a nearby cafe

1:15-3:00 Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment—Discussion and Open Critiques of Artwork

The Action and Emotion Illustration Assignment will be completed prior to the event—illustrators will illustrate either 1. a book jacket for a middle-grade (readers age 8-12) or early reader book; OR 2. a picture book double-page spread. Sketches will be reviewed in advance by John Shelley via email before illustrators complete the final artwork. Sketches and final artwork will be on display at the event for these open critiques and discussion. To receive the assignment details, please see above about registration and fees, and email contact (at) before July 10, 2012.

3:15-4:15 Panel Presentation on Promotion and Opportunities for Illustrators featuring illustrators John Shelley, Naomi Kojima and Yoko Yoshizawa

How does evolving technology open up opportunities for artists? How do illustrators survive in a changing market? In a world swamped by digital media how does an illustrator stand out from the crowd? These questions will be discussed by a panel of illustrators including John Shelley, Naomi Kojima and Yoko Yoshizawa.

4:15-4:45 Q&A and Wrap-Up Discussion

Participants and panelists will share final reflections, offer advice, ask questions, and share future goals in illustration.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Book release dates revison

I've just learned that the release of Halloween Forest in the US has been pushed back to 1st October, which is a little later than anticipated. I'm sorry for the delay, but rest assured it will be out very soon in time for Halloween. The book can be pre-ordered with Amazon and other retail outlets.

This means that my next book release will be my own re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk「ジャックと豆の木」 (Jack to Mame no Ki) in Japan, which will be on sale from 10th September by Fukuinkan Shoten publishers.

'Jack' is still in production and is not yet listed for pre-order. Even so, it will still be released before Halloween Forest, which predates it in production. It's a funny old business, publishing! I'll post an update as soon as I have more details.

In the meantime here's a couple more images from the book.