I’ve spent the last three days talking about my chapter illustrations. You know I did them for the Princelings series – and most were specific to each book. Yes, I re-used several: views of Castle Buckmore, the Inn of the Seventh Happiness, and Castle Marsh of course, although there are at least four versions of it.

Chapter illustrations – my studio

Artists generally have studios. Even if it’s a corner of a room, it’s a dedicated space for all the paraphernalia that goes with art. I only have some pads and a pencil case, and folders to put them in (although I do have more painting things in a box in store). They’re on the shelf behind the spare bed, underneath the shelf with the spare copies of my books for sale. Those ones will replenish the stocks in the boxes that go to the craft fairs.

Hampshire Open Studios

We’re in the middle of a free-for-all called Hampshire Open Studios at present. Artists all over Hampshire are opening their studios during the day, and interested folk can come and visit. It’s an opportunity to show off your work without paying for exhibition space – and hopefully sell some artwork.

I know this happens in many counties of the UK – does it happen where you are?

Our art group decided we could do a joint studio: especially for those of us who maybe didn’t feel we qualified to open up our studios. Instead, the Group hired the local hall, and set it up with sixteen stations of a table and hanging space, and opened it up to the members to book tables for as long as they wanted during the nine day event.

I was there 22nd – 24th

My ‘open studio’ stand

With the Lyndhurst craft fair on the first day of the event, and the Lymington one already booked for the Friday, I decided that three days, Monday – Wednesday, would be enough. During the weeks leading up to the event I selected about 24 of my chapter illustrations to create ‘limited edition’ prints, and put them inside cardboard folders and cellophane bags.

What else would be interesting for my studio stand? The folders of original illustrations – and a sheet showing the chapter synopses for one of the books, showing my notes of what I was drawing for it. And of course, take the books to talk about them, and show the chapter illustrations in their places. What about the hanging space behind me?

Maybe take some of my general work, to show what else I did. And I had an idea of a framed set of ‘Castle Marsh through the ages’ illustrations. I pinched another idea: one of my craft fair colleagues hung her pictures on washing lines in a frame to save people having to flick through them all. So I copied that idea with a small frame.

The night before, I had an email to say I’d actually have two tables, would I like to bring more pictures to hang… I mean, I read this just before putting the light out. After a few minutes lying in bed thinking about it, I decided I wouldn’t. They need a specific hanging method, and only the pieces that had been in the summer exhibition were already done that way (other than the ones I’d already prepared). I didn’t want to bring the others.

So this is how it looked (I also had a glut of cucumbers!):

I sat at the end and did some drawing and painting during the day. One piece was an enhancement to an illustration from Princelings Revolution. It’s the bridge in the marsh where Fred and George have what might be an argument if they weren’t so close and not wanting to hurt each others feelings! I’ve extended the marsh to place the castle in the background. I’m quite pleased to have a frameable piece to hang on my wall, of Castle Marsh and its surrounding area.

And I’ve been thinking recently, that doing illustrations of my stories might help consolidate my thinking on them, especially when I’m stuck. That is currently the situation with a piece I’m writing for a call from Rhonda Parrish, for Women and the Sea. I think it’s helped a bit. Must finish the story this weekend! I put these nearly-finished pieces on display on the stall afterwards, just to show I do more than line drawings. These are pastel, in case you wondered.

So did anybody come?

Yes, lots of people visited, although Monday was slow. The adjacent cafe was open Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, which definitely helped. The visitors seemed to be fascinated by the process, which I explained from thought to paper to computer file and then the book. But although I didn’t sell any illustrations, I sold two books every day. On Wednesday I also sold a copy of the Princelings journal, which is blank for your own use, but with selected pictures and quotes for them, scattered through the book.

The downside was, I sold every copy I had of the first book — with another craft fair on Friday. Thankfully I had realised I was running short and put in a big order on Saturday night, and despite the estimated date at the order point of Sept 3rd, they’re due to arrive any minute! Blurb.co.uk are really good at this.

Talking about chapter illustrations

3 thoughts on “Talking about chapter illustrations

  • 25 August, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    That’s fantastic! Any route you can find to get the books out there! You have just about inspired me to actually start looking for some opportunities to do the same—minus the illustrations bit, since I don’t illustrate. I was going to say I don’t draw, but I do. I just don’t draw well, and I can’t seem to do it out of my head—at least, I can never make a helpful sketch of the covers I want, even though I can see them in my head!

    • 25 August, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      Yes, there are bound to be plenty of opportunities once you get looking. I got this craft fair thingy but there are many, many other craft fairs and markets in the area, I just kept to the indoor ones organised by someone else! You have to check that they consider your own self-produced books as craft. And I found that book fairs are only interested in dealers of second hand books, not indie authors selling their own wares.
      Illustration is an odd thing. I might have more confidence if someone asked me to do some specific illustrations of objects for a book. But something to represent their chapters might be more difficult. And my early work was poor. It improved quickly though. And ideas for covers I thought were really bad at the time looked much more acceptable when I saw them again this week!

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