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Lockdown, Little pics, and a New Book!

I’ve been pretty quiet through the Covid 19 crisis and lockdown. Like many creators, limited physical movement and contact with people has also led to a mental contraction with creativity. In my case, attempts to counter this and the generally numbing result of the pandemic has led to a little less time online, however I can’t honestly say staying off the web has made that much difference - other distractions fill the gaps! Anyway, the consequence is, not only have I not been anywhere or seen many people since lockdown, I’ve also become less chatty on social media - and extremely quiet on the blog!

Suffice to say, daughter and I have so far remained healthy, rather under-exercised, secluded, sometimes despondent, but just about sane.

But here’s some news, I’ve a new book out! Hurrah!!

The Boy in the Jam Jar, written by Joyce Dunbar, with B/W drawings by yours truly, published by Bloomsbury Education in their Bloomsbury Readers series. ISBN: 9781472973955

The Boy in the Jam Jar is the story of Dylan, who is suffering from hearing loss. As the world contracts around him he becomes more isolated, until circumstances take a hand to restore confidence.

Apart from being a marvellous writer with many wonderful books to her credit, Joyce Dunbar is a near neighbour and a good friend, it was Joyce who gave me the confidence to move house closer into the city a while ago. She also has first-hand experience of Dylan’s condition, being largely deaf for much of her life. Working on this book occupied me for the first weeks of lockdown. Not only has it been a privilege to work on one of Joyce’s stories, it’s the first time I’ve been able to celebrate it’s launch with the writer (in a safe-distance lockdown stylee!)

There are comparatively few children’s books dealing with hearing loss published in the UK, this book will I hope be valuable to many readers, and groups working with children with hearing difficulties.

One Inch Drawings

The other exception to my social media shut-down has been daily one-inch square drawings, which I’ve continued to doodle and upload to Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In every day since the beginning of this year. Half of 2020 is gone now - will I make it to the end of the year? I hope so, I’ve been enjoying this exercise immensely. The small size is an excellent discipline, and keeping everything purely black and white is really touching the core of my inspiration as an illustrator. Naturally, time available fluctuates, some days I’ve been more inspired than others, some days have been filled with other things, but often, the most satisfactory drawings are those that occur spontaneously on the day, and seem to come together very quickly. As long as I have an idea what I want to draw at some point during the early part of the day, then the execution of the drawing can be late, because it’s just a case of getting the idea down on paper - usually not too much of a struggle when the drawing is only one inch square. The worst is reaching the evening with no idea what I’m going to draw - by that point of the day, graphic games, puns, tricks and inspirations are much harder to come up with, I don’t want to be thinking ideas, I just want to get them drawn. Here are a couple of my most recent, all the drawings so far can be seen on my Instagram, Twitter and Linked-In pages.

These one-inch drawings have provided a regular channel for creative ideas during all the lockdown period, as other work commitments have naturally been slow, while at the same time anxiety over the pandemic and the future has to some degree blunted writing. But we are coming towards some kind of balance now (I refuse to call it a return to ‘normality’). The virus is diminishing in the UK, but has not gone, and will be around with us for a very long time. The country seems to be coming to terms somewhat, a breathing space, there's more movement, shops are reopening…. but I remain resolutely cautious.

As lockdown conditions are eased, story ideas are taking shape, the creaking cogs of my creative mind are slowly moving again, oiled by the hope of an end to all this…. oh hang on, what’s that you say? Brexi… oh fffff….fumble!!

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