Established independent publisher Pavilion Books is growing its picturebook list this autumn and I am delighted to be part of a blog tour to highlight some of their titles and to welcome Rosie Wellesley to Library Mice. Rosie leads a triple life as illustrator, author and doctor. She was born in London but grew up in Morocco, Pakistan and the west country She trained in Drawing at L’École des Beaux Arts (Aix en Provence), Ruskin School of Fine Art in Oxford and the Royal Drawing School in London. She loves drawing anywhere and anything – both from life and the imagination. She enjoys illustrating both for her own stories, and those of other authors. You can follow here on Twitter: @RosieWellesley.
Rosie’s latest book is Wide-Awake Hedgehog, which is the story of gorgeous little hedgehog Isaac, which readers might have already met in The Very Helpful Hedgehog (Pavilion), who is supposed to be preparing for hibernation but is just not sleepy! Refusing to heed to the swallows’ warnings, he goes out to play, but the only playmate he can find is an invisible one, the wind! Bursting with seasonal colours, this is a lovely story of how seasons affect flora and fauna and a lovely story to cosy up to as the evenings begin to draw in.
Pavilion Picturebook Blog:
One of the great things about being an author-illustrator is I will only write things I want to draw. Wide-awake Hedgehog was particularly fun because I had to spend a lot of time thinking about the wind and how to represent it. How can you draw something that is invisible? I loved seeing how other artists had tackled this through the ages – from the classic Victorian puffed-cheek wind, to Alexis Deacon’s North Wind in the beautiful Selfish Giant.
I decided to keep the representation light, with only a few wisps of chalk, and focus mainly on Wind’s effect on Isaac’s spines and the leaves.
I work entirely by hand and I love the immediacy of it. For Isaac’s adventures I use pencil and watercolour washes, with coloured pencils to enrich it. This means my long suffering publishers get submitted the drawings on paper, rather than digitally, which is probably quite rare these days.
Often when drawing, my ‘mistakes’ later become fortuitous. The key is knowing when to stop, but if it goes wrong I can always re-do it. It usually starts with a pencil drawing, often from life. Below was the beginning of what became the back cover.
Once I have established the style of the characters and the setting, some pages are done really quickly. Others will take me weeks, re-doing the whole thing several times.
Sometimes if I get stuck on a drawing I change the story. I think there is usually a good reason why it isn’t working! At other times the story will change because I have just been having fun playing around with the characters in my sketchbook.
My sketchbooks get very messy. (Actually, everything gets messy, I am not very tidy with my materials!). When I need some fresh thinking I often pull old sketchbooks off the bookshelf and find characters I had forgotten about, doing strange things.
When the final drawings are done I hang them on my washing line in my kitchen. Sometimes when I am doing something unrelated (like scrubbing the floor after my toddler’s supper) I will catch a picture out of the corner of my eye and suddenly know what needs to change. Then I will scribble notes on the paper to myself for when I have a chance to get back to drawing and painting. It’s one of the reasons why I always have a pencil in my hair!
When I have completed all the pages for a book I lay them out on the floor and read through them, watching the flow of the colour, pacing and images. It’s one of my favourite moments of making a book – finally seeing how it will all hold together.
Thank you so much Rosie for the insight into your work.
Wide-Awake Hedgehog is published by Pavilion and is out now. You can purchase a copy here.