Occasionally I get a commission that makes me look up from my drawing board and think about the real world. Through dialogue, Penal Reform International advocates justice reform in diverse countries around the world. I was recently asked by PRI to illustrate three covers for reports on children in detention centres, state-run care homes and police stations in Central Asia (although this is a worldwide issue): Voices of the Child is about shining light into these dark places; to raise awareness of and address the rights and conditions of young people. I was also made aware that other cultures are sensitive to these issues.
It was the use of light and shadow in my work, something that has always been important to me, that prompted the commission. But I did I wonder if they had the right illustrator; I started out working for editorial magazines but have largely illustrated children’s books for the past thirty years. I imagined how well Ralph Steadman or Brad Holland would handle the job, and took a deep breath.
It’s more difficult to give potency to interiors than landscapes, I find, and prison buildings are, intentionally, quite dull places; there are a lot of straight lines and blank facades. Watercolour will readily create atmosphere but here I think the now unfashionable use of drawn perspective was important to draw the viewer into these bleak, anonymous surroundings; to shine a light on the issues.
Bee Willey’s illustration for Macbeth opens our celebration of all things All Hallows’ Eve.
Check out my Pumpkin fairy and others, part of a growing family!
May your Halloween bee full of wintry sparkles!
Monsters are hiding everywhere, as the little hamsters Mini, Paul and Max find out in their adventure "Hamster Monster", just published by North/South in Zürich, Switzerland. Three little hamsters are tired of being called cute and sweet - so they decide to be scary, but they get a reaction, which they don't expect...
"The Conference of Scary Ghosts" a cover for a Young Fiction title, published by Arena, Würzburg, Germany, written by Amina Paul. A child is sent to spend the holidays at his uncle's house, a castle, where not everything is what it seems.
Here's a raven I drew for the RSPB's 'Wingbeat' Magazine, which illustrated an article concerning why we associate certain human characteristics with particular animals and birds.
And here are two spooky characters I drew for a book pitch a few years ago, or is it three characters I can spot?
This is an illustration of The Black Skull from a young fiction story I am currently developing - 'The Mysteries of the Magic Map'.
Algy Craig Hall
A while ago I had an idea for a story about a group of witches that gather together every fortnight to exchange spells and broth recipes, learn new witch-crafts and have topical conversations about all things related to being a witch. The group was going to be called the Witch's Institute or W.I. for short.
One of the Witch's laws was going to be that if you did too much dark magic, bits would start to drop off. So if you ever see a witch with a carrot for a nose - be wary!
This is literally hot off the drawing board, work in progress for Little Tiger Press, an extension to the Gift Book range that I illustrated for them a few years ago, this will be book number 7 in the range, "Thank You Teacher."
I love drawing kids all dressed up for any occasion, especially Halloween, and no matter witch sort of Halloween you have I hope it's FANGTASTIC!
Here in Germany Halloween has become more and more popular. I drew these pictures for myself and my son, Anton. When Anton was small the pictures had to be mostly funny because he was afraid if they were too dark and mean.
I did the last illustration a few weeks ago; I read quite a scary story but I kept in mind that although the children were afraid they were also fascinated by what they would see when they walked further on.
The next night came: Hallowe'en. Most people stayed safe inside their houses with their doors tightly locked. But not Janna.
When all her household was fast asleep, out she crept again, into the darkness. She followed the path the cold moon showed her, a silver path that led straight back into the enchanted forest.
From 'The Enchanted Forest' by Rosalind Kerven
Lemony Snicket’s ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ is about three orphans who are placed in the custody of their distant cousin, Count Olaf, who will stop at nothing to steal their inheritance. This was a personal project.
The Milo Adventure cover is about an Angry Druid who rises from the grave! This cover was commissioned by O’Brien Press.
Hansel and Gretel at Halloween!
This is one of two images I made to accompany the chapter entitled 'Abandoned Children', in 'The Golden Age of Fairy Tales', by Jack Zipes published in 2013. The numerous old stories on this theme are truly gruesome but at least in this one the children triumph! Although the other image was published, I think Gretel despatching the witch to cook in her own oven has more of a Halloween feel to it!
Illustrator James de la Rue has a friend who wants to join in the fun!
And Jane Eccles is, well... a bit batty!
Wishing you a fun and spooky Halloween, and more than a few treats, from everyone at Frances McKay Illustration.
Lilly was dressing up warm. It was the first day of the Christmas Holiday and Jack Frost had been about. He had left no footprints on the new carpet of snow that covered the ground. But each window pane had frosted to his touch, and the wind seemed keen to rush indoors; you can always tell when Jack Frost has been about.
This is from a picture book idea I've been playing with, called Tickle the Moon. It's about a girl and her cat who are on a mission to cheer up the moon who is all lonely in the night sky. I'm still playing with the story and characters but I do feel that there's a decent picture book lurking in there somewhere. This illustration is largely pen and ink with water colour, but there's also a bit of gouache in there give the colour a bit more body. It's painted on heavy grade water colour paper and has managed not to buckle, however I'm regretting not having used my usual water colour board as I reckon the finer details would have benefited from a smoother surface; anyhow I'll remember that for next time!
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Featured in the beautiful Ballad Of blog. Many thanks Lindsey & Claire!