The Mother Goose Treasury - by Raymond Briggs

I picked up this wonderful vintage children's book a few weeks ago at a local garage sale, and it's gone straight to the top as one of my favourite childrens illustration books!  It's a bit old and worn, but the pages are clean and undamaged and feature the most fabulous illustrations by British illustrator Raymond Briggs
The Mother Goose Treasury (first published in 1966, with my version published in 1973) is packed full of children's nursery rhymes, accompanied by Raymond Briggs' whimsical and witty illustrations. 
There are some classic nursery rhymes such as The Grand Old Duke of York, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep etc - but there are also hundreds of ditty's and nursery rhymes I've never heard of - including some very strange ones. 
The lively illustrations are a mix of black and white sketches created with an ink pen by the look of it, and colourful painterly pieces, perhaps with watercolour? 

Raymond Briggs is probably most famous for his children's classic 'The Snowman'.  First published in 1978 it's a picture book without words, that was made into an animated film in 1982
The illustrations and the animation of The Snowman is fabulous, all hand-drawn with pastels and crayons without any digital or fancy effects, and whilst the film contains no words the music describes the scenes perfectly, and you almost don't notice there isn't any commentary. 

The story is about a young English boy who makes a snowman one Christmas Eve.  The snowman comes alive at midnight and the two share a delightful adventure before the snowman takes the boy on a magical trip to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus. 

If you have a spare 25 minutes it's worth watching The Snowman on You Tube for the animation, and also a beautiful video to watch with children - it so reminds me of my childhood as this was played every Christmas.  Just seeing the snow and the excitment of the little boy takes me back to snowy winters in England a very long time ago! 

Watercolour teacup illustrations

A few weeks ago I posted about some teacup artwork I had been comissioned to work on.  I'd been asked to create a watercolour piece for a 40th birthday gift, featuring some of the recipients vintage teacups and saucers handed down from her Grandmother.  It's been a really lovely project to work on, and very special that it was a for a significant birthday gift as well as the really personal element with the family heirloom china. 
After selecting the chinaware to use and placing it into a suitable arrangement, I started the illustration by sketching out the individual pieces directly onto Arches Smooth 185gsm Watercolour paper.  I then initially applied light washes of grey hues to the teacups, gradually building up the layers to create the shape, form and shadows of each teacup.
Once the shading was completed I started to paint the gold rims of each cup, followed by the detail of each cups pattern over the top of the grey shadows.  Again this was done with washes of colour, starting quite lightly and free and gradually building up to the finer details and intricate patterns.   
This is the finished illustration featuring four teacups and two saucers.  I was really pleased with the artwork, and despite being a little intimidated about painting a piece to be a framed picture and not being able to correct any mistakes on the computer, I thought it turned out quite well!