Thursday, 26 December 2013

Big Dinner...and Tea 4 Two!

I've never been any good at pot washing (just ask my hubbie!) so had a go at pot painting instead...it's much more fun!

For a big dinner...


....and Tea 4 Two!


Sunday, 1 December 2013

The true artists...Children!

Photograph with kind permission from 'Action for Children' 


Chidren's artwork never ceases to amaze and overwhelm me. These little artists are so inventive, incredibly creative and always thinking outside the box. You never hear a young child say "Oh I can't draw' on the contrary, drawing and creating is normally as much a part of a young childs daily life, as sleeping and eating. If you ask a young child to draw any widely known animal or object, there seems to be no limits or constraints on what they feel confident in drawing, no cries of " Oh I'm not very good at drawing people" or "I can't possibly draw a giraffe". They have the amazing ability to imagine, picture and draw with immediacy, their own view and interpretation of the subject matter, without a need of visual reference, but instead with a sense of freedom and unique expression. 

During Book Week I visited a school and spent time in every class from Reception - Year 6. It was a lovely day and the children were fantastic, asking such great questions. As it was Book Week I started off in each class by asking 'who thinks they would like to create a book one day?' in the reception, year 1 & 2 classes I think nearly every childs hand shot up in the air, but sadly as the age group of the children got older in the following classes, the fewer the hands appeared. Until in year 6 only a small handful of hands went up, we'd somehow lost them! So what happens to us when we're growing up, why and how do a lot of us lose this natural sense and need to create. Teaching is a lot more creative than when I was at school, which is so lovely to see, so is it simply as with anything where the pressures of time constricts, that we simply get out of the practice and lose our confidence in creating. Or is it that we become too self aware and creatively inhibited, or does creativity somehow become undervalued and takes a back seat? Who knows, but whatever it is, it's a shame and I for one wish I could regain that sense of artistic confidence and freedom you have as a young child.


With that in mind, this is why projects such as the collaboration between 'Action for Children' and 'Seven Stories' is so wonderful to see. The images you see here are all taken from a fantastic exhibition at Seven Stories earlier this year to celebrate 'Caring Sharing Gentle Words' where children along with their families and carers, created wonderful artwork during workshops across the UK. The art was inspired through storytelling of a small selection of picture books, which raised different subjects to be explored. It is a project that expresses the bonding between children, parents and carers when incorporating books into a daily routine and the creativity that is explored through this. If you haven't already visited Seven Stories I can highly recommend it, it is the most magical place for a child and will bring out the child in any adult! www.sevenstories.org.uk



Sunday, 6 October 2013

Double scoop of loveliness with spinkles on the top


It's been a very good week with some great news from the States. The results for the 2013 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards were announced and two of my books have been lucky enough to win awards. The first for 'NEVER EVER' which was awarded a Gold for Preschool Picture Books and 'RABBITYNESS' has won a bronze for Best Illustrator, so I was completely over the moon with the news (excuse the pun).

I'm also 'thrilled' to say that 'NEVER EVER' is amongst UKLA longlist. I'm so VERY happy to be sat amongst fellow Cambridge arty types Marta Alt├ęs Illustration, Courtney Dicmas Illustration, Birgitta Sif Illustration, Alexis Deacon and many of my very favourite illustrators. It's a wonderful award which is judged entirely by teachers. Congrats to all! http://ukla.org/awards/longlists_ukla_book_award_2014


As an extra topping to my lovely week, I went to the booklaunch of two fantastic books; 'The Crocodile who didn't like Water' and 'The Hundred Decker Bus', both written and illustrated by fellow Ex-Cambridge students and winners of the Macmillan Prize - Gemma Merino and Mike Smith.

Then the sprinkles on the top came yesterday, when I went to the Bath Literature Festival and saw the wonderful Clara Vulliamy & James Mayhew, Chloe & Mick Inkpen and a truly inspiring talk by Sally Gardner & David Almond.



Thursday, 26 September 2013

Not to be missed!...

Two great talents = Two great new books in one big fat double decker launch, not to be missed...


Thursday, 19 September 2013

'The Next Big Thing' - blog tour of children's books

I've been tagged by the very talented Hannah Cumming to take part in 'The Next Big Thing' - blog tour of children's books, which began in Australia. You can see Hannah's post here


Soooo...in line with all the other authors I will be answering a few questions about my latest book 'NEVER EVER'.





Where did the idea for this book come from?
The idea for the book came partially as a memory of being a child who loved exciting adventure stories, I was sometimes disappointed that real life in a small town in Hampshire didn't quite match my imaginary expectations of what might be around the next corner...apart from chalk-pits! One of the great things about creating books, is being able to bring your imagination to life.




What genre does your book fall under?
A Picture Book with a message.




Which actors would star in a move rendition of your book?
I think it would just have to be Queenie (Miranda Richardson) in character from Blackadder. Even just her voice as a voice-over in an animation or puppet theatre version would be perfect. 


















What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
There are times in life when it is easy to think nothing exciting ever happens to us, but if we just open our eyes we will see all the wondrous things all around us.

Who published your book?
Child’s Play.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I had the idea for the book for a while and then decided to pursue it as my final MA Illustration project, whilst studying at Cambridge School of Art. I spent quite a bit of time sketching the movements of gorillas, lions etc. Then locked myself in my studio for the whole of Christmas and New Year until I had produced a colour dummy book that I was happy with, which I submitted as part of my final project. After the MA show Childs Play signed the book up and I worked with them for the next few months to produce the final, finished version.




What other books would you compare this story to within your own genre?
That's a tricky question, as it would be comparing to one of the 'great' children's books, but I think perhaps Pat Hutchins wonderful 'Rosie's Walk' as it also displays a journey where the main character is oblivious to the antics of the fox going on behind her. 
 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Me as a child, wishing life could be as exciting as books such as 'James and the Giant Peach' and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and also a wish that animal characters really could come to life, as in the film 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'!

Still from Bedknobs and Broomsticks

What else about this book might pique the reader’s interest?
It has a very 'dark' page and an enormous pull-out page. I also have a challenge...see how quickly you can read Never, Ever, Ever, Evereverevereverevereverevereverevereverevereverever...when you read the book out loud!

And what is next after The Next Big Thing?
I am working on a number of new book ideas, all hush, hush at the mo, but watch this space!

The next Author to be tagged in 'The Next Big Thing' post is the super talented Gemma Merino who is going to talk about her wonderful debut picture book, so keep a look out for Gemma's post here gemmamerino.blogspot.co.uk



Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Kirkus Star and a Book Sniffer's badge...what more could a girl want?!

Puppet made by my super clever friend Liza Stevens
My Never Ever girl character has been very lucky this month, she has a lovely Book Sniffer's badge, which she wears with pride and has just been given a Kirkus Star along with this lovely review below. Never Ever is launching in the States on 1st Sept. She may not appear so in this photo, but I can assure you she is VERY happy!

 

KIRKUS STAR REVIEW

Who says closing your eyes hinders adventure?
“Nothing exciting ever happens to me! Never, ever! Humph,” grumbles a girl with coiled-spring red legs and scribbly-straight ginger hair. Holding her floppy stuffed rabbit, she closes her eyes and sets off on a stroll. They pass an orchard of innocent pigs, one of which sprouts wings and follows, aloft. In a field of wind-bent reeds, a purple gorilla stands; from a mass of shining yellow flowers, up pops a lion. The girl’s eyes stay resolutely closed, even when the lion’s gusting roar blows her hair and dress like a stiff breeze. “[N]ever, ever, ever, evereverevereverevereverever,” she repeats, as animals emerge from the abstract, ever-changing landscape. Gorgeous secondary and tertiary colors, often watery and splashing, make a vibrant mix of saturation and pallor. Motion-filled lines create energy. Surprise and hilarity escalate, all rising from the girl’s closed eyes, but is she really entirely ignorant? Perhaps not: The gorilla inquires “Ever?” and she answers; plus, her eyes do open at a certain critical point, yet afterward, even as she cleans grime off her bunny, she insists, “See? Told you! Nothing exciting EVER happens to me!” Her eyes-shut expression holds subtle amusement and defiance; this girl may know more than she admits.
Eye-catching pictures and splendid forward momentum add up to a giggle-inducing tale with subtlety underneath. (Picture book. 3-6)

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jo-empson/never-ever/

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Dot to Dot...

Thrilled to be Rhapsode's Dot to Dot artist in resident during the month of June in celebration of the Letchworth Festival. 
Exhibition will be running until June 30th at Dot to Dot Gallery.



Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wychwood Festival

Here are the GIANT rainmakers made by children at the Wychwood Festival in true Rabbityness style on a lovely hot sunny day
...and a small 'beautiful' one made by Bella too!



Here are the ingredients that made it such a special festival day (apart from the appearance of the sun) ... 
Good friends came along to help...


 Big and little people sat and listened...


 ...beautiful pattens and colours were created...


..and big music was made...


...all from a small box of gifts!

Thank you Waterstones and Wychwood Festival for inviting us along and a BIG thank you to Brad and Liza for all your help:)! x

Saturday, 11 May 2013

A box arrived with a VERY special present...

I arrived home last night feeling very tired and under the weather with a bug, only to find a large box awaiting me. Oooooo what could it be?...I had no idea! I ripped the box open like a child at Christmas, inside to my utter delight and surprise was the most beautiful, precious present EVER...my 'NEVER EVER' character brought to life! This beautiful puppet has been made by my super, clever, talented friend Liza Stevens and will accompany me at every 'Never Ever' book event from now on! 

She has managed to capture the character perfectly, from her attitude, wild red hair loosely held together with bows, the detail of her dress, down to her springy legs! Her rabbit companion is also completely perfect, Liza went to great lengths to find the 'exact' shade of material, which unfortunately for Brad turned out to be his cardigan...thank you Brad I shall be forever indebted to your wardrobe! All I need now is a flying pig, purple gorilla, lion, turtle and dragon!:) More of Liza's wonderous work can be seen on her website http://lizastevens.wordpress.com/. A VERY special present from a VERY SPECIAL friend! 

'Never Ever' character made by Liza Stevens lizastevens.wordpress.com

Detail of characters springy legs
Detail on dress







Sunday, 28 April 2013

Waterstones tour of colour and music



This month has been filled with much creative activity. I've visited a number of Waterstones stores where children and rabbits have filled the bookshops with colour and music. 

Here are a few pics from the tour so far...
 In Salisbury we made the grey woods colourful again...


...made musical instruments out of junk...

In Cirencester we got spotty and made rainmakers...

...I did a my first blog interview...

In Gloucester we made rainmakers and did boisterous designs...
 ...musical designs...

...and beautiful feathered designs
 
 In Cheltenham we made even MORE rainmakers...
...and even the adults made them too!:)
 


...and at the Wychwood Festival we're going to be making a GIANT
RAINMAKER so apologies if it rains!