31 December, 2008

Happy New Year!

No greetings card from my part this year, but a sample from a commission I only just finished; a pop-up book called Vikings. So, I didn't have the time to make a proper card. But nevertheless I wish everybody a very happy 2009.

23 December, 2008

Carol singers

Hi everyone
I have not taken part in this years blog but really enjoy seeing everyones wonderful,varied work!
Have a great Christmas and a fab 2009

20 December, 2008

Another Card for Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone, try not to work too hard!

15 December, 2008

Advent Pirates

I do an advent picture on one of my blogs, here is day 15.  Every day more goes on the picture.  All of this is planned well in advance of it being needed.  Wish I had done that with the rest of Christmas, cant do anything yet as I have too much work on and am not allowed away from my desk...bah humbug.

04 December, 2008

My Xmas Card For 2008

I decided to use watercolour this year for my card for family and friends. My wife complained that her dress was a bit skimpy for the conditions. But I insisted that fairies don't feel the cold like us humans. I may end up having to paint in a turtle neck jumper on her as the wife is normally right;¬)

25 November, 2008

It's that time again...

...and here is my personal card. As you can see, the theme is as usual a Cornish village in an unlikely covering of snow. In the foreground is a rather Barbara Hepworth-ish sculpture garden, inspired by my visit to St Ives this year. This is my ideal garden and given the chance I would have brought it home with me.
You can see hubby and I walking the hound and son and his fiancee admiring the tree.
I have had to farm the printing of these out this year, due to a regrettable breakdown of the steam printing machine tethered to the computer.

05 November, 2008

Gone Fire Night

Well it's the 5th of November and the Thief of November has struck again. I half expected him to. Some guy's sneaked into my garden in the dead of night and had it away with my bonfire. I'd built it up all nice an' that, ready for tonight but it's gone and this is the third year in a row it's happened.

I haven't even got any fireworks because I'd planned to surreptitiously watch next door's display from behind my rhododendron with my daughter. All I've got is three jacket potatoes and two of those are on the turn, which means I'll be ok but Elodie and her mum are bound to whinge about theirs.

So I've thought things through carefully and next year I've decided to have the last laugh by drenching my bonfire wood with water, rendering it unlightable.

Stay safe and follow the firework code, kids.

23 October, 2008

Korea Move

My little nephew will be taking a couple of days break from being naughty round his own house next week to come and be naughty round mine. Elliot takes a little too much pleasure in playing tricks and winding me up and with Elodie's help he always gets the better of me. He's six years old, he's brighter than me (top of his class at reading and writing etc) and it'll take all my cunning and guile to avenge myself in a chess-like tactical battle of wits from which there can be only one winner.

Anyway, my chums at b small publishing kindly sent me Korean versions of four Science Around You books through the post today. I illustrated these books last year for them and although my Korean's a bit rusty, I reckon Elliot probably hasn't even seen the Korean alphabet before.

So when he's round I'm going to ask how he's getting on at school, to which he'll tell me he's top of his class. I'll then give him one of the Korean Science Around You books to look at and when he tells me he can't read it because the writing's 'funny', I'm going to convince him he's dyslexic!

Check...and mate.

20 October, 2008

Frankfurter Buchmesse 2008

In previous years I have been tempted to try the 'pair of sausages - Frankfurter style' for lunch. They aren't good. This year I ate sandwiches instead and thought I'd make use of the "Illustration Machine" to illustrate quite how unappealling the sausages are. This is the machine's interpretation of my request - not exactly representative of boiled sausages, dry bread roll and blob of mustard.

Fortunately nicer food was to be had in the evenings and the Fair was as expected a good chance to meet customers and promote our services to publishers.

You'll be pleased to hear that most of the publishers I spoke to were sounding positive in spite of the tough economic times we are told are imminent... Fingers crossed then!

07 October, 2008

Name Drops Keep Falling On My Head

When I was five Tom Baker was Doctor Who on the telly and he was my hero. His companion was Sarah and she was played by Elisabeth Sladen and she was my first crush. I loved Sarah and although my adoration was deep and true, I was pleased it was her facing monsters every Saturday teatime instead of me.

But Sarah left the series and I grew up (sort of) and my feelings remained hidden until 1992 when the twenty one year old me found out Elisabeth Sladen would be doing an autograph signing session in London. So the portrait above is one of two exact portraits I did of her (taken from a photo in the second Doctor Who Monster Book, fact fans). I kept one which she signed and I gave her the other and she was lovely about it. She accepted the drawing, put her arm round me and kissed me on the cheek in front of a load of other Doctor Who anoraks. And in that moment I was five years old again.

Now, quite rightly, Elisabeth's back on telly and fighting the monsters once more in the brilliant Sarah Jane Adventures and, quite rightly, my little girl's a fan too. Our Sarah Jane x.

26 September, 2008

Making an exhibitor of myself!

Some of you may remember the little wood engraving print I made of our Jack Russell Charlie last year...well, I submitted a print of him to the Society of Wood Engravers Annual Exhibition and he got selected!

So this Tuesday saw hubby and I down at the Bankside Gallery in London, attending the Private View. We had a thoroughly enjoyable time, speaking to fellow engravers whose work I have admired for a long time. The buzz of seeing my print hung in such distinguished company was priceless.

The exhibition travels around the UK over the next few months, so if anybody has the urge to go and see a collection of amazing craftsmanship and artistry, go and feast your eyes.

Exhibition venues

Bankside Gallery, London 23.09.2008–05.10.2008

Bristol, City Museum and Art Gallery 11.10.2008–14.12.2008

Newcastle on Tyne, Northern Print 16.01.2008–21.03.2009

Art Jericho, 6 King Street, Jericho, Oxford 22.05.2008–27.06.2009

24 September, 2008

Well Since Mah Baby Sketched Me...

You mustn't assume from the title of this post that Elvis was my father because he wasn't. And you mustn't assume that I was his baby in any other sense of the word either.
This is a large charcoal drawing (so technically not a sketch as the above title suggests) of him condensed down to a handy blog sized chunk and if you saw the recent Leonard Cohen post from August then you'd know how much I like to get on my easel in breaks from the rain which provide short breaks from book illustration. So this drawing was done as a distraction.

22 September, 2008

ZooLoo Dawn

And this, naturally, is the less successful sequel post to the original ZooLoo.

18 September, 2008


I had tea and crepes at the Savoy with Jet from Gladiators in 2005 where I happened to nick a silver serving fork and a bottle of vinegar. I secreted the items about my person and forgot about them for months.
And you should also know that by keeping my wits about me I'm proud to say I've only ever been locked in a public toilet six times in my life. I'm not counting an incident in the urinals opposite Rochester Adult Education Centre as the cleaning staff have won awards for their work and my incarceration was voluntary.
In Feb. 2006 I happened to be sketching the animals at Howletts Wild Animal Park. I remember it well because the weather was unseasonably chilly and unusually dark and windy. As you know, the cold can play havoc with a weak bladder and I addressed the situation in one of their dank cubicles. I couldn't shut the cubilce door because the hinges had rusted up on it rendering it beyond my strength to close. However, nature is an even bigger mother than I am and the wind slammed the door shut as I was mid-flow. Startled, I jumped and made a right mess.
The force of the slamming door completely jammed the iffy lock and I had no visible means of escape. Panic began to set in. Cubicle doors don't go all the way down to the floor for some reason and I might have considered slipping through the gap underneath but was put off by the thought of clambering about in what was once the contents of my bladder. I'm many things my friends, but I'm not uncouth.
So I stopped, took a deep breath and asked myself, "What would Jet do?" Well she'd probably kick the door down but what else might she do?
Of course! The vinegar and silver serving fork! Still hidden away in my coat pockets was the former property of the Savoy. I emptied the vinegar over the hinges and it dissolved the rust. With the fork I unscrewed the hinges from the door. The door fell from it's frame and I made good my escape.
And I did a bit of drawing too, see above.

01 September, 2008

Jack And The Beanstalk

Here's another of the Jof the B illo's. Deadline's fast approaching!

26 August, 2008

Farm Poster

This is my latest piece of work. If you want to see a full description of what went into it, please see my blog:¬)

07 August, 2008

Well my friends have gone and my hair is grey...

...and I ache in the places where I used to play so that's why, every opportunity I get, I'm on my patio (excuse the mess) with charcoal and an easel. This drawing is of Leonard Cohen and I'm doing it for my little brother who's a big fan of his. It's far from finished and I'm leaving his lips 'til last as I find lips a bit fiddly but I'm taking my time anyway and maybe spend only 20/30 minutes on it a day. Providing it's not raining.

I don't know about you lot but taking a break from the desk and taking to the easel is something I look forward to a lot. When them deadlines are a looming and things are getting pressured and when the going gets tough, the tough sketch Cohen.

Did you see what I did there? Ahhh, you'll come for the drawings but you'll stay for the weak puns.

10 July, 2008

Current Projects

I had an email from a design studio I worked with on my last commissiom. They said the author didn't make clear what he wanted when he asked for a shellfish as a thumbnail image. I had photographed my crab from a different angle to the main illustration but they really wanted a Scallop or something similar. So I created one in plasticine. I modelled the basic shape in white, then put some pink clay through a pasta machine and layered this on top. I then cut away strips of clay with a scalpel and incised grooves into the surface to blend it together. It's only going to appear as a small image so the detail should be sufficient.

Below the scallop shell is an image of three armatures for the current commission. They are for the hen, duck and horse. Below that are the animals at various stages of development. The horse and duck are semi-roughed out. I modelled the hen's body but decided I would need more detail for the head. So I did that separately and added it to the body in Photoshop! Shown at the bottom of this post.

03 July, 2008

Money, money, money.....

From 1988 until 2004 I was the "court-illustrator" of a small fantasy family-themeparc, called "het Land van Ooit". In English one would translate this as "the Country (Land) of Ever". This theme-parc presented itself as a country where "children are in charge". It was inhabited by all kinds of fantasy characters like the forest-elf "Sap the Earthroot", a talking horse called "Kos with the Moustache" (who in fact was an enormous Shire-stud), giants with trees growing out of their heads and a variety of knights, sorcerers and vagabonds.
This country was ruled by the Governor, because the heirs of this country - the Count and Countess - were bewitched into black and white swans, which can still be seen in its Coat of Arms. Visitors could only cross its border by first learning its very special greeting-ceremony and by buying a so-called visa.

One of the more rewarding projects I did quite some years ago - at the end of 1989 to be precise - was designing its own currency: the "OoitSenten", which could be purchased at "the Bank of Ooit".
I'm proud to say, that these banknotes were printed by the printing-house, where also the dutch national banknotes and passports were (and are) printed: The Royal Joh. Enschedé in Haarlem , founded in 1703, one of the ten oldest family-businesshouses of the Netherlands.
That's why the OoitSenten look so beautiful (at least in my opinion) with their special iris-print; the gradual change in colour in each note.

26 June, 2008

19 June, 2008

Beanstalk Model

This is what I've 'bean' working on. Although I haven't had approval for the roughs yet, I thought I'd get some of the main 'props' done. I have just cut the model out from its background using Photoshop. I will await the go ahead from the Editor before I create the watercolour matte. Believe it or not the actual model is 2 1/2 foot tall. It is based on an armature made of garden wire and covered in papier mache. This was originally already a beanstalk I made for an illustration over 5 years ago. But then I stripped and cut it down to make a tree for the dog illustration below.

I stripped the bark off and reconnected all the bits of wire framework and built the whole thing up in green plasticine. It was like creating Celtic knotwork which is more like maths to me than art. Having said that, at times I quite enjoyed creating the sculptural form.

15 June, 2008

Jack And The Beanstalk Rough Roughs

Here are a couple of roughs from my current brief. The size and shape of the images have made it interesting trying to get scale and perspective to look right. In the images with the giant coming down the beanstalk, version 1 is closest to the brief, but they wanted 'mum' and the 'hen' to be shown looking on anxiously. I created a version 2 because I thought the main action was at the botom of the stalk! I didn't go overboard in terms of quality of the sketchwork but I did try to give a reasonably accurate idea of how I intend to compose the images. I am going to create the main characters in clay and render the backgrounds in watercolour.

04 June, 2008

Aesop's Fables

Hi there, i'm working on a series of acrylic paintings of the Aesop's Fables. Here are a couple that are not so well known: The Bull and the Gnat and The Dove and the Ant. I really like the size difference between the two animals in each story. The ant is a bit tricky to see as the photo is a little too dark - he's there in the water - don't worry there's a happy ending, the dove saves him!

27 May, 2008

When you think of Gargoyles...

...think of me! Hello fans, Leighton Noyes here and this is one of my preliminary character roughs for a new Random House book series called Gargoylz. I snagged this job last week and I'll be starting work on it as soon as the books are written.

Random House wanted lots of loose lines to bring each character to life so I loaded up my dippy pen with ink and got some quick, juicy marks down on the paper.

Further revisions are still needed (very common for me this) with regards to clothes and stuff but I'm nearly there.

And where I say 'Hello fans' above, that's supposed to be read with an appropriate degree of irony. Just thought I'd better clear that up right now. Although my mum thinks I'm brilliant! Thanks mum xx

15 May, 2008

These are the last of the illustrations for my latest brief. The starfish was a bit of an epic, having to attach dozens if not hundreds of legs and spines, many of which decided to fall off mid camera shoot.

08 May, 2008

Orphan Works

It's a bit dry and there are no pictures but I believe this issue is relevant to all of us:

The subject of 'Orphan Works' is currently causing a stir in the USA with proposed legislation called the 'Orphan Works Bill'.

It basically proposes that if someone cannot identify the creator of an image following a basic search, then they can call the image an 'Orphan Work' and use it however they want without having to obtain permission and regardless of who owns the copyright.

Though this is proposed US legislation, it could affect all international artists as it could be your images that are described and used as 'Orphan Works' in this way.

The Illustrators' Partnership based in North America is leading the campaigning against this bill and is asking people to write in now and express their concerns with a pro-forma letter they have supplied:

"For international artists and our colleagues overseas, we’ve provided a special link, with a sample letter and instructions as to whom to write."


07 May, 2008

The King and I

When Elvis died in 1977 I wasn't able to attend his funeral because,

a, I didn't know him and

b, I was only 6.

So what's old Leighton's connection to Elvis? Well, apart from the spectacular burners that streak down the sides of our faces, we're both beautiful and can sing the birds down from the trees with our deep, honey-toned drawl. Admittedly Elvis was more successful with his singing career than me but how many books did he illustrate? Eh?

Thank you. Thank you very much. You're a beautiful audience ladies and gentlemen.

Leighton has left the blog.

11 April, 2008

Association of Illustrators Questionnaire

The AOI has asked if we could make our illustrators aware of a survey they are running about the illustration market place (and also about some of the AOI's services).

You don't have to be an AOI member to fill in the questionnaire and it is anonymous so you may wish to contribute and help them exceed the 250 responses they received in 2004.

The responses they receive are used to compile statistics to help them when lobbying on behalf of the Illustration industry...

"The Association of Illustrators is currently engaged in an important industry wide information gathering exercise that relates to all illustrators, the commercial practices of commissioners and supply of statistical information to influence Government and various lobbying groups etc. Deadline is Monday 21 April.

It would be very much appreciated if you could take 6-7 minutes out to fill in the on-line questionnaire below. Just click on the link."


07 April, 2008

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2008

Back from another successful visit to the Bologna Children's Book Fair catching up with existing customers and seeking out potential new ones.

This was our 5th consecutive year visiting Bologna and as it is focussed on Children's Books, it is definitely the best Fair for us to present our portfolio to a wide selection of British and International publishers...

...and the food is much better than at Frankfurt too!

20 March, 2008

Again something historical.....

.......but now slightly different.
This is one from a series of four illustrations which I did for - and to be used in - an archeological exhibition in the town-museum of the city of Vlaardingen (near Rotterdam). The pictures tell the story of one of the earliest counts of Holland in his struggle for independance from the German emperor in the battle of Vlaardingen in AD 1018. In this battle the poorly armed Frisians (as they were called) defeated the mighty German army, which could hardly manoeuvre on the - at that time - inaccessible, swampy terrain of the dutch delta, full of water-courses, dikes, swamps, puddles and ditches. As a result almost all soldiers were killed by the dutch or drowned, while withdrawing in panic. the Duke of Lorraine was captured and served as a hostage in the negotiations with the Emperor. Ultimately this event led to the rise of the powerfull county of Holland.
Because image-sources from that time are very rare, my client and I agreed to use a very rich informative and famous contemporary source from 1066: the Bayeux Tapestry; which I did with much pleasure, for it's fabulous!

18 March, 2008

New Work

Hi everyone, it's been really great seeing all the work up on the blog so I thought it was about time I had a go too. This is a painting inspired by a weekend at a cottage when I was a child, I usually work with gouache or watercolour but thought it would be nice to try some acrylics and have a go at painting on canvas.

11 March, 2008

New work computer?

Hi fellow GCI-ers, I'd like to pick the brains of the computer users amongst you.

I need to start looking for a new computer for my illustration work. My present one (Powermac 867 dual mirror door for the techies among you) is at least 5 years old and although chugging along still, I'd like to replace it before it expires.

Now my question is this: do I spend an awful lot of money on a new basic Mac Pro model which I know will do the job and last me another 5 years or so...or do I go for a much cheaper and more compact imac with 24" screen? The thing I worry about is the screen...is it up to professional standard colour correction for publication? I read on a forum that there are issues with some units having uneven screen illumination, which isn't good news.

Does anybody out there have any thoughts? (Apart from buy a Windows machine....not an option. ) All opinions welcomed and thanks.


17 February, 2008


These are some images from a commission I'm working on almost continuously now for the last 4 months and which I hope to finish at the end of February. It is/was great fun but at the same time it will be a relief when it's ready!