As a long-distance desk driver I have started to worry about my health. I sit hunched over my graphics tablet day in, day out. I try to get time out in the hills when I get a good dose of leg twiddling and airy lungs, but most days I'm working. My work schedule varies, and I am up and down looking after my elderly mum, but in the main, from waking 'til bedtime my tail end is firmly planted upon my chair.
So I worry and I read up about how my health will be affected...sooooo:
Sitting all day at my computer will apparently, slow my metabolism, which affects my body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. I have learned that I am more likely to die earlier from any cause if I sit for long stretches at a time. And it really makes no difference if I exercise every day or not... still sitting for long periods has a really bad effect on my health. I increase my risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all way markers on the road to dementia . And then there's the deep vein thrombosis, that can be serious if clots break free and lodge in my lung! That's not all! Staying seated puts huge stress on my back muscles, neck, and spine, especially if I slouch...which I do! Sitting all day will make me prone to varicose veins, (this just gets better and better). I'm more likely to get osteoporosis. I'm more likely to develope colon, endometrial, lung cancer or breast cancer. This doesn't change if I'm super-active. What matters is how much I sit. So I need to stop sitting all day, but I still need to work... what should I do?
I splashed out on a desk-riser and anti-fatigue mat to stand on. I think the health risks merit the expenditure.
I've had the set up for a week now and I'm really happy with it.
The desk-riser has a gas sprung mechanism so it takes no effort to lift my work station up and drop it down again. The only downside is that the sitting height is higher with the desk-riser, so I've had to build up my seat a little to compensate. But that's no bother.
I'm completely in love with the anti-fatigue mat. It's such a pleasure to kick off my shoes and sink my feet into the squidgy comfort. It reduces the pressure on your feet, knees, and lower back. So if you stand a lot at work... I heartily recommend this too.
So now I sit, stand, sit, stand... I'm up and down all day long! I even dance and work sometimes... you've gotta get up to get down! (embarrassing, eh?)
So, lovely people, whoever you are, take care of your health... get up off that chair, walk about every few minutes, do a dance, have a stretch, get the cleaning done, stand and stare at a tree. Don't squash your bot... shake it!
Here's a wee slide-show showing how I work my illustrations in Adobe Photoshop.
This illustration is from the book 'Grandma's Christmas Wish' written by Helen Foster James. I use Picasa as a mode to refer to my reference material. (Google have retired dear old Picasa, which is a real shame, it's a great tool to have. But luckily it still does what I need it to.) I vary my techniques from project to project, but this is more or less what I do. A few textures on layers and texture brushes. Heavily reliant upon line for detail... I've always felt happier drawing rather than painting. I tend to draw in detail and then 'colour in'.
I hope this slide-show is of interest to at least one person!
I am proud to introduce Big Bear and Little Bear. They appear in my new book 'When The Wind Blew'.
I illustrated and wrote this one, so it's all my fault if you don't like it... but you will, you will, I'm sure!
The story begins with a wild storm in the night. The two bears are safe in their den, but wake in the morning to find that the wind has blown down all the trees in their beloved forest! Big Bear helps Little Bear understand what has happened and how they will have to find a new home. When you are a little bear big life changes can be worrying and hard to deal with, but if you have a big bear who loves you, a bear who is positive and calm and kind, well... then obstacles can be overcome without too much anxiety. Life will move forward, and sometimes, with a little luck, life can become a little better.
I'm delighted to report that 'When the Wind Blew' will become available to buy 15th August 2017, to be published by Sleeping Bear Press.
You can pre-order on Amazon.
Hyde Park Squirrels is a series of books devised and written by Nick Croydon and illustrated by yours truly.
It's been such a joy illustrating these books. The story has allowed me to do what I love most... draw anthropomorphic characters having serious adventures, and the traditional vibe suits me down to the ground.
Nicholas Croydon has worked in the Publishing Industry for over 20 years mostly involved in international sales. It was during these long flights that the Hyde Park squirrels were penned.
'I sold many copies of "If Big Can... I Can" and have always admired Petra’s talent, so I was delighted when she chose to team up with me. The series is purposely nostalgic and traditional and I hope will appeal to children who can self-read and parents alike.'
The animal world of the Hyde Park Squirrels is certain to delight adults and children alike. These initial four titles in the series feature the exciting adventures of Luke and Holly Bushytail.
The story begins with Luke. We follow him as he leaves his cosy home in the country and travels to the city of London and then overseas to America. On the way he discovers new friends, and his long lost sister, Holly. Luke and Holly have many exciting adventures usually involving the beautiful and mischievous cat- Sofia and her gang of naughty rats.
'This series carries a lovely message that is certain to inspire confidence and adventure in any child. More simply, the series delivers four magnificently crafted adventures set against rich and detailed artwork, which is on occasion, gentle, warm and intimate, but that, with a page turn, can lead the reader to dramatic panoramas. They are sure to become read and re-read modern classics. A must have for every child’s bookshelf.'
Here are two little board books that I illustrated for 'Sleeping Bear Press'. I really do hope that there'll be more as I absolutely loved designing these two classic nursery songs. This blog post concerns a garden full of little creatures and a soggy spider...
Remember the old rhyme: Itsy Bitsy Spider climbed up the waterspout, or maybe you know it as Incy Wincy Spider, well, now it's one of 'Grandma's Nursery Rhymes' board books. You may not know about Grandma. She's rabbit in a straw hat. Here she is playing 'Old MacDonald' with all her farm friends:
I'll tell you about that book another time, but, back to to Itsy Bitsy the washed out spider.
In this book Grandma Bunny is doing a spot of gardening. Her garden is full of all sorts of lovely flowers and lots of little creatures. It's up to the reader to find one dragonfly, two worms, three grasshoppers, four ladybugs, five snails, six caterpillars, seven butterflies and eight bees.
The story plays out... Itsy climbs up the inside of the downspout of the greenhouse. The heavens open and the rain pours down, washing poor Itsy out into a puddle. But Grandma Bunny is there to help! She's not the squeamish sort, she loves all the little creatures (even when they eat holes in her sunflowers), she especially loves the dear little spider.
I found a rather lovely review...
5 out of 5 stars
A delightfully adorable board-book that will be an instant classic in this house
By Deb. HALL OF FAME - TOP 50 REVIEWER - VINE VOICE
Format: Board book
There's nothing quite like the unconditional love between a grandmother and grandchild. Mesh that with some old-fashioned nursery rhymes for the perfect opportunity for bonding. This is my first look at the "Grandma's Nursery Rhymes" series, but probably not the last. Not just anyone can combine a nursery rhyme with artwork to create an instant classic, but that's just what Petra Brown has done.
I've met that itsy bitsy spider many times before, once in the lap of my own grandmother and many times with small children. The rhyme is certainly a memorable one and once the tummy is tickled and the song sung, it's never forgotten. "The itsy bitsy spider / climbed up the waterspout. / Down came the rain. / and washed the spider out." Some memories never die and this delightfully charming board-book will create them for yet another generation.
I loved the Beatrice Potter-like bunny who just happens to meet that itsy bitsy spider in her garden. The spider is utterly adorable with his yellow and black stockinged feet, little feet that even have shoes. The full-page artwork will be appreciated by all and of course the board-book is perfect for little hands. In the back of the book is an activity that can be shared by Grandmas and grandchildren everywhere. Finding all the "creatures in the garden" adds just that much more fun to the book.
I have some rather cool news. After a lifetime of dreaming, I'm illustrating a book that I've written myself. Yes, me! So, 'written and illustrated by Petra Brown' is soon to be a reality, thanks to the wondrous, fantabulous 'Sleeping Bear Press'!
Thrilled, excited, vaulting over la lune!
I've finished the text, I've finished the visuals, I'm working on the suggested amendments for the drawings, and very soon I'll be starting my favourite part... the colour work!
ps. THE HARE DO'S A DIDN'T DO
Well, we all knew it was inevitable. Hare is stuck in a drawer, unloved, ignored... unfinished. Another item on the very lengthy list of things I might do one day. Here he is, reclining on a pile of merino wool tops I bought to needle-felt with and never used. But we none of us care, so let's move on.
I'm a cyclist... I don't very often ride my bike, but I cycle all the time. What on earth am I talking about? What I mean to say is... I have bouts of wanting to do this and bouts of wanting to that, and then- those, then- these, then something else completely different. A lot of the time I get the urge to be creative in some way or other and I ignore it because I'm up to my eyes in work, or I'm too weary. I guess most people are like that.
I have a largeish canvas with a sketch on it which I started about 14 months ago. It leans against the wall, behind a door and occasionally flops to the floor with an alarming BANG! As if to remind me... come on, get those acrylics out and get daubbing! And I think- 'Yes, yes... one day, my dear canvas, one fine day!'
Well, the other day I was looking for a teazle brush, to fluff up a tired and bedraggle furry cuff (as you do), and I remembered there was one in my needle-felting box- you know... that box, the one hidden beneath a pile of things I don't use but don't want to throw away inside my wooden chest of half remembered plans.
And there I discovered the felted head of the Mad March Hare which I had started in a previous life. And then it gripped me- I must finish this chap!
A long time ago I made the White Rabbit from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I haven't got him any more, I sold him, but I took some photos at the time...
So, here are some photos of the Mad March Hare thus far. As you can see, he is far from finished, but I thought I'd share my progress. I decided he wasn't looking mad enough, so I scooped out his felted eyes and made sockets. Then I made two crazy eye balls out of Milliput, painted them with gouache and gloss varnish and stuck them in place with glue. I'll add some lids and lashes at some point, but I think you'll agree he's looking a little mad already. I fancy giving his coat stripes so that'll be a challenge.
I really hope that my enthusiasm lasts the course! And I'll be able to share the finished character at some point very soon, and not in three years hence!
I love mucking about with my video editing program, and whilst making this little film, 'Computer versus Conventional Illustration', I actually started to get to grips with editing features that I knew nothing about. I shall endeavor to improve subsequent films, but I am still learning and so hope you'll be indulgent and forgive my bodging. The sound quality is a little weird as I live next to a river that is particularily fulsome and noisy at the moment. I had to fiddle with the recording to cut out the background hiss. I couldn't do that on the summing up at the end, as I was speaking to camera and when I tampered with the audio I couldn't lip sync it up to the visual when I put it back. So you'll hear the roaring rotter in the background! :oD
In 2014 I started to work wholly on the computer, after almost 10 years of producing work for publishers on paper. This little film explores why working on the computer has made life as an illustrator so much easier and less stressful.
Hello, I'm Sid, I'm a Jack Russell terrier and I like to play ball.
This is me watching a match on TV. I'm wearing my 'Wales' rugby shirt. Looking good!
I like to celebrate any victories with a lot of barking... it feels good to vocalise my enthusiasm.
My wife Nancy is not a big fan of the game... but she loves my new book!
This is my new book- 'Sid and the Rugby Match', where you can read all about my adventures at a real match. You don't have to be sporty to enjoy reading about how I help Geraint at his school rugby match.
I got my mum- Tanya James to write it for me, and Petra Brown drew the pictures.
A warm hello to whoever is reading this. Welcome to Petra's blog. I'm an illustrator of children's books. And I enjoy living in North Wales with my wonderful partner and fellow adventurer, Iain. I have kept and killed numerous blogs and websites over the years, joined several social sites and then left again, sometimes within a day. I am totally wayward in my web-ish ways. And here I am again blogging random stuff. Will I keep it going for more than a month? Do I care? No! Would anybody ultimately care? Definitely not!. But anyway here goes....
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