All my colour work is drawn in chalk pastel on Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper, working at an easel on a vertical board to allow the chalk dust to drop away from the paper surface. I use pastels made by Schmincke. Sennelier, Winsor & Newton (Unison) and Rowney - I also use Carb Othello pastel pencils, though more for marking in initial indicative outlines than for detail, which I find is best achieved by working large - usually a full 28x20" sheet of Canson paper - and using the angled corners of the pastels as they wear down with drawing. I use a mahlstick to keep my hand away from the paper surface when drawing detail and mix and blend colour with my fingers ( I was amazed to hear once of a teacher forbidding students to do this!). When a drawing is finished I apply SpectraFix fixative as sparingly as possible; artwork is then covered by protective transparent acetate film until framed and glazed.
Black and white drawings are done with soft 6B-8B pencils, kept as sharp as possible, on good quality cartridge paper. I use a putty rubber both to erase mistakes and, in some instances, to create tonal effects.
My working process tends to be a compromise between blocking in successive layers of increasingly finished tone and colour - the 'proper' way of doing it - and concentrating first on the most difficult and interesting elements of a drawing - the most efficient way. As a drawing can take many days, even up to a couple of weeks, it makes sense to be sure that the most challenging parts of the image are going well before investing time in the rest of the drawing; however, the ideal procedure is successively to block in tone and colour overall and work coherently all over the image from the rough initial stages onwards - more so in landscapes, which present fewer complications than illustration work. By the time it's finished, quite a substantial amount of a drawing will have been corrected or re-drawn during the process; chalk pastel is wonderfully erasable, as long as it hasn't been heavily sprayed with fixative, and although to begin with I usually don't draw things right, I can generally see that they're not right - and keep correcting until they are, more or less.
Although for illustrations I use as much reference material as I can get, there is always a lot of the drawing to be invented - quite the opposite of a landscape, in which I'm after strict accuracy in showing a particular place and moment. More often than not, I use an effect of light or atmosphere to unite the elements of an illustration and in this respect my book and landscape work are the same; a consistent preoccupation in all my work with effects of light and how they shape and define what's seen. Philosophically, of course all representational drawing and painting is about light, since form and colour can't be seen without it, but particular effects of light seem to be unusual in children's book illustration; quite possibly because they're really rather a challenge to get right! I refer to several photos of the main subject(s) and integrate the relevant parts; first in an initial pencil sketch for publisher's approval in which the composition and much of the detail is set out, and then as the finished colour artwork evolves. The real skill is in not showing the 'join' between the elements of an image for which one has reference and those for which one doesn't. In my book work, the invented parts of an image will always predominate; in fact I usually only photograph models for the main characters, attempting to create an approximation of the lighting, costume, pose, expression etc needed in the image - the rest is applied imagination, so to speak.
Even more than a consistent interest in drawing light effects, I'd lastly identify a determination in my illustrations to do more than just depict what is happening in the text. Illustration ought not to be simply depiction. It should elaborate; should open up the possibilities in the story and give a reader's imagination a glimpse of how those possibilities might look. Landscapes are quite different; to make them accurate and believable I want to give the impression of everything there at that moment; to include every ounce of the atmosphere and detail but nothing extra, nothing added. In that respect a landscape is a destination to be worked towards, to arrive at; illustrations are places of departure.
Some favourite illustrators and artists: Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham, E.H.Shepard, Ronald Searle, Norman Rockwell, N.C.Wyeth, Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Dana Gibson, Phil May, William Heath Robinson, George Cruikshank, Gustave Dore, John Singer Sargent, Diego Velazquez, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Gustav Caillebotte, Stanhope Alexander Forbes, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Titian, Hans Holbein, Pieter Breughel the Elder, Hieronymous Bosch, John William Waterhouse, William Nicholson, Vittore Carpaccio, J.M.W Turner, Odilon Redon.
The Magical Bicycle; Berlie Doherty (Collins)
Tod & the Clock Angel; Andrew Matthews (Frances Lincoln)
Pasteur’s Fight against Microbes; Beverly Birch (Mathew Price)
Marie Curie’s Search for Radium; Beverly Birch (Mathew Price)
The Sea of Tranquility; Mark Haddon (Collins)
The Dancing Bear; Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Night Before Christmas; Clement C. Moore (Courage)
Oliver Twist; Charles Dickens (Collins)
Windhover; Ian Whybrow (Collins)
Dick King-Smith’s Countryside Treasury (Collins)
A Classic Christmas Treasury (Courage)
Wombat Goes Walkabout; Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Wreck of the Zanzibar; Michael Morpurgo (Heinemann)
The Butterfly Lion; Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; C. S. Lewis (Collins)
A Kitten Called Moonlight; Martin Waddell (Walker)
A Baby for Grace; Ian Whybrow (Kingfisher)
A Christmas Carol; Charles Dickens (Kingfisher)
The Silver Swan; Michael Morpurgo (Doubleday)
Little Farmer Joe; Ian Whybrow (Kingfisher)
Dear Olly; Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Classic Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Courage)
Sleeping Beauty; Adele Geras (Scholastic)
The Story of Holly and Ivy; Rumer Godden (Macmillan)
The Doll’s House; Rumer Godden (Macmillan)
Wenceslas; Geraldine McCaughrean (Doubleday)
The Snow Queen; Hans Christian Andersen/Naomi Lewis (Walker)
Shadow: Michael Morpurgo (Collins)
The Little Mermaid: Hans Christian Andersen/Naomi Lewis (Walker)
A Midsummer Night's Dream: William Shakespeare (Books Illustrated)
Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte (Books Illustrated)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll (Books Illustrated)