The Story Calendar arrived because I love to tell stories through images...and this seemed a quick way to sneak another story into the year!
Generally picture books are made up of 12 double page spreads and I thought a good way to practice editing a story down would be to follow the months of the year in the format of an A4 wall calendar.
"Blue Hat Badger" is a character that I've been sketching for a few years, wondering how to feature her in a story. I first saw the image in my mind of a little badger in a blue hat wandering along, whilst listening to Nick Heyward's "Blue Hat for a Blue Day" on my old iPod Shuffle (remember those?) during a commute to work.
It wasn't until 2020's first Lockdown, that I returned to this little character, adding 2 friends, Fox and Rabbit. I simply drew what I wanted to, with no idea of a story or where it was going. The Lockdown walks around the canal and fields where I live were a lifesaver, so I simply sketched the 3 friends on similar journeys.
The idea of a "journey" interested me, and I wondered where they might be going and why.
I realised I had been trying to force an idea for years, but the one staring me in the face was the mystery of the blue hat.
The months of the year follow the three friends as they try to find out who the blue hat belongs to. I love to write stories in rhyme because they often create images in my head that I wouldn't otherwise have thought of.
The calendar format gave me a simple structure and layout, one that I could experiment with a little bit.
I love to make the text part of the imagery, but this is something I'm still working to improve on. I wanted to experiment "drawing" the text with crayon in a joined up font. I absolutely love the texture of this in contrast to the main illustration, but it's not something that would be clear enough for a picture book text.
I think I can just about get away with it for this calendar though...!
I wrote the story during the summer of 2020, but as time went on, I started to get busier with a book launch and exhibition/workshops for my second picture book, "The Peg People". Then commissions started to become more frequent, so finding the time to work on Blue Hat Badger was quite difficult.
Some images feel a little rushed because of this, and there are certainly some that I would do again given the chance, but on the whole, I am really pleased with the illustrations.
So pleased, in fact, that some favourites have made it onto my greetings card range! Be sure to have a browse in my online shop if you're after a birthday card.
I'm not quite ready to let go of Badger, Fox and Rabbit just yet. I really love drawing them, they bring me a strange comfort, but they also seem to appeal to a lot of you.
This "Afternoon Tea" greetings card is a recent addition to the collection, and I hope to add many more designs in the near future. Keep checking my social media sites for more updates.