Oops! And after starting off a whole new blog especially... This lapse into silence will not do, even though it has been hard to come up with new work lately, circumstances being what they are. But here, by way of letting whom it may concern know that I am still alive, is a bit of the sort of rough, preliminary sketchery that wouldn't normally get through.
Ever since way back when I lived among the barbarian tribes of the West Country, I always wanted to write and illustrate a kids' book about a nuthatch and a serotine bat. As I recall, the basic premise was that when they first meet, they are in dispute over ownership of a hole in a tree, until it occurs to them that their different shift-patterns make for an ideal flatshare arrangement, whereupon they become friends and have various strange adventures. It now seems unlikely that I would ever consider working in children's books, having met too many of the people in the business, but I was contemplating reviving the project just for the sheer fun of it, after some recent meanderings here about caricaturing animals. Thought I'd have a go at seeing what these characters, who have been around for so long, might actually look like.
A little alarmingly, the nuthatch has turned out looking like a kind of mutant kookaburra, but I rather like him that way. The bat I approached with a little more caution, and I probably haven't caricatured him as much. I've noticed that cartoons of bats are always really, really awful, and appear to involve no reference to the real thing. Which is a matter for regret, as bats are such a great subject. The Rhinolophid and Phyllostomid species, with their bizarre nose-shapes, are so beautifully weird ... But best of all, the Vespertilionids, the Evening Bats, with their much simpler faces, are just gorgeous. Artistically, there's practically no room for improvement. The trick, which still eludes me, would be to capture the real essence of them, just as they are.