I am at a terrible stage in my writing where after working on one idea for a few weeks it has all started to become too hard. Rather than finding it an exciting challenge to rise to, I am getting really bored of trying to find some semblance of a story amongst the little tatters of ideas. As a result another, newer, fresher and far more exciting idea has crept into my idle thoughts (hanging up the washing in the cool mornings is my most inspired time… while the Indian Mynah birds sit on the fence and wait for me to leave so they can get back to rummaging through the compost pile I have the most brilliant – well I think so – flashes of characters and plots and drawings). So now I want to start dabbling in this new idea and leave the Mermaids hanging for a while. This makes me feel a tad guilty and reminds me that I historically have a lot of trouble sticking to anything, but it’s such early days. I should be playing and discovering and exploring, not committing to something that doesn’t feel quite right… I think. Right?
Anyway, this new idea is one that involves lots of animal characters. Animals are something that I try not to draw usually as I can never get them quite right – or even vaguely right. I don’t instinctively understand their anatomy and I am usually too lazy to use reference materials. So I have been dwelling on this a little, thinking it might be time to find some animal pictures on the web to practice drawing crooked back legs, muzzles and other animaly bits. So you can imagine my joy when I walked into the local library yesterday to renew my Moomin books and saw “How to Draw and Paint Animals in Pencil, Charcoal, Line and Watercolour“. It’s full of great tips and examples of how an certain animal’s eye / ear / nose might look. But after reading the book last night and carefully copying examples into my sketchbook and then drawing some from memory with little personal touches added (see pencil sketches below) I decided that this was all very good for practice but what I really need is to be able to draw from life…

And you would not believe my luck! This morning when I went to open the window in my study, there was a little grey mouse sitting on the fence right outside. It sat there staring at me for a moment before dashing down the fence to hide (badly) in the shadowy bamboo. While I didn’t get a chance to sketch it, it did give me the inspiration for another little character. I will keep my eye out for him tomorrow with my sketchbook on hand.