Friday 22 August 2008

Currently illustrating 2008 Macmillan Writer's Prize winning book

Here are some rough drawings for the book I ‘m currently busy illustrating. It is the winning book of the 2007/08 Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa; by novelist Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. Though American-born, Nnedi's muse is Nigeria. Her winning unpublished children's book, Long Juju Man, a story about a girl's encounters with an irritating crafty ghost, will be published by Macmillan UK. The girl is harassed and taught lessons by an annoying, snickering, rotten fruit eating, sneaky, prank playing ghost named Long Juju Man.

Her first novel, Zahrah the Windseeker was shortlisted for the Parallax Award and Kindred Award in 2006, a finalist for the 2005 Golden Duck and GardenState Teen Choice awards and nominated for a Locus Award (Best First Novel) 2005; Her second novel, The Shadow Speaker (Hyperion Books, 2007) was a Booksense Pick for Winter 2007/08 and a finalist for the Essence Magazine Literary Award and the Andre Norton Award. It is also an NAACP Image Award nominee, a Tiptree Honor Book and a Locus Magazine Recommended Book.

I'm enjoying illustrating Nnedi's words!

Tuesday 12 August 2008

Posted an article on
on illustrating the picture book - Nina and Little Duck

The article is called THE MIND OF AN ILLUSTRATOR (August 2008)
Hope you will go and read it!

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Nina and Little Duck - 2008 M-Net/Via Afrika Literary Award Winner!

Saturday June 14th brought a huge surprise! My friend Wendy and I were awarded the M.E.R. Prize for the picture book we did together. I'm still trying to believe it... Read below.

Nina and Little Duck - 2008 M-Net/Via Afrika Literary Award Winner!

The M.E.R Prize for best illustrated children’s book was awarded to Wendy Hartmann (author) and Marjorie van Heerden (illustrator) for Nina and Little Duck published by Human & Rousseau (SA) in 2007 (also available in Afrikaans as Nina en Eendjie).

ABOUT THE PRIZE: The M.E.R. Prize was established in 1983 and is awarded annually by M-Net and Via Afrika to the best illustrated children’s book published during the previous year. The only condition is that the books must be aimed at younger readers and that the authors and illustrators must be South African citizens. The award is named after MER (ME Rothman) for her ground breaking work in the field of children’s literature. No distinction is made between English and Afrikaans books.

Nina, Simon, and Mr and Mrs Rajah, together with their cat and dog, all live on a quaint little street where shops and houses are built right next door to each other. Mr and Mrs Rajah own a shop on this street. Their house is part of the shop. Next to it is an entrance to the garden where they store a few things. It is charming, just the kind of place a duck would love to make a nest.

Nina and Simon spend a lot of time playing close to Mr and Mrs Rajah’s house and shop. They often stop for a chat and sometimes go into the garden to play games. Little Duck also spends a lot of time in the street and around the shop. After a long search, she recently moved into the Rajah’s garden to raise her family.

And this is where the adventures of Little Duck and her ducklings, Max, Molly and Martin really start. The text is supported by humorous and charming rhymes and illustrations that warm the heart and tickle the tummy.

Nina and Little Duck (English) - ISBN 978-0-7981-4824-5
Nina en Eendjie (Afrikaans)
- ISBN 978-0-7981-4825-2
Written by Wendy Hartmann and illustrated by Marjorie van Heerden
Published by Human & Rousseau Publishers (SA) [Aug 2007]
Format (soft cover): 280mm x 215mm; 64 pages
Readership: Toddlers, Read aloud & New Readers
Copies can be ordered from: or

Sunday 8 June 2008

Klara, my grand daughter, is now 10 months old - I bought her a hippy jacket to keep her warm this coming winter!!! She crawls very fast and stand up holding on to stuff and now and then she lets go to test standing alone - and she does for two seconds! - She smiles when she sees me!!!! AND she loves books!!!!

Back after a long silence!

Hi - apologies for the long silence - the first six months of this year was crazily busy but I'm back - I've done 4 books (all educational readers) since the beginning of this year, now busy with a book for Shuter Publishers (SA) - a fun scary fantasy story - here are some of the roughs. During these last months I also organised, with the help of only 3 other people, a SCBWI writers and Illustrators' retreat at a natural warm water spa - It was a wonderful success... I was exhausted afterwards - but happy!
Some good news!!!! I've been asked to illustrate the winning book of the Macmillan writers competition - Long Juju Man by by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu ( I'm very excited and will be starting on it soon.

Saturday 16 February 2008

Thursday 10 January 2008

SEASON"S GREETINGS to you and yours and we wish you laughter and joy for 2008!

My husband, Johann, took this picture of our first grandchild, Klara, who was born on 31 July 2007 - Here she is seen LOVING her very first Christmas!!! (Click to enlarge)


For Christmas 2007 I made a painting for my daughter, Alexia, and her family. [Acrylic on hardboard - 800cm x 1200cm]. The painting is based on A Tiger took me to the Circus, the second picture book I wrote and illustrated (this was back in in 1986). I used Alexia (then nine) and her doll Sunshine as the central characters in the story. My husband Johann took some photographs while I was painting and I show them below, to share the creative process with you. [START VIEWING FROM THE BOTTOM UP...]

Some final touches added, and now I feel the painting is ready to become a Christmas gift! (These photos were taken outside - for more light)

I've done some work on the foreground, the tiger's feet and some wild grasses.

Here I've started finalising the dark and light areas.

Here I've got the likeness to Alexia right and I've added some darker areas where she sits on the tiger's back. I've also done some work on its eyes.

Here is the start of the new painting of the girl and her doll Sunshine (Alexia still has her little Sunshine to this day...)

I made a new drawing of the girl on tracing paper to fit the body size and position, whited out the old drawing, corrected the background and started a new picture of the girl.

I start working on the likeness to Alexia (more than 20 years ago) and realise the girl needs to be redone!!!

I start work on darkening areas on the tiger to complement the light source.

The Tiger's stripes have been added.
I start on the tiger's fur colour and black stripes.

...and her doll, Sunshine.

I start painting the little girl, Alexia...

I add trees and light filtering in the background to give depth.

I've finished the base colour on the background. Now I have to decide where the main light source will come from.

After duplicating my rough drawing onto the board I start with the background - first adding a base colour. This is a good way to see if the composition and proportions are correct.

... and added a grid to help with the redrawing onto the board.

I have done a rough drawing...

Now it's ready - clean, white and waiting!

Preparing the Hardboard: Johann had added a frame on the back and here I am painting the smooth front with a white base colour (a good quality PVA). My son, Markus, is giving advise.