The Sugar Plum Fairy


It has almost been two months ago I made this drawing and attended the MATS childrens book cover competition, but I didn’t want to keep it from you (and the blog).

The given title for the fictional book was “The sugar Plum Fairy’s Adventure” and this is my approach:

Russia 1890s ….

This story is about a girl who had two great loves; ballet and eating sugar plums.
One day she ate her mothers entire stock of sugar plums and ended up being in a plum herself.
Because she couldn’t dance anymore with this big “plum belly” she reached out to the people in the village and asked them if they wanted a piece of the plum. Unfortunately nobody was interested….
The mayor, for instance, had his own sugar plum – pineapple flavored -addiction when he was a child and still wasn’t covered from his yellow skin.
She had to find other ways….

Because my proces of getting to the above result was full of sketching, colouring, making  “kill-your-darling”decisions, learning about time-management and lots of other things I’d like to share this with you in the next photos.

The Sugar Plum Fairy appeared in the ballet the Nutcracker, written by Tchaikovsky, and stood for all that was sweet. It seemed a nice starting point for my story and imagery.
I collected a lot of pictures on Pinterest…

I selected a few for my colour palette…


Now I had the story in mind, the characters, the mood and colours, the sketching could begin…




I scanned al the images, blackened them in Photoshop and placed them in Illustrator to find the right composition. There were so many objects to work with, so Illustrator seemed the best way to use. I also learned I loved my new fine working printer ….


Using my colour scheme and coloured pencil (OMG it has been too long I did use them….) to colour the characters. During this, I must say, very therapeutical colouring I listened to some of the Jealous Curator “Art For Your Ears” podcasts I recently stumbled upon (although she’s been interviewing for a few years now). What a brilliant combination…..


The coloured arch above was added after the next photo, where I first tried to think of the best colour combination matching the leading character, roughly coloured in Illustrator.


But then I thought…..Oh…no…..what about the other characters….They HAVE to be on my cover…..all that work! For nothing??!! Oh no!

To question or convince my troubled mind about ‘yee or nee’ colours, while the world outside was still on fire and Trump was slowly marching to the “President Elect” spot, I made a quick sketch of how my coloured characters would appear on the cover:


Oh no!

I made up my mind. Didn’t  I want old style characters…think….old brownish, slightly damaged photographs… One and one is two… And a little lavender for the plum.





MATS mini exercise – socks

This Black Friday/Cyber Weekend I decided to get the Lilla Rogers illustration course Make Art That Sells part A and B (short, MATS A/B). Yay!

I shared some work on the blog when I followed her course MATS Bootcamp. Loved to do it, but missed a few deadlines because of my busy schedule at that moment. This MATS A/B course (more or less a portfolio builder) is self-paced and consists of +/- 70 assignments and exercises, so loads to learn, to work on and to share!

Before I will start the course I’d like to be comfortable again with doing small exercises, to loosen up. This year a few of those mini assignments were shared by the ‘MATS-school’. This is one of them:


MF-matsprep-socks-without back

For this one I set some rules/guidelines:
– I used squared paper I collected from old stamp books from my grandpa (which I never used before and have loads of…)
– draw approx. 5 or 6 socks per page
– work with felt pen, randomly pick four colours for each sheet of paper
– vary in colour and pattern per sock
– keep it simple
– to (extra) clarify it’s a series: sheepishly number the page, write down all the colours, the paper, and sign it.

After one hour I finished the socks and this morning I added the background with some old fashioned water colours (a left over from my childhood which I have never used again until now).





And….While making pictures with my Instagram app, I accidentally tapped a black and white filter…check this out….I find it a pretty cool unexpected effect…