Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find many samples of my finished art, conceptual work, unpublished material, and other miscellaneous jobs. You can find a complete list of my published books at this link.

I currently have signed copies of THE GREAT MONTEFIACO, WHACKO THE CHOOK, THE PUMPKIN EATER FROM PONDICHERRY, and THE SHIKKER COLA COWS available for purchase. For more info, please contact me at whackothechook@internode.on.net

Monday, April 3, 2017


Around the time I started the roughs for Smeck, I made a fixed model of it's central character from wire and polymer clay. I made this for basic reference, but it didn't come in handy too often.

Much later, whilst at my wits end from the countless false starts I had already made with the final stages, I found myself sitting at my work table with a roll of aluminium armature wire, some Multi-purpose Putty, newly discovered Paper Magiclay, amongst other bits and pieces of found items. By this stage I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I constructed one of the pirates from the book — the Mosquito.

I painted him with dark tones, then dry brushed on the lighter tones. I really enjoyed the process, and I thought it looked pretty good. So I started on the spectacled Beetle (the ship’s doctor) in the same way, but refining my approach and adding different materials. He also looked pretty good, and in my opinion better than how I had drawn him.

I brought materials to the lunch table at work and pushed to one side the self-consciousness I feel when being watched creating art. Here I was mainly doing the wire armatures, then adding the padding and ‘flesh’ at home. But I started doing everything — armatures, sculpting and painting whenever and wherever I could. I was enjoying the process so much that finally a creative spurt took hold. I no longer needed to warm-up, I could hit the ground running each time I got the materials and equipment out.

I still didn't know why I was doing it this way, at the most I thought they’d make good reference models if I decided to give painting another shot. I was also expecting to get tired of this process before making any significant progress anyway, but before I knew it I was working on more characters.

And so, this creative burst served me for the next 2-3 years. It became a reason to get up every morning. I would hurry to work just so I could squeeze in 30 minutes before 7am. I would be giddy with excitement waiting for lunch time, just so I could keep working on my models. I felt a purpose every day, and I was no longer feeling despair at having thrown away my illustration career for the most mundane of paid jobs.
Still, I didn’t know what on earth I was going to do with these models once they were made. It was assumed I’d photograph them in some way, but that would require large sets, expensive lighting, a fancy camera — things I didn’t possess and areas of expertise I just didn’t have. But the key to getting anything done and to maintain my motivation was to avoid looking at the big picture in any way. My destination was thwart with insurmountable obstacles, that was clear, but if I let this thought be entertained in my mind for too long I would have quickly talked myself out of it. Instead I focussed on the little things, one small model at a time. A part of me was still resigned to the fact that my steam would run out eventually anyway, sooner rather than later. If I called it quits altogether I wouldn't have minded because I was having so much fun making the models anyway. I had learned so much that this experience would have been compensation enough. I was secretly praying the publisher would save me the bother of quitting and just tell me they no longer wanted to publish it, just so I didn’t have to see it through. But my enthusiasm didn’t waiver (not until the absolute final stages anyway), and I kept on chipping away at it ever so slowly.

By the time one year had passed, and I had reached my original deadline, in that time I had created models for the entire pirate crew. There was also Minnie the Mermaid, who was extremely fiddly to make, and the cause of much loud cussing during photography much later on...

And of course there was Smeck, complete with 9 interchangeable heads —

One of the most crucial props made was Smeck's ukulele —

At less than 2cm in length it was very intricate. It was made mainly from cardboard, with strings fashioned from my dog's hair.

But I still had a heap of other things to make.

I told the publisher what I was doing and explained my unideal circumstances, and at the rate I was going I would need yet another year to complete the book. Again, I was secretly praying they would say no to my request and I would have no choice but to abandon this madness. But they didn't. The were more than accommodating. Sigh...


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