My early inspiration for the Cuddleecats characters and book series first began while visiting the breathtaking Lake District, England, seven years ago. I’d already been a full-time artist, author and illustrator and had been creating artworks I enjoyed for over 25 years at that time, but this experience was something surreal. It was unexpected. The mysterious presence and atmosphere filled me with feelings of nostalgia. It reminded me of the wonder, imagination and charm of my early childhood days. I suddenly felt at peace and complete. I wanted to hold on to that feeling and to share it with future generations.
In 2013, my husband and I, along with our two young daughters, moved from Australia to West Yorkshire, England to be closer to his parents. We lived there for just over four years and during that time we would often visit the Lake District and other charming places in the English countryside.
I loved to see the picturesque rolling green pastures that were so neatly divided with little stone walls. Each area of the field had different colours, textures and patterns in them. Some were speckled with tiny daisies and buttercups, or bluebells and daffodils depending on the time of year. There were fluffy white sheep, ploughed fields and cereal crops that sparkled almost as brightly as the sun. They contrasted so beautifully against the vibrant blue-sky days (which were quite a rare treat when they appeared.) The fields reminded me of magnificent patchwork quilts tumbling over the hills that rolled on forever.
The Cuddleecats are inspired by the whole feeling of those happy days in the countryside of West Yorkshire. They’re a family of cats made up of Mum, Dad and seven little kittens who live deep within the English countryside in a charming cottage. They have plenty of friends who all work together to keep the little village of Cuddleton bubbling happily along. Some of the characters are Mr Ted Maple the bear, Mr Andy Snufflewood the badger and Mrs Henrietta Quill the hedgehog.
Then there’s also Mr Charles Chirrup the cricket and his choir reliably sing their gentle night time song every single night…to send the Cuddleecat kittens off to sleep. There are many other characters still in the making too. You’ll meet them all there in Cuddleton village!
To create my children’s book illustrations and capture that feeling of nostalgia and wonder, I need just the right medium. After a lot of experimenting, I’ve discovered that Derwent Procolour is the perfect pencil for me. I can layer it over many other mediums such as ink, marker pen, watercolour or watercolour pencil.
Derwent Inktense Pencil is one of my favourite mediums I’ve found, to lay down as a wash diluted with water, for my foundation. The colours match perfectly with Derwent Procolour too, so it’s a winning combination in my eyes.