Stephen Michael King

Books, illustration, art and other stuff.


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Thoughts about “Snail and Turtle”.

I received a box of my new book “Snail and Turtle are Friends”. I love how it has turned out: great size, daisy yellow endpapers, little snail trails to follow, and splashes of subtle humour.
The circular foliage design was scribbled in pencil over a year and a half ago, sometime towards the end of 2012. I can remember drawing the first modernist patterns on Turtle’s back. That simple rendering of Turtle’s shell took his little character to new creative heights.  “Picasso and Miro” was jotted down for a title.
I’m mighty proud of this deceptively simple book.
I imagine there will be comparisons to “Frog and Toad”, but unlike Snail and Turtle, Frog and Toad are polar opposites of each other. As much as I like Frog and Toad, they’re friends from another psychological realm. Snail and Turtle are introverts (that could have been a title) who have a relationship built upon trust which invites them to express themselves fully, whilst at the same time knowing that they don’t have to be the life of the party . . . “Snail and Turtle are clever at hiding . . . but never from each other”
Another simple success with this book is the colour anticipation. The book is mostly Autumn – green, brown, orange and yellow – but as you turn the pages, little splashes of colour announce what is to come: a pink butterfly flies through pages in advance of  Turtle’s pink flower eating page; Snail and Turtle share a story sitting in a bright red chair pages before the rich reds are splattered and swirled on their masterpiece spread.
I love how the book closes down. Snail and Turtle say good night and retreat back into their shells (like all good introverts) to re energise for another day.
Much of what I’m happiest with is related to design and colour, but I’m also delighted and surprised by these two characters and how simply they appear to have told their story. I’m happy that their characters came to life through my pen. It was wonderful to watch them slowly emerge.
8b 8c 12-15-12013-8SMK Turtle shell16 ?creative turtle Snail and turtle ruff slide Snail Cover 3-10-2013


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The fine art of cubby house building

What You Need

  1. A reason (ours was taking our two dogs for a walk)
  2. A beach (after a storm is usually good for the next ingredient)
  3. Driftwood (two-three-four bigger curved pieces to start, then any size and shape after that)
  4. A plan (don’t worry about having a plan, you don’t need one)
  5. Sons, daughters, nieces, friends, nephews, fathers, mothers, grandparents, whoever has an interest (My son and I made while my daughter and wife visited to share, play and take photos)
  6. A drink (water is good) and celebratory food for when you’re finished. It’s best to sit inside and admire your handiwork with a happy stomach.
  7. A dog for a pillow (not mandatory) and a good book to read in the shade.

What to do

  1. Select a site. Your site decision will depend on longevity. Do you want your structure to last for days, weeks or are you happy for it to be washed away with the changing tide?
    You could also consider where you put doors and windows and which direction the sun is travelling (we didn’t bother about this)
  2. The first few pieces are key to your design. The curved nature of driftwood is perfect because each individual shape helps to strengthen the structure overall.
    My son and I just added sticks randomly and did a shake test to see how strong it was. It didn’t fall on our heads.

Footnote  It’s been three weeks since the initial build and our cubby is still standing. It’s survived two storms and a holiday weekend.
Today we admired it in the distance while we swam and slid down our favourite sand hill on an old foam board.

P.S. This exercise can be relocated to a forest. If you don’t have a forest  . . . a backyard or lougeroom with chairs and blankets is a great alternative. Oversize table cloths over dining tables are perfect as you can imagine whatever view you like and there is food nearby.

SMK cubby 07 SMK cubby 12 SMK cubby 17 SMK cubby 19 SMK cubby 21 SMK cubby 22 SMK cubby 29 SMK cubby 33 SMK cubby 43 SMK cubby 48 SMK cubby 50 SMK cubby 54 SMK cubby 55 SMK cubby 56 SMK cubby 61 SMK cubby 80


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“Milli could take a thing that was a nothing and make it a something”  S.M.K.

I love making things. Now that I’m beginning to get the hang of the WordPress landscape, I’m finding creating the look fun too. My blog is another thing to make. I guess, in this my first post, I’m hopeful this site will become a creative space.

Truthfully I’m unsure what it will become, but that’s no different from every drawing I’ve ever done. If I’m thinking about the process, I’m on the wrong path. For me, drawing a picture is like catching a ball, it’s best to “just do it”, trust my skills/intuition and enjoy.

bird 2