Friday, 31 October 2008

the graveyard book

Ooh, how exciting, a new book by two of my favourite collaborators - Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. It occurred to me today, when speaking to Jackson, how unsurprising it is that authors are inspired by their children. Apparently the germ of the idea for The Graveyard Book appeared when Neil Gaiman used to take his 18 month old son over the road to the graveyard to ride his tricycle. (He lived in a flat with lots of stairs and no garden). It lay dormant for a long time before emerging. While speaking to Jack today he told me "polar bears would like to live in trees".... it got me thinking....

Thursday, 16 October 2008


I had a wee shot of a friend's (very expensive) camera at the weekend, took a pic of Jack, then went at the original in Photoshop. The original is at the top, my effort underneath. I think it's quite cute...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Friday, 3 October 2008

collecting her nectar like bees

Illustration rough for the Winter issue of Juno magazine - this one will be fun!

Quote (from upcoming Juno article "The Venerable Years" by Ruth Meyers):

"I worked with one play leader in the seventies before playgroups came under the homogenising umbrella of education, who sat in the one place all session to the most wonderful effect. I saw her as a solid and benevolent presence for the children. The place she usually chose to sit was the dough table. I never saw her scribble one note or observation, neither did she dole out progress reports to parents. She was always surrounded by small groups of children, they came and went, collecting her nectar like bees. The children glowed and animated with such sweet juice of the gods! She was always covered in flour because she loved to play with the dough as she chatted to the children. I find it hard to imagine such an easy, cosy and child-friendly scene in a playgroup or nursery today."

Monday, 29 September 2008

surprised by joy - impatient as the wind

personal illustration

I think I finally have to accept that I am no longer waiting for summer to arrive. The patio is covered with leaves and this morning the air was cold and crisp. Although I'm dreading the long, dark winter, I have to admit I do like autumn (it looks too good not to!). Plus, with the onset of the colder weather I have the perfect excuse to finally buy the merino wristwarmers I've been hankering after, which don't seem so frivolous now... I've also treated myself to a couple of books by Eva Montanari. Her illustrations are amazing and I'm hoping the stories are as surreal as the images suggest... perfect reading for gloomy autumn evenings.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

phase II

Tartan Day seems a while ago but above (top) is a pic of the band I got together for the day. They were fabulous, especially considering most of them only met for the first time at the rehearsal the night before!!! Andy is playing the bass. It was also incredibly lucky that Graham Dolan (second from right) was passing through on his way to Shetland. He was kind enough to help out and share his knowledge of trad guitar accompaniment with Scott and Andy. Looking back (and now that my knee is healing nicely!), it was a big success!
The cupboard project has progressed, phase 2 and 3 above. It's on the wall now and I just need to source the perfect handles!!!

Monday, 18 August 2008


Have been working on my cupboard - won't be long now but I don't have any pics to post yet (mainly because it's late and I can't be bothered hooking up the camera...) Meanwhile here are a couple of links to the excellent bands I have been listening to while I work No Pasaran (I'm biased as my brother is in it - Happy Birthday little brother!) and the Jani Lang Band (who I'm going to see with aforementioned little brother in the fabulous Spiegeltent next week and where I plan to unleash my inner peasant!)

Monday, 4 August 2008

tartan day

Just had the crappest weekend ever!!! Tartan Day on Saturday and it all went brilliantly, the band was amazing (even after all the last minute hitches), lots of folk turned up to try out instruments and the leaflet was a big success... then I fell over in Union Terrace gardens, laden with armfuls of stuff, and completely mangled my knee!!! A month's work and I couldn't enjoy it as I had one leg covered in blood!!! Totally walking wounded. My knee looks like someone went at it with an enormous cheese grater. I stayed to take pics of the band (what a brave little soldier I am!!!) then spent 2 hours in A&E.. and then the car broke down on the way home!!!! Finally got home at 9:30ish, tired, sore and starving. Am typing this with one leg at a jaunty angle on the settee as I'm supposed to keep it elevated... Poop indeed!!!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

folk it

Images for my cupboard project, right now I'm liking a folk art stylee... It's very decorative but I reckon if I stick to muted colours it'll look quite modern too. I'm trying to keep going with the growing boy illustration too but I'm itching to get started on this [have a spot picked in my kitchen for it and everything!].

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

a new project

The cupboard is my latest project - it's pretty ugly just now but I have big plans for it... For once the sun has been shining and Jackson and Kenzie have been making a den in the tree. [no prizes for guessing who inspired the boy in the illustrations...]

the growing boy

Current personal project... right now have gone back to listening to Neko Case, The Fox Confessor, definitely one to have on when working on a kids' book...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Here's the progress on the rough below - a painstaking process of layer upon layer of watercolour, trying to gauge when it's 'just right' (before I overwork it and end up hating it!). It's my favourite bit though; it's worth taking the time over the roughs and initial drawing out. I love the feeling of having a freshly stretched piece of paper, just waiting for an image to appear on it... making it come to life is immensely gratifying.

My tip for freelancers who work in the evening; keep your painting water and red wine glass in separate spots - not good if you dip your brush in the wrong one... although slightly preferable to the alternative. I will live and learn...

Sunday, 20 July 2008

lettuce start...

And so, work has begun on my current project - sketches and visuals above. I won't reveal much about the plot for now - mainly because I'm still trying to pin down the idea that's in my head... At the moment I have the whole book finished (in my mind!), but when I try to catch it and see it in more detail it kind of flits away from me. Still, I'm persevering; listening to Beirut and attempting to bring it to life.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

smokin sessions

This is the design I've been working on in my day job - for Scottish Culture & Traditions. It's a smokin' session =) I persevere with my mission to make trad 'sexy' and to lose its beard and woolly jumper image. Only trouble is, I have to get this past the beard & jumper brigade before it can go to print!

Meanwhile, I'm working on a new idea for a children's book (all will be revealed shortly), marketing my existing work to a fabulous greeting card company, listening to Regina Spektor and waiting patiently for summer to arrive in soggy Scotland.

Sunday, 6 July 2008



On a lighter note - I'm teaching myself to play Jeff Buckley on the clarsach and it's starting to sound pretty awesome... But hey, why am I teaching myself? Good question, you'd think being married to a classical guitar player I'd have access to some extra-curricular tuition - not so!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

stormy weather

What started as a dull, dreich day has turned into thunder storm - torrential rain, thunder and lightning. Me and Jackson have spent 20 minutes with our faces pressed to the kitchen window watching the rain bounce off the trees and turn the patio into a river. Jack's first thunder storm (that he can remember anyway) and he thought it was great fun!
After a hectic week I've finished all the commissions due at the same time! Two illustrations for the summer issue of Juno, and a pet portrait of Jessie the Jack Russell. Now I have time on my hands to seek out some new commissions - still searching for the next elusive book commission...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Hey, it makes me mad....

..when you think you have comments and its some crappy spam thing. Does anyone else have this problem? I have been neglecting this blog of late but that's the reason why - I quess it's kind of demoralising when you go to the effort and all you get back is crappy spam. Hmmm, maybe no-one else has even seen my blog!
Plus, I can't search the blogs anymore (ie for illustration) only a SPECIFIC blog - so I just have to use the 'next blog' button which could take me a million years to find anything interesting to me! If anyone can shed some light, I'd be most grateful, ta!
Meanwhile, here's a pic of me at my day job (as I'm at work now with no access to my illustrations!). I'm in the middle!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

chicken out

This is something that's been trying to get out for ages - studies of chickens. Not sure why exactly, there's something about them that I find fascinating. I think they remind of dinosaurs and as I child I knew every dinosaur name...

Monday, 3 March 2008

This is the second illustration for the next issue of Juno magazine. I'm definitely entering a 'folkie' stage.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

part of the process

After seeing the work on wishes & heroes blog, I'm inspired to try collage for the next Juno illustration - and I love the process! I'm having so much fun it's a real pain to have to stop tonight. It's to illustrate an article on reducing your carbon footprint, so the whole recycling/reuse aspect of collage feels very appropriate. Here's a detail from the illustration.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

dark island

The Juno illustration is hopefully finished, just need to get a final approval from Emma, the editor. Then one more to do for the same issue... The biggest excitement of the day is that, after four weeks of practice, I can finally play Dark Island on the clarsach and it actually sounds like a tune! I've been playing it so much tonight my back aches.

Monday, 25 February 2008


Rough for the latest illustration for Juno magazine - all about how many cultures have male rites of passage but none for women because childbirth IS a rite of passage. And how modern society has eroded this with the expectation that women carry on as normal during pregnancy.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Wolves in the walls

Inspired by Neil Gaiman's book 'Wolves in the Walls', me and Jackson make a wolf in the wall on the stairs. Then Jackson decides it wasn't such a great idea after all...

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Thursday, 21 February 2008

dog day afternoon

My latest (half-finished) pet portrait and, underneath, the reason it is still half-finshed - new puppy Kenzie... You try drawing a dog while a two year old boy and a new puppy circle your feet at 100 miles an hour...

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

life stinks

Quote of the decade...

"the trajectory of my life was that of a cannon ball fired into a sewer -- hurtling through shit, but hurtling nevertheless."
from Gould's Book Of Fish, A Novel in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Full circle...

Quite scary really - almost a year later and I'm back designing, but this time freelancing. I guess it's better than working for the pair of clowns I used to work my a**se off for! But still... my illustration dream eludes me...

Ah well. I sometimes think that children are the best cure for the creativity disease. Right now I can't seem to get anything done (and it's been this way for the last three years (coincidentally the same amount of time since my little boy was born). The only time I get to think these days is in the bath...