Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Monday, 27 December 2010

private collection

One of my illustrations (bottom right) sitting next to work by the fabulous Martin Honeysett, John Byrne and Gilbert and George no less. How very cool is that?

Monday, 20 December 2010

I wish me a merry christmas

Yesterday I received two Christmas cards with my own illustrations on the front - very strange! This one is from the lovely people at Juno magazine, who are also going to feature the Painted Forest in their next issue.

With a whole bunch of new bottles just arrived in the drinks emporium, I have found the perfect way to add some (alcoholic) warmth to the cold, dark evenings - more fabulous wine by some young punks. I get to obsess over the fabulous label illustrations, Lee obsesses about the deliciously unusual grape combos, then we both drink it. Like I said, perfect (and very more-ish). I feel a collection coming on...

Meanwhile the big freeze continues, making it a huge effort to do much that involves going outside (as that would involve me, a spade and mucho shovelling. Brrr), but on the other hand it does give me plenty of time to sit in my cosy kitchen with some lovely coffee writing this post! And I am kicking myself for not finding out until after the event that there was a spectacular lunar eclipse this morning. It was amazing by all accounts and apparently only happens around once every 400 years... darn!

Monday, 6 December 2010

seasonal sprouts

Finally, after much faffing, procrastination and snowy havoc, my Christmas card has made it to the printer and only a week late! Now all I have to do is remember to write them and post them when they return...

Sunday, 28 November 2010


I would be feeling more festive today, what with the snow and a roaring fire and all, if only I didn't have to come up with an idea for my Christmas card - like smartish. After spending an age lovingly painting a robin last year only to swap it in favour of something scrawled on the back of an envelope in 10 minutes, I've decided not to spend too much time on it this year. Well, that's one reason, the other being it needs to go to print on Wednesday! So far I only know sprouts may feature... post to follow I guess. Until it's done though, for the purpose of this blog I'm rehashing the above (how lazy!); the owl is a detail from an old illustration for 'At Night' (I can't believe I didn't even notice I had a thing for drawing birds until recently. Duh).

I've also got a minor alteration to do to the whistling santa illustration for my publisher (as they're using it for their Christmas card this year) and I need to write some not-too-cringy text about myself for a feature in the next issue of Juno (they're also using an illustration of mine on a card notifying all their contacts of the magazine's change of ownership - so lots of free publicity coming my way, which is very cool). But oh my gosh it is sooooo cold (I am typing this wearing fingerless mitts like an extra from A Christmas Carol).

Oh, and don't forget to leave a comment on the Monochromatic post if you want the chance to win a mounted bat print.

Monday, 22 November 2010


"On the 3rd of December 2010, Aberdeen City Council will meet to discuss proposals which will see music tuition in Aberdeen either privatised or terminated. Both options would be hugely damaging to music education in the city. Pupils who have Council instruments will be forced to return them and those wishing to carry on learning an instrument will have to pay for private tuition and the costs of purchasing their own instrument – an option not available to many. In addition the bands and orchestras run in schools and by the Council Music Centre will cease to exist."

And so it begins. The truly scary part is the philistines at Aberdeen City Council are not alone. They're not the first local authority to view the arts as a soft target nor will they be the last. Neither are the cuts to the arts restricted to tuition in schools (despite the fact that my guess is that while these cuts might save a ridiculously paltry amount of money in the short term, long term they'll cost - unemployed teachers, the widening gap in educational attainment between those from different economic backgrounds and all that comes along with it for starters), these come on top of the cuts to culture in general. Yup, let's ignore the fact the cultural industries are of enormous value to the economy and play a vital role in regenerating communities, while wholeheartedly rejecting the importance of culture in a civilised society.

I sketched my wee boy the other day as he drew a complex picture 'game' of pirates, complete with treasure map - totally lost in concentration as he added details of palm trees, sharks, treasure chests, erupting volcanoes and men overboard. His imagination is amazing and I'd like to think that's a positive talent his school would love to be able to recognise, nurture and encourage. But depressingly it appears we're now living in a society that not only doesn't value creativity and the arts, but in fact actively sabotages them and/or is intent on retaining culture only for the elite, so perhaps not. As someone fabulously said - the arts add colour to our lives. It really is that black and white and that's why these cuts are so totally, utterly tragic.

But enough with the enforced drabness, leave me a comment with your views, sign the petition or protest any other way you see fit.
And purely as an exercise in adding colour I'll be putting all posters' names in a hat and giving away a mounted Echo the Bat print come the festivities/revolution.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

blue blood, white nights

I'm gradually making the switch from my trusty old watercolours (which I've had for oh, ever) to my shiny new White Nights watercolours.... and loving them. Very intense. The brief was simply for a king and a queen, I'm not sure why he's doing his staring into the middle distance thing or what her facial expression is all about.... that's just how it came out!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

a very rough rough

In amongst the chaos I have managed to snatch a tiny bit of time to start on the poetry book - rough indeed, but now that the first ideas are out and down on paper the whole process becomes so much easier. I hope.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

all ears

This year's pumpkin effort was greeted with cries of "it's got ears! Who the hell puts ears on a pumpkin, you weirdo?" Clearly my attempt at a sinister grinning Cheshire cat has not received the recognition it deserves. Pff, I don't know why I bother (except actually I do, given that I did it while my eldest was at work and my youngest was at his party - I do it purely for my own selfish amusement, cos it is fun!). Um, happy Halloween.

Friday, 1 October 2010

black dog and barter

Hot off the press, I've been working on these. The illustrations for the winter issue of Juno. The street scene morphed (at around midnight, after a glass or two of rioja - which does wonders incidentally for dispersing that kinda hesitant "eek! Beautiful but scary sheet of stretched white paper and I'm going to attack it with a pen with no pencil sketching first" feeling) from an idea involving scales. Which was appropriate but, after a second reading of it, I decided scales didn't quite communicate the social aspect of bartering described in the article it was to illustrate. On a more cautionary note, I'm not generally recommending working while a little boozy though, there's that whole brush water/wine glass danger to be aware of for a start...The second one is my fave though, for an article on bipolar disorder. It's a fairly bleak article written from a personal perspective and I was having a teensy bit of a creative crisis wondering how to go about conveying it, until a chance conversation resulted in the fabulous black dog suggestion (I hadn't heard the expression in connection with depression before).

Meanwhile the children's drama illustrations are all editor and author approved and the publishers want to use one of them (the whistling santa) for their Christmas card this year which as well as being quite flattering, also happily means oodles and oodles of free festive publicity for me.

Finally, it's Banned Books week (In The Night Kitchen? Really???). There's an excellent post on this over on illustrator Cassia Thomas's fab blog.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

all the young punks (and a bat)

My first post for what seems like ages. The illustrations for the children's plays are finally finito... 32 in total... and all now with the publisher. I'll post more as it happens. But they have taken up most of my time lately, so much so that there hasn't been much spare to post on here. Ah, the highs, the lows, the Photoshop jiggery pokery at the last minute. The next project will be a goodie though - a lovely children's poem collaboration in picture book form that's been waiting patiently in the wings.

Meantime though, my red wine addiction, combined with the lovely Lee now gainfully employed in a local(ish) drinks emporium, got me thinking now is the perfect opportunity to get around to growing my own wine cellar (and please note, I use the term wine 'cellar' loosely, in an-Ikea-wine-rack-atop-the-kitchen-cupboard type way).

And how cool is this? My own personal Master of Wine has triumphed already with The Squid's Fist (above) from Wine By Some Young Punks. Let's face it, even if it tastes gawd damn awful it's worth it for the Asaf Hanuka label alone (although I'm assured the clash (geddit?) of Sangiovese and Shiraz is both unusual and divine). And you have to applaud any wine which eschews the usual wine label conventions of "ripe" and "spicy" and the like for "a monster bigger than the three of us that leads us to soapbox, grandstand and sometimes pass out on the couch." Fabulous. My main challenge now is to ensure this bottle is still in the rack when the next one arrives. Will keep you posted, unless I'm passed out on the couch...
Incidentally, the bat was a bemused and disorientated visitor to my garden recently. My best (but ultimately misguided) efforts to get him to fly came to nowt (I've since been informed they don't, not in daylight hours anyway, so tossing them about in a teatowel is both pointless and quite possibly cruel). So I called the SSPCA and, I'm sure much to his relief, he was removed from my clutches, released safely into a wildlife sanctuary and is hopefully not permanently traumatised by being 'rescued' by me.
[Edit: The Squid's Fist survives, for now, but the Cat's Tail syra next to it? Loooong gone - a distant but delicious memory...]

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

this chicken is not edible, for decorative purposes only

Although I have no idea why... all I know is ' a cake with a decorative chicken',which so makes me want to get my mitts on a copy of the text...

Also, a sunbather. I told you the content was varied!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

an ambiguous wolf

'a wolf waving from behind a tree'
Is it a friendly wave or something more sinister? I'm not sure...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

they might be giants

Well yes actually, he is! That's why the tree is so teeny tiny...

I'm working through the illustrations for the dramas - 5 down, loads more to go!

It is fabulous to get away from the computer screen though, especially after all the design work I've been doing this year. Pushing coloured water around a piece of paper is so much more fun and very therapeutic. Put a little birdhouse in your soul indeed!

Thursday, 8 July 2010


My rough sketch for the next illustration, the Pied Piper plus mucho rats. I found it incredibly difficult to find my own slant on something that countless other fabulous illustrators have depicted already... so I decided to take my own work as a starting point (the piper bears a passing resemblance to the evil pipe playing monkey in 'Monkey and Bear'
[Edit] Finished illustration above.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

the twilight zone

The new project is a fairly big one; more than thirty illustrations for a book of children's dramas. It's a lovely job though, as the subject matter is so varied. So the elderly bods above appear alongside the fat hedgehog and the benign hen below. And still to come - mermaids, giants, wolves, monsters and turnips, to name but a few! Much fun!

[edit] And ooh, ooh, was nosying about on the fabulous Jon Davis's blog and stumbled on a link to this amazing Ukranian illustrator. The artwork is stunning, I just want to fall in and soak it up. And further foraging in blogland also turned up Lisbeth Zwerger, whose work is spellbindingly exquisite and who I hadn't come across before. So I have just ordered the book above (love those colours)...

Friday, 2 July 2010

get a grip hen...

...that's what I imagine, in my deeply ignorant fashion, is what someone from the West of Scotland might have said to me the other day if they had witnessed my frantic multi-tasking and ensuing panic. I have a new illustration project (the benign hen above will feature) and some straggling design projects, like the fiddle festival work below, which stubbornly refuse to end despite my best efforts. All a bit manic. Which is good I guess, but also mucho stressful.

Friday, 25 June 2010


I'm feeling particularly smug after finally making the cushion for J's chair. And it only took me a couple of hours too (discounting almost a year of procrastination before I opened my sewing box, obviously). I expect my parents realise the error of their ways when they made such a fuss about me dropping Higher German to take F&F with a view to doing something vague with textiles now. Oh yes.

So, yay, feeling all Good Life and Country Living today. Plus, the best bit... it is reversible. Tree-mendous on one side, but if you get bored with it, simply turn it over and it's, erm, owl-right. (I was brought up with bad puns).

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


I finished last night and I think it works. I took aspects of each of the photos supplied and mixed them up (to create the rough below). The beach is local and the cliffs are bit of a landmark, so they add a personal touch to the illustration. Just the mounting to do now...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


This is what I'm currently working on. A commission for someone's wife's birthday; her two children on the local beach in the style of an illustration.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

going downhill fast

Well not really, but I've being burning the candle at both ends recently and should probably, definitely even, get an early night soon! Spent the weekend whizzing around the borders, crossing bridges between Scotland and England, visiting relatives and attending weddings. Too much dancing, drinking and talking! Arrived back late last night with this illustration still to do. Still, it's done now. Phew!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

one day my prints did come...

Yeah, yeah, I know I've used a similar post title before and the joke wasn't that great the first time round. It's been a busy day is my only excuse. I will try harder tomorrow...
My prints finally arrived at 4.30pm (I've been waiting in all day), but as usual Michael has done a fabulous job so definitely worth the wait. Now I have to cut mounts, oh and sign them.

the loss of letters

The latest Juno magazine illustration is taking shape. As usual, I'm going right to the wire with this one and still one more to do. This one needs some more work - I wanted Letraset but can't source any quickly enough, so will have to rely on Photoshop. Darn, was looking forward to getting my mitts on some of those letters, I remember how much fun it was to use. Just something so satisfying about scrubbing away at it with a pencil, then lifting the sheet away to see a perfectly formed letter. And way more soul, with all its imperfections, than a computer programme. Pff. Deadlines, dontcha love them.