Thursday, 18 December 2014

the spirit of Christmas

Some blatant product placement for the festive season, after all isn't naked commercialism what Christmas is all about?! I'm kidding... I think...

The last of my previous years' Crimbo cards in the wine shop - now the discerning booze buyers of stoney can get their last minute alcoholic presents AND a card without having to go to two different shops... I am here to help! Happy Christmas!!!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


To lighten (not really) the mood since my last rant, here's a happy Halloween post. Inspired by my beer label design and a last minute costume panic, it's me being a non-castle-specific green lady (there's one in every castle in Scotland, which does make it harder to believe in them). Or rather, this is what a green lady might look like if she were freezing, on her third night out in a row and fuelled entirely by vodka and red bull. I'm not sure the pale face paint and ghostly black shadows under the eyes were strictly necessary - I may have looked like that underneath too...

Anyway, the castle I'm drunkenly haunting in the pic is Muchalls, where some fab friends hosted an excellent Halloween party last weekend, but if I had to pick a specific green lady I'd be the Dunnottar one (she haunts the brewery...).

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

free for all

I normally just ignore requests asking to use my artwork for free (but they’ll credit my work? Really?!? Like I'd seriously let them use it without a credit?!).

But, as it seems to be happening more and more, I thought I’d go to the effort of actually posting about it and, hopefully, it will save me getting irritated with future requests. The text below is a shortened mash up of a fabulous post from Craigs List in the US on why it’s ridiculous to ask an artist to work for free. Enjoy.

“To those who are seeking artists, let me ask you; How many people do you know, personally, with the talent and skill to perform the services you need? A dozen? Five? One? None?

In this country [US], there are almost twice as many neurosurgeons as there are professional illustrators. There are eleven times as many certified mechanics. There are SEVENTY times as many people in the IT field.

So, given that they are less rare, and therefore less in demand, would it make sense to ask your mechanic to work on your car for free? Would you look him in the eye, with a straight face, and tell him that his compensation would be the ability to have his work shown to others as you drive down the street?

Would you seriously even CONSIDER offering your web hosting service the chance to have people see their work, by viewing your website, as their payment for hosting you?

If you answered yes to the above, you’re obviously insane. If you answered no, then kudos to you for living in the real world.

But then tell me, why would you think it is okay to live out the same, delusional, ridiculous fantasy when seeking someone whose abilities are even less in supply than these folks?

Graphic artists, illustrators, painters, etc., are skilled tradesmen. As such, to consider them as, or deal with them as, anything less than professionals fully deserving of your respect is both insulting and a bad reflection on you as a sane, reasonable person. In short, it makes you look like a twit.

A few things you need to know:

It is not a great opportunity  for an artist to have his work seen on your car/zine/website/bedroom wall, etc. It IS a great opportunity for YOU to have their work there

The chance to have their name on something that is going to be seen by other people, whether its one or one million, is NOT a valid enticement. Neither is the right to add that work to their portfolio. They get to do those things ANYWAY, after being paid as they should. Its not compensation. Its their right, and its a given.

For those who are looking for someone to work for free - please wake up and join the real world. The only thing you’re accomplishing is to insult those with the skills you need.”

So, just to be absolutely clear, it doesn’t matter how lovely you think my artwork is, or how amazing it would be to use it for whatever it is you want to use it for. If you want to use it, please respect me enough to pay for it. That way I get to pay my bills AND create more fabulous artwork for you to use, right?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

hand of history

After two years of badgering everyone I've met (and now known as a 'militant' yes at work!), the indy ref is on us! Feeling hugely optimistic now and, although it's 50/50 and nothing's certain, I'm so excited, the next two nights will be sleepless for sure. The pic is J's badge (he's gone from no to firm yes... I haven't had the heart yet to tell him he's too young to vote... He will be coming with me to the polling station though!).

Read this earlier today

and it makes me want to cry! Sharing here Facebook stylee for anyone who has a vote tomorrow. Go for it Scotland!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

back to work

The first finished Morse illustration and, oh, the joys of not having a scanner big enough to take the double page spreads! Much joining and Photoshop colour correcting later... and I notice even posting here, that a LOT more is required. Pff!

Somehow though, it feels like progress has been made - one down, six to go (although two more are almost complete).

Sunday, 17 August 2014

so long summer

It's been a fab one though! Can't believe it's almost over. There have been gypsy caravans (minus horses)...

But also, horses (of varying sizes)...

Still, the darker nights mean more time to finish Morse and for blogging; I've totally been slacking over the summer.

Next excitement? The indy ref. No prizes for guessing which way I'll be voting...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

my mother said, I never should... with the gypsies in the wood! One of my favourite rhymes when I was little (along with the amazing illustration that accompanied it in the nursery rhyme book I had. If I find it, I will post it). So how fabulous is it that this beautiful caravan will be our holiday home this summer?! And it's a buy one, get one free kinda deal - it comes with the other caravan below! (And a fire pit, and morning croissants and fresh eggs for breakfast. I can't wait!).

Edit: mucho thanks to Victoria for posting the link to the illustration below, along with lots more. I haven't seen it for years! Thank you so much for sharing it!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Saturday, 28 June 2014

best laid plans

Of mice and cats...

I'm now in amongst the Morse illustrations proper - it's a production line of stretched paper on drawing boards, but now that the roughs are all done and the final illustrations are settled on, I'm enjoying the process of paint on paper in an almost therapeutic way! This is the first of the three double page spreads and is almost finished (Morse's stint as a magician goes slightly wrong!).

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


My first mutt portrait for absolutely ages, and he's a black one... I feel like that painter character from the fast show (black, black, black!) and my hands look like I've been mining coal. Almost done though! Much more fun to do when I'm only doing the odd one now and again, rather than the four or five a month I used to do. And he has a cool name - Satchmo.

Edit: done, now just to mount it and off it goes... Then all hands back to the Morse book!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

cat chaos

And so it begins! After months of thumbnails, roughs, translations and numerous lattes with Gracie, the Morse book is finally starting to take shape! It's really rather fun (oh, and the top hat is a nod to Mr mistoffeelees).

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

happy feet

Me and my happy feet setting out on the 26 mile Kiltwalk on Sunday. The feet were definitely not so happy by the end (my alternative, and less positive, post title was going to be 'shredded feet'!). I'm the waving person in the white tshirt on the right - was slightly concerned the footprints on my tshirt would end up being real ones, if I collapsed en route! Did it though, my feet are in recovery, and my pedometer mannie is super happy once more. The work team have raised over £10k for Scottish children's charities and I've definitely caught the walking bug after all the training. Go us!!! My only regret is that I didn't get any pics of the fabulous scenery we passed on the way (I was scared if I stopped, I'd never get going again!). Now that it's over, expect more illustration posts....

Friday, 16 May 2014

Aberdeen, Stonehaven... Milan!

My Blessings print continues its global conquest, this time heading off to Milan (London, Paris and New York next perhaps???). As this sale came from my collection of cards and prints available over on cloth nappy specialists The Nappy Laundry Company, owner Nicole insisted on an 'artist signing the print' picture - can you tell she had a previous life in PR?!

Incidentally, a little PR of my own: mini business cards, each featuring one of my illustrations. They're very cute!

In other news this week, a spectacularly failed attempt to see King Creosote at the 'From Aberdeen with Love' screening - tickets on the door turning out to be a myth, unlike that of the arts scene in Aberdeen being a parochial clique. Feeling like you're trying to gate crash a private party rather than attempting to access a public event is not exactly the most uplifting cultural experience I've ever had! (Although I did get to see Kenny Anderson up close and exceptionally beardy, before opting for tapas outside at cafe 52 instead! Less cultural and hairy, but more delicious!).

Sunday, 4 May 2014

busy doing nothing


A good day. A 5 mile walk along the coast from Inverbervie to Johnshaven for lunch at the Anchor Inn, a visit to starfish studio (where I bought the fabulous local pottery jug now housing the twig collection from my boys), then a - slightly slower!- walk back. 

My pedometer mannie is super happy! 

Later, a barbecue and bonfire on the beach with friends, all finished off with a couple of erdingers and a bowl of chips outside the marine hotel. Sometimes it's nice not to be working.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

less geisha, more ghost

The beer label visuals progress, pretty much along the route of this post title!

Update: so the Green Lady Brewing Co. are happy, give or take some minor adjustments I've still to make. I'm so excited to see it on bottles, on actual shelves! I will be posting pics!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

green lady

Finally! I've been working on the beer label design for the Green Lady Brewery Company. As the brewery-cum-wineshop is housed in a pretty impressive art deco building, I wanted the label to reference that a little, while still being modern.

So, for inspirado, I turned to the books of Vogue covers and 1920s fashion illustration I bought when I was, gosh, 15! I looked at these so often as a teenager, even decades later I still know nearly all the illustrations by heart.

Just to mix it up, and because I thought the green lady - a ghost who supposedly haunts the brewery of Dunnottar Castle - should be slightly more ethereal than a 1920s flapper, I channeled another of my teenage obsessions in the form of some Alfons Mucha style art nouveau.

(As an aside, it would seem nearly all Scottish castles are haunted by a green lady, so make of that what you will!).

Here's first look at the initial visuals. To keep it current and add shelf impact, I've added a slightly irreverent bottle of beer (a nod to the ubiquitous flapper cigarettes which were obviously Vogue illustrator shorthand for an emancipated lady!) and rendered the illustration in a flat, solid colour graphic style (flat design is everywhere at the moment).

Still some fairly major tweaking of layout and typography to do, and that's assuming the Green Lady Brewing Co. are even happy with the direction the artwork is taking, but I'm pleased with how the visuals have turned out so far...

Thursday, 24 April 2014

and super creeps

A sneaky snippet from my latest Juno illustration, winging its way to the editor as I type. As usual I can't say or show too much before the summer issue hits the news stands, suffice to say it looks even creepier here with the retro snapsneed photo effect applied! But I promise to try and remember to post it in full - hopefully on the new blog - when it is finally published.

In other news, I have been approached to take an after work art class for adults - despite being a little bit (healthily!) nervous about it, I'm actually really excited now. More details when I have them!

Edit: Yes! I have kinda sneakily referenced the mighty Bowie in my last two posts - thought it only polite since he kindly invited the whole of Scotland to "stay with him"!

Monday, 21 April 2014

scary monsters

On my drawing board* today... Don't have nightmares!

*it's actually on the kitchen table (I do have a drawing board in the little studio, but I still prefer working in the kitchen. Possibly due to the proximity of the kettle!).

Sunday, 20 April 2014

pigeon pickle

I realised today why two wood pigeons have been hanging about my teeny back garden lately. Obviously the lack of cats these days, coupled with the fact we've not been in it much over the winter, had led them to believe it was a people-free oasis of calm (and not the playground of small boys and Maine Coon it actually is) and they were busily building a nest in one of the larger bushes. Rather than let them get on with it (and discover later that it really wasn't the kind of neighbourhood to bring up small pigeons!), I thought it best to let them find out now, before their bird architecture progressed beyond the foundation stages. Sweeping up and banging shed doors open and shut wasn't doing much to dissuade them, just stressing them out (they're quite big, flappy and scary up close!), so I turned to Facebook with the pic above in the hope some of my more nature savvy friends might know how to gently persuade them to move on...

Turns out sticking an iPad in their face to take a pic for Facebook does the trick - half built nest now hurriedly vacated!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

secret caves and castles

A whole glorious week with my boy in front of me - we started today with a walk up the cliffs to Dunnottar Castle, stopping for a picnic on the little pebble beach below the castle entrance. That's my friend's boy in the centre, J is actually the small white speck in the distance to the right of the picture, off to explore the cave beyond (the verdict? It smelled of pee, apparently! I gave it a miss!).

Sunday, 6 April 2014

in the frame

Something I've been meaning to post for a while: my Blessings illustration print which went to Brisbane, Australia in 2013, framed and ready to give to its intended recipient (a doula teacher). It was so kind of Emma to send me the pic, and I absolutely love her choice of mount!

I've also teamed up with The Nappy Laundry Company, who are now selling Blessings prints and cards in their online shop. If you have a wee one, check out their amazingly cute cloth nappy range!

Friday, 4 April 2014

lovely things countdown

It's all been happening here, what with the Morse book, my greetings cards sales and my new website currently under construction, not to mention two upcoming Juno illustrations and the Green Lady beer label... so much, in fact, I forgot to mention my visit to the Glasshouse the other week! Lots of lovely things by lots of local artists and designers - the picture is of some of the cards I picked up at the event (I have a long wish list of things I wanted to take home!). But seeing them all together like this gave me an idea - as I'm counting down to website launch day now, and will also be making the transition from blogger to a new home, I'm putting together a collection of fabulous treats for a site warming/launch day giveaway... More soon!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

on hold

Nope, not a belated April fool, it is in fact true that my much talked about, new and improved website is actually beginning to materialise! Having lost the will to update the previous ones years ago due to them looking so, well, utterly shit, I can't even begin to describe how excited I am about this! There's a holding page only at the moment (featuring the Juno illustration above), while I embark on the steep learning curve that will be me and web design... but it's a start and most definitely progress.

Monday, 31 March 2014

nine lives

Another meeting with Gracie, the author of Morse, on Saturday and a couple of lattes later I think we finally nailed it! I have my list of illustrations, a (very) rough idea of where we're going with it and, most importantly, a starting point to begin. Morse sounds like he will be quite the character and already there's talk of a second book, so I hope I can do him justice. Now the real work starts!

The rest of the weekend was given over to J's birthday - I can't believe he's nine already. A sleepover with a few of his friends (from which I'm still recovering!). When I finally get over it, I have my new website and blog to get up and running.... More to follow!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

the brains behind the technology (or not...)

So walked 10k with technology this morning, me and my vivobarefoot shoes and a bracing faceful of hail between the sunny spells. A lovely country walk I thought, except the left hand turn I was looking for to loop me back round never materialised, so I basically marched 10k into the middle of bloody nowhere, and had to sheepishly phone dad to come and get me (never good when you're as old as I am, but no way was I walking 10k back!). Dad when I get in the car: "I'm surrounded by a family of buffoons" - I don't think he was joking!