Wednesday, 10 December 2014


As artists we expected to have our own 'style' something that is recognisably ours. I look about my fellow creatives and see that yes, each and every one is very individual and very talented.

My own style is something that if I'm honest, I struggle with. My brain is so full of pictures I want to paint, many many characters to create and bring to life and places I want to capture in my own way. But I just simply cannot keep to one style, it would bore me. I continue to experiment with media and styles and find still that some things work for one image and yet not for another.

As you will see from the following, my work varies considerably from fine tiny detail in my 'Small Worlds' to highly detailed works for classic stories and poems, to simpler that fit well with characters.
Southwold World - Ink on Bockingford paper

The Owl and the Pussycat -  inks, acrylics and colour pencil on Bockingford paper

There's not mush-room under here - ink on Bockingford paper

See they are all so different, I think they are obviously mine from the use of bright colours, but style wise so diverse. My question is, should I be sticking to just one style? Am I wrong to be so varied? I have had various opinions on this and recently found this article about artists styles, but it left me with more questions than answers.

So what do I do to get my work seen and used in the highly competitive market? My heart says carry on, style and taste are so personal to the artists and the viewer. I don't want to 'specialise' in one style, I want to continue to be vibrant and varied and to cater for many tastes. But does this narrow or broaden my market? For publishing, probably one looks better, but for my customers, well they seem to like a bit of variety.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments, I am interested in seeing your opinions.

Friday, 17 October 2014

the 'C' word, seasonal of course!

OK so it is fast approaching, yes Christmas, sorry!

It is a busy time for many of us I know, so is it a 'Marmite' thing? Do you love it or hate it?

I have mixed feelings I'm afraid. Part of me loves it, but I also loath it too. I have been planning way ahead this year, only really from a business point of view. Creating enough stock of  artwork, hand painted tree decorations, card designs, that I'm due to collect from the printer next week and so on. So by the time we actually get to the big day I will no doubt be totally fed up with it all. BAH HUMBUG and all that. However I am looking forward to being at a few fairs this year, I do enjoy that side of it, hearing what the public think, seeing the excited faces of the children. As for the present buying, I'm sorry but I try to avoid the high street tat that gets churned out in their millions. I prefer looking for something different, hand crafted if possible, so head for galleries, craft markets and such like.

It's the commercial side that I dislike, the adverts start in September, just after the children go back to school, with the 'Have your sofa by Christmas' ads and from then on we are bombarded with toys, perfume and food ads, that are nauseating to say the least. The chef of the house panics about how to cook the turkey, and will it be enough? This makes me smile, after all it is just like any other roast dinner and if in doubt ask the butcher, he knows best. I have to say that though as my son owns and runs his own butchers shop, so it's a manic time for him too. I do the behind the scenes advert designing etc for him, so that has already started too.

I have loads to do before then, some lovely commissions, exciting ones too. So if the next few weeks could go slowly that would be great. So I'd best sign off and do some work!

Hers is a look at what I have been creating for the fairs, thinking I will be painting more soon too, as they are already selling!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

smell the roses

All too many times in life I have been reminded of how fragile our lives are. Every time I say to myself, 'it's time to live'. Well I actually guess I'm lucky. I have a roof over my head, a loving family, children I'm very proud of and I'm doing what I love, my art and writing. Okay so if I'm honest it barely pays the bills, but I'm happy in building my business, a name for myself, always in the hope of recognition.

I have achieved things I'm very proud of, the main one being a silver gilt medal at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years back, for an exhibit I designed and illustrated and my wonderful team helped me construct.  I worked for several years in horticulture and still have a passion for plants and beautiful gardens and landscapes.

Those landscapes still inspire me, as an artist and writer. If I hit a stumbling block for ideas, a walk in the woods or on the beach is sure to inspire. For me it's a reminder of the beauty there is in the world. With all the sadness and horrors that currently pour into our lives via the media, I'm saddened at humanity. I long to hide away in the beauty of the world, give me a small natural built home in the middle of nowhere to be self sufficient, write, paint and work with nature, that sounds like bliss.

We all have dreams, aspirations. The grass is always greener and so on. But sometimes, on those days where we are feeling down, we need to look at others and understand that we all have our troubles, our sadness, and take time to reflect that our lives are really OK. Count our blessings. Take time to smell the roses, watch the sky, the stars, hug a tree (yes there is an underlying hippy in me). Even in the city there is beauty, sit and people watch, take a walk in the park, kick through the autumn leaves, put a shiny conker in your pocket as a reminder. But above all take a few minutes each day to just stop, forget the rat race, the bills to pay, the worries about our children, our parents, just a few minutes for just you. Stop, breathe and still dream those dreams, work towards them but remember to live for now, we forget that all too easily.

Friday, 26 September 2014


My question to you all is where does that inspiration come from? That light bulb moment that pings in the depths of the night when you are trying to sleep. The muse that tickles at the grey matter of your brain.

As an artist and attempting writer, those moments are magical, if not sometimes frustrating as they do so often happen at night. I keep a notebook by the bed, crazy mixed up night time thoughts get noted down, sometimes without putting the light on, then the time to decipher comes in the morning. Or it could be a walk on the beach, rain or shine, the soft breeze or a howling wind. I'm always tuned into using all my senses and likewise there is usually a notebook and pencil in my pocket, along with a hand full of shells or sea glass. Things that trigger memories, long forgotten emotions, things that are meaningless to others but are precious to me.

Picture books from childhood, the smells of cooking, how the light falls through a window, or even a piece of music. It's a wonderful feeling at the moment for me, I have so many ideas brewing, ideas for a series of illustrations that I'm calling 'A play on Words' I have lists and doodlings all over the place and will gradually get them done around other projects. This is the latest, that I'm really pleased with, this is 'There's not mush-room under here!'

I loved doing this one, as a child I was rather obsessed with toadstools, having one autumn found hundreds of all colours and sizes in our garden, from then I was hooked on drawing them. There is something very magical about them for me and drawing this one took me back to my childhood memories, the kicking through damp golden leaves, the peppery smell of decay in the dew drenched grass and woodland.

Then I am retuning my brain for the writing, at the moment its tuned into city life. I grew up in London such a contrast to where I am now, open skies, fields, trees. But my vivid memories are helping in my writing, I think I must have always been in tune with the world, the recollection of the smells, the tube, people, the way I felt as a child waiting for that tube train to thunder into the station, the wind in my hair, that electric smell. It all gets taken in and used.

I'd love to hear from you about the things that inspire you as artists and writers, the places you go to ease that creative block, is it in a good novel, a walk in the park, night life of a city or a teacher who was the one person that believed in you and pushed you to go for it?

Ok that's enough of my musings, I need a walk in the woods.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Darkness and light

Hi everyone, I love how you drop by for a read, would love to read your thoughts and comments on my blog, so drop me something below if you fancy.

Anyway back to the point in hand... Darkness and light, well that's where I seem to be at the moment, in a good way, don't worry.

Well work is leading me in interesting directions at the moment. The book cover illustrations continue, working on another one in a series by Pauline Chandler at the moment, the first being Warrior Girl, a great read, will be available later this year I hope, but no spoilers from me. Viking Girl is next and both are beautifully written, so no trouble getting inspired with these. But the images I'm doing are very different from my normal style, but I'm loving their boldness. 

The light side is the continued creations of designs really aimed at the greeting card market, that are a 'Play on Words'. The range so far can be viewed at , but there are so many ideas building up in my head, frantically trying to note them down to come back to and steadily work on. Well here is the latest, which seems to be a big hit over on my Facebook page. This is 'Mice-ion Impossible'...

On slightly darker side I'm back to writing. OK I just couldn't keep away. The first novel, written, edited, corrected, sits here waiting for me to be brave enough to try showing it to publishers. However the next one is just bursting to be written. But it's much darker than the last, more sinister, but there's a strange part of me that's loving it and the research is fascinating once again. To be honest I'm only writing for myself (I've probably said that before) but that's how it is. However if others read and enjoy then that's great too.

And now for the darkest part (Sorry Kevin in advance, you probably don't see them as such). Recently I picked up a great book, didn't know so at the time of reading the blurb, but it had me interested. First chapter and I was hooked. Wonderful descriptions of a place I know well, with a disturbing twist, vividly written, gripping and has pushed me to order all the rest of his books from the library. The book? you ask... Lucas by Kevin Brooks, a must read, as is the next of his I'm reading Black Rabbit Summer. OK so it was very late for me turning in last night, gripped again. Again dark but curiously enthralling, part of me wants to shy away, but there's just that bit of me edging me on saying 'Oh I need to know'. Kevin has won this years Carnegie medal (Well done Kevin!) for The Bunker Diary. I have read the reviews the comments, the criticism of the subject matter and horror, but know I will have to read it. I'm like a fly ensnared in the web that his words weave. But it does raise the question how dark is too dark and menacing for children and young adults? It has made me question my own writing, maybe I'm too soft. Although a friend that I have know for over half my life read my first novel and was shocked that I had it in me for murder (well writing it). I'm hoping my next novel will be more edgy but its just getting it so it works technically at the moment. But the re-workings will bring out the juiciness from the bare bones I'm writing now.

Creating stories for children will always be controversial, after all the Big Bad Wolf was scary when we were young wasn't he? Read more about The Bunker Diary here...

Saturday, 13 September 2014

a bit of a Peter Pan?

Well I have just returned from a few days away at my favourite place. Near the sea, pretty beaches, endless sky, beautiful food, (fresh fish of course), paddling, swimming in the sea, kite flying, sand castles, crabbing with the help of a friendly seal and the usual pocket full of shells after every walk.

It was lovely to be free of wifi, no connection except the mobile phone, (which was on silent.) The lovely company of friends and my daughter. We hired a pretty little beach hut and relished in the beautiful September golden sun on a peaceful beach, watching the tide ebb and flow and the grown ups having childish fun all day. Cups of tea and picnic, just about sand free, but that's all part of it isn't it?

I did some sketching, a lot of reading and idea collecting for writing. The clues, people, places and plots are all around us as writers and artists, anything from a simple beautiful shell quickly sketched to the soaked up atmosphere and the characterful locals in the pub, it's all there noted for use at some time.

Sometimes it's just good to get away from it all and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, to appreciate our beautiful planet, the white gulls soaring overhead in an azure sky, warm sand between the toes, the smell of the sea on an evening breeze. It's good to clear the mind of the things that weigh us down, to take time to just stop to watch the sunset, the moon rise, the the turning of the tides. To switch off the technology that clogs our lives and to listen to the breeze, the gentle lapping of the waves the distant call of the curlew. I just wish I could live like it all the time, a sea view to wake to, a studio looking out over the water. Maybe one day. Until then my paradise where I can feel free and act like the child that lurks within is only an hour from me, so I will be back, soon.

Fancy a day like that? Drop by the Little Beach Hut Company and take a look, its worth treating yourself!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

and now for something completely different, for me anyway

Ok so I'm an illustrator, but deep down there has been something else creative lurking. For many years I have had the seed of a novel, just niggling away at the back of my mind, a seed that had water and nutrients added a few years ago at a conference.

I attended the annual UK SCBWI conference in Winchester and one of the classes was working with us as illustrators, getting us to imagine and see all the detail in a piece of writing, it got us to open our minds further as artists. The artist leading the class, Debbie Gliori, read extracts from the following piece by Stephen King. It inspired me, not only as an illustrator (I think I put those details in my images already) but it made me want to write.

I came home inspired and the seed started to grow, eventually some months later I put pen to paper, well fingers to ipad and wrote my first piece, that now (slightly titivated) stands as my prologue. That was it I was hooked and wanted to write more and have.

My novel for YA is written, edited (twice), beefed up, spell checked. It has taken a year, but its been a wonderful journey, the seed had grown, blossomed and fruited, I have learnt so much about writing, the do's and don'ts, the research has taken me to unimaginable places and been very serendipitous along the way and I have learnt so much about myself, opened my eyes further with those details.

In honesty I only wrote it for myself, never really thought any more about it than that. However there have been a few willing people who have taken their time to read it, advise, help and praise where it's due and given me encouragement not to give up. I know I'm a way off being brave enough and proud enough of it to try submitting it, but maybe one day, until then new seeds are forming, I have 'the bug'.

Now over to Mr Stephen King, get inspired...

back at last

Morning all, hope things are good with you and you have all enjoyed the wonderful weather? It's a tad autumnal here in Suffolk today, but I'm hoping there is still more summer to be had yet.
It's been too long since I last checked in, but I have been busy I promise, illustrating book covers, private commissions, card designs and completing writing my own novel.

I have been working with a small publisher to relaunch a few novels with new covers four in total so far, though one was changed at the last minute which was a shame, but that's publishing for you. Pop by the link to my website to see the covers so far.
This is one, Watch & Wait, I have done for a wonderful anthology that will be launched in October, all proceeds will go to the Lymphoma Association.

With Christmas fast approaching I have been planning ahead and illustrating a range of cards that will go to print later this week. If you are thinking of wanting a special gift for family or friends for Christmas, I take commissions and will work closely with you so you get what you want. Drop me a line for a price guide and to discuss what it is you are after.

This is one of the card designs, 'Mice Skating' follow the link to see the rest in the range of 'play on words' greetings card designs

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Education should be fun

Good morning all.
Another busy few weeks gone by, book cover illustrations, private commissions and education.

I have recently started working with a new publisher, One cover is completed and the book, written by Caroline Pitcher is available on Amazon now. In Kindle and book form. Check out 'Mine' By Caroline Pitcher.

Another image for a cover is just finished, for a very special book that I shall tell you about soon.
There is talk of maybe four more covers too.

I have also had two days teaching art at the Ipswich Art School with some of the local primary schools.
The workshops ran alongside the Once Upon a Time exhibition, which sadly ends on 4th May.
Three primary schools came for a visit and the workshops, totalling 165 children!
We worked on large rolls of paper on the theme of The Owl and the Pussycat, most of them knew the poem, we thought about the characters, setting the scene and adding our own elements, like fish and sharks in the water, shells on the beach, shooting stars, rainbows and clouds in the sky. They all were able to take these beautiful pieces of work back with them to their schools to proudly put on their walls.

They were all a joy to work with, beautifully well mannered, enthusiastic and open minded. I was great to see how open their minds were, anything goes when they are young, sometimes I do wonder whether our education system is too regimented, fitting the expectations of government, lacking free thinking. I'd love to get the starchy Mr Gove into an art workshop and loosen him up a bit, open his mind to a broader education experience! Anyway even those who were a tad reluctant at the start went away with dirty hands and smiles. A totally wonderful experience for me too, I'd love to do more workshops with the schools. So a big thank you to those schools involved and the the museum service for asking me to run the workshops.

Well today is a tidy the studio day ready to start sketching up ideas for the next project, one I am really excited about, but keeping under wraps for now.

So here is the tidy(ish) studio, if you are like me, you will love a good nosy around other creatives work spaces, mine is an organised mess really, full of things I love, the beauty of nature collected and of course the view from my studio. How lucky am I?...

Sunday, 6 April 2014


Morning all.
Well it has been a busy few weeks. The Once Upon a Time exhibition at Ipswich art school is still running through until the start of May. To coincide with that I have been running a few art classes with the Ipswich and Colchester Museums at their Saturday morning art clubs. I have worked with various ages talking them through sketch work, simple character ideas to working on individual illustrations to depict The Owl and the Pussy cat. We were able to wander around the exhibition, talking about the amazing work and the museum lent us a beautiful taxidermy Tawny Owl to sketch from.

The results were wonderful, their imaginations went wild with ideas, beautiful creatures drawn and amazingly beautiful and unusual Bong trees were developed. A very enjoyable experience for me, rewarding to see the children's imaginations used with no limits. I also have a couple more schools interactive art visits coming up at the exhibition, where we plan to produce a frieze with 60 pupils Owls and Pussy cats all on one big image.

I have also finished the TA job at school, I have decided I need to take the bull by the horns, so to speak and throw myself into full time art, art teaching and writing. Really looking forward to having more time to create, so many ideas, characters and story lines to work on.

I have been working also on a few commissions and ideas for book covers. I have just finished an illustration for a book cover for a small publisher. The story by Caroline Pitcher is dark and mysterious, about moving on in life, new beginnings.

I have a few more books to be working on in the nest few weeks, plus commissions, so plenty to keep me busy, but as always still looking for commissions and hopefully a publishing deal!

A few weeks ago also saw the launch of my new website, constructed to my vague layout by a dear friend who is so amazing at this kind of thing. I'm over the moon with it, easy to navigate and smart and tidy. Pop by for a look and let me know what you think.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Saturday art club

What a wonderful feeling of Spring in the air.
Today I spent the day at Ipswich Art School working with a couple of groups of children on illustrating a piece of poetry.

The wonderful creative and some quite lively bunch, worked hard on creating images to illustrate The Owl and the Pussycat. I read the beautiful poem out to them, many of whom hadn't heard it before (to my amazement). I got them to really listen to the words, then picture those words, paint their mental images and to then set their images down onto paper. I gave them images to work from and the Ipswich Museum kindly loaned us a beautiful taxidermy Tawny Owl to draw from.

 I even tried to catch them out with the question "what does a Bong Tree look like?" That's the beauty of Edward Lear's Nonsense poems, they are so open  to interpretation.

Well the results were wonderful, such vivid imaginations. They created some beautiful images, varied and quirky and knowing no boundaries.

That's the joy of being a creative, we can explore beyond the ordinary, push back the boundaries of everyday life, explore new worlds, new and varied possibilities.

After all when did you, in reality, rummage at the back of the old wardrobe and find another whole new world lurking behind the old fur coats and scarfs?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Owl and the Pussycat

Well I think there are quite a few here in the UK that could do with a beautiful Pea Green boat at the mo, terrible battering the country is taking weatherwise.

I have battened down the hatches and been working away on a big piece to go alongside some up coming art classes I am tutoring here in Ipswich.
There are adult taster illustration classes/ workshops
And Saturday children's art clubs
where I will be working on a theme in character development and working towards building a final image.

This is the image I have done, an old favourite, The Owl and the Pussycat...

I am also working on a new character for a children's story idea, will post pics very soon.

Stay dry everyone. x

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Once Upon a Time

Phew what a busy and emotional few days.

Saturday saw the opening of the Once Upon a Time exhibition at the Ipswich Art School.

I have five pictures showing alongside some wonderful local illustrators, many of which you will know of.

Edward Ardizzone, Nick Butterworth ( of Percy the Park keeper, Albert le Blanc and Q Pootle 5), Lois Cordelia, Michael Foreman, Margery Gill, Kathleen Hale, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone (101 Dalmations and many others), John Lawrence, Diana Mayo, Gillian McClure, James Mayhew, Helen Oxenbury (We're All Going on a Bear Hunt), Margaret Tempest (Little Grey Rabbit), Bee Willey.

The exhibition was opened by the Mayor of Ipswich and the wonderful Nick Butterworth spoke to the gathering about his work, books, inspiration and working with children.

I was honoured to find my work hanging next to Nicks work in one of the galleries, something I could only have dreamt of.

I have also been asked to run two evening workshops for the art school and four childrens Saturday workshops.These are coming up during the end of February and into March, really looking forward to doing these and I have some planning and drawing to do in preparation.

Monday, 6 January 2014

delivery day

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year! Well I don't know about you but I'm fed up with the weather and looking forward to sunny warm days already. I have been busy over Christmas working on greeting card designs that I hope will be available in the near future. I've been allowed to share this one on new years eve over on my Facebook page, this is Hogmanay....

I have also been busy framing the pictures ready for the Once Upon A Time Exhibition, here in Ipswich at the end of the month. It's on through til the start of May and there are amazing illustrators exhibiting, so pop by to take a look....

anyway I best get myself sorted and get the pictures delivered to the Art School for the exhibition.