Happy Year of the Goat


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I’m recovering from a rather horrific bout of food poisoning (or possibly Norovirus). It’s far more incapacitating than I’d imagined.

Anyway, here are two old pieces from 2004 or 05 of Mother Goat and her kids from The Wolf and the Seven Kids by the Brothers Grimm. A ‘Throwback Thursday’ and Lunar New Year post at once.


Mother Goat and the seven kids. Ink and gouache on Sennelier heavyweight drawing paper.


Mother Goat and the youngest kid. Ink and gouache on Sennelier heavyweight drawing paper.

Happy Year of the Goat!

‘It’s your turn now.’ Dippy and the Blue Whale


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[Cross-posted at Love in the time of Chasmosaurs]


‘It’s your turn now.’ Ink on watercolour paper, 202 x 100mm.

Scarcely had I mentioned how well Sophie the Stegosaurus complemented the presence of the beloved Diplodocus at their respective entrances to London’s Natural History Museum than news of the latter’s planned retirement emerged, apparently splitting the public and experts alike into ‘Team Dippy’ and ‘Team Whale’ across social media.

Of course I’m sad — very sad — to see ‘Dippy’ retire (no, I don’t much care for the name either, but that’s another story).Ā  For me as for so many others, it has been the museum’s de facto mascot and symbol for as long as we can remember. And lest our readers forget, sauropods are among my favourite dinosaur groups. My own ‘saurian portrait‘ is a Diplodocus, for heaven’s sake.

‘However, change, or its refusal, is not within our gift.’ I welcome the blue whale with happy, if subdued, acceptance. Of the many voices in its favour, Michael Rundle of Huffington Post UK encapsulates it best for me, not least because he puts forward the case with great respect and affection for both without any of the unnecessary aggression and derision I’ve seen accompany some arguments (‘Dippy is fake! A lie!’). My illustration above attempts to reconcile this change in the same vein. The title of ‘It’s your turn now’ speaks both of the whale skeleton’s place in Dippy’s stead and of the blue whale’s fragile existence being celebrated now. I wanted to avoid that dreaded word, ‘relevance’, much bandied about in this case. Nevertheless, highlighting the blue whale’s significance doesn’t seem to me to signal a disregard for the Diplodocus. But perhaps I’m not cynical enough on that score.
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O’er the fields we go…


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Spread 2, Jingle Bells, published by Walker Books, 2014. Ink and gouache on Arches hot pressed.

I hope readers in the north-eastern United States aren’t too severely plagued by the current snow storms. My own friends in New Jersey report having escaped the worst of them after all, with ‘only’ about 6 inches of snow. Not unlike this spread from Jingle Bells, perhaps. I think I wouldn’t mind a little of it to come to London…

BBC Music Magazine


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Ink and gouache on Arches hot pressed watercolour paper, 190 x 240mm.

This illustration from 2012 accompanied an article in BBC Music Magazine about classical music for children. The pieces referenced in the image are, clockwise from top left, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Elgar’s Nursery Suite, and Jonathan Dove’s opera, The Adventures of Pinocchio.

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Creative weapons of choice


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I’ve been invited by Gerald Kelley to share my own #ā€ˇCreativeWeaponsOfChoice. I would have usually just taken a picture of my work desk, but it’s undergoing an upheaval at present and I’ve moved to work in the living room; so instead, I’ve gathered together my most frequently used materials for a picture. I’m sorry about the poor light, it’s been dismally grey here for days.

Chinese ink, Winsor & Newton and Holbein watercolours, W&N gouache, Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks, Doctor Ph. Martin’s watercolour inks, Noodler’s ink, Derwent pencils of various ranges (mostly Drawing and Coloursoft as well as tinted charcoals), sepia powder, and most recently for my current project, Turner’s acrylic gouache. I also use Kuretake Japanese watercolours and Marie’s Chinese watercolours, though there wasn’t room for them here! Many readers already know from the many progress pictures I’ve shared that I use mostly Chinese brushes (to draw with as well as paint) and a few ‘western’ sables. I use mostly Saunders Waterford and Arches watercolour papers. For drawing, I love using tinted papers, besides my Moleskine sketchbook.

Happy New Year


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Egret on snowy branch. Ink and gouache on Bockingford paper, 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

Inspired by Ohara Koson. This piece was actually created back in October as part of the Inktober challenge, but which I neglected to post at the time. The original now belongs in the collection of a very kind friend, supporter, and fellow artist (illuminator, sculptor, and jeweler extraordinaire), Sophie Klesen.


Obligatory penny-comparison picture.

Happy New Year!

The Night Before Christmas


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TNBC Pop-up2ePng-1200

The original pop-up I made for The Night Before Christmas, published by Walker Books, 2007. White Canson Mi-Teintes paper. The base measures 472 x 236mm when open. The pop-up is roughly 155mm tall at its highest point (the church steeple). All the pieces were hand-cut with a scalpel.

For those already familiar with my illustrated version of Clement C. Moore’s famous poem, seeing another post about it trotted out again this year might be a deadly bore, but as I haven’t posted about it properly on this blog before and I’m conscious of having gained new readers, I may as well as not.

First published by Walker Books in 2007, the book was reprinted in 2012, and is now in its third edition in 2014: a mini one this time.


From left (bottommost): 1st edition, 2007; 2nd edition, 2012; 3rd edition (mini), 2014.

This book has done great things for me. I have fond memories of working on it and can still look back at the illustrations without cringing (too much) on the whole. It has garnered favourable reviews and I’ve even received kind letters from readers. It was also the first book to have ever brought me royalties, which was and remains an ever so slightly mind-boggling thing for me. The latest I heard was that the present mini edition is selling like the proverbial hot cakes. It even made an appearance on Irish television’s The Late Late Toy Show.


‘Dash away, all!’ Spread from the book.

I am fond of, and grateful for, this book. The pop-up I made for it will probably make an obligatory annual appearance for a little while yet.

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Each of the reindeer I drew has its own individual pair of antlers, and they were repeated accordingly throughout the book — including for the pop-up.

‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!’



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