The Three Sisters: the whale


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‘Suddenly, the sea swelled and a giant whale broke its surface…’

Illustration for The Three Sisters, from Oxford Treetops Greatest Stories: Grimm, retold by Jan Davidson, published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

Ink on Strathmore Bristol, vellum surface, approx. 160 x 235 mm.

I originally wanted to draw a sperm whale for this, simply as a change from humpback whales which I love and which I tend to default towards (see my illustrations for How the Whale got his Throat from Just So Stories, for instance). But once I’d sketched the rough, I found that a sperm whale from this perspective was decidedly visually dull. With little more than its head visible, it was essentially a slightly rounded off, rectangular block, with precious few details of interest. A humpback, with its tapering head, undulating contours, throat grooves, and long pectoral fins, was far and away the better candidate. It needed to be another humpback, and I was only too glad to draw it.



Seger’s card



Remember Arent’s geboortekaartje?

Well, my friends Lea and Jasper now have a second little boy! I’ve been asked once again to create a little geboortekaartje for Seger, who arrived on 13th May, about three weeks sooner than expected!


Pencil, charcoal, ink and gouache on Strathmore grey toned paper, 120 mm diameter.

Lea and her family are moving to a new home by the sea, and both this and Seger’s name suggested a watery theme. In the midst of the #MerMay challenge last month, Both Lea and I independently hit upon the same idea: an illustration of a merboy.

Congratulations again, Lea and Jasper! Welcome, Seger!


A June Fae


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Watercolour on Saunders Waterford hot pressed, 110 mm diameter (approx. 135 mm from tallest wingtip to bottom of circle).

This illustration was originally created about two or three years ago as part of the cover for a prospective book, for which I was also to have contributed internal illustrations. In the event, the publisher underwent something of an upheaval, and the project was either shelved or had fallen through. I never heard anything further about it.

So I’m hoping that my finally sharing this won’t get me into trouble! I suppose, were the project to ever go ahead again, that I could do a new illustration for it if need be.

On the heels of #MerMay last month comes #JuneFae for this (there is also #JuneBug and #Junicorn, but we’ll come to those later); and although this piece had nothing whatever to do with it, I just felt it opportune to share it as a kind of opener for my own (however meagre) contributions for the month. Unfortunately, the scan robs a considerable deal from the original, not least the blue of the outer robe, which is a more teal-like colour in actuality.


Illustration Magazine, Spring 2016



I have a spread in the Illustrator’s Notebook spot of the current issue of Illustration Magazine (UK, Spring 2016, Issue 47).


(Please click the image to open it out to full view.)

Thank you so much to Linda Owen-Lloyd of Children’s Book Illustration for suggesting this feature, and to Ruth Prickett, the magazine’s editor!




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#MerMay is the creation of animator, Tom Bancroft, and is a challenge whereby one posts a mermaid drawing each day for the month of May.

Now, anyone who knows me at all knows that it is entirely impossible for me to complete this challenge to its fullest condition, even had I no other work to do but to simply draw a mermaid every day. So my contribution to this would be to try and do one whenever I can squeeze it in for the month.

Of course, having once dipped my tail in, I find myself completely carried away by my first piece. I originally aimed for a sketchy sort of drawing and never meant to get this far. And having got this far, I’m not actually sure I like it.

Oh, well…


Pencil in Stillman & Birn Zeta Series sketchbook, approx. 135 x 210 mm.

T. rex: There is no ‘try’


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Blue pencil on hot pressed Fluid watercolour paper, 150 x 145 mm.

A gentle rebuttal to the ‘T. rex trying’ series and a competition prompt for Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs. Please see this post for a chance to win a copy of Dr. Dave Hone‘s book, The Tyrannosaur Chronicles!


Pens and Sensitivity


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Let us call this a ‘Flingback Friday’ post, shall we? When I illustrated the bicentenary edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility for Palazzo Editions back in 2011, Illustration Magazine ran a small feature about it and previous illustrated editions of the book in their Autumn 2011 issue. Due to some mishap or other, I never received a copy of the issue at the time, but the situation has been rectified and I’m finally able to share the article.


Pens and Sensitivity. Illustration Magazine, Autumn 2011 issue.

The article mentions my preparing to work on the bicentenary edition of Pride and Prejudice, as planned by Palazzo at the time. Unfortunately, as some readers may be aware, sales for S&S were so poor that the project to illustrate the bicentenary editions of all of Austen’s novels had to be sadly abandoned.