Gentleman on Train


I drew this on the crowded Braintree train, on my way home with my eldest son, on January 21. We’d spent the day mudlarking under the millennium bridge and lying on the floor under blankets at the Tate Modern. It was a good day.

Naked Trampolining



This is probably not such a good title – well, unless I want to attract visitors via internet porn searches… (Which I think I did a short while back, with this post about breasts).



There’s probably pages and pages on this topic in other darkened corners of the world wide web. Who knows, perhaps there are groups dedicated to furthering the sport of naked trampolining; devoting their weekends to the free swinging of body parts, in various secret locations around the country. There’s probably even a secret society. I’m certain there must be international competitions held annually in Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

I need to tell you that these were (mostly) drawn with my left hand. It’s really becoming a thing.



CLUE: Not all these images were drawn with my left hand. Can you tell which ones were drawn with which hand? If so, which do you prefer?

And why draw with my left hand? I’ve dealt with that a bit here. And why this subject matter? God only knows. Just that it’s fun. It makes me grin. It’s playful – and that’s important.



Along the same lines is this wee sketch, something that sums-up a daily activity for many women on the planet (well, at least those of us who aren’t daily engaged with the business of walking miles and miles to fetch water, queuing for food aid, or making treacherous journeys to hospitals and schools).

And just to cheer you up again after that slightly serious note: Here’s a Victorian Gentleman bouncing…



Black Dog

Here are a few snapshots of recent doodling pages. Some of these were done whilst ‘watching’ TV; quite a new strategy for me. I think it’s of interest because it closely replicates the circumstance of being in a meeting or lecture (see other examples here and here), where one’s mind is distracted enough to allow something subconscious to emerge.

I was thinking about an image to represent how the past 24 hours had been spent in the company of the damned black dog. It was probably my birthday that triggered it – maybe – or other life baggage… but hey, there it was. I thought, if I can create an illustration about it, I would be able to join the many other artists (poets, writers, sculptors, singers etc) that have been open about their struggles with self, with meaning and with depression.

Well, I’m still working on the cartoon – but I’ve been having fun on the journey.

And you want to see some of the things I found along the route so far?

Of course you do…




These cute wee dog characters.



This guilty looking child…


This stubborn little miss… (who I just happen to ADORE!)




And this dungaree’d kid (who is undoubtedly me)…



So as for the ‘In the Grip of The Black Dog’ post – you’re going to have to wait a bit longer, I’m still working on it.



A little project for a very cool charity called London Play, and an event they are running called Unplugged in Enfield.

This logo has been designed for a promotional badge, hence the bold colours and lines. I was asked to create a robot-child that was running free, hence the addition of a trailing USB.

The original sketch

Just Imagine Shelving

A recent project for Just Imagine Story Centre. You’ll see Imogen is here, from earlier days (although I originally called her Ingrid). You’ll also see a lovely print above her, by fellow Essex-based illustrator Diana Mayo.

It was a lot of fun to do and was done in a rather short time-frame and yet I couldn’t help getting excited by all the possibilities… I fantasised about making crazy fabric jungles and colourful puppet plants, and I’ve always wanted to make a paper maché pigeon. Still, time limits what we can do more often than not, and I think I did a pretty good job of turning old cardboard boxes into a little fantasy forest in just a few hours. Nikki’s team kept me supplied with tea and biscuits too, which obviously helped.

Just Imagine had a very successful day showing off what it is that they do, and I’m sure their visitors enjoyed browsing all the beautiful books on display, in a cardboard woodland surrounding!

Frustrated Face-Palm Mum


I’m working on a lovely wee educational picture book with Oxford University Press at the moment. I’ve been busy with the roughs stage, and then its been Christmas – and I’m not sure how much I am allowed to say about the book just yet, so I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently.

Yet this drawing emerged from all my furious scribblings ahead of the deadline in late December, and it amused me. I think it might be worth a blog post…

It won’t appear in the book. Mainly this is because it appears to show a frustrated, sweary, face-palming woman when it’s meant to show a kind young mother adjusting her hair. Ahem – just to demonstrate what a large difference a hand position, stance, or wiggle can make.

I like her though, she looks Italian – gesturing like that. Or maybe she’s simply a mum like me, slowly loosing her cool because her kids have not yet cleaned their teeth and have just tipped out the dressing-up box and marble run, two minutes before they need to leave for work & the school run.


Wildlife Mural at Thorndon

So,the final mural… read on to discover more about the process of putting it there

The mural is at Thorndon Country Park Visitor Centre, in Brentwood, Essex.  It’s in the cafe, but you can’t see it from the cafe. If you’d like to take a look, you’d have to ask to peek in the Education Room. The room is used for children’s parties too, and it’s also used to store a lot of incoming and outgoing stuff – you might notice this around the edges of my pictures (and I’ll use this as the excuse for some of the wonky angles).

Cute Sleeping Badger was the first animal to be added


Mole, blackbird and squirrel came next – and the squirrel went through a few versions before I was happy with him. See below:

More fluffy than hairy.
Just because he’s cute – but sorry picture isn’t very good.

I’ll be honest – I LOVE the earthworms. There’s something about their child-like simplicity that just works for me.

The interesting thing is that the mural was NOT planned down to the very last detail – as you can see from this rough sketch:treeAnd you can see that the central character wasn’t planned at all. As I painted, I realised the mural had space for something (I was thinking Fox) and then both Ailsa and Abby suggested a fox. I think he turned out to be suitably handsome and curious-looking.

The fox – just before finishing – the cropped version below is the finished version
Ailsa (Thorndon’s Visitor Centre Manager) and Abby (the catering manager) said there had to be a spider.

I wanted to include a hibernating bumble bee and a hedgehog (maybe I should’ve also included a juicy snail for him to eat, to help fatten him up before his winter hibernation).

Then – and this is the advantage of being flexible – on my last day there were a lot of rangers in and they suggested additional inhabitants. So on the last day I added an ant’s nest, a millipede, a centipede and the tawny owl and her baby. That last one was Ailsa’s idea. I’d originally sketched a woodpecker for the hole in the tree, then Ailsa wanted a bat – and finally it was agreed it should be the tawny owl, because there are quite a few of them in Thorndon.

I didn’t manage to include a damsel fly, a robin or a soldier beetle which were also suggested. I also did not include a tiger, an elephant, an Australian fruit bat or a parakeet – although there are now parakeets at Thorndon, apparently. And what with the world warming, perhaps one day there will be Australian fruit bats…

Just to show that the process the owls went through:

I really enjoyed the whole process. Lovely people work and volunteer there, and the woods, well – they are spectacular, especially in Autumn. It was good to get out and work on a large scale with paint and brushes, and splash about a bit of colour too.

Oh – and here’s my details. In case you should want to pay me to paint on your wall…


Large ladies drawn with my left hand

Because, well – why not?


I might try some reportage work using my left hand.

I think this would be the first time I’ve drawn from my imagination using my left hand. I will definitely be doing it some more.

Any suggestions for subject matter?

To Pee or not to P

The meeting with Bloomsbury went well – but basically, for the foreseeable future I’m occupied by being a writer for that particular project.

So this – I’m not sure how much I can say yet – but these wee-uncomfortable children are part of an initial stage of character development for a project that I hope I’ll be working on very soon. Yes, it’s a proper, professional, paid project.

That’s a lot of p’s – and what with these guys needing to pee…

Grotsby in Black and White

I’m experimenting with black and white because Grotsby might appear first as an older children’s chapter book, and in those the illustrations are often black and white or just two colours. Will try the two colour version next. Generally though – it’s been a while since I’ve drawn him (other than line sketches) so it’s good to be playing with ink and a dip pen again.

There’s always the same challenge – to balance my love of line with the need for tone, colour, texture – and trying to find a consistent working method – all without loosing the energy of the original sketch.

More challenging than many people think.

Original Sketch (1)


Original sketch (2)

I’m off to talk to those lovely people at Bloomsbury again tomorrow – so wish me luck!