Lizzie Stewart - Library find in June

I love this cover for Louisa May Alcott's, Little Women, by Lizzie Stewart which I shelf checked at work last week. Another good library find. Thanks work.


Sonny Jim Page 2...

There are many scrapped versions of this page, I didn't really know how to go about laying the page out. But I read this really helpful article by John Shelley and looked through lots and lots of different picture books for ideas. The three boxes approach is quite popular at the moment, it seems, this approach was used in lots and lots of the books I looked through. I found it to be a good strategy when illustrating a list. Doing this project is a really good exercise in sequential drawings, it's also lots of fun, and I'm learning a lot!


Doggy BALLpaper

There's another pun for you. So I got to thinking, if a dog had their very own bedroom and could choose the decor, they'd probably have wallpaper with their favourite thing on, BONES obv.

But Wallace and Gromit have visually riffed on the classic 1980s child's room white cloud on blue background wallpaper, by having white bones on blue background wallpaper, (thanks for the heads up my friend Linzi!), I had to think what else dogs liked apart from bones.

Sticks and balls. But stick wallpaper, could probably have looked like poo wallpaper (which lets face it dogs also like because they are gross), so I opted for balls. Then I remembered in the 1990s loads of bed spreads and tshirts and things had American sports on, like baseball, and weird old American football, because in the 1990s AMERICAN STUFF WAS SO COOL.

So I made this wallpaper, which I didn't end up using in the final illustration, but I was pleased with it none-the-less.

I give to you... BALLPAPER.


Pedigree Chum Art Department Here I Come. Probably.

Been having a lot of fun designing dog things for this Sonny Jim project. Especially this can of dog food, and also drawing a load of dog toys.

Here's my dog food. It's pun heaven, for all you pun fans out there.



was mostly spent watching Dr Steve Brule (all three series are on adult swim), and then exploring Cornwall in the rain, and making two pages of Sonny Jim. Busy times.

They make Check It Out look authentically bad by running it through a VCR and banging the top of the machine to make the tracking go out. JOHN C. REILLY IS THE BEST!!!

Here's my favourite Dr Steve Brule poem...


April's Library Find

I loved this illustrated packet of viola seeds by Hannah McVicar that came with this months Garden Illustrated.

Can't wait to plant them, especially if they come out looking like Ms. McVicar's illustration.


Hanasaka Jiisan - Photo 3

Third, and final Sonny Jim (my reworking of the Japanese fairy tale Hanasaka Jiisan. God, where have you been? I've like only been blogging about it for like ages, and boring everyone witless.) photograph, I promise! 
This is the final photograph for the mantel piece. It's a family portrait inspired by a photograph of my grandad and grandma. My grandma is wearing that exact dress in the photograph but it has nautical striped fabric. I wasn't in a stripe mood, I was more in a Hawaiian pattern kind of mood. Older man has palm trees on his shirt.
The carpet is from a photograph of me as a baby, and I hand drew the wallpaper, to represent the 70s-ness of my g-ma's front room (front room was the 'best room', and hardly ever used.) There was a really great cuckoo clock that used to hang in there, which is definitely going to make an appearance in the background at some point. 
They are so happy. What could possibly go wrong?...


Hanasaka Jiisan - Photo 2

So I've been busy working away on illustrating the first page of 'Sonny Jim', a reworking of the Japanese fairy tale, Hanasaka Jiisan.
This is puppy Sonny Jim after graduating from dog training school. He was so well behaved that he received a special commendation. He is just the best dog ever.


Hanasaka Jiisan - Photo 1

First photo of three, to tell a back story.

Shows older lady, when she wasn't as older, with her beloved puppy dog, Sonny Jim.

Taken whilst on holiday at the Lake District. Earlier that day they'd been to the Keswick Pencil Museum, dogs aren't really allowed in, but the lady on the admissions desk let them take Sonny Jim in, "this one time", as he was so cute (and toilet trained), and the older couple so polite.

After this photo was taken they hired a rowing boat and took Sonny Jim on his first boating trip around Lake Windermere. At first Sonny Jim whimpered as the rocking motion of the boat scared him, but after a while he relaxed and climbed to the front of the boat to better feel the breeze in his dog face. They had a really great holiday.


March's Library Finds...

1. My Dad's A Birdman by David Almond, Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. (C) Walker Books, 2007.
This book is awesome! It touches upon heavy subjects like mental illness, grief, and being a child carer but still manages to be funny. Beautifully illustrated by the excellent Polly Dunbar (I love her picture book 'Penguin'. Top notch.)
 2. Home In The Sky by Jeannie Baker. (C) Walker Books, 2001
I freaked out when I found this book. Jeannie Baker creates really atmospheric picture book illustrations. Home In The Sky features 3-dimensional constructed sets of 1980s New York, each piece is so detailed and really conveys the vibrancy of a big city. A homing pigeon gets lost in the city of a big apple and is found by a young boy.
3. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, cover illustration by Emily Sutton. (c) Vintage, 2013.
I just really loved this cover, the colours are lovely, by the excellent Emily Sutton. (I think I'm going to have to do a separate blog post about Ms. Sutton. I think she's so ace!)


Hanasaka Jiisan - A Japanese Fairy Tale Project


I thought I'd start a project where I illustrate some fairy tales that I'm unfamiliar with, and Japan have some crackers ones. They are absolutely bonkers, like all good fairy tales should be.

So I've been doing a bit of planning and sketching and the like and really liked the angry couple that I drew. They are actually a really nice couple, but are angry because their dog has dug up their entire lawn. Naughty boy.

When I'm an old lady, I'm totally having her hair.


Floral Drawing For Pablo Cat


10 (!!!!) years ago I completed an internship at the Vardy Gallery in Sunderland. Robert Blackson was the curator at the time and he very kindly gave me a shot.

Whilst I was there, my Mum and Dad (who ran a garden centre at the time) provided a load of pansies for an installation, 'Floral Graffiti', that took place in Backhouse Park, Sunderland by the artist Maggie Hills. The phrase, 'the future is empty easy to convince and ours’ was spelled out in flowers along a bank in the park. Sadly kids trashed it, so it wasn't there for long. They did leave the word 'ours' in tact, the amateur psychologist in me thinks that it was probably their way of telling the gallery that the park was their space. It's a shame as it did look proper good while it was in situ.

Here are a few pics I found on Maggie's blog:

Inspired by this project, and missing our lovely departed cat Pablo, I planted these bulbs in January in our garden in the shape of a love heart. We miss you our little furry man.


Illustration Friday - Survival


I've never taken part in Illustration Friday before - but thought I'd have a go before I go to work. The topic this week is Survival and I'd seriously be not alive without cheap tinned food.  Let's hear it for the miracle of tinned food.


California Postcard Zine Coming Atcha!

Hello my lovely people of the world,

I have finished the first part of my U.S.A. travel zine postcard set, which is now available on Etsy. There are 7 postcards in the set and the feature:

1: San Franciscan Animals
2: Charles M. Schultz
3: Driving North on Route 1
4: A Chipmunk eating a stolen Kellogg's Cinnabon
5: Turkey Vultures
6: Carson Mansion, Eureka
7: Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

So we went to this roadside attraction called 'Trees of Mystery', which is famous for weirdly shaped red wood trees, and they had two super massive figures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in the car park. Or parking lot if you will. But I won't. And Paul's hand moved so he could wave and he said hello to you, and told bad jokes.

What with not being American I had no idea who Paul Bunyan or this blue cow was. And I'm still not entirely sure to be honest. They did tell his story inside with some big wood carvings and from what I can remember (it's all a bit hazy), right, his story went like this:

This couple found a giant baby in the woods, and dragged him home on the back of a wagon. Then luckily they had a giant bottle and they fed it giant milk. And the giant baby grew into a giant boy, and then into a giant man who got a job as a giant lumber jack. Then he made friends with an ox that was blue, and also called Babe. Babe the Blue Ox was also giant, but I'm not sure why he was giant or blue. But I think he might possibly have been magic, so probably blue and giant because of that. And then they went around together chopping down giant redwood trees with Paul's giant chopper.

Always end on a cheap joke. That's my motto.



Vultures from California

I turned 30 years old last week, and what better way to celebrate then to draw some vultures. Now I'm old I can see them, in the film inside my brain (otherwise known as 'imagination'), circling overhead. Luckily though, I live in the UK where we don't have vultures in real life, only at the zoo, so I don't have to worry about being tracked by them at least.

When we started driving north from San Francisco and got out amongst the California hills we started to see these massive gliding birds everywhere.  On consulting a well known search engine, we were like "holy crap, they are turkey vultures". They were everywhere.  There must be loads of dead animals in California. Or rubbish tips. I always thought that if I ever saw vultures in real life they'd creep me out, but I thought they were great. Probably because I was safe and sound in a car, and not near to death. I think if I was in California right now, they would be following me everywhere, saying to each other, "Not long now lads, she turned 30 last Wednesday you know."


Drawing Birds To The Garden Has Finally Drawn To A Close (for now)

I started this project like a zillion years ago (2011) where I documented all the birds I saw in my Mum and Dad's garden.

I started the bird images as a bit of a joke to myself - as a friend of ours is a really amazing wildlife photographer and has a really posh expensive camera, and I was thinking how I'm really poor and also get confused by numbers so will never be a very good photographer, but that I'd really like to be able to take photographs of birds. So I decided the only way I was going to be a wildlife photographer was to forge photographs.

So I painted each bird I saw and placed them in a photograph of the spot where I saw that bird.

Well I have finally finished the first 10 - and the zine and pack of cards is finally up on etsy!  Phew!  Who said I never finish a project? Oh me. Well gutted Laura you actually finished a piece of work.

50p from every zine, and £1.00 from every card pack, is being donated to the Watercress Wildlife Association, a lovely volunteer run nature reserve in St Albans, Hertfordshire.


NEW SINGLE ALERT!!! Council Tax Band - Flumes

Here is our newest offering, 'FLUMES'. I did the artwork, it features little Pete from the best kids show ever, 'Pete and Pete'.  We watched both series of Pete and Pete whilst recording, and little Pete is my hero, if I ever have a son he better be exactly like little Pete or he will be banished from my kingdom forever.



Romano Gabriel Wooden Garden, Eureka, California.

One more post about Eureka. So we left our budget hotel rather early to go and look at the scary Carson mansion and this amazing piece of art by carpenter Romano Gabriel.  There's a really good write up and photographs HERE! CLICKY! CLICKY!

Gabriel was an Italian carpenter, who moved to America in 1913.  When he retired from working in the timbre trade, he started doing what all retired people do, gardening.  But instead of growing a garden, he sculptured one out of wood.

His garden was full of figures, and trees, and flowers, and some of the pieces even had moving parts powered by motors.  When he died in 1977, the garden was dismantled, and it now lives in a small building with a glass front, so it's protected from the elements.  It was so exciting to see, and was colourful and cheerful, I would have loved to see the garden in situ.

That's one thing that really struck me about America, we saw lots of examples of people just making art for arts sake, for themselves, or their neighbourhoods, and it's really quite inspirational.

You wouldn't have caught Romano Gabriel waiting around for Arts Council funding, or prostituting himself on Kickstarter, he just made and created because he had the urge to, as a way of self expression, and as a result he made a funny and beautiful work of PURE art.


Photos taken by the one and only Andrew Elliott!


Carson Mansion

So up the coast a little way from San Francisco, and still in California, is a cute little gold rush town called Eureka.  I was proper buzzing about going to Eureka for two reasons. I will blog one today, and one in the next few days.  Today's reason is the Carson Mansion.  It's flipping awesome. You can read all about it HERE! CLICKY CLICKY! It really really reminded me of the Addams Family house, and so despite the beautiful blue Californian sky, and really real palm trees in the garden, I saw lightning and mist and scariness.  Below is a photo I took with my mind camera whilst standing gawping at the stupidly detailed beautiful scary house. (The real house is bigger, and more. Just more more more.)


The Trouble With Ghosts Is They Are See-Through.

I just wanted to put up my Congo lady ghost from my Heart of Darkness illustrations.  She's not really a ghost because she doesn't die or owt, it's just that protagonist sees her in the eye of his crazy old mind.

I always feel sad when doing ghosts as I work really hard on them and then make them transparent. I should maybe learn my lesson and not really bother as much with them. Anyway I felt my Congo lady needed to be featured, as she's got on a really good outfit, and I spent a long time posing in front of my mirror with a blanket wrapped around me and my arms stuck up in the air. 


Inuit Tusk Carving

One more post about San Francisco...Whilst there we went to the De Young Museum, which was really exciting because I'd had lectures at university about their collection, so it was pretty amazing being there.  The gallery which I found most exciting was the Art of the Americas, particularly the Inuit art.  It is so cute, and the carving is so simple, and the forms of the animals are completely spot on, all the animals look like they are mid-movement. I really fell in love with it.

I can't really find out much information about the purpose or history of tusk carving, but I like to think that this is a diary of all the animals successfully hunted by the crafter.  I think that's why the animals look a little bit sad.

It was hard to get a good photo in the gallery, as the lighting wasn't great.  So you'll have to make do with my artists impression...


If You're Going To San Francisco, Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair (Cos Then All The Humming Birds Will Come And Eat All The Flower Juice Right Next To Your Head And It'll Be Really Exciting.)


Last year me and my parrrdner went to America for like 2 months.  I've only just got over the trauma of not being in America anymore just driving around, and have only recently been able to look at the photographs and watch the videos without feeling really sad.  So I have started a project to documents our two months - and it will eventually end up as a zine/travel guide.  Saw some awesome things.  So here's the first town summed up in an illustration... SAN FRANCISCO.

San Francisco has lots of:

1. Hills
2. People walking dogs
3. People walking all their belongings around in shopping trollies
4. People just sat around playing bongos, smoking the disgusting drugs
5. Scary areas to get lost in
6. Sunshine 

Two of these things are good (the dogs and the sunshine), the rest are pretty much bad.  But San Francisco ended up being really great, despite the crazy scary people animals, for these reasons:

1. Saw the Pacific Ocean
3. Saw loads of SEALIONS!!!
4. Saw some turtles in the Golden Gate Park Lake
5. Discovered Heinz pickle relish
6. There was just palm trees everywhere, like a really real holiday
7. The ceiling of Mission Delores, the church featured in Vertigo.  You know that film. 


Roll Up! Roll Up! Get Your Old Photographs Ghost-i-fied Here!


This is a second call to become a member of GHOST CLUB!  All you need to do is send me a photograph, like Laura Donald did (from the ace blog drop stitch), and I will add a hand drawn ghost. When I have 12 photographs I can make a supernatural zine.  I have 6 images and need another 6, so come on people!  All you need to do is email me a darn photo and I'll do the rest. 35mm snap shots work bestest.

Here's Laura's:


Don't Wet Your Pants Everyone, My Etsy Shop Is OPEN (again)


After being emailed by one nice man who wanted to purchase the cigarette cards, I decided it was about time I re-opened my etsy shop.  You can find all the classics: the cigarette cards, the collection #1 zine, the poisoned pug dog get well soon card, you know all the hits are available and ON SALE NOW (again)!!!

Only while stocks last. That's a lie, if I run out I'll just print some more. There will always be stock.  No wait that's not good salesmanship. Only while stocks last.

I'm also going to be working hard this week on getting more really excellent stuff on there, I just need to relearn how to use my digital slr.

Wish me luck!

May the force be with you or something, and to all you ill people out there...get well soon.


Heart Of Darkness Illustrations


Over the Christmas period I was busy working on these three illustrations for the Joseph Conrad novel, Heart of Darkness.  If you've read it you'll know the novel lives up to it's title, and is not very Christmassy to say the least, but it's really exciting, and one of those books that plays like a film in your head when you read it.

I was going to enter them into the House of Illustration competition, but after having many lengthy discussions on the ethics of competitions, and lots of toing and froing, decided not to. I am totally against the idea of 'pay to play' gigs, and competitions don't differ a great deal from these, so decided to be pure of heart and stick to my guns and all that.

So here are my finals...

Ave! Old knitter of black wool...

On silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side...

She put out her arms as if after a retreating figure...


Meet My Baby Red Ford Sierra

Whilst doing some artwork recently for Council Tax Band's forthcoming new single called 'Flumes', all about how the new swimming pool in St Albans is smaller then the old one, and it has no water slides, and how silly the council are, I drew this mega car.  I was drawing a swimming pool for it and I drew this red ford sierra for the swimming pool car park.  My aunt and uncle took us swimming whenever they visited and they had this car you see, it was a childhood reference that would only be beknownst to my family.

What a self referential cow I am. 

Anyway, I did the artwork and the only good thing about it was the car. I have done something else now for it which is bettererer, and I'll put it up as soon as the single is ready to be released. 

But I'm in love with the car.  Recently I have stopped measuring things that I've been drawing and doing that old art college exercise of not looking at the page whilst drawing, just the object that you are drawing.  And this is how this car happened to be born.


Kirk Demarais Portraits

Whilst researching family portraits for Matthew's commission, I happened across Kirk Demarais' portraits of TV and film families.  This one is my favourite...

Heart, heart, heart them!


Matthew's Chistmas Portrait.

Hello folks,

I've been very busy on various projects, all of which I can't really write about until the New Year.  Except for.... Matthew's Christmas portrait.  I have done work for Matthew before in the form of a drawing of a lovely horse, and when he got back in touch asking if I'd do a portrait of his housemates for a Christmas present I was like, "yeah!" They a right bonny bunch and so a pleasure to draw!

Here they are in all their glory! Matthew unveiled the finished framed piece last week and luckily the subjects are happy with the outcome.  Phew!