Sunday, February 28, 2010

All the pretty little horses

Sunday morning is jackdaw flocks and bruise dark skies, snowdrop and daffodil springing, lambs and ravens, north wind bear dancing drizzle falling peace.


Sunday evening is wrensong, goldfinch, blue sky, sunsetting, silver light on the beach and sea, twilight falling, west wind carrying fox call and tired.

Sunday night is full moon bright and constellation patterned, with birds bewildered to unquiet dreams by clearest frost breath shining.

Friday, February 26, 2010




Yesterday watched shadow birds play outside tall leaded windows, light fall in pools on stone walls.
Today, watched the world come to light as I painted in my early morning quiet studio.

Yesterday my publisher sent through the cover layout for The Ice Bear. ( the line across is just because this is an 'in house' mock up) Today, hopefully, will get the internal spreads and check design before all goes to press.

Yesterday I went to a memorial service for a beautiful young woman. The sun shone. In the evening a friend came over to collect paintings to hang in her school where she works. She brought with her a poem written by one of the children in the school, Ethan Clarke. Whenever we read things, or look at a picture we bring to it our own experiences. It had been a difficult afternoon. Simon, now a widower, celebrated Claire's life so beautifully and with grace and humour. For me, Ethan's poem summed up so much of how the day was.

I Loved the Summer
by Ethan Clarke
I love the summers gentle breeze
in the middle of this mystical
season the breeze tapped me and
it filled me with joy all through
my heart I swung on my swing and
sang my heart but all of a sudden
it turned winter

His words say so much more for me than the words of the preacher in church. 

Today I walked on the beach, met a beautiful woman who works with gold leaf, in a cafe , found counselling in a shop where I had gone to buy a present, received an unexpected royalty cheque for The Snow Leopard and now I am going to find peace in painting.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Golden things


 On the beach today.
A flock of jackdaws lifting into sunlight, underwings black gold in the rising sun.
Three pied oystercatchers followed around the rock by three dark shadowbirds that mimick their every move.
Transient drawings by birds' feet, by worm trails, in sand.
A small, fast, beautiful golden dog.




Things I have done today.
1. Walked on the beach, early, in sunshine.
2. Painted some, but not enough.
3. Stacked logs after delivery of two tonnes. So far only 10 wheelbarrows full. Enough for one day.
4. Rediscovered Josh Ritter's Hello Starling on shuffle.
5. Helped to release a jackdaw that had fallen down the chimney in my neighbour's house.
6. Spent the day with a hen wandering round inside my head trying to get out onto paper. Higgeldy Piggeldy, my black hen, she lays eggs for gentlemen.
7. Investigated heraldic unicorns.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Beginnings

A day of decisions as a beach walk became instead a walk up the hill where ravens serenaded with wonderful harsh raven-song, a day drawing bears became instead a quiet and steady working through of drawing out an image for Nursery Rhymes. All the pretty little horses has been a gathering of sketches.

 All drawn out and ready to paint tomorrow and maybe tomorrow I will get print outs of Icebear.

Monday, February 22, 2010


In an attempt at making a more achievable list today's will be shorter.
1. Paint
2. Read at least one Megan Lindholm story.
3. Walk dogs.
4. Smile.
oh and 
5. Make list.

And meanwhile, as the sun comes up on a new day, serenaded by blackbirds, I have been hanging work in The House of Golden Dreams, artwork from Starlight Sailor.

Feeling a strong need to draw today.

Things to make me smile.
1. It is snowing and so quiet that I can hear each flake as it falls.
2. Orange cats fluff up in the cold and look brighter, like flames, in snow.
3. The house is warm, with a coal fire glowing, still burning from yesterday.
4. I have time to draw and too many ideas.



List 13: or an attempt to divert myself from being seduced by an angel.

1. Pack up the last four pieces of the Ice Bear and send them on their way.
2. Walk the dogs at the beach, morning, evening.
3. either a. tidy up studio and set up printer.
    or       b. paint something, just for the joy of pushing some coloured water around.
4. Roughs for Nursery Rhymes.
5. Invoice publisher.
6. Roughs for cat.
7. Blog, sort out books pages on website.
8. Hang work in The House of Golden Dreams.
9. Try not to be too seduced by angels.

Angel and trumpet and hare sundial by Jeremy James

10. Tangle up head with thoughts of dragons ad snowdrops and lockets and love, ruins and seasong and tears that turn to flowers, winged horses and Icarus, wild things and dog races.
11. Try and work out logistics of delivering paintings to Shropshire or Hereford and Newcaslte.
12. Watch the moon grow.
13. Do roughs for mugs for MBF. 
14. Stretch paper.
15. Painting that want to be made.
a. Ravens with gold leaf
b. Running faery dog
c. Winged creatures
d. Winter hare circle
e. House of Golden Dreams
f. Harebell hare circle
g. Tangled bears
h. Sleeping swan
hare drawings 
horse drawings
wild dog race
and much much more
oh and
15. Make list.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday ( ? days of the week can be so confusing sometimes)


Two days of headache and pain and wallowing in self misery seems like a poor reward for finally finishing The Ice Bear. But I found peace of heart and soul walking at Tom and Kath's through their beautiful young woods where clumps of snowdrops grow. I saw a heron, shoveler ducks and buzzards and their tiny black lambkins, just born.
( Also a great deal of peace of mind knowing that I have several things to invoice my publishers for).
The house is peaceful tonight with cats and dogs filling the sofas by the fire, and I am going to go and join them with the Robin Hobb manuscript which is technicaly work but feels mostly like pleasure.
Have fingers crossed that The Musicians Benevolent Fund may commision a couple of mug designs as well as the card this year.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wednesday ( at least I think it is, though I wanted it to be Tuesday)

Ths morning it looks as if all the stars that fell to earth have collected in my garden. It sparkles and shines with wonderful frost. The air is crisp-clean, sharp. I am hoping that this will be the last day that I am working on The Icebear. The original deadline was July 2009. I think I missed that one. Next book is September 2010, which I think is when Icebear is due for publication. 64 page book of nursery rhymes, and I want to run Pixie's book alongside that.
But for now I want to walk on the beach and watch the world come once again to light. 

Later on the same Tuesday that is Wednesday
Walked up the hill with cats instead as the car refused to be defrosted. The cats were all fluffed up in thick winter coats.
Remembered from yesterday's list that the elecricity bill was still unpaid so when the sun had warmed away the ice I set off to St Davids and became distracted by a healing bowl from Nepal. My studio looks like a homage to Jalimali and now has this wonderful resonant healing bowl that sings.
In about one or two hours time I will have finished The Ice Bear. Given that I wrote the story about three years ago and have spent over a year working on the art for it it has been a long haul and to say the least I feel somewhat strange.

I need to find out more about these bowls. They hold a magic in them.

Now that it is late- there is still about an hour of fiddling around to go on this, and I took the photo in the darklight of night, but almost there. Almost, not quite, nearly. Difficult to know sometimes when to let go. 


This morning I have been too long lost in the great Rainwilds, seduced by the writing of Robin Hobb and I have too much to do. 
1. Ring publisher to see if yesterdays changes in the text on the first and final pages meet with aproval.
2. Stretch paper
3. sketch out a couple of roughs and then check with publisher which one to use.
4. Work on art to completion.
5. Avoid picking up manuscript by Robin Hobb as it is impossible to stop reading once you have begun.
6. Walk dogs.
Walked at Kath and Tom's through their woods and fields so that I wouldn't bump into anyone and could just be quiet in my own thoughts. The low winter sun was caught in thin branches setting fire to them with golden light. In the field across the ponds where showeller ducks swam, a heron stood sentinel. At sight of the dogs he lifted to a slow flapping flight. A harrier flapped a low flight across the golden moor. The dogs ran wild after fox scent and we watched the bright red dexter cows and bull munch crunch through hay. Coming home the sun set the clouds to blaze.
7. Pay electricity bill.
oops. forgot again.
8. Stay off the internet which is as slow as custard is thick.

and after a brief talk with designer at Frances Lincoln.
Luckily I counted my bears and realised just in time that there were only eight when there should have been nine.
So close to the end of this book now. With luck and some hard work I might finish tomorrow. The contract arrived today for "I Am a Cat". Good timing.
Now, time for a little escapism as I dive into the Robin Hobb manuscript again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday morning

Sunshine, birdsong, cloud castles, cats.

Monday afternoon, ravens, choughs, sunshine caught in amber, dirty dogs and burial chamber.

Monday evening, rain on the roof, rewriting text, parsnip soup, red wine and manuscript. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You do need a weathervane to know which way the wind blows.

My weathervane has been on top of the house for a few months now and already has patternated to a beautiful turquoise colour in the salt sea winds. She was made for me by Karen of Greensvanes
I sent Karen a story I had written and she made my beautiful bear.
When the sun is right I will try and get a picture of her that does her justice.

Sunday: or What to do when you realise you still have one whole spread left to paint and you need to get the art in the post by Thursday

We had to be up at 7am, at Porthclais by 7.30. I woke in the night to hear rain thundering on the roof. Heart sank. Then the alarm went and by the time I was in the car and heading off I realised that although all around clouds billowed the sun was shining on a golden morning. I begin to fear that Tom Sutton is some kind of a weather wizard.


By the time I had walked up and off to the end of the cliffs above the harbour the boat was way away, a tiny line near the distant rocks.

The sun painted the rocks gold. Still not happy about the rough I have for the art on the last page and also there are too many words and time is running out for making changes. Sometimes just getting away from it can make things click in to place. 
Around me ravens flew and suddenly something just came into gold light in my head. So now I have to try and see if it also fits on paper.

Back home the wind is from the east southeast. Time to paint.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


In 1994 I was working for a card company called Paperlink. They produced a series of mugs for Greenpeace. The artist was paid £250 a design. The artist's royalties went to Greenpeace. Paperlink did well out of the project as the mugs were very succesful. 
I had about 6 but like most things in the house they were used and got broken. So today I was very pleased to be given one of each of the mugs, still in its packaging. I want to try and persaude the Musicians Benevolent Fund to do a couple of mugs for sale in their Christmas catalogue and throughout the year.


I did quite a great deal of work for Paperlink over a period of years. Infact it was the regular work I did with them that allowed me to save the money to put a deposit down on my house, a thing I never expected to be at all possible as an artist. At one time I was doing 7 card designs a week for them, 14 hour days of nothing but painting. Unfortunately our working relationship ended, certainly with very bad feelings on my part, but then there are always two sides to every story.


Have driven to Haverfordwest to post a dragon to Sweden and buy cat food. In Haverfordwest I bought a custard slice, Hannah's favorite, from the Snowdrop Lane bakery and realised that I am missing the kids having looked forward to some peace and quiet. Returned to find the manuscript for the new Robin Hobb/ Megan Lindholm book waiting in the porch.
Displacement activities over, time to paint.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Working, walking. On the beach, the fragile fragments of broken urchins, porcelain thin. Inside, bears and watercolours. Outside birds and cats and winter sun on a golden landscape with sea.