stories and illustration

Illustrations for an Exhibition

There is an exhibition of children’s illustrations taking place in Berwick upon Tweed, and I have been asked to put in some work.  I needed to take some photographs, so propped the illustrations up on the ironing board, and hooked back the lace curtain, and did my best. These have been reduced down to 4 centimetres, so as to be able to email them without too much trouble, and the images are just for quick reference.  I wouldn’t win a prize for photographing art, but maybe the ramshackle nature of these photographs, together with my faint image here and there where I am reflected on the glass, adds a certain slightly amateurish je-ne-sais-quoi to the whole enterprise. Over the pictures themselves I have taken a fair amount of trouble  The ones with rabbits in were for two picture books published by Orchard Books  At that time we only had one table, for eating and working. Spaghetti spills were a constant worry. The cat used to walk across the table, and over my paintings too at times. I remember a nice picture of roses with a path of dirty paw marks over the top. But the rabbit illustrations took a long time so I tried very hard to protect them.  There were 26 rabbits in the Fitzwarren family, plus Ma.  The 26 rabbit offspring were named, from Alice (an artist rabbit) to Zanzibar (a magician rabbit). The  continuity problems were immense. The cat, the lovely cat, had a passion for Marks and Spencer Chinese Chicken, it could smell it through the bag and its wrappers.  I remember my son talking about something, whilst eating Chinese chicken, and the cat sitting on the table and nicking a chunk of chicken off his fork. Hygenic days….

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Harvested Field

august field

Last year this field was set with barley, this year with wheat.  Before it was harvested, round the edge of the wheat were a few stalks of barley, left over from last year’s crop. After a long hot summer the days now are cooler, with flashes of heavy rain.  Almost all the fields have now been cropped, except for some of the barley. Along the edge of a barley field I came across a man gathering blackberries, he eulogised apple and blackberry pie (d’accord, monsieur). The year is on the wane. If I wasn’t out taking photographs, maybe  would probably be lost in my own thoughts, instead of looking outwards at the fields of the Borders. The fireweed is beginning to fray. The skies are banked with clouds. There are red berries in the hedges. The Scottish children are back at school.



August 23, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Border Fields in August


We have really reached the turning of the year.  This tractor was ploughing the part of the big field that had been set to  potato crop.  The gulls and crows and also the pigeons were having what might be called a field day.  The next afternoon I was walking again round the Lees, and I saw a dark coated figure with a bag walking straight across the mud ruts, stooping every now and then towards the earth; it took me a while to realise this figure was picking up stray potatoes that had been left after the harvest and  the turning over of the soil. I remember from years ago the coal-pickers on the beach at Seaham near Sunderland, with their bicycles and big bags slung each side for the sea-coal – old men sometimes, with their grandchildren alongside.


August 19, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Willow and Bindweed


All along beside the Leet the bindweed is rampant, it climbs up and over everything.  This willow looks as if it is sprouting white flowers.  It is a pretty plant, bindweed, with those pointed leaves and long pink buds which open into this white flower that is, I know from experience, very hard to paint, I suppose because of the depth of the trumpet and the whiteness of the petals. The willow leaves are drooping down, the bindweed is climbing up, the greens are nice together.

August 18, 2014 Posted by | Art, Painting, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indian Balsam and Insect

indian balsam 2

August 17, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Water on a Dark Windy August Day

water on a dark day

August 17, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slightly Alarmed Guinea Fowl

guinea fowl

August 17, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tubes of Blue

watercolour tubes

I was trawling through photographs, eliminating a good many –  if I go on amassing images my computer will not have room to breathe. I found some very repetitive snaps of my studio, which I sent to the recycle bin (how do old images get recycled, eh?), but I kept this one as I thought the colours were nice.  At this point I seem to have got some pristine tubes – delicious.  I thought of entitling the blog Blue Tubes, but decided it sounded a bit too like a late-night pay-to-view programme. I keep my acrylics in an old cutlery tray when I am working, but these watercolour tubes are in a contraption which I bought for a couple of quid at Kelso Car Boot Sale, I think it is for serving some kind of Japanese delicacy by the look of it, but soon as I saw it, “paint tubes” came into my mind.  It is ideal, the best thing I have found for keeping the colours fairly separate, so I can find them when I want. If anyone knows what it was for in the first place, I would be interested to know.

Off to Newcastle tomorrow, to look at the SevenStories collection at Design Works, to choose something appropriate to go into an exhibition of children’s illustration in the Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed, as part of the Berwick Book Festival in October.  We have been asked to to choose some work from the wide collection at SevenStories, to by shown with our own work. I am hoping that my choice of a page from Angela Barrett’s work sheets will be permitted to be shown.  Her work will put mine to shame, but hey-ho, that’s my choice.

Actually, I like it that there is much room for improvement – it makes life more interesting.




August 14, 2014 Posted by | Art, Painting, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liddesdale: Dapple Grey


August 12, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Liddesdale: Geese


With their necks all whichways, these geese pose in a small field, next to a vegetable patch. They  look like the puddle-ducks in Beatrix Potter. The puddle-ducks in Tom Kitten are without raiment, though Jemima Puddle-Duck has a shawl and bonnet. What is the difference between a puddle-duck and a goose?

August 12, 2014 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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