stories and illustration

Little Musician

This small personage turned up amongst a heap of papers, I see the coloured drawing is inscribed inside as a birthday card to my mother. I used to have a big plan chest and kept my paintings and drawings in there, but when I got all my stuff out of store, where it had been hunkered for about seven years, the plan chest was too big for the room intended, so it was hauled downstairs a week or so later by someone who took it away free, fettled it and sold it to someone who obviously had more room. My drawings went into some drawers under a bed, and elsewhere. My life is piling up behind me, unsorted. I shall have to do something about it. The question is what? Anyway, this little musician has a peaceable air, so no harm in putting him up here. In the new book I am working on, the banjo player has become a bear….

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

YSP (Yorkshire Sculpture Park) 1


One of the good places, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment



“JUMP!” said the Midnight Hare.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Happy Christmas

Happy ChristmasAs we come to the Winter Solstice, Greetings to everyone, and may you have a wonderful 2015.


Illustration from “Twenty-Six Rabbits Go Crackers”, published by Orchard Books.

December 20, 2014 Posted by | Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

3 Stages and a Lighting Effect

3 stages and a lighting effectI started off painting this very roughly, and then took a photograph in the afternoon, when (by chance, not design) the light from the window lay over the canvas.  When I looked at the photograph I liked the effect of the window and its shadow, so decided to incorporate this effect in the final picture. I am used to painting illustrations flat on the table, but with this larger painting I propped up the canvas on a chair with two sturdy arms.  I am going to get a piece of wood and balance it on the chair to use as an easel.  The studio is small, and though I have an ornate, gold painted metal easel, this is used to hold many sheets of watercolour paper and big books of expensive artistico fabriano paper which I use for illustration. I also have a table easel which I think I bought in Lidl, or Aldi maybe: but for larger bits of canvas, the chair and the bit of wood will do very well.  It is fun to do something larger and freer after the small pages of illustration: though in a sense this is still an illustration, as it is a painting based on a poem which I wrote many years ago. I have incorporated the words of the poem in the painting.  I admire very much the use that some artists make of words, I haven’t explored this enough, and need to widen the range of my lettering. However, it is fun to realise that there are ways of expanding one’s range. I went to an exhibition of illustration at the Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed (where some of my illustrations were on show among those of other people) and was very interested in one or two paintings which had incorporated words beautifully in their work. Rather a delightful exhibition, connected with Berwick’s first Book Festival, which takes place next weekend, and which it is hoped will be a yearly fixture. The picture above (final version) I delivered today to the Berwick Watchtower Gallery, for their Open Exhibition, which also opens next weekend.


October 11, 2014 Posted by | Painting, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Studio III

Owl 3

October 11, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Stages of a Painting: Fly-By-Night

fly-by-night 2Fly-By-Night, painting in acrylic, neocolor II and conte, to be shown at The Coldstream Gallery in an exhibition entitled “Imagine”.

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Chinatown, Newcastle upon Tyne


Went on a jaunt to Newcastle upon Tyne to see a friend of long-standing, who knows every nook and cranny, highway and byway and waterway and alleyway of this richly fascinating city.  During this visit we went to Chinatown, which has one of the largest Chinese communities in the country. The Chinese arch, a detail of which is above, was made by craftsmen in Shangai, then bought over to Newcastle and erected by Chinese workers as recently as 2005. As well as Chinese symbols of good fortune, it includes scenes from Newcastle itself.


The arch frames the Tyneside Irish Centre, with good luck Chinese lions guarding the entrance to Chinatown:


The main street is Stowell Street, on which a Chinese store opened in 1972, and which has since grown into the main thoroughfare of Chinatown:







In the middle of the street is this rather incongruous very old-fashioned pillar box, in a nice Chinese red:



A Thai Cafe has got in on the act, and looks well at home:


Set in the heart of the renowned area of the city called  Grainger Town, a community has grown from small beginnings,  and has become a part of the fabric of Newcastle itself, with a spectacular and famed Chinese New Year’s celebration  that brings colour and festivity to this part of the city every year.

July 16, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pastel and a Photograph Propped up on a Windowsill


This is a pastel of my grandmother done when she was young, by her aunt. My grandmother Eva Macpherson came from Newfoundland to Europe, and her aunt was Margaret Campbell Macpherson, “Aunt Madge”, who also came from St Johns, and lived in France from 1899 till she died in Verseilles in 1931. Her companion, Josephine Hoxie Bartlett, had to abandon the studio when the Germans invaded France,  so there are probably painting and pastels that have disappered. I have carted this pastel of my grandmother through many vicissitudes. It has inhabited a house in Liddesdale, rackety student flats in Sunderland, a house in Berwick upon Tweed. The photograph  in the decorative frame, which I have also had with me for many years, is of myself as a baby, with my grandmother.  The reflections come  from the sun of the solstice shining through the glass.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Farewell to the Cherry Blossom


When I was very young we lived in a house which had a cherry tree in the yard. The blossom filled me with delight, and when it was fallen I felt sad. My grandmother had an old book of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations to Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, where the plates were all at the back of the book, separate from the text, hand-mounted on thick dark card, with each painting laid under transparent paper. You had to lift the paper carefully, it wasn’t quite tissue paper, to look at the pictures. The book was sold after a family crisis, but recently I bought a new, less special copy for myself, so I can still look at the illustrations.  The feeling I had for the  that original book, the pictures under the protective film, made me think also of the feeling that I had for the cherry blossom, which I could see from my bedroom window.  I still remember the sadness when the flowers began to fall.


In Coldstream and the district round about there are many many cherry trees.  When I remarked on this, my husband told me that a farmer had told him that an order for trees  had been made, an order for hundreds of different trees, but that when the trees arrived, they were ALL cherry trees; and that, instead of sending them back, it had been decided to plant them anyway, here, there and everywhere. There is apparently a whole plantation of them up beyond Lennel, which I hope I shall be able to seek out at next year.

 There are older trees, which have obviously been in place since before the Wrong Order:


And younger trees, which were probably planted after the Wrong Order:


There are also probably variations on the theme cherry that I have not delved into.  The pink cherry is very pretty, but for me the cherry blossom that makes my heart lift is the white cherry.  So it has been good to live amoung these trees, this cold Spring:



The cherry blossom starts to fall, just as other flowers are rising up out of the earth:


And it is poignant to walk home along the path strewn with blossom, when the trees above are no longer shining white along the way:


May 29, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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