stories and illustration

Bears in a Red-Sailed Boat

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bear from Long Ago

This bear with a guitar, who decorated a card long since sold out, seems to have strayed into my new book, as have the ribbons, and even the lamp-post. I had forgotten all about him. The original card which sparked the idea for the book was quite different, and was called Bear in a Red-sailed Boat; though come to think of it, there was a guitar there too.

November 2, 2019 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Berwick upon Tweed: Across the Water, Under the Bridge

View From Tweedmouth

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Berwick upon Tweed: Boat Trips

Boat Trips

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Berwick upon Tweed: Mixed Messages

Mixed Messages

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Berwick upon Tweed: Gull by the Old Bridge

Bird by the Bridge

September 7, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Crossing the Bridge into Tweedmouth


Berwick upon Tweed from Tweedmouth Docks

I waited from early in the morning for the box office to open for the Edinburgh Book Festival. The phone lines were clogged, so it was suggested I try on-line.  I was put in a queue, to try and get a ticket for Haruki Murakami on August 23rd, and was put in as 3736th in the queue.  Several hours later, when my spot came up, the event was sold out.  Of course. Alas. Day blight.

The mood a tad lifted, went to Berwick on Tweed for the annual attempt to render my hair acceptable.

I knew the hairdressers had changed hands, but nobody had told me it had also changed address, so I was a bitnonplussed when I saw blue and white pottery in the window. Heaven had disappeared. I did not even know the new name, but ascertained the new owners were over the river, so used my nous. Took the route through the Sallyport on to the quay:




Looked back towards the quay from the sundial on the old bridge:


And looked at the swans through the lens of my old camera, so they are but specks on the shallow water with the reflections of the big road bridge


though in the shallows, among the green stones and grit of the estuary at low tide, one could see the swan in its less elegant guise:


Tweedmouth has a very different atmosphere to Berwick, partly because the docks are here, just by the end of the bridge.  I lived for a couple of years in a flat in a place called BreweryLane – I always thought it would be classy to move to the street in Berwick called Temperance Terrace, but never managed this.  I felt the shadows of the past over me, so much has changed. Behind the flat there is a kind of forlorn chaos, waiting, still waiting, for better times:


The docks, however, cheer me up.  The dock gates are open so I go in where I am not supposed to be (just on the edge) and take some photographs of old scenes


and new machinery


and an intriguing white rock:


The hairdresser knows all kinds of people that I know, so it is a pleasant experience. I come back over the Old Bridge, and go off to Caffe Nero, where they have nice frothy cappucinos, to wait for the bus to Coldstream.  Farewell to Berwick, and Tweedmouth too, and the North Sea – but River Tweed, I’ll see you back home:



June 29, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Montage: Shapes of Swans Out of Water


When swans glide down the Tweed, one forgets the other shapes they can twist themselves into when out of the water.  These swans were on the Tweedmouth side of the estuary, where they sit around on the exposed bank with big ducks and the occasional goose. These  birds are tamer in their behaviour than when they are further down the Tweed, being used to people on the bank, and being fed at times.  Children run around squealing amongst the ducks which come up on to the grass by the arches of the big bridge. There used to be a black swan amongst the white swans, but I haven’t seen it for a long time.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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