stories and illustration

Bear in a Boat in the Borders

Illustration for Bear in a Boat in the Borders. Serafina Press.

I met Jennifer Doherty in my old studio, an ex-animal shed, in Berwick upon Tweed, we sat opposite this large table I worked on for ages, and she told me she wanted to start up a local press, doing picture books with local themes. We were going to make up some myths for North Northumberland and Scotland. This was the start of a collaboration that was the most fun I’ve had working (though with larger publishers I have worked with some wonderful and creative editors – editors are good news, on the whole). The first book we did with Serafina was something I had, co-incidentally already done a rough of, The Berwick Bear & His Fiddle – many of my family are musicians, who marry other musicians, so the fiddling bear fitted in quite well. Two Bears in Chains are part of the Berwick’s crest. I like to free the Berwick Bear of his fetters.

Serafina Press has worked with several young illustrators, with Jennifer Doherty creating most of the local myths – unicorns, mermaids, lions, all sorts…. and also writing two story books with Gerald Goldin, The Mouse of Gold and The Fierce and Gentle Wolf, which have been published in dual language editions… Arabic and English…. these versions used for educational purposes in Arabic establishments in Israel.

Bear in a Boat in the Borders, for which the above is an illustration, was a story Jennifer Doherty and I wrote together. We took a journey right up to the source of The Tweed, a small stream in the middle of a field, and followed it down to the estuary in Berwick.

The Serafina Books sell well, several of them are well into their second editions, from an original print run, in the case of Bear in a Boat in the Borders, of 4000 copies. Luckily there is a brilliant book printer in Berwick, Martins, who run their business from large buildings round a courtyard up in Spittal, right on the edge of Berwick, on the other side of the River Tweed, up towards where the river turns into the North Sea.

September 5, 2021 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Margaret and the Wolf


An illustration from “The Fierce and Gentle Wolf”, published by Serafina Press. My mind is much on snow.

March 10, 2018 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Midnight Hare


The book will be ready to go to the printers this week.  Now what?

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Milo Frees the Hare

milo frees the hare

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

The Midnight Hare, pages 29 and 30


December 10, 2017 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Flying Home over the Borderlands


This is the finished version of page 20 of The Midnight Hare (the book I am self-publishing); that is, finished before computer tweaking, and the laying on of text. At last I have started the set-up of the illustrations and text. This is being documented on my other WordPress website, Moonwuzo Books, but it seems a long time since I posted on my original site. It is sad not to be going out with the camera, especially on sunny November days when the light is so ravishing, but there is a kind of loose deadline for the book to be ready for the printers. I am still quibbling with myself about what size the borders should be – they are going to be rough-edged, and I think just 8mm. I prefer the slightly rough edges, especially as most of the words are going on to the images – the hard edges and the wider margin just looked wrong somehow. The yellow needs to be a bit paler and cooler here, the colours are still a bit hot; but the very simple design suits this part of the story.

November 24, 2017 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

The Midnight Hare page 7


Widened and shortened the images so as to get the text underneath. Still trying to get used to my all-singing, all singing, and therefore frustrating, up-to-date version of Photoshop.  Not that I use it for painting, but nothing replaces it for setting up images. If I publish the book myself I shall have to widen my repertoire of Adobe, but for the moment, beautiful complex irritating Photoshop will do.  I shall have to start reading the manual for dummies.

September 24, 2016 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

November: Window, Weathervane, Washing


The garden seen through the glass in the studio door, I am back working on The Midnight Hare and trying to decide how to use the materials that fill up the two cupboards that are like a bustle on the back of the octagonal building.  Sit in there, watching the sparrows feeding; not hearing the washing cracking in the wind, as there is no wind today, only a sharp edge of cold, so all the towels will still be soaking when they are taken down. Last week I redid the whole rough, 32-pages, and now there is no excuse not to start working on the detailed rough-to-size, and some couple or so of finished pictures. But I am led astray by the camera sitting on the table, and thus peer out through the door window, enjoying the way the almost monochrome world is twisted and twirled on the other side of the glass.

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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