stories and illustration

The Midnight Hare Cover


February 21, 2017 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Midnight Hare pages 22 and 23


April 6, 2016 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Midnight Hare. Page 16.

MH page 16

March 27, 2016 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

The Midnight Hare:A Boy Called Milo…

A boy called Milo

March 2, 2016 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Page of rough sketches for The Midnight Hare

rough sketch for The Midnight Hare

Well, it is the New Year, and I am over the lurgy and there is no reason now not to get going on the pictures for “The Midnight Hare”… I have already done several roughs of the whole book, I have been experimenting, but now I am thinking that I might paint the pictures on Ingres paper, which is pastel paper, only using gouache and some crayon.  This coloured sketch is my first recent foray into this, although many years ago gouache on coloured paper was one of my preferred media.  However, I painted on bright backgrounds (usually for cover designs), and the printing quality in those days, even when done for large publishers, for whom I was working, made my designs look very gaudy, as the background bled through and distorted everything.  But then, what do you expect, when painting on crimson and deep purple. I tried printing out this little sketch on my copier and to my amazement it came out almost exactly right vis-a-vis accuracy. I think there is more vivacity in using these media.  I have a real pash on Vuillard at the moment, and much of his work was done with either oil or distemper on cardboard, so maybe that is what gave me the idea.  I have ordered some more Ingres paper, only it is a bit thicker than the paper I used for this sketch. A month or two I printed out a design for the cover of The Midnight Hare” and got some postcards made, but on consideration I think the design looks peely-wally, so maybe that too has taken me off into this new direction.  I am looking forward to getting back to work.

January 10, 2016 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Margaret in the Forest

margaret in the forestQuite beyond me to take photographs in this cold wet wintry weather, it was all I could do to trail my sorry carcase round the dripping countryside.  Still managed to slip on the mud, and then when I got back managed to pour water over myself when filling a large container (for the studio) from the outside tap; so sat shivering for a while, then went and stood under a hot shower for ten minutes to get rid of the chill. Remnants of this bronchial lurgy still hanging about.

Whilst out walking I met a cyclist on the small high path above the fields, wouldn’t like to have been him if he hit a rabbit hole and tumbled down through the undergrowth.  No colour, except for the darkness of the branches and the ochre and sepia of the weeds, and sparse faint trails of pale green here and there in the fields.

This little picture taken from “The Fierce and Gentle Wolf” by Gerald Goldin and Jennifer Doherty, with my illustrations, is to serve as a substitute for images taken whilst out walking.  We don’t have snow here, but over in Kelso it was visible, and the ground was sheet ice here and there.  But nothing to touch the snowy fields out in Liddesdale.  My son came running in:  “Look, look, the fields are pitch white!”

January 9, 2016 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

A New Year Painting of Horses



Nothing but rain here, day after day, night after night.  I have been ensconced in the Tardis, aka my octagonal studio in the vegetable garden, painting a small New Year’s gift for a relative who likes horses.  Outside the bird table is busy, the starlings seemed to have mostly disappeared, and when I see an enormous woodpigeon landing I bang on the window, as those birds just seem to intimidate the smaller birds. The blackbirds, which didn’t appear throughout the summer, are back in numbers, and very tame. Today, amonst the sparrows, dunnocks and tits I saw a female siskin, which means there are two of them and they may nest together, and a nuthatch, who is now a consistent visitor; and also a blackcap, which I thought I glimpsed yesterday, but a sighting of which I confirmed today. A nice variety of birds, then, whilst I stare out of the window, inbetween painting and listening to  a Schubert Impromptu in F Minor, which would be one of my choices on Desert Island Discs, though a) I am never going to be on DID and b) islands have a bad effect on my psyche – I like Borderlands.

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Art, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy Christmas

Happy ChristmasA Christmas Card from the Scottish Borders, to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

December 23, 2015 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Cover Design for “The Midnight Hare”

Cover for The Midnight Hare

This is a definite idea for the cover, but I may possibly do a later version simplifying the greenery and strengthening the colours (which are anyway brighter in the original).  At this stage I am going to get postcards printed with this design, with large lettering in the centre, as a preliminary advertisement for the book. How many things there are to consider, once one has decided not try to go the route of conventional publishing.  This design does have something of the feeling of the book, though the actual book is a bit fierce and more active in places.  It is a pretty old-fashioned design, but that doesn’t matter. Up the Grannies, say I.  The specks and little blotches will be removed before making the CDs for the postcards.  The lettering is going to be in darkest blue, at this stage, though again, this may change for the final cover.  Now I need to acquire some ISBN numbers.  This is all quite fun, and I have to some extent done a lot of it before; but the strange thing is, the more one knows the more edgy it can all feel! Whilst doing ths cover, insects kept crawling across the page (I have put a portrait of one of them in there). This may account for one or two of the flecks in this scan.

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Midnight Hare: Milo up the Tree

Milo in the TreeThis is a detailed rough painting for “The Midnight Hare”. A little whimsical, the boy, he should perhaps be a bit less pretty, more sparky, as he shows plenty of energy in the story. But the slight air of melancholy is OK, and I quite like this person in the picture.  When the page is full of leaves, and with a less magenta background, it should look nice.  I am still trying to work out how to use colour to show that it is night during much of the story –  but a summer night, when much can be seen – it needs to be seen, otherwise there is no story.  I always find myself tending towards blue shades, whereas my favourite colours at the moment are sepia and golds and dusky reds, with touches of dark, almost black, green.

For a long time I have struggled with how to deal with the text: in the beginning, it was quite separate from the painting, and the paintings went off the page to a bleed.  Then I incorporated the text within the pictures, which seemed an obvious thing to do.  But then I don’t know quite how it happened, but I changed my mind again.  Most of the pictures will not have a bleed, they will fade out to a hand-drawn, not strict margin; and the text will be quite separate.  I think that then the pictures should stand out against the white background, and the text will be much easier to read and quite separate.  I have been setting this up as a rough on Photoshop and it is settling in to being like that.

This is the great advantage of having enough time to think about what I am doing, rather than having to produce work to a dealine, because I need to pay the bills.  Not very artistic, that, but nevertheless, desperation has also produced one of the books I wrote that I do actual like: “Parchment House” (though the book wasn’t published until a long time later, when that particular desperation had long passed).  However, that is for another blog.  I do have a deadline for “The Midnight Hare”. A year from now the work will be at the printers.

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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