West’s Bestiary

Over on Twitter, Colin West has been posting a new little rhyme every few days, featuring an animal for each letter of the alphabet. He’s then been inviting anyone who’s interested to create an illustration to go with the poem. I’ve been following along and here are my sketches. To keep up with the fast pace, and to keep it lively and fun, I’ve not tried to stick to a single style and I’ve created mashups of a few of the letters.

Continue reading “West’s Bestiary”

Sea Life Animal Alphabet

Each Monday, over on Twitter, people share their drawings, sketches and paintings of a specific animal that was announced the week before. Starting at A, each week is a different animal starting with the next letter of the alphabet on a specific theme. It takes six months to get through the whole alphabet (26 weeks!) so the theme changes twice a year. I’ve been taking part in the sea life theme since January and here they all are!

Sea life animal alphabet illustration
Continue reading “Sea Life Animal Alphabet”


This is a little illustration for the prompt angler fish + ballet set by @studioteabreak over on Twitter. See the trouble I had drawing her shoulders and head in the speed paint below!

I’d also be super interested to know what you think of the framing with my details. I’ve become much more sensitive to copyright and image sharing issues since I started working digitally a large proportion of the time – when there’s no physical original the image on the screen is all you’ve got to show and keep for your efforts.

I’ve been resisting anything that distracts from full enjoyment of images such as posting in low resolution or adding watermarks but I know some people do that and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it all.


So it seems this MerMay hashtag thing is all month and people will be showing different mermaid sketches each day. I can’t promise that, but I did have to create this one – particularly on my mind I think with the local elections yesterday. I can’t be the first person to have thought of this but also I haven’t actually seen any other illustrations of Theresa with a tail. I was going to leave her with just a plain black tail to represent her leather trousers (plus the leopard “shoes” obvs) but then remembered that it’s Friday so incorporated the colour collective colour for this week (celadon) into the background and texture of her tail. I’m not 100% on the background but the texture is great.


Been seeing lots of mermaid paintings, drawings and illustrations for the hashtag #mermay

I thought I’d join in with this crocodile headed version. I think, before I started, I had a vague notion that it would be a dark and mildly disturbing image ūüėā turns out super cute instead! I love him and his cheeky, toothy grin.

Double bass

A little sketch for the mythical mashup prompt of flamingo + double bass. Also, today is draw a bird day so two birds with one, um, bird…

I also drew a Napoleon Snake fish for this week’s animal alphabet and it’s another freaky one – burrows into the sand with just it’s head sticking out. Thankfully only found in tropical waters so no danger here in the UK. Tiny silver lining of English weather…


A quick sketch is a nice way to wind down after work on a Friday evening. This was prompted by the colour “serenity” which, it turns out, is this pale blue. I first was trying to think of blue animals that I could draw but none came to mind that sparked my imagination so I moved on to grey animals since you can draw these in blue tones and have them accepted as appropriate. I’m sure I must have drawn an elephant in the past but not in recent memory so an elephant it should be! I looked up a few reference photos and decided standing in water would be a nice setting. In fact the blue can be the water and I’d just use regular grey for the elephant. Ah ha, a baby elephant would be close enough to the surface to have a nice reflection. And there you go, the idea for the image was born, I looked up some images of elephants in the correct posture to get the proportions right, made up the water and there you go. A little insight into my thought process.

immortal jellyfish


I is for immortal jellyfish.

This jellyfish can revert back to it’s immature polyp stage and then become mature again over and over whenever it gets old or sick.

This was fun to paint and I think I may prefer some of the early stages of the painting over the finished piece. Less is more!

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A little sketch for Valentine’s Day. Walking past the local charity shop last weekend I saw they had red helium balloons decorating the window spelling out “love”

I snapped a photo as the range of colours from dark maroon to pink and white caught my eye. A useful reference for this sketch but I thought I’d keep it simple with just a single heart shape. This was done on Procreate, just using the coloured pencil brush. I copied the brush they supply you with and tweaked it a few times so I now have a fat round one for colouring in and a smooth one for writing. Their default is good for outline drawing.

paper automata 2

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In my first post on the paper models you can make from the paper automata book we saw a bowing jester and some jumping sheep. Here are the other two models – a pecking chicken and a flying fish. I think the chicken is the simplest model of the four – it had the fewest pieces and has the simplest mechanism – as you can see in the video below though it is very nicely implemented – the chicken springs back up with a nice pop when you let go of the lever. The flying fish was, I think, the most complicated model of the four – quite fiddly to put together in places. The wheel only turns in one direction – I’m not sure if this is intentional or if I slightly misaligned something. All four models are really nice and for ~¬£5 I think this book is a good buy. It would make a nice present for someone interested in paper craft and/or automata. I think they are too complicated for children but it could be a nice thing to do together with kids.


Because of decorating I was moving furniture around and found 10 full watercolour sheets under the bed! A present from the me of Christmas past :) I vague remember stashing them there to keep them flat.

I thought I’d take advantage of the psychology of them being a bonus to freely scribble away on a whole sheet without the stress of worrying about ruining expensive supplies.

This is an enlargement of a little pigeon sketch I did a long time ago. Lots of splashing ink and paint to evoke the flustering of feathers in a crowded urban square.

I think I still prefer the spontaneity, colour and blooms of the original little scribble but it was still fun to work so big for a change. One disadvantage of painting big is that it doesn’t fit in the scanner and photos of watercolour never quite capture the colour and detail properly. You can see in the scanned sketch below the granulating watermarks and texture of the paper.



A fun and gruesome amigurumi crochet pattern for Halloween. Written using American crochet terms but only single crochet stitches are used so just substitute for dc if you’re used to reading English patterns. You will need:

  • brown and red yarn, around dk or worsted weight
  • a suitable sized hook
  • a yarn needle
  • buttons or beads or safety eyes or felt or whatever you’ve got
  • black and pink embroidery floss and a suitable needle

Head. In brown, crocheting into the back loop only of all stitches:

  1.  create a magic ring with 6sc
  2.  2sc in each stitch (12 stitches)
  3. *2sc, sc* repeat 6 times (18 stitches)
  4. *2sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (24 stitches)
  5. *2sc, sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (30 stitches)
  6. *2sc, sc, sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (36 stitches)
  7.  1sc in each stitch around (36 stitches)
  8.  1sc in each stitch around (36 stitches)
  9.  1sc in each stitch for half the round (18 stitches) then add red yarn and finish the round crocheting the two strands (red and brown) together, 1sc in each stitch (36 stitches total)
  10. *2sc, sc next 5 stitches* repeat 6 times (42 stitches)
  11. *2sc, sc next 6 stitches* repeat 6 times (48 stitches)
  12. drop the brown yarn and continue with just one strand of red *2sc, sc next 7 stitches* repeat 6 times (54 stitches)
  13. *2sc, sc next 8 stitches* repeat 6 times (60 stitches)
  14. *2sc, sc next 9 stitches* repeat 6 times (66 stitches)

underside of blood pool. In red, crocheting into the back loop only of all stitches:

  1.  create a magic ring with 6sc
  2.  2sc in each stitch (12 stitches)
  3. *2sc, sc* repeat 6 times (18 stitches)
  4. *2sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (24 stitches)
  5. *2sc, sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (30 stitches)
  6. *2sc, sc, sc, sc, sc* repeat 6 times (36 stitches)
  7. *2sc, sc next 5 stitches* repeat 6 times (42 stitches)
  8. *2sc, sc next 6 stitches* repeat 6 times (48 stitches)
  9. *2sc, sc next 7 stitches* repeat 6 times (54 stitches)
  10. *2sc, sc next 8 stitches* repeat 6 times (60 stitches)
  11. *2sc, sc next 9 stitches* repeat 6 times (66 stitches)

Ears. Make 2. In brown, crocheting into the back loop only of all stitches:

  1.  create a magic ring with 6sc
  2. *2sc, sc* repeat 3 times (9 stitches)
  3. *2sc, sc, sc* repeat 3 times (12 stitches)
  4.  1sc in each stitch around (12 stitches)

repeat round 4 until the ear measures ~7cm or any length you like the look of. Fasten off leaving a tail for sewing the ear onto the head. fold each ear in half at the base and pinch while sewing on to create the 3d ear shape.

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Eyes. Use a safety eye or button or white felt for one “normal” eye and create the other as in my zombie phone case pattern – sew a patch of black embroidery floss to create a socket then knot up some pink floss with a white bead on the end. Sew through the socket and knot at the back.

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stuff the head with scraps of yarn or fabric or toy stuffing and sew/crochet the head onto the blood pool base. You might want to also sew around closer to the brown head part to secure the blood flat. This can also be a good opportunity to introduce some messy blood patches – sew loosely with multiple threads to build up a messier finish.

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Pay what you feel

If you liked this pattern and want to contribute to my wool stash so I can make bigger and better things then you can donate whatever amount you think this pattern is worth here. To donate more than ¬£1 just increase the number of items ūüėČ Thank you!



The version below was my first attempt at this idea, many years ago now. It was very free-form as I wanted a bumpy asymmetric transition from brown to red and an uneven shape of blood pool. I used red satin fabric for the underneath. I like this version the best but it’s difficult to write a coherent pattern for something that’s supposed to be messy and unplanned :)

¬ėRoad-kill Rabbit

Copyright & Legal Stuff: I‚Äôm happy for you to sell items you make from this pattern but the images and words of the pattern itself are mine ‚Äď I worked hard writing & testing & photographing so don‚Äôt copy or distribute any part of this pattern.¬†If you‚Äôd like to share it then please link to this page. Thanks & happy crocheting


shiny crochet sardine


This little guy has been swimming around in my head for a while now.

Today he finally got out.

I always thought pilchards and sardines were different fish. Actually, I never thought that before today. This is the first time I ever contemplated pilchards. But I wanted to know what to call this post so i looked them up. It seems to depend where in the world you are but generally pilchards are longer than 15cm long so this is a sardine :)


Green Iguana


About this painting:

  • Materials: platinum carbon fountain pen with carbon black waterproof ink, W&N watercolours (gold green, cerulean blue, magenta, yellow ochre, turquoise, ultramarine), white gouache for the highlights & a size 10 round brush
  • Paper: A4 Moleskine watercolour pad
  • Process:¬†steps shown above. Drawn from a photo found online. The whole thing took around 2.5 hours.

five minute flamingo


I’ve been catching up with watching The Big Painting Challenge on BBC iplayer and it made me so happy when they all painted flamingos! I realised I hadn’t sketched anything for a few weeks (flu + car accident + house decorating + crazy work schedule) and not sketched a flamingo for maybe over a year. So Here is a quick one. I love the range of colours you see in a flamingo’s feathers – orange and pink and red and purple :)


For some reason I got it into my head that I wanted to attempt a watercolour painting where you could see the individual brushstrokes in layers, on top of each other. Maybe it was the influence of the nice effects from the overlapping linocut patterns that have been going round in the back of my mind.

I chose a semi random photo of a robin to try this out since it’s a wintry, Christmas theme and I also thought this could work well for painting feathers. This is the result and I’m fairly happy; it does represent feathers very well. The paper I used is not great for painting which made¬†the background a struggle but I’m trying to use up an almost full sketchbook so I’ll persevere with it a little longer. I’m not sure how well this style¬†would work for something that doesn’t naturally form into strokes (i.e. not feathers). I’m tempted to try a building or urban scene next.


a few more birds



Two final bird sketches today. Flamingos because they’re bright and cheerful and pigeons because I feel I’ve been a bit harsh on them in comments over the last few days. They can’t help the bad rep they get and are just trying to make their way in the world like everyone else. When I think of a pigeon it’s never a single one perched on a branch like the previous two bird drawings. I picture huge numbers of them, flying; flapping; whirling; chaos; wind. They’re ubiquitous and merge in with the crowds of people, tourists and commuters in most cities across the UK. I wanted to sketch their movement and the feeling of the wind from their flapping wings as they fly past, slightly too close for comfort.

Edit: previewing this post I noticed that the flamingos look as though they’re staring up at the pigeons. I like that :)

This post is number 10 of 31 of world watercolour month. There’s still time to take part if you haven’t already. If you’ve always been intrigued by watercolour but never given it a try then now is the time to take the plunge!

world watercolour month july 2016

blue grosbeak

blue grosbeak

Another blue bird today since I enjoyed yesterday’s budgies so much. This is a blue grosbeak and I chose to paint it because I think this is the bird I saw all over the outskirts of Mexico City when I was there last year. It seemed common in the area but was such a beautiful blue that I was jealous we don’t have them here in the UK. Yesterday Laura (createarteveryday)¬†commented that she has hummingbirds in her garden and that is just amazing to me as I’ve never even seen one in life. I wonder if anyone on the other side of the world would¬†think of¬†pigeons and magpies as exotic?

This is day 9/31 of world watercolour month. Today I drew the image first with watered down sepia acrylic ink and a dip pen. It proved to be very waterproof :)

blue budgies

watercolour budgies

Two birds with one brush today, both figuratively and literally. Here are two blue budgies for both day 8/31 of world watercolour month and July 2016 draw a bird day.

This was my first time in a while¬†painting from a photo rather than life and wow! it was very different. A completely different experience and skill set. In some ways painting from a photo is much easier – the subjects don’t move and are already on a 2D plane making the drawing much easier. When drawing from life every slight move of your head changes all the angles and shapes and that’s before anything in the scene has moved of its own accord! but then again drawing from life has a certain urgency and personal viewpoint that is lost when painting from a photo –¬†a photo¬†is already someone else’s interpretation of the subject/scene and my¬†version feels kind of second-hand, kind of redundant. An advantage of painting from a photo is the luxury of time – you can ponder, let it dry thoroughly, try different techniques¬†(rice for the background texture here). I can see why ‘proper’ artists draw and paint sketches on location as well as taking their own photos and making lots of notes to produce a finished painting in the studio. I’ve never done that but perhaps will try it someday.