Circus Strongman

Recently, I completed a Curtis Brown Creative illustration course on Children’s picture books. The course was online, with weekly videos and tasks from illustrator Sarah McIntyre. It was very fast paced with a big emphasis on getting stuff done and finished. We were a small group and the forum was a nice place to share work.

Continue reading “Circus Strongman”

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 an illustration for a limerick for an illustration course I’m taking. I didn’t get to choose the poem and The requirements were that the words needed to be presented along with the illustration and it should be in only black and white.

I struggled for a long time to come up with an idea and am super happy with the end result.


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.

MerMay the 4th be with you

It’s the 4th of May and I’m still not bored with this mermaid thing so here’s Yoda as a fish-tailed curiosity. My first thought was a Darth Vader merman but then Yoda seemed like he’d be more fun. It’s also free comic day today. I’ve never read any comics, except the Beano as a kid, so I’m going to go check out my local comic shop and see what sort of art appeals to me.


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 😂 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…

battery human

I recently started an online illustration course. The first assignment is to illustrate three song lyics. This is my first. The song is Battery Human by Stornaway. Below are my initial ideas, thought process and sketches. I also made quite a few paper snow flakes but they didn’t scan in very well.


Jade city

A reimagining of the emerald city in jade for the colour collective challenge this Friday. I’ve been playing Wizard of Oz Fluxx this week so it was in the back of my mind.

A lesson learned on Procreate with this – don’t be too trigger happy with merging layers. My first version of this had a door in the wall arch. Once I thought it was done I decided it would be a better composition if the road was allowed to flow through the page, also the gate gave a slight feeling of a hurdle Dorothy would soon have to face. Instead I wanted the viewer to be feeling the same wonder as Dorothy at seeing the city for the first time and for their eye to flow to the emerald building and find joy in its shine.

It wasn’t too much hassle to change but would have been far easier if I hadn’t merged all the layers half way through.


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.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’re having a great day so far and get chance to relax with the things you like doing most.

For me it’s been a bit more digital sketching:

A shiny red disco bauble with a pearl string and lights in the tree for Christmas day. Branching out (ha ha) from the “pencil” and “fineliner” brushes I’ve been keeping to until now, here I tried various types of paint, spiky texture for the fir needles and a very exciting and effective glow brush for the fairy lights.

Astro shooter

Digital sketching on Christmas eve. This is my view from the sofa – a pile of presents in the corner surrounded by old toys from the attic to keep little people happy until tomorrow. The astro shooter is brilliant – a proper mini electromechanical pinball table from the 80s. The bits of stuff in the foreground are various half transformed transformers. The yellow ball is a metal blob geode transforming thing. It’s cool.


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.

Diabolo Menthe

A house plant illustration for this week’s colour collective colour, Diabolo Menthe **cough ** cough turquoise ** cough **

This is turquoise and green gold watercolour and sepia acrylic ink with a dip pen. I got some nice texture in the watercolour by being impatient and dabbing the puddles with a tissue instead of letting them dry naturally. I couldn’t do that with the ink though and it took a really long time to dry (compared to my regular fountain pen ink anyway). I even smudged it a bit in places as I didn’t realise it was still so wet after 10 minutes.





I planned ahead for this week’s colour collective. The colour is cardinal red and I planned to sketch either a bus or a postbox while I was in London for a meeting earlier in the week. But time escaped me and I ended up through and out of the city with no red paint splashed. Just as iconically red is a Heinz ketchup bottle and so that’s what we’ve ended up with. An A5 page of a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, drawn on location while eating a burger at the pub opposite the station :)

I do very much like red paint. This is a mixture of cadmium red and magenta Windsor and Newton watercolours but then tweaked a bit in Photoshop as it scanned in a little washed out. The variations in opacity and patterns and blooms are much more intricate and interesting on the real thing but this is still nice. It was very wet and I had to walk half way home holding it open as I walked until all the puddles evaporated.


A train with a view


On Wednesday I spent 45 minutes squished in a train vestibule (lobby? doorway? that bit between carriages…) at a standstill in Paddington station. I sat on the floor and tried to not be hot. This wasn’t terribly successful so I drew my view. I was actually sat next to the window but the view out of that was just of the flat metal of another train within touching distance.

Taplow Court

Today I sketched Taplow Court during one of its few open days over the summer. The house and gardens are beautiful and the weather perfect for watercolours (not too windy but warm enough to dry fairly quickly!). The few hours I spent there were not enough to sketch even a tiny part of what I would have liked and I never made it inside for a tour. I shall have to go back next time :)

I began with this enchanting turret on the main house. It’s amazing the details you only notice when you start drawing something. In this case it was the different shapes of tile on each section of the roof!

Taplow Court tower

Taplow Court tower

I then moved around the back of the house and was attracted to another turret :) I sketched this very quickly because I didn’t want to sit in the full sun too long, I was feeling in a Quentin Blake style mood, and I wanted to make sure I had time for a sketch of something other than a turret :)

Taplow Court tower 2

Taplow Court tower 2

finally I sketched this giant urn while feeling in a more John Singer Sargent mood. The scan has not come out great here and the granulating patterns in the dark blues and browns are sadly all but lost. You’ll need to add a little imagination.

Taplow Court urn

Taplow Court urn

Murder, Margaret and Me

mmm2 lowres cropped

In a couple of months I’ll be exhibiting some art at Progress Theatre in Reading for their production of Murder, Margaret and Me. It is the story of why neither Agatha Christie nor Margaret Rutherford wanted Margaret to play Miss Marple on the big screen.

I haven’t decided on the exact form and content of the art I will do for this yet (several ideas are swirling around at the moment) but one definite piece will be the painting above. I was asked to do an illustration featuring various elements from the play in a style inspired by the book covers of Tom Adams for the posters.

This is not a way I’m used to working and it was an interesting process. Some elements, such as drawing with only half relevant reference images (not quite the style of teacup I wanted or objects from the wrong angles…) and no physical objects was very challenging but on the other hand, having complete freedom with composition and lighting was really great.

mmm poster

All the fun of the fair

Whether it was coming or going I don’t know, but this packed up fair ground ride on a trailer was by the side of the road and I knew I wanted to draw it. Probably it was coming since I think it’s half term this week – plenty of people looking for things to entertain their children. It seems like there is always a fair somewhere in Reading at all times, like it circles around the parks and fields endlessly. I wonder what this ride is when it’s built and how long it takes to put together.

Portmeirion garden illustrations

Two illustration style sketches of the gardens of Portmeirion, Wales. I’m slowly getting around to scanning in all my drawings from that week. This was towards the end when I was feeling brave enough to try and get a few people into the sketches – no one stood still for longer than a second or two. I’m pretty sure the man in the hat in the first sketch was squatting to take his photo but he was long gone by the time I got to his legs!portmeirion illustration 2portmeirion illustration 1