Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Sketching Frenzy

As most of my family and friends know (and are probably heartily sick of hearing), I'm applying to do an MA in Children's Book Illustration this year. This, unfortunately, involves me showing my work to people. Pam recently looked at my "sketchbooks", which currently consist of a couple of drawings and a lot of blank pages. She said, very worriedly, "You need to do some more work". The truth is, reader, I am scared of ruining the books. Once I do a drawing in I don't like, I either tear it out, or just never use the book again. But no more! I took a small book to our exhibition and sketched the visitor (!), and yesterday, as I was working at Oxfam, I drew on the train, and the customers as I sat behind the till. The sketches literally took seconds (apart from the one on the train which was a bit longer), and were also done without really looking at the page and while trying not to look as if I was looking at the subject (if that makes sense!) I also jotted down what the people were saying - just for my own amusement really and to fix them in my mind. I actually really enjoyed it and I am going to do more now that I have lost my sketchbook inhibitions.

The French girl on the train did say more, but "oui" was all I understood. I could have made something up and impressed you with my French, but I suppose it was quite unlikely that she would say "I am, you are, he is, she is, we are, you are, they are", or just counted up to twelve.

These are the only sketches that actually showed when I scanned them. My favourite was a man saying "Come on, Sue!", and there was also one of a woman saying "They haven't got much..." (which of course was a barefaced lie), but neither of them showed at all when I scanned them. I have no control over my scanner. Things can come out huge, or the size of a stamp, or not at all. It's a crazy lottery.

I am off to my friend Sandie's house for lunch today. Whenever I see her, I come home with an acute case of house envy, and get the urge to drape muslin creatively at my window and just have one beautiful object on a polished wooden surface. But then I realise I can't be arsed.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Look what's going to be on Christmas Eve! Look!

Sad but true

Imagine this - a 40 year old woman, out Christmas shopping, enters a shop. She spots something and instantly knows she must have it for herself. It's love at first sight. Elbowing innocent shoppers out of the way she grabs it, holds it aloft, marvelling at the fabric, the design, her luck at having found it. She rushes to the till and buys it immediately, without even checking the price.

What do you think she found? A Chanel bag? A pair of Manolos? Or, being 40, something by Cath Kidston (sorry Pam)? No, reader, none of those things. Because that 40-year old is me, and this is what I bought...
A pair of Moomin knickers! That's knickers, with Moomins on, for adults. They were in Top Shop, by the way - so clearly not aimed at quite this type of customer - but who cares? I haven't moved on culturally since the age of 9. Deal with it!

In other news, I completed my final day of stewarding the exhibition yesterday, and managed to stumble down the steps of the Crypt and twist my ankle. It's a fetching shade of green today. I was just pulling my tights down to inspect the damage, snivelling, when a woman came in to enquire about children's workshops.

What dramatic and embarrassing way will I injure my left foot next week? I can hardly wait to find out!

I've been spending far too long on my own. I just asked the cat if he knew where the remote control was. And waited for him to answer.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Illustration Friday - Rambunctious

Like this funky lady, I am in favour of a bit of rambunctiousness. As Dr Seuss said "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter."

Monday, 15 December 2008

Misheard Lyrics - No. 2

Another long and lonely day at the gallery meant I had plenty of time to sew some more doll parts, and also do a new Misheard Lyric drawing. This is a favourite of mine, mistakenly sung by a friend called Len, and now always sung by me!

"Though I try to hide it, it's clear..."

Song: I Try (Macy Gray)
Real Line: My world crumbles when you are not near.

Watch out for a Joni Mitchell classic soon!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

And another thing...

Here is a doll I didn't manage to photograph until it was on the gallery wall!

It's Boudica, who changed ner name from Bodicea around the same time Marathons became Snickers and Opal Fruits became Starburst (and haven't been as nice since). She is going to the home of a lovely friend, Jo.

Today we held children's workshops at the gallery. You can see pictures on our group blog, here. If you do visit, click on the last photo and check out Iron Man peeping worriedly over a woman's shoulder...

Friday, 12 December 2008

Citizens Advice Bureau

Hello everyone. As many of you will know it's still our exhibition at the moment. The gallery is not as busy as Thebes in Lewes (where we exhibited last year) and stewarding days can be long. Yesterday I stuffed two thighs and two lower legs, and did some sketching too. (The body parts were a doll's you understand - I haven't suddenly transformed into some sort of carnivorous Nigella.)

Most visitors seem to think we are the Citizens Advice Bureau, or have come to find out where it is. One person was clearly very lonely and talked to me for an hour...I don't know if she ever knew it was an exhibition! But those that have come for the exhibition seem to enjoy it. These two loved Kitty's work. Another pair of old ladies laughed so much they needed tissues.

Most popular line upon entering exhibition: "Oh, my glasses have steamed up."
Second most popular line upon entering exhibition: "Is this the Citizens Advice Bureau?"

Monday, 8 December 2008

Goodbye Oliver Postgate

Just heard on the radio that Oliver Postgate, the creator of Bagpuss, the Clangers, The Pogles and Ivor the Engine has died. He's always been one of my heroes. A sad start to the day!
Last night we put our Christmas tree up, so I thought I would decorate my blog too. If you fancy decorating yours, there is an icon on here somewhere (top left possibly?) to do it free.
Other news - yesterday I signed an agreement to rent a studio at the Hillcrest Centre in Newhaven! I move in on 1st January! I am VERY excited indeed. I am also excited about going to see the Saul Steinberg exhibition in Dulwich. At least I will be excited when I know exactly when I'm going!
Oops - I can hear the recycling men...I'll have to give them the fortnightly shock of seeing me charge outside in my Snoopy dressing gown!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Illustration Friday - Similar

Well, our exhibition is up and open! Our private view is tomorrow night, but tonight we opened up as it was late night shopping in Seaford. It was freezing in the gallery (I suppose medieval Crypts weren't really built to be cosy) and Pam and I sat alone for most of the evening. A grand total of 14 people came, and we sold a whopping 3 postcards! We are all ill...mostly through exhaustion but colds and viruses are felling us one by one.

Anyway I am sure it will be busier tomorrow....

To cheer myself up when I got home I did this little non-exhibition related drawing for IF - just pencil and watercolour. Now I'm going to crack open a Lemsip. I'm so rock and roll.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


I finished all my mounting! And now I look like this...

I noticed that Charlie was messing around with this website while I was working, and you can make South Park characters of yourself - look! It's really fun! We had to make one of Brad, too:

Those are his drumsticks he's holding - he has just bought himself an electronic drum kit. Charlie didn't save his picture but it really does look like him - I'll post it at a later date!

I'm hoping that now all I have left to do is labels and blurbs, and finish a miniature Merlin house, that I will get some sleep tonight...I have been having nightmares lately and what with those and my toe I have had very little sleep. Yawn!

Mounting Chaos

This is my lovely, relaxing dining area, where I like to serve my loving family delicious yet nutritious meals.

Inviting, isn't it! And I actually tidied it a bit to take this picture. I had to, because I couldn't get to the camera otherwise. Yes, I'm busy mounting stuff for the forthcoming Inky Crows exhibition. I HATE MOUNTING! It's my least favourite job. A job I should be doing now instead of updating my blog....

Friday, 21 November 2008

Waiting Room

Here are a few sketches I did in the hospital waiting room. I only had a blue ballpoint pen with me!

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Look what I've done! Broken my toe! It was all so quick I don't even know exactly what happened - but it involved me getting tangled in a bath towel, screaming, blood and general drama and agony. I thought I had just ripped the nail at the base, which is where all the blood came from, but an x-ray showed I've broken the bone too. I don't have time to have a broken toe. Luckily I haven't got to be in plaster or anything but it's really painful, and so annoying hobbling everywhere. And as for my dancing classes, well I can forget it for a few weeks. Now I'll never learn the Pussycat Dolls routine!

Anyway hopefully it won't take long to get back to normal - I mean Wayne Rooney got over it quite quickly didn't he? Although he did have Sun readers sending him healing vibes, and the World Cup as an incentive. I can't say I wish I had either of those...

PS - So this picture it will enlarge! Now I am paranoid. The computer clearly hates my artwork and is glad I've broken my toe.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Pre-Exhibition Stress

It's amazing how just trying to take a few simple photos can make it look as though your house has been ransacked by burglars (who then decided to go somewhere cleaner and with things worth stealing).

Anyway, thanks to Brad's brother Tony (to whom I am truly, truly grateful) I now have some photos of my work so far, some of which I hope may end up as postcards to be sold at the exhibition. (Which is at the Crypt Gallery in Seaford, 6th - 20th December, by the way!). Above is Mossycoat & Mother again. Here's Rosalind, made in homage to Rosalind Franklin, scientist and discoverer of the DNA double helix (as embroidered on her skirt!)

And here's Mossycoat who you've probably seen before...

And here are a couple of Superheroes I made the other day when sick of failing at everything else. Hope you like 'em.

Tony, Val and their gorgeous baby daughter Rebecca have been here in Newhaven for the week. Singing the "Iggle Piggle" song with someone so bloomin' lovely, squidgy and cuddly is enough to cheer anyone up, even me. I highly recommend it!

Once again the pictures won't enlarge when I click on them. Why? Why do computers hate me?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Dogs and a Hunchback

Yesterday I finished a doll, and in the evening, determined to tick every item off my checklist, I made ten peg dolls. Now I sport an attractive hunched back. I couldn't look up at the ceiling if you paid me. I'll post pics of the dolls in due course.

I've had dogs on my mind today. I really want one - I had promised myself one for my 40th (a pug) but I resisted temptation. I'm not going to get one, because I don't know what my work situation will be in the new year so I wouldn't want to leave one alone for hours on end. (Believe me I know what it's like to be in this house alone for hours on end!)

When I did an illustration course with Pam, I was developing a book for young children about dogs (Thin dog, fat dog, hiding-from-the-cat dog...etc...). But darn that Emily Gravett! She went and did one! (And very nice it is too.) Serves me right for being so slow...not that it would have been published anyway, but, you know. Anyway here are a couple of sketchbook pages from said non-project.

At the bottom next to the pug is Scruffy, who my friends and family might remember as my former parents-in-laws' dog. He was so kind and gentle and still features in a lot of my drawings, even though he died over ten years ago.

I've had trouble getting the pics to enlarge when you click on them. I don't understand why and my hunchback hurts too much to try again. If anyone knows the answer to this mystery, do let me know.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Halloween Fun

Well I managed to get over my pumpkin envy, and did a spooky window display...

The beautiful Corpse Bride dolls were a birthday present from Pam...aren't they wonderful? Joe carved the butternut squash and I think it, and the mini pumpkin, ended up looking just as good.

It was lovely to hear children outside calling to each other to look at the window, and parents too - it reminded me of doing the windows at Bags of Books. (sniff...sniff!) It's really nice to feel that you are brightening up people's day!

After giving sweets to lots of trick or treaters we dressed up and went to our friends Jenny & Gary's house for a great Halloween party. There was lots of hilarity over the traditional games like apple bobbing, the doughnut game and musical chairs, with the added twist of it being men against women! (We may have just been pipped this time but you wait till next year, you cheating blokes!) Here are Joe and Lucy in the big Musical Chairs Final,

and Charlie in the Doughnut Game.

Tomorrow it's a day of serious work. If I haven't posted to tell you I have made a pair of doll's legs and a batch of peg dolls then someone please tell me off!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Where are all the Pumpkins?

I'm the first person to admit it - I am not a very well organised mother. I've missed non-uniform days, turned up on wrong days to wrong parent evenings, and will never forget the time that my older son told the school nurse he'd had Wotsits and a chocolate croissant for breakfast. (Well, we were late...) But Halloween is something I've always made an effort for. I always get in lots of sweets for trick or Treaters, decorate my window, make a spooky tea for the kids (with the tomato sauce labelled "blood") and most important of all, get a pumpkin to carve. So imagine my distress when I discovered that Somerfield, the greengrocers, Asda, and the Co-op were all out of pumpkins! Even Sainsburys could only supply this pathetic excuse for a pumpkin... (photographed with the cat for scale purposes!)

I've had bigger oranges! I will check my mum's Daily Mail...it's bound to tell me that there's some sort of EU rule stating the maximum size of a pumpkin, or it will say that illegal immigrants have taken all the big ones. I had to buy a butternut squash as well, I mean what is the world coming to!?

New Doll

This is my latest creation - it sprang from the Mossycoat story. I thought I would try and make Mossycoat as a baby with her mother. I had in mind a textile competition when I made it - the theme is "magic", and I thought it fitted in nicely. I might still enter; the closing date is tomorrow. I have had terrible trouble with the photographs though. To be more precise, I've had terrible trouble with the photographer. (Me). Click to "enbiggen"!

I went to look at some studios last week and I was very nonchalant about it, until I found out there is still a waiting list for one...and now I really want one! We haven't eaten at a table at home for almost a year because of my art and textile antics.
I think I miss going out to work every day. I mean, I could work naked if I wanted and no-one would know. (I don't, by the way). (Well, I suppose when an exhibition is close and I am really pushed for time...) But I think having a studio might make me a bit more professional, and less inclined to watch Jeremy Kyle and eat an entire packet of Hobnobs before I even start on my artwork.
Oh, the doll is all cloth, with painted silk and machine embroidery.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


After many weeks of angst and stress I now have a new computer. Just wanted to test out putting an image on here with it.

Mmm...seemed to work OK! (By the way this is just a monoprint I did the other day. Remember the charity collector I sketched a few months back? I turned her into an angel for a bit of fun.)

Just waiting for my lovely friend Sandie to arrive for a day of painting. Happy Sunday everyone.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Hello everyone. Just thought I would dash off a hasty post to explain why I've neglected my blog lately.

My computer evidently didn't accept my decision to get Sky broadband, and did not have an appropriate hole to put a Sky shaped plug into. I'm currently shopping for a computer, and as so many members of my family are completing uni applications, writing personal statements and other Important Things, I need to hurry up. Tomorrow I am having to venture into the land of the shiny suit, the hair gel, the jargon...the hideousness that is PC World. Pray for me. Believe me, they don't want to try any of those flirtatious little dances or cheeky comments they do on the advert. I've already slammed the phone down on Dell and wept over the Apple website. I'm a woman on the edge and not in the mood for jolly banter about ethernet ports or gigs of RAM. They can just get me a computer that works and let me out. OK?

Have finished a new doll which I'll put on here when I can. I've been working on it, and started three more, plus done a monoprint, pretty much solidly this week whenever not doing child related stuff. I felt a bit isolated to be honest. Going to look at a studio next week, in the hope of making a decision about my future career.

Monday, 22 September 2008


Hello...not much going on really except that I am just recovering from a bout of food poisoning. The bug I picked up is commonly found in undercooked chicken...ironic since I'm a vegetarian! I have been ill for about four weeks, but now I just feel tired! Anyway I did make this little card for a friend who has just had a baby...

It's collage and paint.

My ancient PC has got a bug too, I think. Every minute or so, Windows Anti-Virus things pop up. It's so tedious and I don't understand. I have enough money to get a new laptop, but had almost decided to keep saving up for a Mac desktop instead. But it looks like this one won't last long enough after all. Maybe I shouldn't have put that undercooked chicken in the disk drive....

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Misheard Lyrics No.1

Welcome to a new series! I just love misheard lyrics. You know - when you overhear someone get the words to a song totally wrong? Or when you don't really know the words to a song but you sing along anyway and kind of make something up? Well I thought I would not only collect these gems but do little cartoons to go with them. I did this doodle just now, while relaxing in front of my newly installed Sky TV!

The first one is a song I am sure you all know and love. My friend used to sing this line, which I think is far better than the real one.

Song - Billy Jean (Michael Jackson)
Real line - Billy Jean's not my lover

Look out for Misheard Lyric No.2 soon!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

My Lovely Dad

This is such a hard post to write but I felt I should just let anybody who reads my blog know; my Dad died on Saturday 23rd August, just before midnight.

He was at home, with my Mum and sister.

He was a wonderful Dad and Grandad. I miss him so much and I can't believe he has gone. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 8 August 2008

Illustration Friday - "Sail"

I should have been working towards our next exhibition, but only having an hour or so to spare, and no fusible web to carry on with my doll, I couldn't resist having a go at this topic. It's done with sgraffito - scratching into oil pastels. I've never done it before and I enjoyed it. I'm having a difficult time at the moment and it took my mind off things slightly- for a little while at least.

I've been having trouble uploading the image so I do hope I don't make some terrible mistake! Also it looks a bit "liney"...oh well. It's the thought that counts.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Illustration Friday - "Canned"

Tyson realised he preferred his food canned.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Illustration Friday - "Sour"

Here's a little drawing I did for Illustration Friday - my first go at submitting something, although I always look at it! As the theme was "Sour", I drew the Old Woman Who Lived In a Vinegar Bottle. I like this story - I can identify with the miserable old moo, as I always tend to look forward to moving to my next place! I've done some work on this story before, when I exhibited with the Inky Crows group at Thebes Gallery in Lewes last year -our theme was English Folktales. I made a doll of the character - here's a rather bad pic.

She has decided to stay put and improve her current vinegar bottle, what with the credit crunch, and now she resides in my dining room and keeps me company while I work.

I might start a new series of pics here next week, so watch this space. (Well not this one, but, you know, future ones!)

Have a great rest of week everyone. And Happy Birthday to my dad!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Happy Birthday Rebby!

A very special friend of mine hits the big single figure today.

(here's the card I made for her.)

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Sorry for the long absence. Life has been too full of family disasters and general awfulness for me to be able to blog. But, I did see this fine woman in the supermarket yesterday, collecting money for charity. I promise you it's not a caricature...she really was this wonderful. I tried to photograph her with my mobile, but fearing arrest I imprinted her on my memory instead and drew her in my sketchbook when I got home.

I did give her a donation, too!

Other news - currently helping Pam move - although I would rather stand in front of the van and prevent her leaving...

Monday, 9 June 2008

A "Pigeon" Post

Hello everyone. It's been a busy week. Let's start with Monday. I returned home from my evening dancing class to find a pigeon standing in the hall. Brad and his brother Beed were having a coffee in the kitchen, chatting nonchalantly, just as if there wasn't a pigeon standing in the hall.

"There's a pigeon standing in the hall," I said.

They looked. There was.

He was a racing pigeon, and he looked really pissed off. Who could blame him? After stopping to rest, he'd been mauled by the cat, bundled indoors through the cat flap, and then left to stand at the bottom of my stairs, ignored in his hour of need.

Beed had been at my house all evening, had had a bath, made teas, watched telly - and had actually trodden in blood and feathers, walked them through the house and still not spotted the pigeon.

"Put him in this box," I said to Brad. (The pigeon, that is, not Beed.) "He's probably going to die, but at least he'll be left alone."

Brad got a towel and edged slowly towards the pigeon. Then he edged back again. Then forwards. And back. While he worked out the best and most logical way to approach putting the pigeon in the box, I picked up the pigeon, and put it in the box.

Then, we found the cat and cast him out, shouting "MURDERER!" (Technically though as the pigeon was still alive it was only attempted murder - but that's not quite as effective to shout). And yes, I know it's natural for cats, and they bring things in as gifts, and I should praise him, and blah blah. But I'm not a cat, I'm a human, and a vegetarian at that. I don't want dead or dying creatures as gifts. A book token or scented candle would be far more appropriate.

Anyway, every now and then I peeped into the box, fully expecting the pigeon to have fluttered off to the big loft in the sky. But no, he just looked up at me, with an expression that said "I need something, and you are not giving it to me." I went to bed feeling inadequate.

In the morning, by some miracle, he was still alive. So I phoned local wildlife superhero Roger Musselle , who kindly agreed to take him. I really hope he lived to race again. I'd grown very fond of him.

This event has made me think...why do pigeons race? Do they know they are racing? What do they win? Oh, and it has taught me something too. If you want a man to notice you, don't dress as a pigeon.

Other news this week...I've been quite ill with a cold (Bad times). But yesterday Pam and I went to sunny Sarfend and visited the splendid Kitty and Den. (Good times!) We looked enviously at the treasures in their lovely house, had cream teas at Leigh-On-Sea and a superb lunch made by Den, and caught up with some essential Inky Crows business. I even got a beautiful print for my birthday!

(Copyright Kitty Guthrie) Isn't it fab? have a good week everyone.

Monday, 2 June 2008


On Saturday evening I met up with my Bags of Books friends to say goodbye to the splendid Matt, who starts a new job today - and whose name you shall all one day see on children's books worldwide! Here's a card I made for him...just drawn and collaged.

And on Sunday I said goodbye to my thirties! Gone are my dreams of being a successful human being by the age of forty. Forty-one will have to do. I had a lovely birthday, and my family and friends got me fantastic presents and cards...I really am lucky to have such thoughtful people in my life.

Friday, 30 May 2008

We rock!

Hello! I worked at Oxfam this morning - I'm a weekly volunteer nowadays, since deciding to upgrade my contribution to the Burma/China disasters from its former "weep feebly while watching the news" status. (I still do that). I really enjoy it (working in Oxfam, that is, not the news!) As well as meeting lots of nice people, I get to rummage through interesting bric a brac, old clothes and tons of books. Just like at home, come to think of it...

This afternoon, Charlie and I have been painting stones. When I was little, I wasn't interested in being a pop star or ballerina, oh no. My ultimate goal was to find either a perfectly spherical stone, or one that's evenly flat and oval for painting on. I've always aimed high...

Many centuries later my interests haven't changed much, although I now also pick up stones with holes right through (they are lucky). Charlie seems to have inherited my ways. Here are our efforts...

(Charlie hasn't inherited my taste in music however. He likes heavy metal, which explains the cross with angel wings on his stone!)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Woeful Wednesday

Yes it's here again, my worst day of the week. Made more bearable this week by a visit to Pam's, who is tragically (for me) going to be moving away from Newhaven in the near future. Whatever shall I do? Go back to staying indoors alone watching the herds of chavs sweeping majestically past my house I suppose. I'll have to start sketching them...Pam, I shall do it in your honour!

Here are a few character drawings I did yesterday, by the way.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Weekend & Mossycoat

Hello everyone. It's been an eventful few days for me...here are a couple of highlights!
Saturday - a day at Seaford beach. Here are my lovely boys braving the icy sea...

Followed by a family bbq...

...relaxing in what I laughingly call my garden. (No pics of me I'm afraid. I don't want to scare people).

Sunday was spent gardening, and today was just pretty stressful. Not much work got done, except I finally mounted a doll I have been working on...

The doll is all fabric; the face needlesculpted. It's a character from the story "Mossycoat", an English Folktale. The girl's mother makes her a coat from moss and gold thread, which lets her move around and to change to other forms by wishing. I used the idea of the mother making the coat as a theme for the mounting, and collaged some treasures from women's sewing boxes I have into an old drawer. I love sewing boxes and button boxes, and I've been lucky enough to have some of these passed on to me by friends recently. The next theme for our touring Inky Crows exhibition is "English Heroes and Villains" and I think I would like to develop the women's work box idea further for this - I think they have a quiet power and are quite magical. I love the way they are passed down, too. Especially if it's to me!
(By the way, I don't mean to be sexist and suggest that only women have sewing boxes. It's just I have never seen one belonging to a man!)
Now off to my dancing class...don't laugh - it's my only form of exercise other than housework or gardening!