Gifford’s Circus

My friend Abi and her kids took me to see this circus, that travels the village greens of the Cotswolds and South West. It was a great show! Everything a circus should be : intimate, magical, friendly, amazing… The acts were top notch, the talented band were live, the acting was hysterically brilliant and the animals were treated with love- A turkey had a star turn as the delphic oracle… Tea was served in real china mugs and the food looked scrumptious. Next year I want to book in for dinner too. Hoorah for Nell and Toti Gifford and all in their circus based at  Fennels Farm in Stroud.

circus1 circus2circus3 circus4


A roof with a view

I’m scanning my most recent journal, a Stillman & Birn Alpha A5 which I have loved working in, so I have several stories to share with you in the next few posts.

I enjoy living where I live, in a flat over a busy main road, It’s incredibly noisy but I’m used to it. I have an outside space, a roof terrace looking at all kinds of buildings with a multitude of patterns in brick and tile, different rhythms and textures in terracottas and greys. Most years I plant a garden in pots and sit out here whenever I can enjoying the walls and the sky.



Sketchbook Skool – Illustrate a book cover

I have had so much fun doing this! Following on from the success of my drawing of my first day of school, I decided to stick with the style and theme of schooldays. I was lucky not to suffer at the hands of bullies, the closest I ever got was to be bumped into by this big girl whenever she walked by. At the time I spent so much of my time in books and in the imaginary worlds in my head that I barely noticed and certainly paid her no attention, which I am sure in retrospect must have annoyed her greatly. I did my first drawing in pencil but then froze in indecision- what colours to use? what if I mess it up?


I thought about making it more cartoon like. I traced the outline with a view to doing the colouring in Photoshop. But something wasn’t right. I suddenly didn’t like my heroine. She had stupid hair and I wanted to shake her. The solid line didn’t work.


 I had done a little research on the covers of the books written by my favourite author when I was a little girl…


and had a play with some different layouts and colour schemes.


I then decided to go back to basics and do a watercolour wash over my drawing. I scanned the sketchbook page, and then printed the image onto cartridge paper for painting. That solved the problem of ruining my drawing!


All I had to do was get better at watercolours. In the end I used coloured pencils as well as I was getting impatient to finish this project. Another scan and some more messing about in photoshop resulted in this:


which I then had to print out and wrap round a book to see how it looked in real life. Ta dah!


Now if only I could churn out enthralling school based stories as quickly as Enid Blyton did I would be rich…

Sketchbook skool- an illustrated recipe

This is more of a conventional illustrated recipe because I used too many words, but I am quite pleased with the drawing. This is my absolute favourite way of eating runner beans…. either warm or at room temperature. Perfect with a meal of cheeses and good bread. It probably needs a glass of wine too… a shady terrace…a warm breeze …laughter of children…


Sketchbook Skool homework – first day at school.

I remember vividly the first break time, coming out of the classroom and holding tightly onto one of the poles supporting the Victorian glass veranda, staring wide eyed in shock at the shrieking hordes zooming back and forth across a vast featureless plateau. As I stood there in amazement, another girl sidled up to me and told me I couldn’t stand there, that was not my pole. It belonged to someone else. Someone bigger. 😦


A Sketchbook Skool homework

We had to do a 15-20 min drawing of characters in pen capturing character without obsessing over too much detail. Drawing this brought back lovely memories of a summer break spent on the coast of Northern Ireland with family. My mother and I are wearing each others’ clothes for some reason, my sister took the photograph, we are paddling where my father grew up, and we laughed and laughed and laughed.


May-July journal Selfies.

I was debating whether to be rigorous here and post each spread as it appears in the sketchbook, in sequence and regardless of quality. Then I realised that was going to be just horrible for me, and boring for any viewers. I will show most pages under the journals section, but I reserve the right to withhold any downright dull or rubbish ones!

I am fascinated by how my self portraits turn out. I don’t set out to make myself look ghastly, but the woman who stares grimly back at me from the page is somehow not me, but a much older fiercer worn relative. At least, I think so… perhaps I DO look like this…!