Christmas Shopping and Zebras



Sometime ago I mentioned, that I’m looking forward to my collaboration with Nicola Davies. Last week I delivered the final illustrations for my latest book to my publisher and at the same time I collected Nicola’s finished manuscript of our book.

I thought I won’t start anything new before before Christmas. All I wanted to do was just write Father Christmas a letter and send Christmas cards to friends. Then I looked at Nicola’s text and poems. IT’S BRILLIANT!

The book is going to be called “My First Book of Animals” and it will have as many as 100 pages – fifty double spread pictures.

I’m so excited, I can’t wait to start working on it. First I thought I will make just pencil notes…IMG_0249


but then I started to read all about animals of different sizes, IMG_0250and colours…IMG_0256


Scan 6I couldn’t help it and I started to paint.

Scan 5Orangutan with its baby in the tree nest.

Scan 4Tiger in the night.Scan 9300 000 different beetles!

Scan 13Spider in the bath.

This is one of my favourite poems in the book.

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 17.12.25Scan 8Did you know that the Tsetse fly doesn’t like stripes? I did this sketch and then I remembered that I must have somewhere spare drawings of Zebras. I opened a draw and this is what I found – lots of zebras.

IMG_0260I’m really looking forward to reading more about all the wonderful animals and do more sketching.

I also thought that I should get properly ready for next year and stock-up on materials – paint and papers.

I’m lucky. I have a nice neighbour Alison, who has a nice brother Alexander and Alexander has a nice Art shop – Alexander Paper Supplies.

I went to do the shopping with all my family and was very impressed by how we were welcomed! Look, there was even a welcoming sign with coffee and biscuits ready!


On the picture is Alexander, my daughters and my wife Claire (she is the smallest one) and me.

Alexander, with help of his sons Alexander, Oliver and a couple of employees, has been successfully running his business for 20 years. He is so enthusiastic about his job. He took us to his warehouse full of amazing machines and showed us everything and he also took as for lunch! What a day.

If you decide to stock-up on materials in Alexander Paper Supplies  I can’t promise you a free lunch, but I can guarantee, that you wan’t be disappointed. You will be treated well and you will get any advice you may need from Alexander or from his nice dad Bill who, as Alexander said, is giving advice to anybody no mater if he wants it or not.

Well and that is it for now. Time to celebrate Christmas!

Happy Christmas


Finished Book

IMG_0202I finished and delivered “Blue Penguin”, my latest book! It’s always a strange feeling when the book is finished. You wake up the next day and realise, that there is nothing to do. It’s a bit of a relief, a bit sad and a bit of panic about what next.

At that moment I started tiding up my studio. In the last couple of weeks the floor in my studio was covered with paper, prints and cut out images of penguins. It’s quite therapeutic tiding up, throwing away all the notes you don’t need anymore and bad sketches. It gives you time to think about what to do next.

So “Blue Penguin” is finished and ready to be published next November, ready for Christmas 2015 I guess.

IMG_0225I had some time, so I did a couple of drawings in my sketch book.

Tiding up I also rediscovered a drawing done by a little boy in one of the schools I visited recently.IMG_1170I absolutely love it, so I did my version of the drawing.IMG_0220

And later on I did a bigger picture.

IMG_0219I had also time to catch up with things I promised to do and haven’t done yet. One of them was to do two portraits.

Some time ago I was asked if I would like to contribute to the exhibition called “Drawn In”. Artists and writers were asked to nominate one of their friends and to do a portrait of themselves and a portrait of their friend. It should be done from memory.  The nominated friend then will do the same.

I liked the idea and I choose to draw my friend and fellow illustrator “Tony De Saulles“. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I’ve known Tony for some time. He has a great sense of humour and a nice smile. The smile suits him, but as much as I tried I couldn’t make Tony smile, so in the end I drew him rather miserable. It made me smile and I hope he will like it.

I also couldn’t draw him without his bag hung over his shoulder and some of his characters he draws so well.

Tony De SaullesHere is Tony.



And here is me.

The exhibition is open on 24th January until 1st March 2015 and will be at The Customs House, South Shields.

As I was finishing this blog Tony sent me his drawings.photoI think the bike suits me!

Christmas Star

IMG_0183This is a photo from my Saturday early morning walk. It was cold and frosty and it all looked very Christmasy.

I thought about one of my books “Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star”. The only truly Christmas book I have written so far. I remember walking over the Somerset moors at Christmas 2008 and thinking about Suzy Goose who got lost in the snow on Christmas day. Writing a Christmas story at Christmas seems somehow right and it’s easy.Suzy Goose and The Christmas star

Christmas books have a very short life on the bookshops’ shelves and what it’s not sold one year has to wait until the next year to be sold. Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star should be in the shops.




During the week I kept working on “Blue Penguin”. I was planning to finish by now, but a terrible cold slowed me down. I tried to work as much as I could, but when you have a cold everything slows down and your brain does not work as well as it should.Scan 9I’ve finished all the pictures from the book! Here is a sketch of the white whale talking to Blue Penguin.

IMG_0202 And this is the final illustration.Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 14.06.06By the way, my editor was right about the cover. It didn’t pass the cover meeting. There are already book covers with a penguin’s head looking at you. Yes, ….I know. These are the new sketches of the new cover.

photoI’ve already started to work on it and the cover will be finished around the time you will finish reading this blog. Then I have to do endpapers. I would like to do icy landscapes with lots of blue light and snow.

Talking about light…here is one more picture from my latest walk.IMG_0177




cover ? I’m getting on with the illustrations for my latest book “Blue Penguin”. It’s going well, although a bit slowly.

I still have three pictures to do. I try to keep the pictures fresh by printing, scratching and using thick paint. Sometimes it looks as if it’s easy, but painting the backgrounds can take ages and not all of the attempts are successful.

I already painted a cover for the book, but talking to my editor we realised, that almost every published book about a penguin has a similar cover. That means the head of a penguin looking at you. I wouldn’t mind though, but we may change it anyway. I will see after the cover meeting.

The next task for me in the book is a whale. I need to paint a white whale. I already had a picture of a whale in one of my books.

13 p. AIt was a whale in “Puffin Peter”.

I wanted to have a look at some of the older sketches and got stuck looking through my sketchbooks.

Looking through a sketchbook is like finding an old family photo album. These are some fish I found.39

A very old sketch.

116Pickled fish. A drawing inspired quite probably by the pickled shark by Damien Hirst.

104A similar picture named “Water tank with a Killer Whale and five paying viewers”.

103This is another killer whale.


A sketch for the whale from the book “Puffin Peter”. I wanted to paint the body of the whale as if it’s wet and shiny.

IMG_0166My latest drawing from my sketch book. The White Whale.

Scan 9And this is a sketch for the picture I have to do next week.

More blue penguins

At the beginning  of the week I visited St. Mary’s Primary School in Hampton. A pretty school, which was opened only a year ago and still has only two classes. The result from such a small number of children in one school was that the teachers and children knew each other very well and the whole  school had a great friendly atmosphere.
Apart from me doing a talk and workshop, we also opened a new school library.

Opening a new library in a time when libraries are mostly closing down, was a rather special occasion.
I really enjoyed my day at St.Mary’s Primary School. I left with lots of presents, drawings and letters from the children.
Here are some of them.Scan
I love these butterflies.Scan 1
This snowman looks very autumnal. I love the colours.Scan copy
I think it’s me in the picture.Scan 1 copy
Look at this very colourful cat.Scan 2
Then it was time for me to go back to my studio. I’m working on my latest book “Blue Penguin”.IMG_0146It’s going well.

IMG_0149 Here are some new pictures from the book.

IMG_0151I still have six pictures to do, but I’m not sure if I want to finish, I’m enjoying it too much.IMG_0155

Work in progress

IMG_0119This week I was mostly in my studio working on my new book “Blue Penguin”. I had been looking forward to it for a very long time. I made everything ready a couple of weeks ago, all the printing, sketching, I stretched the papers and drew all the characters. I was sure that I had no unnecessary meetings or some other comitments.

Now I’m painting and collaging. I love this stage of working on a book the best and I’m enjoying every minute of it.IMG_0116I do most of the pictures twice. It helps me loosen up and relax. I can then choose the best picture for the book.

IMG_0113Can you see the difference? Sometimes I do the picture three times.IMG_0098I know which one I like the best, but I check by asking my wife or my daughters to choose the one they like the best.

IMG_0096I get very cross if they choose the wrong picture!


IMG_0106One more important thing I would like to mention.

I donated a picture to the Willow Charity. Willow is the only UK charity supporting seriously ill 16-40 year olds to live their lives to the full by providing unique and positive Special Days.

One of the ways how Willow raises money is organising an auction called “Stars on Canvas”. Stars on Canvas, is a bi-annual charity auction of original artworks created by well known names from the worlds of art, illustration, sport, music and popular culture. The online eBay auction is accompanied by a public exhibition with all proceeds to the national charity, Willow. You can see all the art work and read more about the auction and the organisation here.

If you would like to have a nice picture for Christmas and help somebody else at the same time, please start bidding.Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 09.59.11Here is my contribution to the auction and here is the link. CLICK There are so many great pictures to choose from. I’ve already put my bid in!