Being outside


Every autumn I travel to the Czech Republic.  I spend two weeks on my own in a beautiful cottage, on a hill by the wood.

In front of the cottage, is an apple orchard and a view from which you can see the whole country.


I am there on my own with pencils and brushes. I walk, paint, draw and I think of new ideas for picture books.


IMG_1356Recently I was talking to students of illustration saying, that all I know about drawing I owe to life drawing lessons. Everything I know about paint and colour I learned from painting outside.


I love to walk, pick a spot, fall in love with a place, watch it for a couple of hours, trying to understand it, witnessing it slowly changing as the day goes by.IMG_E1429


In nature you find shapes and colours you wouldn’t be able to make up yourself. Making a note, sketching and painting is the way to learn.


These are some of my sketches and small paintings. They are different sizes and formats. I paint them for myself and I show them only to friends when they ask about them. More than finished paintings I like the process of painting. I often slip away in my thoughts and start thinking about picture books.IMG_6133



Every year I come home thinking that I haven’t done enough work, but all the sketches and notes suddenly start making sense a couple weeks later.

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I love the cottage and the surrounded countryside. It is always hard to pack the rucksack and go back to civilisation, but by doing that I have something to look forward to again. I will be coming back soon.


Grumpy Duck

It’s just over a year since I published the blog – DUCK, DUCK and DUCK

Everything is written there and it made me smile reading it again. I remember the lovely time we had with Joyce at The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank and  how much I enjoyed working on the book.

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Joyce is a great writer and and she seems to carry hundreds of ideas with her everywhere she goes.


‘Grumpy Duck’ is one of them. It was written for me and it did feel as if I’d written it myself. Perhaps that was the reason why I enjoyed working on the illustrations so much.

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 Thank you Joyce and thank you Walker Books for giving us the opportunity of working together and for making such a lovely book.


I hope you will enjoy reading it!