Monday, March 28, 2011

The moon, a dragon, my desk

A while back a friend from afar asked if I would do a drawing for her to be turned into a tattoo. Now she wears a dragon tattoo and it looks beautiful. Such a strange connection to have with another person, having them as a canvas. Eve's dragon holds a moon and a small star.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Part 1 of The Seal Children, a film about the story behind the story

I made a short film about The Seal Children, but have since learned how to get clearer definition on the films when uploading so here is a link to the new version. The Seal Children was one of my first longer stories and is a book about love and loss, selkies and fishermen, Wales and the West.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Save our Libraries no4: or please engage brain before making a statement.

It's not really that I feel inclined to criticise everything that Michael Gove says, it's more that I feel that he has a need to engage his brain before going for the nearest soundbite. So, here is my rant, or measured argument, to the piece in The Telegraph today ( suggesting that children should read 50 books a year)
50 books a year. At an average of £6.99 that would cost £349.50 per child. As a way of ensuring a minimum spend on this can I suggest that the government spends our money on some kind of central warehousing for books where a child can go and select, say, four books, a months worth of reading, then when he/she has read them they could be returned so that other children could read them. These warehouses could be staffed by expert people who understand cataloguing and ordering books but also keep abreast of what is new in publishing, who get to know the 'borrowers' who can recommend books that might be interesting. We could call the warehouses libraries, and the gatekeepers could be librarians.
But I would also like to take issue with the idea of the reading challenge of 50 books. As a child I would have found this utterly daunting. I would have been lucky to manage 12, but I would have read them because I loved stories. I struggled to read, hated reading in class because I stumbled and fell over the simplest words, but I loved books. And when I read I was there, in the pages, lost, safe. I walked on the green grass of Wyoming, I rode on Aslan's back and I went hunting with the Antelope Singer. I could smell Australia in the pages of The Silver Brumby.
Again it would seem that a memeber of our government knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It is not how many books you read, but how you are engaged and tangled in books. A person can read 50 books and learn nothing while another can read 5 and learn so much. A poem can say as much as a novel of 1000 pages. It's not how many you read how engaged you can be with a story, not how fast, but maybe I say this because I am slow. And how are these children who are tested almost night and day and have coursework etc to do to find the time?
This statement, this argument by a member of our government is yet again further proof of the fact that he is not fit to govern, neither is he fit to shape policies that will affect our children's education.
Maybe now I manage 20 books a year, at a push 30 ( cheating, reading pictures books, shorter!) I still read painfully slowly.
One of the things I loved most at school, especialy before I had learned to unlock the code I use now as my fingers move over this board, was the half hour when all our class sat quietly while the teacher simply but surely read a whole book to us over a period of days. Sometimes we all had a copy to follow. Sometimes we just sat and listened. And when we did that pictures would dance in my head.

A Short Tour of My Studio Space no2.

Usually I will tidy up my studio in between books. This time I tidied up before filming, but in the interests of honesty here are some photos of my studio before I threw away three bin bags of rubbish and moved the dirt with a feather duster.


Have already had confirmation from the MBF that the rough is ok, so will work on that over the next few weeks.

A Short Tour of My Studio Space

Two bowls.

Sound travels differently those air thick with mist. Walked this morning, with Sarah, to the top of the hill, each with a healing bowl where we played them together. Sarah's bowl is larger than mine and makes a wonderful deep sound. Together they filled the air with a siren song.


Above is first rough for this year's MBF card which I hope with be in reds and snow.
The mist is burning off now as sunshine comes through. Yesterday the dentist pulled my tooth out and I still feel rather fragile from the whole experience. It has been a hard few weeks since fininshing The Cat and The Fiddle.

Monday, March 21, 2011

21st Century Tiger Auction no 2.

The auction for 21st Century Tiger has gone live on eBay. We want to raise as much money as possible but also as much awareness so please help by blogging and linking via facebook and tweeting as much as possible.

The reserve price is £500, and the painting is the original from Lord of the Forest, written by Caroline Pitcher and illustrated by me, published by Frances Lincoln. The page that reads:

"Tiger played and fought with his brothers. He swam in the cool water.

He told his mother, "I can hear the creep of crabs in the pool and the flip of the fish as they leap  in the cool, the croak and the splash of jumping frogs and the slither of watersnake down from the logs."

His mother said, " When you don't hear them, when silence burns and time stands still, then, my son, be ready. The Lord of the Forest is here!"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Amnesty International, We Are All Born Free

Today a book arrived in the post. A small book with a big heart. In 2008 Frances Lincoln and Amnesty International published 'We Are All Born Free', the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for children. Now they are re releasing the book in a pocket format and it is just perfect.
The book was commissioned to raise money and awareness of the work of Amnesty International in the world and was published in about 42 languages. All the artists donated their work for free ( and I was lucky enough to be able to get in quick and request, not without irony,' the right to rest from work and relax' ). 
Many of the paintings will be auctioned on 4th October  at the Illustration Cupboard in London with money raised going towards Amnesty's wonderful work. Hoping people will be able to bid by phone and I will blog about it as a reminder closer to the time.

Meanwhile the letter said that the artwork has been wandering the world and was exhibited in Tel Aviv at the Gutman Museum in collaboration with Amnesty International Israel. Over 6 thousand people saw the exhibition which was linked to a lecture on UDHR. So pleased that Amnesty have been making the most of the paintings. Hoping to be at the auction, work permitting.
We Are All Born Free is a beautiful book and I think every family should have a copy, certainly every school.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leopard and a beautiful thing that is secret.

Waiting to see if the snowleopard page is finished, or just almost finished. Needs to be prowled around for a while.
In the meantime I have a secret or two. Below are some images for one which will take shape over the next few weeks. Something beautiful.

21st Century Tiger Auction

 Last year I went to London Zoo and fed tigers. To be in the presence of tigers is to be granted an incredible gift. I have  a friend who travels a great deal, Wendy Cooling. I still remember listening to her as she spoke of a safari into the forests in India on elephant back. She was lucky enough to have been given the gift of watching a tiger in the wild. She told me that she cried, the creature was so beautiful. So very very beautiful. Even as she was telling me her eyes filled.
I wanted to do something for these animals that have walked through my dreams and when I was at the zoo I was told about 21st Century Tiger. All I could do was to give them a painting which they could use as they wished, to raise money and to raise awareness for their work. Below is the press release. The auction goes live next week.
Sign up to their facebook page to keep an eye on the auction and please spread the word. The painting comes with a hardback copy of the book signed by Caroline Pitcher and myself. This is a first edition hardback, rare in itself as the book is only in print in paperback now.
I think the reserve price is £500, and given that many of my illustrations are now £4000 this could be a chance to pick up a bargain.

Famous watercolour auctioned for tiger conservation

Acclaimed artist Jackie Morris is donating a watercolour to be auctioned on eBay in aid of 21st Century Tiger.

The original watercolour from the book Lord of the Forest written by Caroline Pitcher will be auctioned on eBay from 21 March 2011.

One hundred years ago there were 100,000 wild tigers.  Now there are less than 3200 tigers left in the wild.

In the last century Asia’s wild tiger range has shrunk to a mere 7 per cent of its original habitat, shockingly 40 per cent of that decline has happened in the past ten years.

Jackie Morris “Even though in my lifetime I may never ever see a tiger in the wild my world is a richer place for knowing that these wonderful creatures are there. 21st Century Tiger is a rare organisation working to protect the habitat of the tigers in harmony with the people who live alongside them, and also rare in that 100% of all money given to them goes towards their projects rather than being eaten up by admin costs. It is my hope that when I have grandchildren tigers will still walk through their dreams and through the forests of the world as living creatures and not something from history, creatures of myth”.

21st Century Tiger is a unique fundraising partnership between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Global Tiger Patrol that gives 100 per cent of all they raise to carefully chosen conservation projects throughout Asia.

21st Century Tiger currently funds the work of both international and local conservation organisations with a range of projects from education in China, ranger training in Thailand and anti-poaching, to monitoring of the tiger populations in Sumatra and Russia.

These important projects address the pressures the tiger faces in today’s world of trade, exploding human popu­lation and vanishing forests.

The auction will be held on eBay over ten days, ending on 30th March 2011. More information can be found at


Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Today has been a day of shadows and sun, birdsong, windsong, clatter and clang, car horn lorry reverse, raven call, wave turn and tumble. On the beach friends and dogs and rocks in the sand like sleeping dragons. Gannets, white birds following a river of silver fish, three swans slow flying out over blue water.
The bowl does seem alive. She likes the light better than the dark of the cave, the space better than the hard of the rock, the breeze and the sunshine. In these she comes quicker to sound. Or maybe it is me that likes the more.
I dip the bowl in the water of a circle rock pool, worn away by time and tide and play and the sound rises and swirls with a different texture.
I think about the people far away. When Gaia shrugs she shows us all how fragile, how futile we are. We need to learn respect for the earth and throw away the respect we have for all things moneyed. The 'City' still plays its games as the stock market falls in Tokyo and I feel a sick sadness inside. The game player will once more profit from the misery of others, but maybe the world will learn and listen.
Only a few hundred years ago the tower of St Davids Cathedral was split by an earth quake. An age ago for fragile humans, less than the blink of an eye for the earth.
Nowhere is safe for nuclear power stations to be built. The earth is a living, moving creature. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How I would love to have a tail of my own.

Carried away with painting mountains, luckily weariness overtook me. Fortunate timing as I had forgotten that I need to leave space for the type.

A few days ago hundreds of ravens flew over heading north. Yesterday they were back, in pairs, dancing in the wind, a pair high, another higher still and yet more, declaring their sovereignty of the sky. They flew in courtship dances with folded wings and tumbling delight. For a while I stood in the garden, earth bound, and watched, with a wish for wings in my heart.

Learning and watching a master at work.

Learning something new and thinking of cameras and where the time will come from to do such things, and in the meantime I found that it is so interesting to see how someone else works. P J Lynch has also illustrated East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I love the bee Man of Orm and watching him work is too mesmerizing.


Cat cover

East of the Sun

Monday, March 14, 2011


I have walked on the beach with a healing bowl and learned about water and changes in tune.
I have set up a youtube channel, had a good idea or two and learned a little about youtube which has made my brain ache.
I have made hummus with sunblushed tomatoes for supper and watched as my garden is transformed into a useful growing space by a good friend.
I have painted a creature of the high wild mountains for I am Cat.


On the beach today walking with healing bowl mingling the sound of the bowl with the wind and the waves. It is as if the bowl is alive. She loves to be outside and always rises quickest to the music when touched by the wind, resonates the longest. Walked the length of the beach and she sang all the way as I hunted images for the new MBF card. Each year it gets harder as I hope to do better and sell more so that more musicians can draw from their fund, in times of need or to finance learning, making.
Back home with ideas and a peaceful heart, but her song is addictive and I want to hear it again. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I was doing when I should have been working.

I bought a car sticker for my van as the old sticker was so faded. It looked ugly. So, I decided to design my own. Unlike the Olympic circles the symbol of the Welsh Dragon belongs to the people, to everyone. I am waiting for Jane to add the type for me and then hope to get some printed. They will simply and proudly carry the word Cymru in red and my website address, very small.
Much more elegantly suited to being stuck on the Dragon Wagon.
The original artwork is for sale over at The House of Golden Dreams and I am hoping that we will be able to have stickers available for sale soon from Solva Woollen Mill at Middlemill.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Welsh Dragons.

Yesterday during the evening I went to Croesgoch School. They had invited me in as part of their World Book Day Celebrations. I have a great fondness for this school as my two children went there and the teachers gave them the best start they could have. They both learned to read in the school in St Davids with Gill Thomas, a wonderful teacher and lovely woman, but when they left Gill's class we moved them both to Croesgoch. Here they both prospered and grew and became fluent in Welsh. So funny to see them both yesterday, towering above all the younger children, and the teachers!
The school seemed very full during the eveing and as there were so many people there I did two sessions, with Tell Me a Dragon and Starlight Sailor. I took my healing bowl, for summoning dragons and my dragon puppets, which may soon have to travel to France with me. Infact there were so many people that we ran out of books. Anna from Solva Woollenmill was running the book stall and signed books are always available at the mill, in Middlemill, and online in her shop.
The children had all worked on wonderful paintings of 'their' dragons and I have the unenviable task of judging them. I couldn't do this there as they were too good and I need to take time to look at them all, so will post some more pictures later.

All day today I painted and wandered around in peace and quiet. I have been working on a red dragon on gold. A real Welsh dragon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I am Cat

On the beach today, some peace of mind for a broken heart.
Yesterday I buried Maurice, my beloved cat. Today I worked on the first painting for my new book called 'I am Cat', which will be dedicated to all the cats who have walked through life with me and those yet to come.