Friday, September 30, 2011

Lists, books, gifts.

Sometimes it seems that what needs to be done is far greater than the hours there are in which to accomplish the tasks. There are many things I want to do, and some of them I need to do, and one that I must do. The one is to stop and think. The rest will steadily take care of themselves.

Yesterday, to begin, I tidied my desk, made a list. Today I need a new list.

Yesterday also I was distracted by dog barks. Later I found a parcel in the porch. Unwrapping the parcel I found a beautiful notebook, a gift from Renee, far away. Hand bound, stitched, waiting for words.

The notebook is stitched with coptic stitching, a form of book binding that is centuries old. made by MonkeyDogStudio.

Time to get focus on today with a new list.
1. Blog
2. Out of pjs into clothes.
3. Look at yesterdays list. Oh dear!
4. Pack book to look pretty and post.
5. Finish making rhyme powerpoint.
6. Finish silver bell and post tomorrow.
7. Hang up washing.
8. Walk dogs.
9. Draw on leather with pyrography tool and take leather bits to Narberth to pick up boots.

Failing to understand why today's list is longer than yesterdays when I did lots of the things on yesterdays and crossed them off. A curious form of physics called 'being too busy for your own good'.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


If all people were born with a finite number of words for their lifetime would we be more careful how we used them? Would quiet people sell some words to writers? Would city traders deal, quietly, in stocks of words, future words? Would some people pile up their words and store them in word banks, passing silently through their lives? Would harsh words be worth more than beautiful words or kind words? And if we ran out of words before we ran out of life, who then would listen?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Snow Leopards.

Cats, small and large, feature in some of my paintings. A few years ago The Snow Leopard was published and through this book I discovered The Snow Leopard Trust. They have done a great deal to support the book and through the sales of the book via the Trust they have raised money to support their work. Now they have a chance to raise money and awareness of their campaign through BBC World Challenge. 
Please watch the film about the leopards, so beautiful, so rare, and the people who share their domain. If you are moved to then vote for them to win the World Challenge competition. And share the film, this blog post, anything, to spread the word and pull in votes for them.
We will all be poorer if these animals do not continue to live wild and free in the wild places of the world.


In the USA if you buy The Snow Leopard from the trust you will be helping their work. In their online shop they have many things made by the people who share the environment with the leopards.
If you want to see and hear the story then get a cup of tea and settle down to watch and listen. And then vote.


Monday, September 26, 2011

New beginnings, ?

Because I have just begun painting for East of the Sun and West of the Moon I feel as if I have just started work on a new book. However I wrote this book a few years ago and have trawled it around publishers and have a folder of very complimentary rejection letters. I have re-read, edited, had the text edited by Janetta at Frances Lincoln and am now beginning to produce a series of paintings to decorate the book. 
Half of my studio is tidy, the other half still chaos. Before and after photos of the one half below.

The trouble comes with finding where to begin.

Meanwhile, with 'The Cat and the Fiddle' officially released ( though some have escaped the warehouse already) next week, and on the suggestion of my clever daughter, here is a short film. The idea is to answer some questions with short films on youtube. So, if you have a question then subscribe to the youtube channel and leave a comment or a video response and if I can I will answer. Though I will try always to remain on what I think of as 'the right side of a camera', ie behind the lens not in front of it.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Invitations, Amnesty International, Long Melford, Norfolk and Tanya Davis

With a new book out I have a busy couple of weeks ahead. Here are a couple of invitations. The first is for an auction of artwork to raise money for Amnesty International. I will be at The Illustration Cupboard, to sign books maybe on the evening of the auction. I am told that you WILL need an invitation or to be on teh guest list for this event so please email Amnesty if you intend to come. You can also bid over the phone I think. No bids in yet, so there is a strong possibility of getting a bargain.

Later in the week I will be at The Norfolk Children's Book Centre for a launch, on National Poetry Day of The Cat and The Fiddle. Then off to Suffolk for an exhibition and third 'launch' this time with artwork.

I will also be signing books around independent bookshops in London and will post a list of the shops for people who would like to get signed copies. And signed copies are always available from Solva Woollen Mill.

And one more invitation. I have been loving listening to Tanya Davis over the last few days. Beautiful. Hard to know which track to show, but the first I heard was this one.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Yesterday I heard that Harper Collins were going to use my cover design for City of Dragons for Robin Hobb's US book, and also that they wanted the artwork for Blood of Dragons, so this morning I settled to go through the text to try and refine the images that had been in my head for a few months. Trying to get them out of my head and onto paper always looks easier than it is when the sketches are finished. It has been a slow day of scribbling and thinking and reading, but a fast turn around from the designer at Harper Collins who sent back sketches with type. Waiting to hear now, from US and UK and hoping that they and Robin all like the same one. This is the final book in the series. More than that it is very good I can't say.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Cat and the Fiddle, Solva Mill and the Chinese Dragons.

Yesterday was the first of a series of launches for The Cat and the Fiddle, a selection of nursery rhymes. The Mill at Solva looked beautiful and Anna had dressed it to fit, with collections and gatherings of things that went with different pages in the book.

In keeping with the theme Rosie came too. She is such a star of the book and she was a star of the book launch too and enjoyed making sure that the floor was clean of crumbs.

So many people came, the Mill looked wonderful and there was a lovely buzz to the event. It is still possible to buy signed books from Anna from their website, and she will be ordering more copies of The Cat and the Fiddle as we sold all of them and more last night.  

Today is a day of sunshine and showers. I have walked to the sea and watched seals embracing, new pups on the beach and a rainbow. 

On coming home I found a parcel and in the parcel, dragons. Chinese dragons. The pages are so very elegant with the beautiful Chinese script, and it is always a thrill to see my words written in languages other than English, and so very wonderful to see such elegant script.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tamsin and Mike: or The longest blog post I have ever done with the most links in it.

I phoned Tamsin to let her know that I had been detained by stonework, wandered around Kilpeck, laughing at the wonder of it all and then drove on.
When I found Tamsin and Mike's house she had soup ready in beautiful wooden bowls. We talked, ate and then I wandered up the garden path to their two workshops and Tamsin told me about German journeymen and we looked at the walls and the trees heavy with fruit ( and I forgot to take any damsons!)

Love the window here which is coloured glass and sandblasted. There were so many lovely things, including the view, I didn't know which way to look.


Then we drove to the woods, and I wasn't really prepared for what I found there.
For more of Tamsin's work she has a website and a facebook page, and she can also be found at The Sisterhood of Ruralists.

Along a road, past the bow topped gypsy caravans with horses and chickens outside, up a hill, into the woods, out of time as the air changed and the light too. 



 Evening campfire place


 Everyone with their chairs

 Beautiful Sophie and her chair

 Barn the Spoon, licenced peddler of spoons

 Me and Barn

 One of the camping places on site

  Another of the camping places on site

 The washroom

Some places have such a magic about them and the atmosphere at this camp was just beautiful. I find myself wanting to go back there, to sit by the fire and listen to music in the evenings and eat together and have stories told, or to sit above the trees and watch the stars and go to sleep in one of the huts to the sounds of fox song and owl hoot.
Tom enjoyed it. When I asked him about it one of the things he said was  'I learned a lot more than just how to make a chair'.
For more about Mike Abbott and his courses and books he also has a website.
An added bonus for me was meeting the wonderful man of spoons, Barney. He is the only person I have met who is a licensed peddler, a maker of wonderful greenwood spoons.  Barn also has a blog.

Kevin from Trellyn Woodland Camping and Mike are plotting and planning a possible workshop or two in Pembrokeshire next year. There will be chairs, spoons (especialy if Barn is up for being lured to the seaside) and good food, possibly music, camp fires, great food (did I mention that already?) and maybe even the odd story or tale by campfire and starlight. Places will be limited so if you are interested get in touch with Kevin at Trellyn.

Kilpeck Church, Herefordshire.

On Sunday I drove dragons across Wales and into England to go and collect Tom from a wood in Worcestershire where he had spent the last few days living and learning. First I was to go to Tamsin Abbott's for lunch, then on to the wood. I was at college in Hereford many years, about 30, ago and all the time I was there I wanted to go to Kilpeck to see the church. As I drove along there was a sign. Dragons slowed and turned, and just off the road we came to the church. Astonishing, strange, out of time, with such curious carvings from the 12 century.

The hare and hound are my favorites and make you wonder how someone from the 12th century had the vision to see something the way that 20th century cartoonist do. Kilpeck is a curious mixture of cultures. Just wonderful.