Category Archives: Illustration

Did my editor like my artwork?


Did my editor like the artwork I finished for Walker – the boy who can talk to dogs?

She did, but she didn’t like the character in the image on the left. It reminded her of someone when she was young who she thought was a werewolf.

My immediate reaction was to think, “Oh yes! There the plot for book 4 in the series!”

A little though and I realised that wasn’t going to happen, so I made Mr Bonus, the Latvian village shop keeper and Walkers  business inspiration, look a little softer around the eyebrows. I think it make him look a bit like Lemmy from Motorhead!

Click the picture at the top to watch how I go about revising a piece of artwork.

I’ve since changed a few other illustrations as I noticed inconsistencies with the text as I went through the final edit with illustrations in place. Of course I should have noticed before I did the artwork!

Walker is out on the 14th of March and you can preorder the book at Amazon with the link below, so you can be the first to read it!

Is Julian Assange the New Pandora?

A strange thing happened when I successfully launched my picture book, Pandora, on Kickstarter  this year.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site, where people can pledge to support a project to allow the creator time and funds to complete it.

Flushed with success, I contacted all the people in the Cherished Supporters tier, asking them for posting details, etc. and also for the name to print on the Cherished Supporters Page of the book.

Can you imagine my surprise, when I came to lay out the artwork for the page, to find that one of the Cherished  Supporters was Julian Assange the founder of WikiLeaks!

I contacted the garbled, jumble of numbers and letters on the anonymous gmail address of the kickstarter supporter and asked – “Are you actually Julian Assange or a well-wisher?”

I felt that I should add a note of explanation to the book package I was about to send to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. There might be security issues, especially as the book was sealed in an envelope with a “Do Not Open!” sticker.

It was a special, signed, first-edition with all sorts of warning labels and seals to prevent anyone, but the most curious, from opening the book and finding out what happens.

An anonymous email came back approving idea, explaining that the supporter wanted to send the book to JS as a gift. No reason why. No suggestion of being a supporter or an opponent.

I sent the book to the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London, with a covering letter explaining what was in the package and why. I’ve not heard back from anyone at all and the book has not been returned. I’ve no idea how it was received. I’ve no idea why it was sent!

Since publication, and presenting the story to both children and adults, I’ve thought about the story of Pandora a lot, and children have helped me take a sideways look at it too.

I’ve removed the Eve story, the creation of woman as the cause of all evil in the world. That just has no place in the world today. The story is left with the themes of insatiable curiosity, disobedience and just plain minding your own business.

I agonised over wether I should be telling young children to always do as they are told. For a five year old, that’s generally very good advice. But there are times when it’s not just good, but right to shout out loud about something that is wrong.

But age and curiosity should breed wisdom too, a sense of knowing when to keep quiet – to mind your own business. Or knowing when to lift the lid of the box and release the powers that you may never have imagined possible.

The story of Pandora is a warning: Be careful what you ask for, be careful what you seek! If you are completely minded to go ahead and unleash something you don’t quite understand, be prepared for all the unintended consequences. Your brain is not big enough to compute the potential good or bad that you might set free into the world nor that which might come back to haunt you.

The children I’ve read this to have taught me that the world must have been a very boring place before Pandora opened the box. All the bad things the world had never know before act as mirrors to all the good things. Yin and Yang. Counterbalances. Without one, the other means little.

Pandora also released hope into the world – but, unknowingly, she also released the powerful and destructive force of creativity that formed the world we live in today.

How does that relate to Julian Assange? I’m not sure. It’s a long game that history will eventually decide upon. Maybe he too will become a myth – Mandora?

You can buy signed copies of Pandora here.

Or get them from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S81IiL

How to Draw & Paint the Olive Tree From Pandora

This video shows you how I drew and painted in watercolour the olive tree that appears a fe times in my recent children’s picture book, Pandora. A longish video with a lot of chat about drawing, painting, illustration and making picture books.

The tree is a recurring theme in the book. I wanted something to connect the inside world of the story with the outside world.

In my researches I came across the stunning wall painting in Akrotiri in Crete, dating back some 3400 years. The swallows and the lilies really got me going, and then I decided to have a lone, ancient, gnarled olive trees too, as a symbol of the mediterranean and. You can see a video about Akrotiri and the amazing wall paintings here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gb7g9w6fxo

You can get your own copy of Pandora here:
Pandora on Amazon USA 
Pandora Amazon UK
Pandora Amazon Canada
Pandora Amazon Australia