Finding tags

12307561_10153313756451314_7233086364555830223_o A question, found on a tag, beneath a sand glass hour timer.

On the will crag of an eerie not far from here, in the crook of a raven’s claw is the other half of…..?

I walked to the high crag, to ask the raven.

She told me;

“A locket, open, two pictures held within, but one gone..

The Promise of rain,

An opal,

A jewel,

A white swan’s feather.

A golden crown, small as a thimble,

A wish,

A shoe, worn, small as a baby’s fist.

A stone.”

And I said, ” Raven, you are a trickster, so tell me true, which of these things do you hold in the crook of your claw?”

And she said,

“The darkness of a starless night,

The curve of the new moon,

The seed of a star,

A dream.

Sorrow, I hold in the crook of my claw.

So, what will you give me if I answer you true?”

I sat. I thought.

“Respect,” I said.

She nodded, then leapt for the sky and away she flew.

And where she had stood was her gift to me,

And so I return it to you….



Tell me now and tell me true, what did she leave on the crag, on the eerie, that she had held in her short sharp claw.

In no more than 25 words, in the comments below. And I will choose someone and send then something…. a card, a badge, a something from my studio.

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Nine white mice, happy as can be, with tiny china teacups and a big pot of tea.

desktop2desktopclosedup thankyou


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The Rainwilds revisited

I first visited The Rainwilds when I worked on the covers of Robin Hobb’s brilliant books. To coincide with the publication of Fool’s Quest a ‘new look’ was commissioned by Harper Collins for the whole backlist. Amazingly I was asked to work on this. So, I got to re-read and rework all the covers, the last being The Rainwilds Chronicles.

Re-reading these books, especially in the light of having read Fool’s Quest and Fool’s Assassin I found new depths. I love the Rainwilds. If ever there was a fictional place I desire to visit it is here, preferably via a trip up the river on The Tarman and then a flight across to Kelsingra.

I’ve worked on Robin Hobb’s books for years now. One thing that has been unusual in the fluid publishing industry is that during that time I have worked with the same wonderful art editor, Dominic Forbes, and astonishing calligrapher, Stephen Raw. Working with Stephen’s lettering is a pleasure. Watch him, here. Mesmeric.

But, well, maybe because these are the last, it became something of an epic struggle.There were 9 previous books and 2 subsequent and these had to fit in with the ‘look’ of all of those.

So: lots of sketches, back and forth. As ever I spoke a great deal with Jane too, Robin’s UK editor. How to catch something of the book. To me the atmosphere of the books is rain and trees and dragon, warm, wet, river. It begins with dragons born sick, unformed, moves though triumphantly. Second time round I loved the books more.

So, sketches. doodling6 doodling5 doodling4 doodling3 doodling2 doodling1

Some were approved, some reworked. Eventually I tried to settle, with amended annotated sketches, glorious flowing lettering.

Part way through the struggle, in Cirencester Waterstones I found copies of The Liveships books which at the time had also been a struggle. They looked wonderful, really standing out amongst the other books in the fantasy section.


So, courage. I painted. Then I sent off my work with fingers crossed, to Dom, hoping he could work magic. Some of it I knew wouldn’t be used. I tend to do all of the art at least twice. All is done with watercolour and a brush, because I am what I believe is called a ‘traditional’ illustrator ( old fashioned).

intocolour onboard deskwithhobbs nope bigK

Somehow he always seems to make my work shine. And well, I do love what he has done. And I hope fans of Robin’s will like them too, and that they will draw new readers into discovering her astonishing world.


Once they are done it looks easy. It wasn’t. But it was a pleasure.

Now, like everyone else, I wait… for the final episode in this glorious tale.


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Six bright tigers, playing pat-a-cake.


I had help with my tigers from the wonderful photo set by Suzi Eszterhas, wonderful photographer of glorious wild things. I was lucky enough to meet Suzi in Seattle. Her patience, composition, artistry are just wonderful. Wander off into her website. Here’s where the tigers are.

suzistygers2 suzistigers suzi

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#PictureBookMonth no 2: Counting on things

Gremlins ate my blog post.

This week I have been working on One Cheetah, One Cherry. I have been painting elephants and tigers and changing swans into pandas and owls into weasels.

audience 5dey2 5det 5five


cookingweasels pandasandp

In between it all there was a random strawberry fox and some doodling on prints.


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Those who create, those who destroy.

History should teach us that no one has ever won a war. The war on terror is a powerful act of stupidity. This passage from Pillars of Light by Jane Johnson says so much.


Vengeance is not justice. Vengeance is just more acts of violence.

So, tell me something beautiful. Show me something beautiful. Make something beautiful. Do something beautiful.

We are living in dark times.


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#picturebookmonth No 1

It seems that November is #picturebookmonth.

As a maker of picture books it is always good to know these things.

As such I have decided to do a few posts on picture books, and have decided to begin with my own.

I just spent the morning at Solva Woollen Mill where I signed a great pile of new stock for Tom and Anna while more orders came in through their online shop. The joy of the mill for me is that they sell my books and make it possible for people to order signed, dedicated copies that they then post out world wide. I could never in a million years organise this, and at the end of the day would rather be painting. Today I signed 5 books that are Christmas presents and a few others.

So, if you want signed and dedicated books get your orders in soon as they are selling a bit fast ( especially The Wild Swans which has been getting some wonderful reviews).

Here’s a link for the web shop. They have cards and jigsaws and notecards and notebooks and calendars too…..

millknittingsheep signed 1b 2b 4b 51b 6b 6b1

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Accidental fragments and foxes with strawberries.

The last few weeks have been very difficult. The work has been difficult too. I have been ‘resting’ in the work for the counting book I am doing. Next on the drawing board should be owls, so I have gathered a small parliament and tidied my desk just a little.


tidyingowls tidyingb withowlsAnd in the making of ‘Four Fine Foxes’ I created another ‘gold soul’ this time of two foxes. It reminded me of some others that I have been keeping. These are the leavings from gilding, the shapes of the paintings. In the past I have given them away.

gs1 gs2 gs3 moth1 moth2annawigley moth2annaw moth3annawigley

They are just simply the gold leaf, some yellow gold, some red, on transfer paper ( I use transfer leaf) but there is a quiet beauty to these accidental leavings.

So, I have put them onto my online gallery The House of Golden Dreams.  What I have asked is that people go to the page, and like it if they wish and comment on the post, on the facebook page, and if they wish, wander through the photographs, and share images or the page. This helps me by introducing new people to my work, and if you chose to do it I thank you. And I will pick people from the comments on the post for the next few days and send the chosen piece to the chosen person. I hope that makes sense.

The first to go is the hare on blue, who is going to Jo Smith, textile artist.

The poems on which I have photographed some of the pieces are by Anna Wigley and from Durer’s Hare. Beautiful book. I love the wings.

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The Wild Swans; a review

When you work so hard on a book, weave into it thoughts, ideas, people, spend a year illustrating it then send it out into the world the waiting for what happens next can be a little agonising. Will it sink of swim in this world that is so loud? And The Wild Swans is such a small book, a quiet book. So when I heard that Nicolette Jones had picked up the book as Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week, I was pleased, then worried about what the review might say.



Such a lovely review.


Now, I have knit  a small square of wool and pinned on to it four badges. People are beginning to ask me questions about  the book. So, if you would like to share this blog post, the review, which can be found here online, and leave a comment below with a question, a thought, an observation about the book then I will pick a winner at random in a couple of weeks time and send a small parcel with the badges and a card or two to say thank you.

In the meantime I am preparing prints for a gallery, packing paintings for another, preparing for a short journey, more about which I do not wish to say.

Thank you in advance for any sharing of the book, the blogpost, the review.


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The Wood Wife by Terri Windling


With Halloween approaching I find the way this festival has been warped towards the dark, the ugly, unpleasant. I love the wild hunt, All Souls and the night of the Spirits, but in a way that celebrates the beauty of the dark. I detest the commercial rise of plastic pumpkins and ghoul masks and the bullying of trick or treat.

Reading this beauty, by Terri Windling, I find myself tangled in fiction, fact and coyotes.

Amidst the pages this quote, from Katherine Paterson:

“If we marvel at the artist who has written a great book, we must marvel more at those people whose lives are works of art and who don’t even know it, who wouldn’t believe it if they were told. However hard work good writing may be, it is easier than good living.”

How true. Love this posting from Terri, musing on this and also love her wonderful strange washing line!

Still tidying my studio here, so leave a comment and I will send a parcel now and again to random people who can answer one, other, or both of the questions;

So, is there someone you know of whose life is a work of art?

How do you strive to live a good life in these difficult times?

Thank you.

And The Wood Wife is beautiful. More on that later.



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