“What is it?” I asked.

“They call them ‘hoovers'” she said.

“How do they work?” I asked.

So, she showed me.

1s 2s 3s 4s 5s1But I wasn’t watching. I was tidying my desk so that we could do a jigsaw. Things get messy when I am working on books. Still feeling a bit broken after working on Queen of the Sky, which was a real heart-song and The Wild Swans. I pour my heart and soul into my work and its always strange when it’s over.

Then we did a jigsaw. Just to check that it would be a good one to do.

7s 8s1

Now I have a clean floor and half a clean desk space. Going to paint soon so that I have a clear head too.

Meanwhile the next day we did The Old Hare in Spring jigsaw.




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Low tide. Morning editing. Late lunch walking wide beach. The wreck of the steam ship was high out of water and again the beach so big. This time friends came with horses; Ffion and Red, Ann and Raven, Sarah and Jac.

In Pembrokeshire the sky has its own shade of blue.

lowtide wrek wb6 bigsky wb3 raven red wb1 wb

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Auction for the Hare Preservation Trust

At the end of every book I tidy up ( just a bit) in my studio. The chaos and filth of months of slogging away at a book build up and before starting something else it is always good to clear the mind, and clear the desk. In doing so things come to light.

Recently I discovered the proofs for The Snow leopard. These will soon be auctioned page by page to raise money for the Snow Leopard Trust, but first, here’s a quick auction to raise money for the Hare Preservation Trust. Three images. They are unique, but not original work. They are the proofs I was sent for the covers of notebooks made with Frances Lincoln. A hare, an owl and a fox.


So, here’s what to do. Reserve on each image is £20. Bids to rise by £5 minimum. The auction will close when there have been no bids for 48 hours ( this isn’t eBay and the idea is to raise money for the trust not to get a bargain, so best idea is to think how much you would want to pay and stick to that. Don’t go too high. These are not original pieces of art) I will try to let people know when they are last in line BUT, I am very busy, so if you really really want one then it’s up to you to keep an eye on the bidding. To bid, click on the image of the piece you want and leave a comment. ( you can bid on more than one piece) All comments are moderated so it will not go through automatically but I will keep an eye on it every day.

So, please share, in any way you can, by talking to people, on facebook, twitter etc. You can buy the notebooks from Solva Woollen Mill, Number Seven Dulverton, Book-ish in Crickhowell, Hedgehog Bookshop Penrith, Cover to Cover Mumbles, Seaways Fishguard and all good bookshops and Blue Ginger near Malvern…….

Good luck. You will be informed if you are the winner of the auction by email and then will be asked to make payment direct to the Trust. Bidding starts now and Mary and Little P are very pleased to display the works.

Any questions,( about this posting, rather than life in general)  problems, email me. 

owlie harenb foxie

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Tide and Time

On Monday The Wild Swans has to go to press. I have worked so hard since getting home from Scotland and visiting the bears. Day after day painting, and crafting and re-painting. Sending off images, talking about spaces, moving text, reworking text. I finished the final painting last week, and moved on to working on jacket designs for The Liveships books by Robin Hobb, long overdue, delayed by my inability to find the key to unlock the images for The Wild Swans for months. This involved tidying away papers to begin with. In the process I discovered proof pages from The Snow Leopard. These I will auction, soon, to raise money for The Snow Leopard Trust.

tidyingupagain studiohare

Today I did a ‘final read through’ and in order to get some peace I drove to Whitesands Beach in my van, which is a moveable writing shed. The tide was high but we walked along a small section of beach then I climbed into my van with Ivy and settled to read.


Editing The Wild Swans in the back of a vw van, with Ivy

outsuideI read, with Ivy beside me, warm against my leg, then resting her head on my arm. Lost in the pages, checking and reading sections aloud to taste how the words sound, and as I read the sea rolled back.

At some point I looked up to see Ann at the top of the slip, looking out to sea, so I put down the text and went out to see her and Fly and Ivy came too, and Ffion and Sarah. We walked on the beach, the wide wild beach and the sea had rolled back so very far. Wind, tide and equinox conspired to make the lowest tide for 30 years.











lowesttide lowest2


I have new brushes. These days I do 95% of my work with a series 7 No4 Winsor and Newton sable brush. Amazing creatures, they hold a point like no other brush and spread a wash so well, but I paint so much I wear them out. When I get new ones even the feel of the handle, smooth in my hand is wonderful. By the time I have finished with them the gold words are worn away from the black.

Time to make a new start. New directions.





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Special edition with hare whimsies

ohis snowd


For Easter I have teemed up with Wentworth’s Wooden Puzzles to create two very special edition jigsaws. For the first time these not only have images by me, but also hand drawn whimsies of hares, all drawn by me and a special cut pattern.

The Old Hare in Spring is from a book to be published by Graffeg for the Hare Preservation Trust. The Hares with Snowdrops was a spring painting, based on the ancient symbol of the three hares with conjoined ears.

Both will be very difficult to do, but there is something about the lovely wooden pieces that make them a cut above other jigsaws.

They are in short supply and can only be bought from certain outlets:

Solva Woollen Mill, Pembrokeshire

Hedgehog Bookshop, Penrith

Book-ish in Crickhowell.

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Rock, lichen, cat, dog, Pembrokeshire.

Painting all day then out in the spring sunshine. Chasing thoughts. At the top of the hill I hear a cat call, look behind and there is small leopard. I don’t know where he followed from, but now he walked with us. Soon there will be swallows. Soon The Wild Swans will be finished.

c11 c10 c9 c8 c7 c6 c5 c4 c3 c2 c1

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The last few images

Beginning a new book is difficult. Half way through is a hard place to be. I am now on the last few images for The Wild Swans. And other ideas are circling…


B_ajY8AWcAAbgmi B_gfE-cXEAEkZ2e B_bUv4DWAAAI9tt B_gbJPPXAAAb3ud

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Dreams of Freedom

Produced for Amnesty International by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, edited by Janetta Otter-Barry, designed by Judith Escreet, Dreams of Freedom is a beautiful book. I feel proud and honoured to be a small part of it. These children say why it is important better than I can.

The Chicken House worked with a group of children to explore the ideas and freedoms held within these pages. If we could work to make a world where the freedom from fear is central to our ethics then we would have travelled along a pathway to make the world a better place.

Dreams of Freedom from Amnesty International on Vimeo.


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World Book Day 2015

Tomorrow I will be in Cardiff for World Book Day, giving the Welsh Books Council lecture for World Book Day. Well, they call it a lecture. Really I will be looking at slides, re-evaluating my life’s work and talking about and reading from works in progress. The event takes place at The Norwegian Chapel, which is beautiful. I think there are still places left, and there will be books there to buy, for gifts, or whatever.



If you want to come print out the invite above, and phone to be sure that you will get a place.

I am taking with me a small parcel which will be a prize for whoever asks me the most interesting question about why I do what I do, or how to do it……. hmm…..

So, I thought to open this up on my blog. Some time ago I was asked to do an AMA ( Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. I was working too hard to give it the time it needed but I thought I would give it a go here. A kind of practice. So, ask me anything…..


I have scooped up a thing or two from in my studio, a card, a badge, a small book. The person who in the next couple of weeks asks me the question that I find most interesting to answer will receive the small parcel. Questions should be posed as comments below, but all comments have to be moderated so if it doesn’t appear straight away that will be why. I will do my best. Be patient with me. And if it works maybe I will give the Reddit version a go when the new Robin Hobb cover is revealed. Random cards will be sent to good inquisitors.

1488054_10152761609076314_4986785433523151596_nSo, go ahead. Ask me anything.


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A Short Country Mile in the Rain

Today I walked a short country mile in the rain, on cliffs above a sea coloured like dull pewter. All sparkle had been pressed from the sea by low clouds.

I do not usually walk in the rain. Being always self employed I can manage my days around times when the rain ceases. But today I chose to walk in the rain. The dogs were not impressed. I left Bella at home because she is old and does not need to be cold and wet. Lurchers do not like the rain, but, I observed, once they have reached a maximum saturation their need to stretch their limbs and run exceeds their wish to be curled in a soft warm place.

There were few birds in the air. Rain does not suit birds. Owls will be hungry tonight if the rain does not stop.

And as I walked The Liveships sailed through my mind, and thoughts of finishing swans and future, until the cold sent me home to bring in logs, to make cawl, to draw, to paint. Getting in the logs I thought I heard Floss behind me, but it was just the ghost of my poor old mad sheepdog. I hope she has not come to round up Bella. Not yet. Not just yet. A little more time with Bella would be good, but her sand glass is running lower.

Time to paint, and to draw. Yes.

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