Here is a children’s fold-up diorama with cut-out figures I worked on over the summer. I do love a bit of maritime history!
Next week there will be no post from as I’ll be away on illustration-related business. I’ll be back the week after.
Posted in Illustration
Tagged boatbuilders, boats, children, clinker, docks, eduction, Hannah Foley, illustration, illustrator, island nation, jib, Lavis and Sons, maritime history, merchandise for children, sea, seagull, sheepdog, toys
I have been enjoying the Autumn evenings over half term. There is still enough light to do half an hour in the garden after the littlest ones are down to bed and I’m often getting a stack of washing in anyway. It has been so still and peaceful, glorious sunsets adorning the sky. The plants are dying back, elegant skeletal remnants of their former glory. I have left the grass long this year, to help it recover from the trauma of the dry summer. Oh, it did look forlorn. I pounce on each fallen leaf from the fig tree. As big as dinner plates, they are perfect as a mulch on my patio pots, keeping the weeds at bay. I have slowly been putting the garden to bed. This year I have laid a lot of my cuttings over any bare soil. I have learnt from my allotment reading that this is good for worms, and hence good for the soil.
I have had to cut the rambling roses back hard. Apparently they should normally be pruned in August but a renovation-prune should not be done until now. I have a lot to learn about roses. I learnt this year that I should have trained them along the horizontal and then the new-flowering-growth would work up the vertical, but I had it all backwards, hence the hard prune. I hope they don’t die! The hanging baskets are down and stored on a nail in the shed. As I work the shadows grow longer and the air more chilly, until at last the whole garden is dim and the kitchen lights send bright rectangles across the side-return. The Hunter’s Moon is high in the sky. I briefly stop on the doorstep to take a deep breathe of star-lit evening air then head inside to the snug warmth.
Posted in Countryside, Growing things
Tagged autumn, cuttings, evening, garden, grass, hanging baskets, hunter's moon, pruning, roses, soil, sunset, washing, worms
Here is an old piece of work I found when rummaging recently. Isn’t it funny to look back and see how your work changes? I’m not altogether sure how I feel about it. There’s an odd discomfort in looking at a piece like this. There are things I really like about it. Was I right to shed what I did to end up where I am now? But, perhaps I’ve not really shed anything. Those techniques are still in my toolbox and the journey isn’t linear.
We planted a Sorbus along the back fence this week. Sorbus are more commonly known as Mountain Ash or Rowan. This one is called Autumn Spire. It is tall and columnar, bearing red berries and crimson foliage in Autumn. It completes my set along the fence: Holly for winter, Swedish Birch for summer, Flagpole Cherry for spring, and now the Sorbus. In ten years time these trees should hopefully be mature (ok, not the Holly), providing food and refuge for our declining songbird friends. In the mean time they will give us shade and much pleasure as we watch them grow.
Next week we will be away on our hols for half term so no post from me but I’ll be back the week after.
Posted in Growing things, Illustration, Making changes
Tagged autumn spire, blackberries, creative journey, declining wildlife, flagpole cherry, gardening, growing, half term, Hannah Foley, harvest mouse, holidays, holly, illustration, illustrator, looking back, old work, planting trees, rose hips, songbirds, sorbus, swedish birch, techniques, trees, wildlife gardening
Days starting cold and sharp, apexed with golden warmth, continue here. We had a wonderful walk along the South West Coast Path on Saturday, climbing high above chalky cliffs for views of blue meeting blue for miles all around. It is another golden day today but my thoughts aren’t of outside. I have a very exciting document to look at…the text for the next Billy Hippo picture book! I can’t wait to be drawing this little chap again.
Here’s an illustration of another job I’ll be getting on with this week down at the allotment.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged allotment, autumn, Billy Hippo 2, Billy Hippo. How Billy Hippo Learned to Swim, chores, field peas, gardening, golden days, greenhouse, growing, Hannah Foley, illustration, illustrator, jobs, lifestyle illustration, Little Door Books, sea, sky, South West Coast Path, views, vivian french
Autumn is here. It was dark coming back from Brownies with Little Owl and her friend last night. Black clouds scudded across the sky. I was hustled and bustled by the wind on my bike this morning. One minute I was shooting forward as if an unseen hand had given me a good shove, the next I seemed to be completely stationary, no matter how hard I pedaled. A bat accompanied me part of the way, its flight even more frenetic than usual, obviously a thrill-seeker. It is mostly dark in the mornings now, the thin grey dawn only appearing as I tip the latch on the gate to come back in.
At the weekend we headed out for a walk and it felt as if every hedgerow and tree were heralding the change of season. Climbing up thicket-tunnel paths there were rose hips, blackberries, and fungi aplenty. Emerging onto an orchard-covered hill, the trees were heavy with the apple harvest. There are acres of orchards on that hill, given wind protection by rows of poplars who confettied us with golden leaves. On the return leg Little Owl and Finch raced around collecting conkers and acorns, while I distracted Wren from wanting out of the baby carrier by dangling bunches of rowanberries just out of reach. It put me in mind of that lovely phrase from the poem One of the Many Days by Norman MacCaig…
a whole long day
release its miracles.”
Posted in Countryside, Family and friends, Wildlife
Tagged acorns, autumn, baby carrier, bats, bike, bike ride, blackberries, Brownies, children, clouds, conkers, countryside, dark, dawn, early morning, evenings, extract, family, fungi, night, Norman MacCaig, One of the Many Days, parenting, poem, poetry, quote, rose hips, rowan, seasons, storm, storm ali, walk, wind
It’s been back down to earth for me this week…literally. As many of you know, this last year I have had a portion of my friend’s allotment. It has been a lot of fun even if I have made some really awful mistakes (spraying my broad beans with weed killer instead of washing up liquid for black fly being the highlight). My lovely friend has decided to bow out and I will be taking the whole allotment on. I have been very excited about it and haven’t wasted a moment in getting down there and clearing weeds. On Saturday we had a bonfire of all the clearings. There’s something cathartic about a fire isn’t there? I don’t know what it is. Seeing the flames licking up all the old rotting stems and roots. I particularly relished seeing the bindweed roots going up in flames (good riddance!). I can see why fire is often regarded as a purifying force in folklore, destroying the old and worn, and making space for new things to grow. As our minds turned towards the start of a new school year, having a fire and burning up all the rubbish felt just the right thing to do.
The back end of last week involved the mad rush to make sure we had all the right kit together and correctly labeled before the start of term. Finch blankly refused to try on his new school shorts and wailed disconsolately when I insisted he put on his new trousers so they could be turned up. He declared he was “shy” of those shorts and didn’t see why he couldn’t wear his normal clothes. Tomorrow, I know I will feel as odd at leaving him behind with his new teacher as I did when Little Owl started school. It’s a definite break point in a longer, gradual transition of him gaining more independence. Who would ever want to halt that? It is one of the wonders of parenthood. Still, I have learnt the hard way that no good comes of not making room for the processing of these moments. With Wren off at nursery I will head off to the allotment, spade in hand, to dig in field peas as a green manure, and with every spadeful of earth I will be sending up grateful thanks for this wonderful little chap who is my son.
Posted in Family and friends, Growing things, Making changes
Tagged allotment, bindweed, bonfire, broad beans, clothes labels, field peas, gardening, green manure, grow your own, new school year, shorts, starting school, transitions, trousers