Herne the Hunter

01 Herne smokay – so, going back to the magazine commission couple of months ago …

and here we have Herne the Hunter – a kind of mystical tree/stag spirit of the woods.

For these illustrations I was trying to channel nostalgia – each of the five illustrations was of a different legendary character, so I felt it necessary to illustrate them in a suitable style.

I choose to illustrate the mythical spirit of the greenwood not as a stag-headed man, but as a man dressed in stag garb, purely in reference to the old “Robin of Sherwood” television series from the early/mid eighties.

Again, the trees are an amalgam from various John Ford woodland illustrations.

on a vaguely related note …

I Know What I’m Doing This Summer

… I’ve not posted for a little while – well, my reasons are several-fold; I find myself in the exciting position of being spewed out of mainstream 9 to 5 work in a small handful of weeks – an escape from full-time teaching (again! … “Just when I thought I’d got out! They pull me back in!”) So, I’ve got a bunch of weeks over the Summer break to put together a wider range of products -; some cards and another booklet, methinks. I know what it is that I want to do ….

.. but, it ain’t half tricky motivating oneself towards goals like this without deadlines! I’m trying to set the deadline of the end of the Summer break (for UK schools) as I’ll be dipping my toes back in the exciting world of supply teaching again!


Losing my marbles

03 - Marbles smI’ve been trying to post this for a couple of days now – my intention being to use this title all along – but my wi-fi connection has been so dreadfully slow that I couldn’t load up the picture of the marbles.

I know I’ve not posted for a little time … but

(there’s always a but, isn’t there)

I’ve been super busy with one or two commissions – which I should be able to share you in a couple of weeks time. Plus, there’s some big, huge, whopping news which I just have to share with you … in the next couple of days …

Needless to say I’m busy working feverishly away.


Letting my monkey have a rest

coffee monkey sm2Danny Gregory writes about our inner monkey – that nagging voice that criticises and pulls faces at our ideas and our attempts to put them into practice.

Let me put this into context for me.

This monkey drawing was a commission for a colleague at work.

I do not know this monkey.

It is not my inner monkey.

When I was asked to draw it – a monkey with a mug of coffee – I carried it out not realising the meaning for myself.

Sometimes out monkeys screech and cry loudly in our minds, sometimes they go quiet and I’m pleased to feel that my own personal inner monkey is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. It is taking a break. It is no longer in the house.

Thank you.



It’s nice to think that the darned monkey won’t return, but I’m sure it will. (I’ll enjoy the ride more whilst it’s putting it’s feet up for a while) But what would art life be like if it weren’t there at all? How can we truly relish those full-on creative times , when nothing stands in our way, if we can’t recall those times when our inner monkeys mock and deride our work?

We can only appreciate the sweet when we also put up with the sour.

I’d love to be able to say that I have some magic words to help push through blocks and ruts, but I don’t. I think the main thing about making art, is … making art. But sometimes we have to look up and study the landscape that we are going to paint. Sometimes we have to reflect and do other things, so that we can bounce back and leave our monkey standing, er sitting with it’s coffee.

Bemused, perhaps, at our creative surge, but silent.

Magazine Masthead

One thing surprised me about my Completed cover smcover of Camping and Caravanning’s June 2015 issue was being allowed to draw in the masthead.

Companies work very carefully to protect their brand image and I thought it was brave of the magazine to cast away the clean lines of the regular magazine masthead and go forward with my hand drawn version.

Overall I don’t think it detracted from the effect of the cover at all; in fact I thought that the overall cover was quite striking and a nice contrast to the clean and crisp photography, which is usually used.

Header sm




Do I Hear Wedding Bells?

Well, kind of …

A recent commission was for a wedding invitation.

I’ve not worked on on one before and was eager to get started.

Invitation B2 - Evening smThe client wanted a patchwork of elements from the location, which was in York and we finalised the elements down to a signpost, the wedding location’s sign, the rose window from York Minster and … a rooster (I think that was a personal touch between the couple getting married. I didn’t ask!)

They also wanted to include some particularly idiosyncratic trees from the grounds of the wedding location. I tried to reshape the trees into a love heart motif for the centre of the invitation, but they ended up looking quite creepy. So, I instead stylised the trees more to great effect.

On the Save The Day card, the client wanted a snow effect – so I added in a snowflake border.

Invitation A2 smSo, I beetled away.

Only to discover that the client had been unable to contact me via my email address. That, for whatever reason, emails weren’t getting through to me.

Naturally anxious for the invitation and save-the-day cards to be ready in time the client approached a different artist for the works.

A book publisher was trying to get in touch with me at about the same time via email and those didn’t get through either.

All very mysterious. Everything seems to be working fine now.

[I’ve altered the names and dates on the invitation and save-the-day cards posted here]

Ah, well.

It’s all part of the learning process, I guess.

I’ve since added in my alternative email address into my correspondence with a client.


“Pitch Up, Eat Local” by Ali Ray

IMG_7590 copyWell, May the 1st is finally here!

And with it a book is now available to buy. A book with my drawings in it!

How cool is that!

Now, before you all rush out to buy yourselves a copy – you need to know that it’s a fairy hefty book at 380pages and my drawings are quite wee, little things. Well, in the book they are! I drew at about A5 size.

Basically it’s a gazetteer of England, Scotland and Wales. A gazetteer of the best bits of local produce. So there are sections on Cornish Clotted Cream and the Rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire.

It is divided up into 50 regions of the country

Then, each section focusses on a specific regional food

Local farm shops

and then a recipe or two.

All the recipes can be prepared on a BBQ, or on a portable gas stove.

IMG_7591 IMG_7593 IMG_7594It’s been a real roller-coaster of an experience, from my point of view, too.

From initial phone calls last summer, to meeting up with the lovely people at The AA, to receiving a list of fifty things to draw and then powering through them.

Fab, fab, fab.

If you have a major cookery book in the pipeline and you’d like a friendly illustrator to work on adding a little quirk to the drawings … erm … here I am.

Will draw for … spoons

Everyone has a price, they say.

And it appears that mine is a wooden spoon.

A couple of weeks ago one of my Cyber Friends on Facebook, Josh Sutton (also known as The Guyrope Gourmet, posted the following picture of a series of spoons that he’d carved.

10801876_10152828548960266_4302679538659616382_nI thought these looked so quirky and authentic that I asked Josh if he’d carve a spoon for me.

The price?

Josh decided he’d like a sketch doing of his coffee grinder.

or rather;

a Harrio MSS-1B Mini Mill Slim coffee grinder and a few coffee beans scattered around. To be exact.

So, while Josh carved, I drew.



Until finally exchanges were made.


IMG_4720coffee grinder sm

Now, Josh maintains that he got the best deal out of the swap and, guess what? I think I got the best deal.

But, isn’t that the whole point of the bartering system? Both parties are satisfied with their trophies. Josh has a drawing of a beloved coffee grinder. I have a unique and bespoke oak wooden spoon (which I know Josh cut down in his garden and carved from scratch). Both of us trading off and benefiting from each others skills.


and finally, here’s my wooden spoon being christened whilst preparing homemade teriyaki sauce.



I would be willing to exchange drawings for other bespoke gifts. Please contact me at the above contact details and we’ll come to some arrangement.



Giampa – It’s cocktail time!

Giampa1 sm

Well, work continues with the illustrations for The AA book.

At the moment I’m up to my eyes in piles of cress and trout.

This cocktail isn’t one of The AA illustrations, I hasten to add!

A work colleague ret=urned from holidaying in Sorrento, Italy and had particularly enjoyed the signature cocktail at the hotel and wanted to send the owners a little thank you for their attentiveness.


So I we met up and she showed me her scribbled ingredients and I made a rough sketch underneath of her description.


Giampa recipe

The only other information I had was a snippet of a photograph, taken at the hotel.




(I was a bit frustrated that I fudged my scanning a bit; I think I got the settings a bit off and it leeched out a lot of the lighter colouring)

I wonder if the hoteliers will send a photo of the illustration in situ. I do hope so.



Book Illustration

Tiny islands sm

Now, I realise that I haven’t posted for a little while. But I … well I’ve been a little busy.

Do you forgive me?

I hope so.

I’ve been busy illustrating for a book.

NOT the book illustrated here, I hasten to add – this book is by the same publishers and is the same size and page count.

Can you guess what the book is to be about?

Food, of course! Whoop, whoop! So lots of lovely illustrations of foods and pots and pans and what-not.


It’s super-exciting to be illustrating a real life book.

I guess the book is kind of in the same series as ‘Little Island’ in that it features iconic specialities from around the country; a gazetteer of local treats to look out for.

(One to keep in the car, then! Ready for those trips out and about)


And I always said that I don’t do portraits …

Okay, so the slightly strange commission I’ve completed this week was a leaving present for someone.


Apparently they are a huge fan of a popular reality TV programme, in which one of participants created a portrait using elements from different faces.


So my brief was to use the following photographs to create a portrait.


Now, portraits are not something I ever really try to tackle, I think it’s because the slightest error in placing a line can make such a huge difference. Faces are so very familiar to us, especially close friends, celebrities and family (But, as I’ve been told, a fried egg just looks like a fried egg).

So I used the lady with the blonde hair as the base figure. Ash she was the recipient/subject of the portrait I decided to use her eyes and nose.

The beard definitely had to be used.

I rather liked the distinctive hair of the second gentleman, but instead opted to use his mouth, so I could use the second lady’s hair style and colouring.

Adams Muddledsmall

Very attractive, I’m sure you’ll agree.