The Blog

ABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of puzzles, here is a close up of an ABC puzzle soon to be released in France by Ravensburger using my Little Blue Zebra images. A similar one is soon to follow in the USA.

 

Whistlejacket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was recently commissioned by Ravensburger in France to illustrate horses in a field for a jigsaw puzzle. It will be available in that country early next year. Before starting work on the illustration I went to take a look at the superb painting of Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. Exhibited in the National Gallery in London, it is positioned so it can be viewed from a great distance through a number of rooms.  It’s striking from any distance and looks surprisingly modern. (Click here to see it in situ on the NG’s excellent virtual tour). It was painted 250 years ago for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, Whistlejacket’s owner and a great patron of Stubbs. Rumour has it that the horse reared up in reaction to seeing its own near life size portrait.

If Your Dreams Take Off and Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a preview of the cover of my next book. As a little boy drifts off to sleep one night, his thoughts set off on an adventure around the world to discover just how beautiful and precious it is. He dreams of vast oceans where dolphins leap through the waves; icy landscapes where penguins huddle for warmth and wild grasslands where hippos, giraffes and zebras roam free. Published in the UK by Orchard, it is available from January 3rd 2013 from all good bookshops and websites.

And remember, if you try, anything can happen If your dreams take off and fly.

And maybe you would like to see this video

Little Creatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was asked to illustrate the packaging for www.theworldofcreatures.com  products a while ago. They produce brilliant baby bath time products with, as they put it, no nasties. My daughters use them to bathe their young children and babies and say how good they are. World of Creatures have recently extended their range with new travel size / mini products.  In October they will be available in this travel bag. The Dorchester and Corinthia hotels think the products are so good that they have chosen to stock them.

Unsung heroes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is some art created by an extraordinary creature. It only lives for two months and in that time creates a nest for its babies in holes in wood or plant stems. It lines them with little cut up pieces of leaf. They are native to Europe but are so useful they have been introduced to the US to help the pollination of alfalfa, carrots and many other vital vegetables. Most people have never heard of them. It is the females that do all the work as the males are smaller and I’m afraid to say, a bit feeble. Please take a moment to salute the – leaf cutter bee, (especially the females).

 

 

Labradors of the Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While sailing off the island of Herm in the Channel Islands I photographed this beautiful grey seal last week as it lazily hunted for fish in the shallows. Like a Labrador dog, it looked eager to please and completely at ease with our presence. Its latin name is Halichoerus grypus, which translates as “hooked-nosed sea pig”. If it had the chance, I wonder what it would call us.

Three books for the summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three titles I wrote and illustrated are about to be re-published in the USA by Peachtree in Atlanta under the imprint Peachtree Petite in small board book format. They are WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, HUSH, LITTLE ONES and CAN YOU GROWL LIKE A BEAR? I think they are perfect for little fingers. I have always liked this format and having seen my three grandchildren, (three and under), interacting with books I can see how they seem to like the small size. I think parents (and grandparents) will appreciate the robust, child-proof (and I hope appealing) nature of these books. Happy reading!

Beauty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Sam Mendes’ 1999 film AMERICAN BEAUTY there is a strangely long scene where a plastic bag floats and floats while Thomas Newman’s background music plays more of a foreground role. After what seems an age the character Ricky Fitts intones: “It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that’s the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and… this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… and I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.”

The above photo I took earlier this year was one of those moments for me. A tattered bag backlit by a beautiful sky.

London Thames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along the south bank of the river Thames in London is this great sculpture by EDUARDO PAOLOZZI  (1924 – 2005) dated 1989. Its seemingly random location adds to its impact. (It’s outside the Design Museum. In the background you can see the famous Tower Bridge). On the base is a quotation from Leonardo de Vinci: ‘Though human genius in its various inventions with various instruments may answer the same end it will never find an invention more beautiful or more simple than nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.

I love finding art that catches you unawares. Art should make you see the world in a different light and this, to me , did just that. Two great artist conspiring to make the passer by forget the mundane and think of something bigger.

 

Maurice Sendak

Following on from my recent post about Sebastian Walker and the BBC programme about his life, it’s fitting to mention the recent passing of Maurice Sendak, the children’s writer and illustrator. He and Sebastian were friends. Coincidently there was a recent programme on BBC Radio 4 in the UK about Sendak’s classic, Where The Wild Things Are. Currently there is  a retrospective Maurice Sendak exhibition at the AFA gallery in New York City of 50 of his original artworks. Where The Wild Things Are caused controversy when it was first published in 1963. It was thought to be too scary for children. Hard to fathom now. Sendak joins a noble list of artists like Stravinsky, Picasso and D.H. Lawrence who bravely pushed boundaries in the cause of art. He probably didn’t see it that way but, like Sebastian Walker, he had a major impact on children’s publishing. The Gruffalo can certainly trace his ancestors in a direct line to WTWTA.

Maurice Sendak once visited the offices of Walker Books in London many years ago, and though the staff there were familiar with seeing famous faces passing through I remember Amelia Edwards commenting that she surprised herself in being star struck by his presence.

The exhibition started June 9 which would have been Sendak’s 84th birthday and runs until Labor Day.