New post at Picture Book Den

About how my illustration technique has evolved etc. Including a dodgy video. . .



History. .


Our House – circa many years ago

Our village is having a sort of Open Day in a couple of weeks, with an accent on local history. Some houses are opening their gardens and a few of us arty types are opening our studios. Though obviously, as I work on computer, I shan’t have much to show. . . I shan’t be throwing open my hard drive to the general public. . . I might have a few books for sale and a couple of drawings and prints. Such as this cat wot you have seen before on this blog, but is worth a second look. . .


Gill will be exhibiting a load of her excellent paintings of course, and as has been hurriedly knocking out some smaller works for those of more restricted means to buy should they want to. I shall do some prints for her on my trusty A3+ canon as well.

The pic below isn’t one of the more hurried, smaller works obviously. It’s of a street performer in Covent Garden, but is mainly about the crowd and the light.

She has a website.


The most interesting part of the whole experience for us has been the information we received about our house’s history. It belonged to the family of a local farmer whose descendants still live in the village. They even sent us a scan of  an old photo of the previous inhabitants. ( the house dates from about 1850 apparently ) The smart and bewhiskered gentleman on the right rejoices in the wonderful name of McTrend. His daughter, 2nd on the right, married into the family of the aforementioned local farmers and continued to live in the house.


Our elderly neighbours knew them when they were young and tell us that they were ‘A good Christian couple’. . . Oh well, we must be a big disappointment to the neighbourhood 😉

It’s great to see this fine upstanding Victorian family standing outside our very door at the front of the house. . .

I also wouldn’t be surprised if that is the same actual window behind them that I spent the last couple of days hacking out rotten wood from, filling , sanding and repainting 😉 Old houses, they’re lovely but they keep you busy. . .

(Actually, come to think of it, that’s a sash window, and I was repairing a casement window, so I was talking rubbish, but my observation about old houses still stands.)

The Wonders of Old Book Covers – Trash in The Attic


I’ve been sorting through the boxes of comics and books in the garage with a view to sticking a lot of them on ebay. The idea of photographing them all and listing them one at a time is daunting, but if I divide the task into manageable chunks it should be doable.

Who knows, I might get a bob or two out of it. Considering a lot of the stuff I bought was in the region of ten or twenty pence I might just get me money back 😉

I’ve started the process anyhow and so far I’m enjoying it.


You see, the reason I accumulated a lot of this stuff in the first place was for the artwork on the covers. You know the kind of thing, hand painted dramatic scenes from cheesy, hard boiled detective fiction, based on cheesy American films. Garish and overblown, but often beautifully drawn. It had a sort of kitsch value for me at first, but now I have a much more genuine admiration for it. And if I don’t admire some of the genre, I have an affection for it. It’s stuff that my parents would probably have thought of as a bit naff, and therefore not something I would have been exposed to as a kid. Which is probably why it had an impact on me when I did discover surviving examples lurking in junk shops and suchlike places when I was a feckless Art Student.


I love the boldness and the often clichéd, but unashamedly so, drama. As time goes on I like these book covers more and more. At least if I photograph them all I will have something I can look at on screen, which makes the images a darn site more available than them being in a box in the garage or the loft. And it means I can share them with you lucky people!


As you should have noticed by now, dotted throughout this post are some great covers from a really cheaply printed series, The Sexton Blake Library. Captured before they completely fall apart. No date inside, but looking on ebay at similar ones they might be from the thirties and forties. The clothes and hairstyles seem to suggest that.

Anyway, enjoy. . .


I want to be a Commercial Artist. . .

And ‘I Want To Be. . . An Eagle Book of Careers’ is here to encourage me. from about 1962 I would guess. There is no date in the book. There are all sorts of careers featured. I will scan and post requests 😉

‘I want to be a Miner’ being possibly the most ironic. . .

careers1careers2careers3I must develop my personality and try to make my designs more splendid. . .

A wonderful word, a Valerie Singleton, Blue Peter word. there are not enough splendid things in the world these days.

My old art teacher at school used to wear a velvet jacket and a bow tie, maybe he was at Art School (approved by The Ministry of Education) with young Adrian here.

And when was the last time you called anyone ‘sir’?

Picture Book Den

The Picture Book author website that I wrote a guest post for a few weeks ago, called Picture Book Den has an interesting post from author Pippa Goodhart, featuring a character I invented.

In my post I mentioned how sometimes I come up with a drawing of a character that arrives with no story attached. Usually the concept and the character arrive in my head together, as a kind of package, or the drawing of the character suggests the story. I gave an example, a cute character called Small Bear, who I just couldn’t get a suitable story idea for.

Pippa, with my blessing,  based her blog post on the thought process she would go through to create a story based on that character. The post is a very interesting insight into how a writer’s mind works, and into the creative process involved in producing a story for a children’s picture book.

Here’s the direct link – The ‘Small Bear’ Challenge


Small Bear


I put a design into the Spoonflower monthly fabric design contest last week. The theme was Baby Animals, which I thought was just up my street. I repurposed an existing drawing as a simple repeat and sent it in.

Kind of like this mock up.


Anyway, I came 111th 😉 Out of about 500 though.

I should have made it more of a design I think, it’s just a drawing set to repeat, which isn’t much of a cleverly worked out surface pattern at all really. I thought it was fun though.

Just started up a Tumblr

Which sounds odd. .  ‘A tumblr’ as if a tumblr was a specific thing rather than a type of blog or blogging platform. Still, it has it’s own sort of feel, something a bit more throwaway and loose than a ‘proper’ blog. Somewhere between a flickr page and a pinterest board (which I haven’t explored yet. . . do I need to? I dunno)

Any road up, here it is –

I’m going to put an old illustration, a digital pattern/artwork and a photograph up every day and see if I get any likes or follows or whatever. It does seem quite a hassle free process so I’m enjoying it in a quiet way. There does seem to be quite a lot of good stuff on Tumblr. It’s easier to find it than on WordPress or Blogger I reckon.

Here’s a pic from my tumblr, which, by the way is called ‘lessisless’ which isn’t necessarily true but I had to call it something.



Jon x