First of all, before I forget, I would like to thank Olivia at 4roomsandthemoon for nominating me for a blog award and also Julie from beadholder.etsy.com for listing one of my books in a treasury.

I would also like to thank everyone who visited my blog over Christmas and left kind messages. We had a very enjoyable and busy Christmas with family and friends but now the last guest has departed, I have been enjoying a bit of time to myself, time to play!

In September, my husband gave me a set of wood/lino cutting tools. Now, some women like perfume, others bags and shoes, but for me, I just love receiving craft tools! Last Christmas I got a Japanese hole punch which works like a dream, this year I treated myself to needle nosed pliers and a crimping tool, aren’t I the lucky one? However, I digress, I have been playing with my lino cutting tools and have managed to make several prints of a barn owl feather for a little book project I have been working on called “Silent Flight”.

Cutting lino is fraught with difficulties and I have many failed attempts which I consigned to the bin. The wood cutting tools gave a much better result than my old "school" set but as a print maker I feel I have a long way to go, however I have enjoyed myself immensely and have made a great deal of mess in the process.


The Holly and the Ivy.

I would like to wish all my lovely friends in blogland a very happy Christmas. When I first started this blog earlier this year I had no idea that I would make contact with so many wonderful, inspiring, entertaining and talented people. Thank you all for making my life richer, and as they say on my favourite Christmas movie (The Muppet Christmas Carol) "God Bless you, one and all".


Christmas bells

"Christmas hamsters" illustration, original artwork for a greeting card published by Camden Graphics Ltd. Part of an exhibition called "The Art of Christmas" (see previous post).

"Christmas Bells" , a poem by Longfellow composed on Christmas Day 1864.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


Christmas in "The Air"

Christmas Decorations at The Ritz.

Patrick at "The Art of Christmas exhibition"

Yesterday I exchanged my dog walking trousers and wellies for more suitable attire as I made my way down to London on board a lovely new train which tilted and whizzed it's way into Euston station from Crewe in an incredible hour and a half!

I had a lovely time mooching around some of my favourite shops in Covent Garden and of course Liberty's and enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with my brother. The main reason for the trip however was to visit The "Art of Christmas" Exhibition by Books Illustrated Ltd. which opened at the Air Gallery in Dover Street. I took along my son Patrick who happened to be working in London, so it was good to have some company. We took the tube to Green Park and as we walked past "The Ritz Hotel" I could not resist taking a photograph of a stunning window decoration.

It was a real treat to meet up with some of my favourite artists, Particia Papps and her husband Andrew Skilleter and of course the amazing Peter Malone, who's illustrations for the newly published "Nutcracker" adorned the walls of the gallery. Peter told me that he did not take up illustration until he was forty years old. You can read more about how this came about and what influences his work, here.Peter Malone

I also managed to persuade our usually camera shy son Patrick to pose for a photograph, perhaps the champagne helped!


The Holly and more Holly!

ILex Altaclarensis Golden King

Ilex Crenata Convexed Gold

When we first moved into our present home, over twenty years ago, I started to keep a little garden notebook. Every time I bought a plant I kept a note of the date of purchase, the price and any instructions that came with the plant such as "water well in spring" etc. It has been very interesting to keep track of the progress of some of these purchases. Some sadly did not make it through their first winter, others thrived and have made themselves at home and have become part of the fabric of our home, albeit outdoor fabric!

As I have often been asked to paint Christmas foliage, it seemed like a good idea to have a plentiful supply of evergreen plants in the garden, some of these, in particular the hollies, have become firm favourites. I have been looking back at the notes I have made about some of these plants and was surprised to see that a small tree, purchased from a nearby nursery for a mere £7.99 is now the main focal point in my front garden. It is a beautiful, two coloured green and gold holly called Ilex Altaclarensis Golden King.

I also bought a tiny holly called Ilex Crenata Convexed Gold. This has a spreading habit and makes good ground cover and unlike the common, hedgerow holly, has no prickles at all. I think all in all, the holly makes a great addition to any garden, its shiny, evergreen leaves are reward in themselves, with or without their red berries.


"The Art of Christmas" an exhibition

Illustration by Peter Malone from "The Nutcracker"

Illustration by Patricia Papps "Winter Fairy"

Illustration by Kate Greenaway.

I have just received a rather beautiful catalogue, which has been produced by “Books Illustrated” to accompany an exhibition of original artworks to be held at The Air Gallery in London from the 15th to the 20th of December. I am looking forward to my visit with eager anticipation, it will be a great excuse to visit London and see the Christmas decorations and maybe do a bit of Christmas shopping.

I will be having three works in this exhibition, which is very exciting, including the robin illustration above which I did some years ago for the World Wide Fund for Nature. The star of the show however, will be Peter Malone who will be featuring the complete works from his new book “The Nutcracker”, (see above) recently published by Knopf. I am a great fan of Peter’s work, which looks even more exquisite when you see it up close. He has an amazing eye for detail and his work has a timeless quality I think.

There will be works by some of Britain’s best loved contemporary illustrators, including Christian Birmingham, Charles Van Sandwyk and Patricia Papps alongside classic illustrators from the past such as Annie French, Honor Appleton, Arthur Rackham and Heath Robinson to name but a few. So, if you are looking for any stocking fillers and you have very deep pockets, you could treat yourself to an original Kate Greenaway perhaps? Well we can dream…


Winter Wonderland

Ted and I thought we had stepped into the storybook landscape of" Little Grey Rabbit" this morning as we took our morning walk.

We had sunshine, blue skies, and sparkling frost which had transformed our ordinary field into a winter wonderland. Fortunately I had remembered to take the camera with me.