March of the Daisies 1 & 2
The natural world around us is increasingly being eroded to the detriment of the wild creatures that need it to live in it.
We forget that this natural world is as good for us both mentally and physically as it is for them.
Much of my work seeks to bring our love of the natural world back to our attention so we don't lose it forever.
Ancient woodland, wildflower meadows and hedgerows are all being lost at a frightening pace. HS2 are destroying indigenous woods as if they have no value and we have no right to the legacy of peace and calm such simple wild places have for our wellbeing.
We shouldn't take such a loss of our wild places so lightly as one day we'll turn around and they'll all be gone - along with the wildlife that relies on them to live.
Corvids have always fascinated me as they are so very black and so very clever. Although they're always associated with darkness in films they have such wonderful characters that it's hard not to see their funny side when drawing them.
Can You See Me?
The timid hare is hard to spot most of the year round and I remember walking so close to one I was shocked when it suddenly got up from the grass it was lying in and shot away at high speed.
When I reached down and put my hand where it had lain, I could feel it's body heat still in the grass. They are fabulous creatures and each spring, if you're very quiet, you can watch female hares boxing in the fields.
Each spring into early summer, the robins in my garden bring their fluffy, slightly ginger young to feed. They grow up fast but are always hungry while they develop.
A female will be very brave in collecting food for them and one year she tapped on the window to get my attention to put food out for her. She was also fussy about making sure I put out the right size pieces of suet pellet so she could feed her babies properly.
She would stare at me until I put the food out and came within a foot of my hand to collect it.
One year we had three little babies sitting on our bird bath, drinking in the warm sun.
The wonderful song of the blackbird can be heard through the day but especially in the early evening when they demonstrate a wonderful range of tunes.
Our garden often has two or three males chasing each other around to claim their territory and feeding rights. Sometimes we see two of them spinning into the air, talons locked together as one tries to get dominance over the other.
One day I was sat at my drawing desk on the phone when all I could hear was a blackbird proudly singing so loudly I couldn't hear what the other person on the phone was saying and they could only hear the blackbird.
A male was sitting on the fence next to my open kitchen window singing his hear out and looked affronted when I got up and shut the window!
I always loved Leonardo's Vitruvian Man drawing and wanted to have some fun by using my friendly Greemman cartoon character.
He's as much about the importance of protecting and conserving our natural surroundings as he is about re-exploring our inner nature.
I'm developing a lot of work around this character and he is proving to be a source of a lot of narratives that I'm illustrating.
Each year we have a little timid visitor who builds a home under the shed. The year I did this drawing, it had made a home from an old gardening glove.
It sneaks outside to clean up some of the sunflower seeds that we put out for the birds, scurrying back under the shed once it's filled it's cheeks.
It had a smaller companion for a while but we only really see one mouse on the patio and evidence of it's wanderings in the shed.
A friend has a pond with lots of frogs each year. They hide away and are hard to catch but occasionally one will make itself visible for enough time to get a photograph.
I've always liked frogs and they're so chilly to hold in your hand so you have to stay close to the ground as they jump out of your hands so easily.
We've had several hedgehogs in our small garden over the years. One year a mother hedgehog scraped her spines under the gate and brought with her two babies in a line behind her.
They fed around the garden then exited through a hole in the back fence moving on to the neighbour's garden.
This painting was made for a friend who reached her 100th birthday and loves hedgehogs. She asked for donations to be made to the Vale Wildlife Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre that does amazing work supporting sick, injured and abandoned wildlife.
I'll be donating 50% of all print sales of this little spiky hedgehog to the hospital.
There's a beautiful oak tree called Humbledoe Oak in a field owned by some friends. This oak is reputed to be nearly 700 years old and is on the register of ancient trees. When I decided I needed a model for part of a story I wrote and was in the process of illustrating, I visited this lovely oak tree to take photos.
At one point I looked back at the tree and could clearly see a gnarly old face in the trunk. I'm sure you can see faces in a lot of trees but the face in this oak captured my imagination so I decided to 'uncover' it in my drawings (I didn't exaggerate it much, truly....) and do this watercolour and ink painting of it to give to the owners of the field.
Also, because I like to support the preservation of our ancient woodland and trees, 20% of all print sales of this painting will go to The Woodland Trust that does such good work to look after our natural heritage that is sadly being eroded by industrial and travel developments that have no respect for the benefits these wooded places have for wildlife and for us all.