Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas Inspired!

My five year-old son believes in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy unequivocally and without question. 

from The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas by Peter Bently and Garry Parsons

He is yet to lose a tooth himself but I know when the time comes that he will take it on board wholeheartedly. I know this because aside from mentioning Father Christmas all year round he has also taken on the existence of the Toenail Fairy, invented by his parents to ease his aversion to having his toenails cut. For my part, the presence of the Toenail Fairy amounts to creeping into his room after dark with a head torch and nail clippers and hoping he doesn’t wake after the first ‘click’. The Toenail Fairy gives a Malteser per toenail, not cash, in case you were wondering, and being concerned not to stain the bed sheets with chocolate, leaves the Maltesers in a bowl next to the bed. But for my son, there is no reason to doubt that the Toenail Fairy exists. 

from The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas by Peter Bently and Garry Parsons

I can’t remember the moment Father Christmas ceased to be real for me as a child, but I do remember the magic that surrounded him when I did believe. I’m sure having an elder brother accelerates Santa’s demise for younger siblings, but it’s my wish for my son that his belief in Father Christmas continues as long as possible. 

For that reason I will do what I can to gently perpetuate his presence. But what I’ve noticed as I’ve become older is that I’ve fallen back in love with the idea of magic myself. As if the mystery and magic of the world has had a resurgence inside me. 

I often find myself rushing to the window to witness a rainbow or a pink sunset or an orange moon or adding up symbols I’ve seen as I walk down the street, piecing together moments or words or images which somehow start to shape some other language inside me, giving me a warm sense of wonder that some other world is operating just outside of the everyday normality that we are all so used to. As Freddie Mercury would say, “It’s a kinda magic.”

Rainbow over Reykjavik, Iceland

Each year my family spends two weeks in Iceland. My son and I were trying to recall just how many rainbows we saw on a certain day the year before and came to the agreement that whilst walking from the Hallgrímskirkja to Perlan in Reykjavik, a distance of 1.8km, we saw seven separate rainbows. My son has inherited my enthusiasm for ‘collecting’ rainbows and we like to think Iceland is the rainbow capital of the world. Without doubt, Iceland is a magical place, especially if you can travel, even a short distance, away from the main city. Its climate, strange landscapes, rapidly changing weather and dancing aurora give it a magic that gets under your skin. 

Ice chunks at Jökulsárlón, glacial river lagoon, Iceland
This morning in Reykjavik we woke up to a blanket of snow outside. “Is it Christmas?” my son asked. “No,” I answered, “it’s October.” But in some ways he was right, the magic was there, just outside the window. So when I was invited to work on a Christmas picture book, I knew it was this elusive element that I wanted to attempt to capture, the Christmas spirit, the seasonal essence, the magic of Christmas, and to do so in acrylic. I had the challenge of depicting our beloved Father Christmas as a credible, caring, warm guardian of children. 

As well as wanting him to be witty and charming, I also needed him to have a little of the quality of magic about him. Consequently, Christmas in my studio stretched from September until early March. 

from The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas by Peter Bently and Gary Parsons

So this year I’m excited. Not only have I had another chance to explore Iceland (and I have another son to share Iceland and Christmas with), but also my love for the notion of magic continues, be it rainbows or Santa, and somehow that convinces me that picture books really can do magic.  

Thursday, 20 June 2013



Saturday, 1 December 2012

Let's Rock!

The recent resurgence of all things Bowie has inspired the creation of a set of illustrations based on LP covers and record labels of the past. 
In no historical order, here are the first four in the series covering a few of my favourite musical genres. (Visually favourite musical genres that is). 


Greasers The Word

Shed Zeppelin

Vintage Doll

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Only how many weeks 'til Christmas?

Yes I know it's early to be talking Christmas but tomorrow sees the launch of my first Christmas book and eagerly awaited collaboration with Tom Fletcher and Dougie Poynter of McFly in "The Dinosaur That Pooped Christmas" published by Random House. A funny, jolly, upbeat rhyming jaunt combining everyones favourite ingredients, Dinosaurs, Santa and Poo! 
Check out the Big Book Babble on the 4th December for the on stage interview here.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Olympic Fever

This animation from the BBC for the Olympic coverage is just so superb I feel compelled to post it. A wonderful concept with an inspiring soundtrack and awesome characters. This is the full version, enjoy!