Dragon Hunting

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Eavesdropped – Pirate Grandma

Eavesdropped is a drawing game for 1 or more.

You play it like this:

1. Listen out for snippets of conversation you hear as you go about your daily business – people overheard in a cafe, or a fragment of conversation in the street, that kind of thing.

2. Turn the first coherent comment you overhear into a picture.

3. Share the result. And you’re done!

This week –


(Eavesdropped on the York – Harrogate train)

Sketches from the beach

Here are a few sketches of people on the beach at Robin Hood’s Bay, where I’ve been staying. The weather across the week was changeable so the beach-goers ranged from sunbathers to determined British holidaymakers braving elements with ice-cream stubbornly in hand. The couple in deckchairs had even come equipped with umbrellas, which came out a couple of times. I really enjoyed sketching from life, trying to capture people before they moved on. There’s nothing like it for getting you to take notice of you surroundings.

Beach pics 1 Beach pics 5 Beach pics 4 Beach pics 2 Beach pics 3 Beach pics 6

York Literature Festival programme launch

York Literature Festival kicks off in March and the programme launch party was this weekend. I was invited along to do some free-style sketching throughout an evening of poetry and music from a host of local talent. It was a great, varied night, with the poems being performed providing plenty of inspiration for off-the-cuff cartoons. Below are some of my sketches from the evening, you can see my pen progressively running out as the night progressed. Apologies to anyone whose names I’ve spelt wrong (or missed altogether), thank you for sharing your poems!





All Aboard – Darlington Civic Theatre

I was recently asked to design a feedback board for Darlington Civic Theatre. The idea was to create a space where theatre-goers – children especially – could respond to the things they saw.

It needed to incorporate a white, wipe-clean section where theatre staff could write up regular questions, and a large blank area which would be magnetic, allowing theatre visitors to stick their answers to the question – written on luggage labels – to the board.

As well as this the board was to feature a train-station theme drawn from the theatre’s fascinating history, which saw the actors who played at the theatre in its early days brought into town on the same train that delivered the fish. Inside, the train was to carry important characters from the theatre’s history – including its Victorian founder, Signor Rino Pepi, a flamboyant Italian quick-change artist, famed for a 15-minute sketch in which he played all 7 characters – both male and female.

Also round the edge of the board there was to be an illustration representing families visiting the theatre and the stage props and luggage of the actors arriving for the latest production. Here are some of those details from the board…



And here’s the final design, which also incorporates an art-deco style frame reminiscent of the classic styling of some of the theatre’s own vintage production posters.

Board for Blog

Finally, here is the board itself proudly in position, and kindly modelled by a mystery member of the theatre staff…

Full-steam ahead!


Happy Maureen Day

Today Maureen Lynas – tireless SCBWI volunteer, creator of the funEverse and general all-round lovely person – is celebrating an important birthday. To help her do this a few of us SCBWI bloggers are banding together to say ‘Happy Maureen Day!’

Thanks for all your hard work, Maureen, may the coming years see you floating towards all your hopes and dreams as if transported towards them by a giant cluster of coloured balloons, much like the ones I have drawn in the diagram below.

Have a great day!


The Bubble Man

There was this bloke in the centre of town making these incredible bubbles with two sticks and a couple of pieces of string dipped in bubble mixture. I stopped to watch him for a while and it was pretty absorbing. There’s nothing quite so hypnotic as a floating bubble. He was a stony-faced guy with a flinty grey moustache and he went about his business with a calm, unhurried stoicism that soon became as interesting to watch as the crazily distending bubbles themselves.

Some of the bubbles were too ambitious and they popped before they were finished. It didn’t seem to bother the bubble man though. I expected him to wince or make some theatrical gesture of failure but it didn’t seem to matter if he didn’t quite succeed. He’d go back to the dipping pot like he hadn’t even noticed anything and carefully try again until he’d created the hugest bubbles I ever saw. They would go floating off amongst the crowd of shoppers, somersaulting like slow-motion jelly, wobbling elaborately, shiningly transparent, edged with marbled blues and greens and pinks and looking completely alien as they rose above the street. The bubble man wouldn’t even be watching them. He’d be quietly dipping the strings to make another bubble.

The passers-by responded in different ways. Some didn’t even notice the bubbles floating massively around them as they pushed on through the crowd. Others gave them the briefest of glances as they moved hurriedly on. A few stopped to watch. Some popped the bubbles as they went past. Children did so with wide-eyed delight, dancing and jumping beneath them as if understanding that a floating bubble demands to be popped. Other people popped them with a clear wish to destroy something as it was being made, sharply jabbing or tearing the bubbles into nothing with tight, angry smiles on their faces as they strode unhappily by or sniggered to their friends. The bubble man didn’t seem to mind what people did to his bubbles. Sometimes he even invited people to pop them, and children would dance in and gleefully burst them in a shower of suds, with excited shouts and grins. Then the bubble man’s face would crease into a huge smile and he’d give them a high-five.

Sometimes, if someone was looking in particular awe, he’d hold out the sticks and offer them to have a go themselves. Some shook their heads shyly and ran back to their parents. Some – the younger, braver ones – tentatively stepped forward to take up the sticks. Then the bubble man would guide their hands in a slow, flowing motion. The looks on the faces of those children as they watched their very own bubbles come floating off the strings and off into the sky was priceless.

The bubble man was generous with his bubbles. He didn’t mind what happened to them as he sent them out, so delicate and temporary, into the world. He didn’t mind where they went after he had made them. He did things at his own pace. It didn’t upset him if he didn’t quite manage the perfect bubble every time. He wanted people to enjoy them however they wanted to.

In the calm, unhurried manner in which he went about this task, at once so comical and so poignant, there were lessons to be learnt. I walked home feeling decidedly philosophical.

Bubble Man