Visual Aids

IT’S JUST as well that I’ve whittled down my art materials to the bare essentials because I often carry these three pairs of glasses in my bag; varifocal Polaroid sunglasses, reading glasses and clear varifocals. Light-sensitive varifocals would have lessened my load but Polaroid appealed to me as it’s so successful in cutting down on glare. I […]

Sketching Sherlock

RETURNING TO my Sherlock Holmes book project after an inspiring visit to the Reichenbach Falls, I’ve decided to get back into the swing of things with some drawing rather than with writing or research. Previously I’ve been thinking of illustrating Sherlock in black and white but I’m starting to realise that colour will make the book more attractive […]

Thrush’s Anvil

2.30 p.m., 22°C FLIES, INCLUDING one bluebottle and three glossily metallic greenbottles, are attracted to the slimy stain on this fragment of sandstone in the bottom corner of the garden. The Song Thrush has been using it as an anvil, leaving fragments of the shells of at least three Brown-lipped Snails and one Garden Snail. I think […]


WHEN WE were walking between Hope and Castleton in the Peak District on Wednesday, we came across crinoid fossils in some of the capstones of the drystone wall as we crossed a stile. Crinoids are also known as sea-lilies although they’re invertebrate animals, relatives of sea urchins and starfish. They’ve been called ‘starfish on stems’; creatures that spread […]

A Bear at the Hepworth

SOMEWHERE DEEP in the vaults of the new Hepworth Gallery by the river in Wakefield, in the reserve collections, there’s one of my paintings; a 6ft 6 x 4ft acrylic on canvas of Waterton’s World, along with a sketchbook of the working drawings that I made for it. These were of South American birds collected by the naturalist Charles […]