Some Snippy Characters

Cutting out shapes for the dragon leaves lots of bits over. So,  in a time honoured bit of creative play and something I have done over the years with students to get some random ideas going, here are some assembled “creatures” from the detritus.

Snippies… They are whatever you would like them to be 🙂

snippy-3     snippy-4     snippy-2


snippy-5     snippy-6     snippy-7

snippy-8     snippy-9     snippy-10

I love them! Taking them the next step, adding texture colour and maybe a bit of animation can really make them live.

Go Snippies…..

Some Slow Dragon progress:

I’ve been laid up for a few days so progress with anything has been slightly delayed but last week I did get round to thinking about the Dragon Puppet. So far I have just played around with paper and scissors. I am basing the first version of puppet on the old woodcut of the Henham Dragon and it’s going to be just a simple articulated 2D shape.


Dragon: First steps


Taking shape




heraldic 1…


heraldic 2…






with enticing biscuit….




steady ….


leap …

Sketch Week

A week of sketching and other things ….

1. Here be Dragons… We have a least two in the Village.. probably more but I have yet to meet them.

I sketched these two handsome beasts today, on a bright sunny rain-free morning. I don’t like hanging around outside peoples houses so these were very quick and approximate.
They live on a cottage roof from where, at night, they take wing. Actually I think one of them is a gryphon. They are mostly silhouetted as the path is on the north side of the house.

They have different take-off points The big dragon is poised at the end of stepped tiles and the smaller gryphon crouches at the bottom of a curving slope.


I have admired them since we came here. They sit very well on their cottage.


Pen and Ink Sketches:  A5 sketchbook.

A Lucky White Hart for 2014

Here’s to a New Creative Year of prints, drawings, paintings, books, 3D and more.. Four particularly lovely things to look forward to:

  • This month I start contributing to Beautiful Beasts, an art blog shared with my friend Sue.
  • I will be developing ideas for the Dragon Puppet.
  • More printmaking will be happening over at PrintDaily
  • And I am getting ideas, research and sketches together for an Indian inspired piece.

Four particularly lovely things from the past few days:

  • Seeing the truly inspiring Shunga Exhibition at the British Museum (which is, without a doubt, my favourite place). Sex and superb printmaking is a heady mix.
  • Dining delightfully on delicious Dim Sum in Chinatown.
  • Watching Small Town Murder Songs with the extraordinarily sublime soundtrack from Bruce Peninsula.
  • Watching Lucinda Williams performing Joy from quite a few years ago..sheer Joy.

And as it’s a time for resolutions I have a few art related ones; to get back to sketching, to get out to more different locations to sketch, to get the oils out and, finally, this year, to get a long overdue website up. I did make a start today. It is going to be a busy year..


White Hart: reduction lino print with gilded leaves.

see printdaily

A sighting of a White Hart was considered a good omen by some.

Let it be so!
A Happy New Year to All!

“you could draw us – the small dragon – on your church spire …”

Yes I could…with pleasure. This comment was left on my blog after my last post: Puppets and Dragons. I wrote:

“It makes you wonder about the “real sightings” of dragons.
On this black windy night we have just been for a walk. Fast dark clouds race across the face of the moon, twisted branches of bare trees flicker in the intermittent light. It’s easy to stumble, to lose your way, to misinterpret the wind shearing through the branches for something else.  In a flash of moonlight did I see a small dragon twisting itself around the spire of our village church?…Who knows.”

Diana commented:

“you could draw us – the small dragon – on your church spire….”

I am not one to shrink from a challenge. This is for you Diana, my faithful blog reader!

Initial thumbnails….


The pencil sketch


The ink sketch.


Ahh black and white heaven. There is nothing this girl likes better than getting out the black ink and the old dip pen Dragon on the Spire of All Saints Grafham …. almost done…


I was just going to post this when I realised the small dragon seemed to be looking for something. But there is nothing there. To land on an unknown church spire on a dark winter night seemed a lonely prospect, so I added a welcoming figure.


That’s better.

A Small Dragon seen on the the spire of All Saints Grafham Cambs.
Recorded faithfully by Val Littlewood on the 15th Dec 2013


Happy Solstice to you all….

Puppets and Dragons

I am so delighted to be involved in the Puppet Challenge. The theme comes at such a good time for me as I have been researching aspects of folklore for some work for a while now.

And both of my other projects will feed into the puppet project too. I have never made a proper puppet but in my past work I used quite a bit of puppet/toy imagery and as dragons have been on my mind, I decided to base my dragon on the Henham Dragon.  A dragon reputedly seen in the Essex village in 1669.
“Real” documented sightings are always so fascinating and Henham Village website has not only a splendid image of the dragon but also the front of the pamphlet which was published to describe the beast.

image      image

Sighting were many and various but from what I have read, it seems the dragon was never killed, which also appeals to me.

This may be because it could have been a hoax. Reading more on the website I see that recent evidence from Alison Barnes suggests it might have been a hoax dragon made by a William Winstanley who,

created a hollow nine-foot wood and canvas dragon or “flying serpent” activated by a man which made fleeting appearances in and around Birch Wood, Henham throughout that summer and caused great excitement and mystification in the neighbourhood.”

So in effect this dragon was a large puppet. A perfect starting point for me. More of this wonderful Henham Dragon as I go along. Henham is also close enough for me to visit. The 17th C seems to have been a good time for dragons in the UK because another was recorded in Sussex in 1614,  the St Leonard’s Dragon. The accompanying pamphlet from the Harleian Miscellany is  titled:

“Discourse relating a strange and monstrous Serpent (or Dragon) lately discovered, and yet living, to the great Annoyance and divers Slaughters both of Men and Cattell, by his strong and violent Poyson. In Sussex, two miles from Horsam, in a Woode called St. Leonards Forrest, and thirtie miles from London, this present month of August, 1614”.

There will be more fascinating research to do. I see that Dr Andrew Hadfield has written a paper on the Sussex Dragon which I hope to read, and more. Exactly what sort of puppet it will be I am not sure yet but I will be starting off with some drawings.
I don’t think I am quite up to the full size Henham Dragon. But the description is reminding me of the wonderful Chinese New Year Dragons from the parades. I illustrated them years they too will be in my mind and, as a new printmaker, pamphlets appeal greatly to me.


A Pencil Margin Book Illustration


Half a full page spread, with the Dragon Head

Mine definitely won’t be on this scale. It makes you wonder about the “real sightings” of dragons.

On this black windy night we have just been for a walk. Fast dark clouds race across the face of the moon, twisted branches of bare trees flicker in the intermittent light. It’s easy to stumble, to lose your way, to misinterpret the wind shearing through the branches for something else.
In a flash of moonlight did I see a small dragon twisting itself around the spire of our village church?…Who knows.

Looking Forward: Dragons, Pigs, Black Dogs, Puppets and more

In a weeks’ time the year will be on the turn and we will be going forward to light and spring. Wonderful! And there will be much to do in this coming year because behind the serenity of my occasional blog posts there is lots of frantic paddling.  As always, so much more is happening than my limited typing and blogging skills can keep up with. I am very excited about a couple of collaborative projects, an online shop and a contribution to an online puppet making challenge.

Project One: I am getting together with another artist friend to start a year of “Beautiful Beasts”, drawings paintings and prints with some poetry thrown in. Lovely bees will be there of course.

Project Two: Is a Transatlantic ideas exchange with another artist friend. A wonderful opportunity to make some work in response to the same inspirational source. We come to this from different perspectives so the results will be fascinating.

Puppets? Hmmm… it will be my first attempt at making a puppet and I am thinking simple… very simple! But it ties in with both of my collaborative projects, things I have done in the past and will be something different. So I am joining Clive Hicks Jenkins and Peter Slight for their Puppet Challenge. The theme is Myth and Legend and so I have decided on a series of simple animal puppets, starting with a dragon continuing to black dogs and other wonderful creatures. A dragon may seem a bit obvious but dragons have been on my mind recently see “Small Dragon” and I have a dragon print on the drawing board right now. And if I needed further justification my Chinese Birth sign is the Dragon.  More of the Dragon Project. Its whys and wherefores  tomorrow.

Pigs:  Salute the Pig drawings continue…it’s Saddlebacks next! Busy, busy….just how I like things to be.

Small Dragon

This month is #stilldecember (still life) for the Twitter group of artists. So I am taking the opportunity to make some more sketches based on some of my lost, and some, found, treasures. This small ceramic dragon was a companion to Pig in Jacket and both pigs and dragons are going to feature in a future project so they fit in well with general plans.

Lost and Found Treasure 2:  The Small Dragon



……..with a little added fire and yes, print to come …