Like this Mook

Where It's At

I don't think this magazine/book thing received much publicity when it came out earlier this year and it's a shame because it's so well considered and intelligently put together. Richard Hart edited & compiled it and his team at Disturbance designed it and it shows. Read the interview with RH here.

I contributed some editorial bits and a poster that can be torn out designed after my favourite south africanism just now...

This is how the cover poster unfolds

I'd rather be swimming

can you say maillot?
Salon 91's December group show opens this Saturday morning the 1st, featuring work by gazillions of amazing local artists and I think the prices are going to be very very good. 10% of sales from I'd Rather be Swimming will go to the I am Water conservation trust.

april & essie's almanac

Essie Letterpress invited me to illustrate a calendar month for their 2013 Artists Almanac and I was only too happy to claim April, one of my favourite months in the Cape.
The almanac is beautifully put together and available for purchase here. Individual art prints are for sale, here's mine.
February's my favourite. Hello Summertime.


Monday, significantly better thanks to a gem in the post from miss Lucy and these beauties from my mother's garden.

Blue Egyptian Hippo

Almost exactly as I found him in National Geographic of March '77. More like him, here.

Paper walls

These walls are paper-thin. Our poor silent neighbours must share all our triumphs and disasters.

Who knew yarrow could be so good-looking (and useful)! 
I didn’t. Thanks wiki…
I like the common names, nosebleed plant, old man's pepper, devil's nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier's woundwort, thousand-leaf, thousand-seal.

queen vic

(from an English dish)

beginning of sunshine season

sestig seile

Detail from a collage for my godmother's birthday.
October is the prettiest month.


Quink is a drawing medium to love! It makes a rich black, 
washes grey-blue when watered down and bleeds a very faint orange at the edges. Above is a drawing I did of a Rasmussen shirt. Sadly not of my own invention, but a fun exercise for quink anyhow.

And here is a kitty.

From my temporary bush studio

Last Wednesday I saw galloping giraffes, a very happy thing to witness. This week I'm back in the city and still dreaming of those long legs and necks.
Friday's sun, rising over eastern Botswana.


 Building shrubs with paper. Or perhaps they're underwater corals.

I'm still here

I love cypress trees. These are in Prins Albert and I just learnt that the town turns 250 years old this year. Happy birthday little dorp!

Some things

I added a special picture to my sidebar - it'll hang out there for a bit. Matt balanced it wonkily on a stile in the rain with a near dead battery and a full picture card but my trusty Nikon miraculously managed to capture the moment following one of the best moments of my life.

Poinsettias are blooming everywhere I look. I’ve never been a huge fan but they are so festive and I used one in a recent Christmas table illustration for a picture book coming later this year. It’s just too cold in CT. My dad’s extra thick mohair socks are getting me through it but only barely.

 Remember this? It happened again. I was stuck in super rainy Cape Town while my family got cosy with lions in the bush, played scrabble by lamp light and enjoyed Sophie’s perfectly textured krummelpap every morning.

I said goodbye to my old hood. I vow to live there again one day (God willing) when we can afford a pretty Victorian cottage and some yard space for a pup and a fruit tree. For now it’s down to streamlined art deco inner city living, which I love so far – though it sounds fancier than it is.

Here are some oranges I drew in Florence.

 And here are some prettily wrapped blood oranges from Bologna (still more on Italy to come).

On Thursdays, I can now almost roll out of bed and round the block and fill my basket with fresh market stuff thanks to earthfair and my new address. Last week's plain oranges surprised me - they were red inside. This is kind of amazing, I've never found blood oranges before in SA. Is it just me?

People from over the sea have mailed to request prints and since I’m already jogging to the post office weekly with Good Heavens orders, I think it is about time I opened an Etsy shop. I’m making it a priority. Hold me to it.


Things are clearly a little rough at the moment. This is a biscuit plate from my favourite antique tea set currently functioning as a palette...

lucky duck

I love dear rae jewellery, but I love Karin more. She made me this beautiful gold ring with a deep green stone and earlier this year M gave me a delicate set of her sun and moon rings. The perfect gift. Dear rae studio-shop in the Woodstock Foundry is a place with good good vibes. 
I dropped off one or two tiny pen and gold ink drawings there today. They're available for sale in her shop at 160 Albert Road.

lone bird

love for Taiwan & dpi (& camper)

dpi mag was delivered like blitz! They included a very generous 8 page feature on me in issue vol. 157
The beautiful cover illustration is by Ale + Ale, also featured.

Such a treat, thanks dpi for being so speedy and kind and for understanding when my hard drive died and a chunk of work got lost.

Toes in the pic are completely gratuitous but i'm so in love with my new yellow suede shoes...

a quick drawing:

one evening in Ravenna

There are magnificent things to see in Ravenna; photographs are pointless in conveying the scale and intricacy in the craft you may find there. I can only share tiny things I saw next to things that sustain open-mouthed staring for several minutes.

Ravenna has grand mosaics in the true sense of grand but at some point I stopped looking. I saw bamboo flapping against the top of a high wall. Of course I found a gap to spy through and was rewarded with a daffodil garden and six white peacocks just before it got too dark to see.

We only just made our train back and then decided to take the next one anyway and spend an hour exploring the joy that is a supermarket in a foreign place.

Visit Ravenna, the city bikes are free and the mosaics are heavy on gold (and old).

(I found sugar-paper confetti on the pavement outside the train station)

Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2012

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2012 was knock-your-socks-off inspiring. It was also completely overwhelming. I wanted to run off to sit in a corner and draw quietly most of the time - partly to escape the crowds but mostly because, you know, I felt moved to produce better work straight away. My work from this book was selected for the Illustrator’s exhibition, which is why I was invited to attend.

(I bought a pen and a rude nib my first evening in Italy. Surprisingly they work even better than they look.)

Visiting Bologna and the fair was something I'd thought I might get to in middle age - never imagined something this good now. So here are some serious notes: 

There is a thriving international industry in picture books  • It's possible to make a living doing just that - illustrating books. Not probable, but possible  • Competition amongst peers should never result in isolation • Guilds and associations are vital to healthy freelance practice • There's a strong current pencil-sketch tendency in book illustration (which I love!). Final products are less polished and look more like process work • The Swedes are in top form facilitating fair publishing contracts that respect copyright • It's important to have a strong grasp of your own culture before you venture into another; this book, Migrar tells a compelling story of Mexican history in one continuous picture • The classics, reinterpreted are particularly interesting - and challenging. Last year's Bologna Ragazzi winner, Page Tsou talked to us about illustrating The Tin Soldier.

And some more things...

• Violeta Lopiz's work was my favourite on exhibition. One of the judges said her work sings and I agree!

• The special guest country, Portugal's exhibition was a highlight in exhibition design and each featured illustration was totally engaging. See more of Como as cerejas here

• Corraini books had the most exciting collection of picture and art books I've ever seen. I dropped a fair amount of cash here...
I was introduced to the work of Bruno Munari. He shares this piece of goodness:

 "perfection is a beautiful but stupid"

• Lately I’ve been doubtful about whether my fondness for (obsession with) drawing trees could lead somewhere interesting in narrative illustration and/or book design. Look what I found:

Raccontare gli alberi

(I've collected some favourite picture books here including some more pictures from the titles above.)

And this:

Page 22 from Drawing a tree by Bruno Munari. It is a simple but excellent lesson.
Published by Corraini edizioni

Another gem I got to hold and page through was this beautiful book on clouds by Katsumi Komagata. Each page cut from different paper stock. And another genius thing.

Katsumi Komagata
• I saw an exhibition by Atak. Love his renderings of Struwwelpeter.

• The illustrator's exhibition space at the Bologna Ragazzi is enclosed by a high wall which gets absolutely covered in visiting illustrators' promotional material. Tons of swag, essentially. Mind-blowing. I followed my notes to find these two online:

1) I love this lad's bio
2) Beibei Nie's simple stop motion for her new friends

• The Italian experience was made even more special by my talented fellow exhibitor Janneke de Kock. She is particularly important because we were in grade one together and were taught by the same magnificent woman, Mavis Foale. And also because Janneke's smile is huge like a hug.

PS The best gelateria ended up being the one with the comic-sans typeface across the road from the apartment.
It seems Italy never tries to be cool, it just is.

bear with me

my arms are too short but my wings are glorious

Autumn eggs in knits

Easter rings in warm colours and knits in this neck of the woods. I try to draw these patterned eggs every year (remember these that Matt made?) but made more than the usual three or four, probably because I'm a bit stressed out. They help me breathe and focus. Have a very happy and peaceful Easter. I'm going to make my favourite people a pot of tea now and then put on a heavy pullover and take Boris (the best Boerboel-Ridgeback in the world) for a walk in the wet park.

gelato + douglas

Some quick pink love from Bologna: Pompelmo rosa gelato (amazing!) and dark chocolate (better). They don't go together; they're two separate heavens. And a bike called Douglas. I think my pink-phobia is officially over.


Hi, hello cause it's the 29th of Feb and a good day to share the very exciting news that my name is on this list (look for the South Africans)! More on that soon. In the meantime here's a cheeky llama and a tiny collage I made called Tiger Rabbits.

PS Look how beautiful Dan Pearson's work is. Landscape designers (and paediatricians) give me serious career envy. Hearing him talk about his collaborative Tokachi Millennium Forest project at the Design Indaba this morning was extra special. x

holiday reads

From Day 2 and Day 7

I’d like to share two books I read over the Summer break that have really stuck with me and that I look forward to reading again in a couple of years. They’re the kind of stories that will give you something new each time you revisit. 

The first is Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides in which the imagery kind of blew me away and although I appreciated the film adaptation very much it just doesn’t come close to the loaded sentences on these pages. 
Matthew bought The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes as a Christmas gift to my mom. We chose it for her because it won the Man Booker last year and … we both loved the typesetting and typography on the cover. It's a quick, surprising read and leaves plenty to discuss. I was really slow to notice it at first but I think the ambiguity in the title really nailed it.

I snapped them with a collection of finds, drinks and gifts from my December beach holiday which was almost too good to be true thanks to my wonderful parents and M.

Things I make when I need to interrupt myself

my little pony

Those pony-legs are impossibly stumpy but I think his golden mane makes up for it.

Hello February! What, the 3rd already?


        I'm trying to concentrate...


I hardly know how to describe the immense joy, surprise and gratitude that was felt discovering these delightful creatures on our beach Christmas tree.