Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Toad and Teasel

Lets consider this a seasonal post. A little heads-up as to where you might want to stay if you should happen to find yourself on the other side of the ethereal border this holiday season. Travelling in the Faerie Realm, as we all know, can be a little tricky, what with booby traps, disguised personalities, hauntings and many other dark magic shenanigans to contend with. A little caution is always advisable.

So this time we would like to point you in the direction of a charming little pub called The Toad and Teasel, located on the East Road when leaving Gwelf and heading for Inverary. The Toad and Teasel comes highly recommended from many reliable sources including your truly. The food is first rate - good old fashioned pub fare that sticks to your ribs and makes you warm and happy. The ale is dark and rich and goes straight to your head with a pleasant hum. The rooms are warm, dry and comfortable and fully protected by powerful spells of defense and safety. The invisible lodger in room 3 was banished once and for all during a lively ceremony last summer, rendering all rumours to the contrary wholly untrue. You can rest easily and without worry at the Toad and Teasel.

The proprietors, Mr. Duncan Cheesewater and his wife Penelope will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and right at home. You'll find Duncan at his usual station behind the bar and Penelope up to he elbows in the kitchen, toiling away to make sure your stay is warm, cozy and festive, unless you are allergic to cats of course. There's one in every room and there doesn't seem to be a thing anyone can do about it. "They have their ways and we have ours" as Duncan often says. "It makes you wonder whose feeding them".

Duncan and Penelope

If you should happen to make it over to the Gwelf area in the next couple of weeks you will be able to take part in the local festivities. The Midwinter celebrations will be going full bore until the end of the month. Even if you are unfamiliar with the Winter Solstice holiday we're sure you will feel right at home. The customs are very similar to ours with eating, drinking and singing being among the favourites. Be sure to celebrate safely though. Every year we lose a few careless revelers to witch attacks, so be sure to stick to the main roads.

Happy holidays everyone and peace be with you.

One more thing while I'm thinking about it. Wood Gnomes, Flickers and Pixies have all been spotted recently in the vicinity of the Toad and Teasel. This is a very good sign as these little forest creatures only appear where the spirits are high and a general feeling of good humour is present.

God's speed one and all.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Willow Cottage

This is a typical example of the kind of witch dwelling found in the Hill Country just north of Gwelf. This area is very remote and unforgiving. Much caution and care need to be taken if you should ever happen to find yourself traveling in this dangerous region. Although the dark and unholy occupant of this cottage has not yet been observed, the troll (below) has been reported in the area several times and is believed to be defending her property.

More soon - peace be with you.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Recent Graphite

A few more Faeries that will be added to the final version of the Lavender Blue cover. Thomas Haller Buchanan, our intrepid designer and art director will be putting it all together with his golden age inspired expertise. The final composition will be in his hands. I'm sending the work over to him and he is assembling it. We've decided that we want the cover to have a sketchy, pencilly hand drawn kind of look to it. Now that I've sent everything over to Thom I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how he puts it all together.

November is really closing in now. The wind is out of the north and the trees are naked silhouettes against the grey evening sky. You better throw another log on the fire and fish that old, woolly sweater out of the cedar chest, it's going to be a cold one.

Cheers and peace be with you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lavender - Back Cover

Here we have the back cover cover image for the new cover concept we discussed in the previous post.  The idea is to keep it somewhat sketchy so that it will relate to the pencil drawings that are going to be surrounding it. However I think I rendered it out a bit more that I meant to. It was supposed to be a bit sketchier around the edges but the watercolour was going down so nicely on the hot press paper that I just couldn't stop myself. Here again I'm doing the limited palette approach I like so much - just a couple of colours - raw umber, paynes grey, prussian blue and ultra-marine blue - just a wee bit of burnt umber on his beard. Also - I thought it might be fun to revisit the Leprechaun house but show it from the other side.

Anyway - Happy Halloween and Peace be with you.

Lavender - New Cover Concept.

We're doing a rethink on our cover concept  for The Lavender Blue project. Now that we have Thomas Haller Buchanan on board as art director/designer there is a lot more room to explore and experiment with really cool ideas. This is one of Thomas' rough concepts for the cover. He has taken a pile of my drawings and mashed them together into this beautiful design. Nothing is final of course. We're just thinking out loud. The main images on the front and back will be painted.

Peace be with you.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Happy Halloween everyone. Here we have one of the many witches recently observed in the Gwelf area, now waking up and preparing for a new witching season of fear and destruction.
Peace be with you, and be sure to check your candy for fly wings and spider tails.

Cheers !

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Graphite

A bit more pencil work concerning directly or indirectly the Lavender book. Lavender of course being the Irish Faerie Tale Project I have been working on for the last eighteen months. Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood to be precise.

Cheers everyone and peace be with you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

William Ackerman

Eight minutes of Bliss - wait for the voices, it's the best part.

Cheers and peace be with you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pencil Faeries - Lavender

Some recent pencil work for the Irish Faerie Tale I am presently illustrating entitled Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee wood.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lavender - Image 9

Lavender finally gets a little rest in the haunted forest. The wood spirits are watching over her.  This is another illustration for the Irish Faerie Tale I'm currently working on entitled Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Haunted Forest - Final

Lavender is entering the dark and dangerous woods. This is another illustration for the Irish Faerie Tale I'm currently illustrating entitled Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood. From here on in Lavender is going to have to be very brave.

Cheers and Peace be with you.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Hello - with this post I would like to draw your attention to a new online art journal entitled Phases, which is designed and produced by Thomas Haller Buchanan at the Pictorial Arts Journal.  Thomas has decided to kick off his new arts blog by profiling yours truly with a pile of unpublished and unseen sketchbook drawings. There is a lot of beautiful design work here as you can see below, so why not pop over and give it a peek.

Just follow this link

Cheers !

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Haunted Forest - Rough

Even with two thirds of the final illustrations completed we are still working and reworking the picture concepts for our Irish Faerie Tale - Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood. In this case of  we have decided to delete an earlier illustration in favour of this new idea where Lavender is seen bravely entering the Haunted Forest. We want to show these supernatural woods as big and scary and Lavender as small and fragile, yet determined to press forward. Work continues.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Travel Update - Coven

It's starting. You can feel it. Not too much - hardly worth mentioning, but I've noticed.  I guess because I'm waiting for it. Autumn. A zing of red here, a few spots of yellow there. The green is changing. I love this time of year, and so do they. The days are getting shorter. The nights are getting cooler. It's their time. Autumn.

There are several active covens known to be operating in the Gwelf area. The one most feared and least understood is The Sisterhood of the Dark Fields. Shadowy rumours of them run thick and fast through the local pubs and taverns  as the bright light of summer recedes into the cool grey of autumn. It's not certain how many of them there are in the coven but estimates have it at thirteen or perhaps more. They are for the most part dormant during the spring and summer months, presumably due to an aversion to sunlight. They will surface again when the leaves turn brown and fall off the trees. The shorter days and cooler temperatures bring them out on their secret, nocturnal errands. You can imagine their  long, twig fingers crawling spider-like over the innocent form of a sleeping child, stolen from her cradle on a starless night. This is what they do, stalking the innocent and attacking them in their beds.

The residents of Gwelf are for the most part safe from witch attacks. However the out lying farms and smaller towns are much more vulnerable. The first thing you may or may not hear are the foot steps on the roof, followed by a paralyzing spell blown down the chimney to freeze you in your night shirt. Then a whispered incantation at the front door and the sound of all your locks unhinging themselves. You needn't worry about your money or your valuables, that isn't what they're after, although by the time they are finished you might be wishing they had been. A shaved head will be the least of the indignities visited upon you if they have their way. They are also interested in teeth and blood, your individuality and the life energy that resides in your temporal form. They are searching for secrets and there isn't anything they won't do to uncover the dearest and most personal ones.

The Sisters are very determined. They are the most bold on winter landscapes, moving through leafless, skeletal trees on the edges of moon lit fields. The first dusting of late autumn snow  bringing with it some new arcane atrocity, announcing their return for another season of fear and desolation.

At this time of year a hearty defensive plan is critical. There are things we can do. Witches do not favour salt or mirrors so I would suggest a liberal and creative distribution of both in order to enhance the protection of your person and your loved ones. However, candles infused with the appropriate witch defeating particle magic are your best defense, although they may be expensive and difficult to obtain.  The very best candles will remain lit on even the stormiest of nights. This will, as you can imagine, make them even more expensive and rare but if you are the kind of person that simply has to walk down lonely autumn roads in the middle of the night it will probably be worth it. Much care and caution will be required.

I hope this helps. Safe and happy travels to you.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Random Sketchbook

I was hoping to get another travel up-date out this week but ran out of time - instead - a few scribble pages from a recent sketchathon.

Peace be with you.

More soon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Best Coffee

Everybody has a favourite coffee shop. That place where you can get the perfect cup of coffee and really launch your day in the right direction. The best part of your morning, that first cup of coffee. Be they big or small, old or new, busy or not busy, we love our cafes. With this post I would like to talk a bit about my favourite coffee house.
The Up Tempo Cafe
The Up Tempo Cafe is located in a hitherto unknown and neglected little neighbourhood on the outskirts of Gwelf where the old city runs creatively alongside the river. This trendy establishment is owned and operated with humour and style by the now regionally famous five Tempo sisters. These five industrious girls have, in less than a year, taken their small, off the map neighbourhood and tuned it into a cultural hub and buzzing hive of activity simply by selling good coffee. Well, very, very good coffee. The best coffee.

Tempo One
Tempo Two
Tempo Three
Tempo Four and Five
What makes their coffee so special and different ? Let's put it this way - the java we all know and love gives you a sudden blast of energy and zings you awake in the morning, which is exactly what we want it to do. But, it can also make you nervous, jittery and jumpy if you drink too much and this is precisely what we don't want it to do. On the other hand, Tempo coffee brings on an enormous feeling of gratitude and well being, which is a completely different kind of rejuvenating energy, and of course, being grateful will keep you from over indulging. So don't worry, you won't go off the deep end. Instead you will find yourself truly appreciating your surroundings and a strong desire to cherish and protect them will grow in you. You will start paying attention to the details and aesthetics will begin to matter. Who can say what kind of primeval faerie glamour the Tempo sister are weaving into these exotic blends but whatever it is sure seems to be working.
The neighbourhood has been completely transformed. Artists, poets and creative spirits of every stripe are migrating to the area. Improvements and restorations are happening all over the place. Fences are being repaired and gardens tended to. Window boxes filled and litter picked up. There is colour everywhere now - murals, flowers, decoration and Topiary enliven the streets. Even the Luthiers have come back !

And yet, somehow, surprisingly, magically, the people who oppose this point of view are unable to find the cafe - more of that faerie glamour I shouldn't wonder. They just never quite seem to make it. They get lost or forget what they're doing and go home, their dirty towels and unwashed dishes a more appealing option than some vague notion of a coffee shop they've heard about somewhere. There seems to be an obvious shortage of vandals, negatorians and nay-sayers in the Tempo neighbourhood.  Oh well, we'll just have to make do without them.
So if you manage to make it over to the Up Tempo Cafe be sure to bring your journal, or your sketchbook, or your tin whistle or whatever it is that you do because chances are very good that you will be inspired. At the very least you will have a terrific cup of coffee.

Peace be with you and happy travels.


Monday, August 22, 2011

The Fortune Teller's House

With this post I thought I might bring your attention to a small, rustic tree house just east of Gwelf on the Old North Road. The Fortune Teller lives here with her two sisters and it is their business to tell you the truth. If you are not interested in the truth you will pass this house and continue happily on your way in comfortable and ignorant bliss. If however you are interested in the truth you will proceed with caution to the front door. By the time they get you to the back porch it will be too late. You are going to hear all the truth you could ever hope for whether you like it or not.
Shevka is the middle sister. She reads the cards and tells the fortunes. Shevka is the one most people remember. She does not speak directly to you but to herself. Grenka is the youngest. She makes the wine and serves the wine. She asks the questions and does most of the talking.  People like talking to Grenka. Penyoval is the oldest sister and the one no one sees. She is very powerful. She makes and lights the candles. Candles infused with particle magic that play music in your head and unlock the doors in your mind. Candle waxing is the most subtle and difficult of the fortune telling arts. The cards and the wine and the candles will make the truth unavoidable. You will speak it and you will hear it. There will be no stopping it.


Some people are okay with that much truth but not everyone is. The truths are told and then written on paper and placed in small clay pots. The pots are taken down to the bridge spanning the ravine and dropped over the side. This completes the process.  For some, the fortunes are too much to bear and they throw themselves over the side instead and plunge into the gorge below. The sisters cannot help this or stop it. It is not their business what you do with the your fortune but only that you hear it once you cross the threshold. The bones and broken pots are piling up down there. It's a very lonely place.

Please proceed with caution. Be well and go in peace. The sisters are waiting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting Sorted

Big apologies for the uneven posts lately. Just working some kinks out of the system. In the meantime, some recent sketchbook work.. More arthritic vagrants with beards.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Lavender Image

Here is a new illustration for the Irish Faerie Tale project I'm currently working on entitled Lavender Blue and the Faeries of Galtee Wood. This is the point in the story, near the beginning, where things are just starting to get interesting. Lavender is encountering what appears to be a unicorn - what she thinks is a unicorn -  in a moment she will find out what it really is. The story kicks into second gear, right about here - poor Lavender.

More soon.