A Goodbye Plate

Today I was at a community tea to say goodbye to our minister Laurie and his wife Karen. They’ve been at our church ten and a half years and it’s been brilliant. They’re leaving a happy group of people, doubled in size, with a wide range of ages and cultures and broad links to the local community.

My excuse for posting this on my illustration blog is the blue glass plate that I got to design for Laurie and Karen.

blue plate

Many years ago, I saw a photography exhibition that included a photograph of the congregation of St James Picadilly gathered in one of the aisles. I had an idea that we could take a similar photo at tbc, to put on a sign outside showing that there were friendly human beings inside. One teatime, while hosting at least two extra children, I managed to scribble a sketch of the kind of thing I meant, to take to a church meeting that evening. The church thought the sketch would do as well as a photo, and that sketch has been on the sign outside our church ever since.

original tbc illustration

For this 30cm blue plate, I had a go at updating it, reflecting the way the church has grown and including some different people – although there was no way I could fit everyone in. I had to work from photos, which I normally refuse to do. Just sometimes, though, when the purpose of what I’m drawing and my connection to the people I’m drawing is strong enough, I get away with it. The figures end up a bit more stilted, but hopefully the overall effect is still one of joy and community, even in silver on blue.


Fancy a walk by the river?

Most of the illustration I do involves scribbling with a pen on paper, but not all.


Just for a change, I thought I’d post some walking maps I worked on with Environmental Education and Interpretation Specialist Ruth Coleman last year.


This involved lots of sitting in front of a computer but also a certain amount of getting lost and stung by nettles.


The maps were produced by the WaterSpace Project, a partnership between  B&NES Council, the Canal and River Trust, the Environment Agency and Wessex Water in collaboration with The Bath Mayor’s Guides, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, the Avon Frome Partnership and Mike Chapman.

If you fancy a walk this half term, you can download all three maps on this page of the River Avon Trail website.

A Day in the Life of…a Primary School

Headley Park Primary School in South Bristol have given me permission to share these sketches of school life on the 30th November 2016.

Year 1 classroom

Year 1 classroom

Many thanks to Louise who had the idea of asking me to spend a day there, and to all the classes who didn’t mind me wandering in and drawing.

Brushing Leaves

Brushing leaves

To be honest I was surprised and impressed by the wide range of things these children were learning on one day, from playing harmonies on the steel drums to extracting the lens from a cow’s eyeball.


Year 6 dissect an eyeball

There’s a certain magic formula that enables me to draw well – a community of people gathered together for a common positive purpose.

Steel drum lesson

Steel drum lesson

It’s easy to forget that, despite all the stresses and strains of education, that seem to be continually on the increase, this magic is happening every day in our schools.

School office

School office

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss organising a day of live sketching where you work.



The Whos down in Who-ville

This is a work in progress from Carols in Perrett’s Park just before Christmas. It put me in mind of a rhyme and set my mind on a slightly more positive course this New Year’s Day.

Colours will be added soon!

Carol Singing in Perretts Park with view of Bristol



They’d do something he liked least of all!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing.

They’d stand hand in hand. And the Whos would start singing!

They’d sing! And they’d sing! And they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who-Christmas Sing, the more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?

from How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Destination Bethlehem

Actors and visitors at Destination Bethlehem

On Saturday I went to Clevedon Baptist Church to sketch at ‘Destination Bethlehem’ for the Christmas card we’ll send out at work. I work at the West of England Baptist Association and we’re trying to feature a different one of our churches each Christmas. Destination Bethlehem was a magnificent immersive nativity experience – and a complete sell-out, I believe. Guests lucky enough to get a ticket, and also a large number of school children during the week, were taken through a labyrinth of Nativity story sets, and had the opportunity to bake real bread, be shouted at by Herod, chat with some Bristolian shepherds, haggle in a Bethlehem market, and finally meet the baby in the manger. I got to put on a costume, crouch in the corner on the way to the stable, and draw what I saw.

My drawing reminds me a little bit of Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations in We’re going on a bear hunt. I so much wanted to draw like Helen Oxenbury when I was fourteen, and I never will, but perhaps it’s the colours in this, or the way they’re all moving gently and hesitantly towards the baby they know is the culmination of their quest.

My reading of the Bear Hunt story (which will be an animated special on Channel 4 this Christmas) was always that the family wanted a fun adventure together with lots of actions  but that it preferably wouldn’t involve an actual live bear. We see the bear herself at the end, lonely in the moonlight, unable to play with the family who came to seek her. Bears, after all, are real, and they’re not exactly safe.

The baby in my picture is, of course, a plastic doll. I think Christians are probably very accustomed to play-acting. We do it all the time.  But however much we act makes no difference at all to whether the person represented by the doll, Emmanuel, God-with-us, is actually real, and actually with us.

Front Room Art Trail 2016

Choral wrapping paper

For the 10th year running (!) I shall be part of the Front Room at tbc (Totterdown Art Trail) exhibition during the Totterdown Art Trail next weekend. I’ll have lots of prints on show as usual, and some greetings cards, but for the first time I’ve had wrapping paper printed!

This design is based on sketches of the Brahms Requiem concert at St Michael and All Angels Church, Windmill Hill, on the 2nd October, with the Windmill Hill Chorus and Orchestra, Conductor Mark Randall, Soprano Helen Roberts, and Baritone Martin Le Poivedin. I’ve been to several of these concerts which always coincide with the Art on the Hill trail, so I’m always exhausted, but they’re always amazing. Such a tiny community putting on its own orchestral concert is remarkable in itself, but after Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem I did kind of wonder whether this could match up. It did – the chorus and orchestra produced what I can only describe as a wall of sound – different as it may be from the Spector version. It was all encompassing and engrossing and kept me scribbling until I’d drawn almost every singer and musician. Since then, I have to admit, I’ve saved Brahms Requiem on Spotify, and with this week’s news, I’ve found its sombre tone has fitted the mood especially well.

My normal method, once I get the sketches home, is to scan them and create a composition. Usually I try to include some context for the people I’m drawing — buildings, roads, trees, horizon, etc, and these give structure to the composition. This time I just had a bulging spread of people that didn’t quite work on its own. At the same time, I’d noticed that the printing company I use for cards was offering to print wrapping paper.  I wondered whether any of my images would work as a repeating pattern, and tried copying and pasting these musicians around an A2 canvas. The result felt like the concert itself, evoking that mass of harmony.

So I’m offering this work as ‘Choral wrapping paper’ – it’s going to be a very inexpensive way to get buy one of my prints, at just £3.50 a sheet, and would make excellent gift wrap for a friend in a choir!

Christmas cards

I’ve also had plenty of Christmas cards printed – using the image of Carol Singing in Victoria Park a couple of years ago. If you can’t get to Front Room, and would like some of these, please let me know. They are £2 each, or I’m willing to sell 10 for £15.

I’ll be in the Jarman Hall at the back of Totterdown Baptist Church, Sydenham Road, from 12 to 6 on Saturday 19th November and 12 to 5 on Sunday 20th November. Hope to see you there.

Twelve Portraits

12 Portraits

I didn’t manage to visit the David Hockney Exhibition 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, but I enjoyed looking at the book while visiting friends recently.

However, I did get to do some sketchy portraits of my own. While I was drawing at Redcatch Arts in the Park in September, I made contact with a local care home who asked me to spend a day sketching their residents. I’m used to sitting in a corner and sketching whatever is happening, but they clearly wanted individual images of each of the 12 residents, many of them in wheelchairs and most of them not able to communicate with words. So it was a big privilege, and a very special time, sitting with each resident either in their room or a lounge and drawing them with much more time than I usually get when sketching events.

They’ll use the images, perhaps for greetings cards in the future. I hope these drawings bless these individuals and their families and friends as much as I was blessed by my time with them.

There are no names at the request of the home.

Twelve Portraits

Drawing on a wall


If you know me, you’ll be aware of three things:

a) I  like drawing

b) I like riding a bike

c) I like ranting about getting from A to B without a car

So when I got an email from Sustrans about a panel event to discuss whether transport in Bristol is a public health issue, I volunteered to go along and do my sketching thing.

Neil from Sustrans got back to me and said I could draw on the wipe clean walls at Triodos bank. Even though this meant it was difficult to draw the people at the event, which is what I usually do, I couldn’t resist this, and had a go at drawing what I could hear instead of what I could see. Had a lovely time. Click on ‘zoom’ on the gallery pictures to see them properly.

Healthy Bristol Sustrans Panel Event

Art on the Hill 2016


Yes, I’m dusting bookshelves and wrapping prints in cellophane in the hope that you’ll visit on Saturday and Sunday!

Find me at www.artonthehill.org.uk, venue 17 on the map.

Also showing here, Mary Yarwood of Oh! Gussie and her beautiful upcycled textiles. Mary will be bringing two cushions she’s made for me using the pillowcases my Great Aunts used to spend their evenings embroidering.

Annabel Glassby will also have some of her lovely paintings in the hall.

Arts in the Park 1

On Sunday 11th September it was lovely to be asked to sketch at Arts in the Park, Redcatch Park.

Here are a few initial images from that day – more to come including belly dancers and musicians!

Click zoom to see the correct proportions of the image. Contact me to order any prints, or come and visit Venue 17 at Art on the Hill, 1st and 2nd October 2016.

Arts in the Park (Redcatch Park, Sunday 11th September 2016)
Anthony Garratt painting on the grass

Anthony Garratt painting on the grass

Karen George demonstrates her painting technique

Karen George demonstrates her painting technique

Mother and child with balloon

Mother and child with balloon

Artist's stall

Artist's stall

Spotty stripey couple

Spotty stripey couple