Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on Earth

"....Thus spake the seraph and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song:

All Glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good-will henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease."

Thank you for visiting Fairy Lanterns this year - wishing a Magical and Merry Christmas to all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Chris-Moose

I have been busy, on the move from one sales event to another with our books- though not as far afield as Santa travels!

Perhaps all nationalities see Santa as their very own. There is even a sense in this country that the North Pole is not so very far away, especially with the first snows falling. And if Santa is close to our northern woodlands wouldn't it be logical for the local creatures, like the moose, to be involved on Christmas Eve?

I have camped and canoed through this Great White North of ours, portaged around waterfalls and pitched tents beneath tall pine trees, and although I am not hardy enough for year-round life in the wilderness I find, like many artists before me, that the experience of the north inspires one's work ever after. Even to seeing Santa on a moose!
The "Here comes Santa Claus"card is now available on my Etsy shop.
Wishing a continuing safe and happy Advent to all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Woodland Nutcracker, on the move

Woodland Nutcracker and Grandmother's Tree are up on the Etsy shop! And here are some of the Christmas fairs that we are going to with our books and cards, starting tomorrow:
November 5, 9:30-4:00, East Plains United Church,375 Plains Rd E, Burlington
November 12, 9:00-2:00, Church of the Epiphany, 141 Bronte Road, Oakvile
November19, 9:30-2:30, Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Avenue, Burlington
November26, 9:00-2:00, St John's United
Church, 262 Randall St, Oakville.
December 2 - 24, Under The Moon Fine Arts, 217 Ottawa St. N., Hamilton
December 15-24, Arcadia Gallery, 680 Queens Quay West, Toronto, opening reception Thursday December 15, 5-9pm.
More dates to come. Woodland Nutcracker is also available at
A Different Drummer Books 513 Locust Street, Burlington
Bryan Prince Booksellers, 1060 King Street West, Hamilton and
The Acorn Card Shoppe, 221 Lakeshore RdE, Oakville.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

" Woodland Nutcracker"

Our beautiful WoodlandNutcracker book, which was chosen as The Children's Picture Book of the year in 1999 by the Canadian Book Review Annual, was orphaned earlier this year when the publisher went out of business. We are fortunate to have obtained the remaining books from the publisher's warehouse, boxes of mint-new copies full of Christmas magic and adventure.

As with the earlier Woodland Christmas, the story was inspired by many camping trips and cottage visits in Canada's boreal forest, "far away from highways and city lights", where one can travel for days and not meet another human being or even a camera-shy bear. In a story that parallels the Nutcracker ballet, Clara is given a wonderful carved Nutcracker Bear who transforms into the dashing Nutcracker Prince. After settling a midnight battle between the tin soldiers and invading field mice with a Christmas Eve truce, giving the hungry mice food for their families, Clara and Nutcracker fly away to the Ice Palace of the Great Bear, Ursa Major.

At the Great Bear's palace an international cast of bears performs for Clara - juggling pandas and trapeze artist koalas and more, plus some of her dearest woodland friends. I have made two posters from the illustrations, grizzly bear Mother Ginger with her junior hockey team, and the polar bear Yuk Tuk dancing to the strains of the Russian Dance, pictured below. For the purposes of the poster I have placed a copy of the book in her gracefully extended paw!Sorting through the book images I rediscovered this little Nutcracker soldier, whom I have added to the title bar as a friendly exclamation point.

We are dedicating a portion of our sales of Woodland Nutcracker to benefit St. Matthew's House, a charitable agency in the Diocese of Niagara. We are taking the books to several Christmas fairs and the posters will show off the illustrations from across crowded rooms. The books will also be up on my Etsy shop shortly and I will be happy to sign copies or add a small embellishment for the finishing touch.

Friday, September 30, 2011

For the Bees

Further to inventions that imitate nature, here is one of a series of bumblebee-themed images I was asked to design some years ago. A "friendly bee" was asked for, one that was busy about a garden. It was a fun assignment and I eventually came up with several versions of BumbleBee, a family of them and their garden, including hollyhocks. I have been reviewing the images recently, going through the files, and this morning as I walked by the lake I came upon this:

an end-of-summer drowsy bee nestled in the hollyhocks that have naturalized along the unfinished harbour wall, among the small convolvulus and michaelmas daisies.

"And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease.. "
"To Autumn", John Keats

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Monarch Butterflies

To quote Avril on the subject of Fairy, "It is difficult to invent anything for Fairy that does not already occur in nature". The description of Dr. Flora Fauna's bubblemobile travels (with fairy dog) alongside the famous migrating butterflies appears in the Winter edition of The Illustrated Fairy Gazette. This morning I stepped out into a flurry of Monarch butterflies on the move.
They dallied with my Morning Glories before disappearing over the fence.
In twos and threes, one cluster after another, they hovered over green lawns and wayside flowers
pausing for only brief refreshmentbefore moving on, along the lakefront and across the creek
east to west, on their long migratory path. They will soon reach Point Pelee where they gather in hundreds and thousands to feed on the milkweed plants before their astonishing long flight to the mountains of central Mexico, where they overwinter.
It is the first time I have seen them in such numbers locally and it was a fitting end to a beautiful, if all too short, summer.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mermaids and Sand Castles

Some years ago it was my pleasure to illustrate Kate's Castle, written by children's book author Julie Lawson. Like many beautiful books it is now out of print, even though the author and I still get requests from parents and teachers who would like to have a copy.

It begins, "This is the castle that Kate built"and builds from there with,
" This is the moat of sandy hue
That circles the castle that Kate built."
"This is the pool of anenomes,
whose swaying tentacles comb the seas
that fill the moat of sandy hue
That circles the castle that Kate built."

Kate's castle gets bigger, adorned with shells, crowned with turrents, waves come rolling in to surround it,
and creatures from the deep, including the mermaid above, swim by for a look.
Although the book is no longer available from the publisher I do have pretty cards with the above images and they will soon be on my Etsy shop.

On Author-Illustrator visits to schools I presented this book to many classrooms of children. They always fell right in with the winning poetry and the theme of sandcastle building and carefree hours on sandy beaches - they were even interested in how an artist makes the pictures that go with the words. I'm glad to hear from teachers that the appeal of books has not diminished, even with the advent of tablets and e-readers.

There was recently a sandcastle building event in the nearby harbour area. Artists set to work and within hours had produced these remarkable sand sculptures.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Baby's First" ornament designs

For the first weeks of summer I was busy designing ornaments for a Toronto company for Christmas 2012. Along with angels and sleigh bells were several variations on the theme of Baby's First Christmas. This was a fun assignment, bringing a new twist to a well-known theme. The designs for Christmas 2012 are under wraps for now. Here are a couple of my designs from previous years, which currently appear in the Walperts/SilverTree catalogue:

the Stork,
with a tiny cradle, baby and teddy bearand the Pram,
again with a baby and a teddy, plus a little dove on the canopy.

This week is the 17th anniversary of my own Baby's First event, but I didn't get a Pink package,

the stork sent us a Blue one.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Apprentice Dragons

The Apprentice Dragons by Alison Baird is now in print and available from! Last summer I had these dragons on the drawing board, large dragons and little scampering ones that wouldn't behave. I finally pinned them down the page, chapter heading by chapter heading, merry companions for this delightful junior novel.

The sequel to The Dragon's Egg , The Apprentice Dragons picks up the incidental adventure of the goldfish, the "apprentice dragons" as they were called by the boy dragon, Lung Wang. Lung Wang returned to his ancestral home but Ai Lien's goldfish stayed in their bowl on the little girl's dresser.
Or did they?

It really is a terrific adventure,
with enough tantalizing threads for the reader to know that the story is not necessarily over yet.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


"Too busy to blog", terrible words! Between art classes to teach, new designs and art to prepare and an art show to hang, I had to let some things slide. The dog walks were shorter, good books were unopened and the garden went unweeded (which allowed the wild daisies and loosestrife to wander in).My annual "Midsummer Magic" art show at Sovereign House was visited by a host of fairies with every style of wings,
and even swordsThis quiet spot by the lake has a magic all its own, a perfect place for fairies and reveries.
The show is over now and so is the rush. I have an unaccustomed breathing space, time to think and to paint some random fancies before starting on new work. The fairy bridesmaids at the top of this post are about to make their debut in the new issue of our "Illustrated Fairy Gazette", which is coming soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Royal Fairy Wedding

"A simple country wedding for a Royal fairy bride" is the theme of the newest edition of our Illustrated Fairy Gazette. It is still a work in progress but is looking so pretty that I can't resist showing a glimpse.This will be the 6th in our series of miniature fairy magazines. Each one is just 4.5 x 5.25 inches, hand-stitched with rainbow thread, and packaged in a pretty fairy-parchment envelope. Follow this space for the publication date of the latest Illustrated Fairy Gazette!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Paper Cutting, Art and Magic

My own experience with paper cutting began in childhood, instructed by my mother in the simple charms of making linked paper dolls, joined by their outstretched hands and the edges of their wide skirts. The planning and decorating of these - each with a different face, hair and dress - passed many happy hours. From time to time I still revisit the craft, deliberately or by serendipity.

Some years ago I spent hours in waiting areas at the hospital while my youngster had appendicitis. Too fidgety to read, I delved into my handbag and found pair of sharp little nail scissors and some paper (a church bulletin as I recall). I accordion-pleated the paper into eight widths and improvised with the scissors, cutting the shape of a bird, leaving the wingtips uncut at the fold-edge. A half an hour later a cascade of little white worry-birds lay on my lap amid the confetti of irregular scraps. I picked up the larger remnants of paper and refolded them to make even smaller bird chains. By the time my son was waking up from surgery I had a small menagerie of paper creatures to show him: birds, dogs, angels, mermaids, dragons and cats-on-roofs.

Here is the dog, springing at the birds,
then unfolded to romp with friends,
and all standing up to play with their shadows.

I still have the Mermaid chain too, here posed on their heads and facing their shadows, as though diving to meet their reflections.

The other inventions have since disappeared but were the inspiration for a variety of hand-cut Christmas cards that year. I discovered that beautifully executed paper-cutting only looks simple - that hours of skillful work have gone into the pieces that take your breath away.

If you have not already seen the beautiful paper-cutting work by Elsa Mora, give yourself a treat and visit her blogs about art and miniature books. There is always something new, something fresh in its vision and execution, with links to other contemporary artists who are also exploring paper craft in extraordinary ways. But Elsita is my personal favorite.

From nature, a different kind of fine design: last week's storm (the last hurrah of winter, we hope) left behind this glittering tangle of ice - not unlike an extraordinarily fine paper cutting.