Whippet Dave

When out on walks Mischa Skinny Dog always attracts attention. Ask anyone owned by sight-hounds and they’ll say the same; it’s like walking with a celebrity. People wander over and want to stroke her, ask questions about her or exchange tales about the skinny dogs they have been owned by. If their dogs come over for a play the owner always says “No chance of catching that one son” as Mischa hares away with a rotund Labrador in futile hot pursuit. Ah, she loves to tease does Mischa.

But today we met a different kind of admirer.

Mischa and I had bided our time this morning waiting for the storm to ease, ( A true sight-hound will never get her fur rain-sodden) and as the sun emerged so did we. Our journey took us across Nun’s Moor, through the copse and over the hills onto Town Moor. Apart from the cows we met not a soul. Until, seemingly out of nowhere, a figure ambled toward us. He was a little under- dressed for the weather in a baggy t-shirt and sweat pants, but hey, Geordies are a hard race of folk. Once he was up close I noticed the ears and realised we were in the presence of a particularly friendly elf.

He was impressed with Mischa’s shiny coat and clean white teeth and ran an expert hand along her back. He then counted the whiskers under her chin announcing that was a sure fire way of telling which number pup she was in the litter.

“Three” he declared with quiet confidence. I thought it best to agree. “Bin wi skinny dogs all me life” he said “Put a leash in me hand before I cud walk. That’s why they call me Whippet Dave”

And then he vanished.

Whippet Dave

Digital Doodle; Whippet Dave

Fact or Fiction? You decide.

Illustrated Letter Day 3; Off to Australia

I have set myself a challenge; to revive the art of letter writing by composing a letter every day through 2013. But more than words, each letter will be illustrated. Letter number 3 is going all the way to Australia. So my initial question of “How far will a Ziggy Elf travel?” has probably been answered. You can’t get much further than little old England to The Land Down Under.

This letter is going to Katherine who is the creator of the fabulous blog Photobooth Journal. In order not to spoil the surprise for Katherine I can’t show you the content. But I have illustrated the envelope.

If you would like to join in the fun and receive a letter from me email me your postal address. All the details are here.


letter 3 Katherine

Janus Elf; Looking Forward to 2013

January takes its name from Janus; the Roman God of beginnings and transitions. Traditionally he is shown with two heads, one looking to the future, the other to the past. For many, January 1st, New Year’s Day, brings with it a sense of hope for the coming year, and an opportunity to reflect upon the one that has just ended. New diaries are opened, calendars hung and resolutions made.

I have a beautiful calendar upon which to mark important dates for 2013. It has been created by artist Nancy Farmer, whose wonderfully whimsical blog I follow. Please pop over and take a peek.

This is Mr January.


Of course, he’s a fairy. In fact there are 78 in total to entertain me over the coming 12 months. How could I resist this calendar? As you can see, it is tantalizingly blank at the moment which either means I have yet to write on it or I need to get a life!

I prefer not to make resolutions or look to the past, that way I have learned can lead to regret and disappointment. It’s not that I ignore what went before, my past contributes toward the person I am, it’s my history. I just don’t dwell on what might have been.

So it was with absolute delight that I spied this elf amongst the New Year’s Day revellers. I knew he was meant for me. The face, or mask to the left, although acknowledging the past, is staring with unseeing eyes. Janus is looking to the right, staring intently at the future. I wonder what it holds?

Janus elf

Let’s raise a glass to 2013. Cheers!

A Mini Saga; Toys R Stuffed

Earlier on in the 29 Faces in September challenge I introduced Derwent, my Guardian of the Desk. When I was a child I had a Guardian of the Bed, and that was Donkey. He was lovingly knitted by my Grandma using scraps of wool and stuffed with nylon hosiery. Apparently it was very important that he accompanied me to bed, and I could be heard chatting to him before I drifted off to sleep. With Donkey cradled in my arms I was assured of a good nights sleep.

I still have him to this day, although he no longer shares my bed.

Protecting children from night-time terrors is a very important task, but what if it goes wrong?

A Mini Saga; Toys R Stuffed

Three toys dedicate themselves to keeping the imagined night terrors of a four-year old child at bay. One night the three guardians doze off. The Monster in the Wardrobe, no longer under observation, springs from its lair and devours the child. The toys suffer guilt for eternity.


Donkey; My hero



29 Faces in September; Bye Baby Bunting

This summer Britain has been festooned with bunting. The Union Jack variety. First because of the Queens jubilee and then the Olympics. Last week I went to look at an exhibition by artist Andrew Miller at Baltic 39 in Newcastle. One room was strung with row after row of bunting presumably questioning the country’s celebratory mood. You can find out more here. I thought it beautiful.


All the while I have had in my head;

Bye Baby Bunting

Daddy’s gone a hunting

Gone to fetch a rabbit skin

To wrap poor Baby Bunting in.

In this case “bunting” means chubby, so here is a roly-poly  baby elf. And he is Number 25 in the 29 Faces challenge.

29 Faces in September; A minor miracle

After a day at work, glass of rewarding wine in my hand I chatted to my Mum on the phone and doodled this. He turned out a rather supercilious  looking individual.  Considering the light was fading, I wasn’t wearing my glasses and the alcohol was going to my head it’s a miracle I ended up with anything at all. But as he is the only thing I’ve had the chance to draw today, he is face 23 in the  29 Faces in September challenge.


29 Faces in September; Cafe Characters

I am a great admirer of Rosie Scribblah who describes herself as “artist, printmaker, scribbler and ageing headbanger.”  And as all good artists should, she sketches….constantly. I’ve dubbed her the “Martini Sketcher” because she can sketch anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Check out her blog here.

So, inspired by Rosie I sat in my favourite cafe in Newcastle and sketched the occupants. They are faces 18, 19, 20 and 21 in the 29 Faces in September challenge.


Not fiction, fact!

29 Faces in September #4; Derwent the Desk Guardian

I would like to introduce you to Derwent. He’s a tiny ted with a huge responsibility. He guards my desk.

Derwent makes sure that everything I need, creatively speaking, is always at hand and that nothing goes missing. He sharpens pencils, throws out dud fine liners and occasionally answers the phone. Derwent is also good at thumbing through the dictionary and thesaurus when words fail me.

All this and he’s only 4″ tall.

Do you have a Guardian of the Desk?


He’s always on the move, so it had to be a quick sketch.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.

Normal Service Will Be Resumed

It may be apparent to those who regularly pop by this blog that I like Elves. They are not to every ones liking given their mischievous tomfoolery which often leads to misfortune or death. But I love them and I love drawing them and post up inky doodled elves almost every day.Then I made the mistake of setting myself a challenge; Celebrity Elves in July. I declared that I would produce a celebrity inspired elf every day during that month. That’s 31 faces that had to resemble a famous person. It started well with Tom Cruise and Bruce Willis, Scarlett Johansson was a little dodgy and Lemmy left a lot to be desired, but Elvis rocked. Then came Orlando. Stupid, stupid Orlando! He Bloomin’ refused to elf up and I had to abandon him. My elf whispering abilities took a knock. What was happening to me? I decided to take a break from Blogging. Days elapsed so then I had to play catch up in order to meet the challenge; The Marx Brothers (4) The Proclaimers  (2). I was burning the fine liner at both ends but in a desperate bid to reach my goal I elfed up….The Magnificent Seven (7). It was painful to behold. They didn’t even look like The Magnificent Seven. But I didn’t care because that was 18 elves down 13 to go. But my heart wasn’t in it and I popped my fineliners back in a drawer and closed the lid of my laptop. The art of elfing had deserted me! In one last ditched effort to regain my powers I produced Bradley Wiggins Elf, and slumped back, exhausted and confused.

Then it dawned on me. Celebrities aren’t real! Of course they are human like in appearance but quite clearly they are the imaginings of fevered human brains. Only a made up creature could have such perfect skin, pearly white teeth, and well toned body. No wonder I couldn’t draw them, not only do they all look the same they don’t exist!

My dear follower, please excuse my folly. I have seen the error of my ways and will draw nothing but real life elves. I will continue to hone my Elf Whispering skills to coax these elusive creatures out from the bottom of my garden and sketch, doodle and draw their likeness.  In fact here’s a little chap now and he’s got something to say….