Stroud Book Festival Illustration


I absolutely LOVED making this illustration for Stroud Book Festival. It was so much fun as the brief was a dream come true for me! The festival organisers, Louise, Shannon and Caroline chipped in some really brilliant ideas to get me going...


Louise writes: Given the pandemic, we all like the idea of an illustration that is gentle and reassuring, comforting, nostalgic, familiar. It needs to have a nod to Stroud...

We would like to capture what it feels like to be caught up in a really good book. Perhaps remembering how it felt, as child, to be lost in a really great story. At the same time, our Festival has a focus on important topics: mental health, politics, climate change and we’d love an illustration that somehow reflects this (I.e. With a moodier edge, rather than being too ‘cute’).

Shannon writes: I like idea of someone sitting on a bench or a reader or sitting somewhere outside with a book? As a young child I used to climb a tree in our front garden and read for hours. My favourite book was The Secret Garden – the idea of the door to a magical place was so compelling. I also love the idea of what we are all aspiring toward – gathering together again. Caroline writes: My favourite idea is the one of adults on a bench in the countryside reading. Perhaps we could re-envisage as a group of adults and children on a bench in different postures but engrossed in books - doesn't have to be a family group and we should be a bit inclusive with some ethnic/age diversity in the people. The backdrop could be green countryside and perhaps recognisably Stroud - could it include Rodborough Fort for example? That way it's familiar and comforting and includes nature and the environment (which is great) but also leaves the way open to the Festival being more all-encompassing in its themes.

There was masses here! Loads for me to think about and ultimately what I came up with was a result of just playing with paper and drawings until I felt that something was right. The finished illustration is a product of a strange and unique time as it was created at the end of the very depressing winter lockdown 2020/21. We were all emerging from a mass hibernation and were feeling a bit strange. The only way we could escape through that winter was in a book ...preferably one which would transport us out of ourselves for a bit and give some much needed escapism. During this time, I broke the wrist and thumb of my dominant hand quite badly and was in plaster for 10 weeks. As a result, this illustration was made mostly with my left (non-dominant) hand which is why the cutting is a bit wonky!


You can read a bit more about the illustration in this article written for the Stroud Book Festival Blog by Louise Brice

Have a browse through this little gallery which shows some my developmental stages from

beginning to end...




As you can probably see, most of the bits of paper are from old books and stuff out of my recycling bin! I was also asked to create a set of smaller illustrations to be used on publicity material for the children's book festival...


If you'd like to have a go at creating an illustration in the same way, have a look at my paper dresser workshop where you can fill a decorated dresser with masses of paper china and other lovely kitchenalia! Take a look here


Any finally... here are a few pictures of how the illustration was used to advertise the events