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March 30, 2020

Hi there and I hope this finds you all well, I picture you snuggled down with a cuppa ready to be visually entertained lol. Well I hope not to disappoint with the vibrant and fun artist I have in store for you today.

I’ve been following Helen Foster’s company Rollerdog for quite a while now. Helen is an Illustrator and Designer, living in Derbyshire. She is also on Instagram as rollerdogdesign. As you can probably tell, Helen, like myself, has a penchant for lovely (and often lanky) longdogs! Here’s a couple of her initial drawings.

I messaged Helen to ask her more about her company.

How did you first become interested in the Lurcher, Greyhound, Whippety dogs that you illustrate?

I’ve always been enchanted by the gentle elegance of these dogs with their supremely long snouts, and their affectionate, sweet nature really appeals to me. I had a whippet called Speedy and sort of shared our neighbour’s beautiful greyhound, Talent, who I had a deep bond with. I also love it that despite their noble appearance, they often have hilarious, tangled sleeping positions and some extremely goofy facial expressions.

I noticed that you had been inspired by some great pics of other hounds from Instagram, which helped create some of your wonderful designs. Do you have any plans to branch out into more products using antics from pet profiles online as your inspiration? Perhaps it could be a competition for a new tea towel design lol


That’s a lovely idea! I’ve run a few competitions in the past and invited folks to upload their hound photos and I was overwhelmed with the funny and touching responses. And yes, I’ve been so inspired by my Instagram feed: I love the ‘pile of whippets’ photos of @cosmicpearlwhippet, and those of your very own Boo of course! I really enjoy making a cup of tea and scrolling through the beautiful photos and incredible artwork that’s being made all over the world. 

Talking of Instagram, I’ve found happiness in the ‘creative hub’ experience of getting to know fellow creatives. As an example, a creative ‘visual conversation’ started after I made drawings based on some of @cosmicpearlshippet’s beautiful whippety flower crown photos. Jane then recreated her original photo, complete with flower crown and a handmade collar to match the collar I’d worked into my drawing, as you can see in these photos:

What is your training or business-life prior to Rollerdog Design?

I became a freelance illustrator after leaving uni in the late nineties, and carried out commissions for some wonderful and diverse clients, including educational publishing houses, charities and public sector organisations. One memorable project was to design the children’s range of packaging for Hotel Chocolat, for which I was part-paid in Turkish delight! (Don’t worry Association of Illustrators, I was paid properly in actual money too).

I love the fact that you donate to the Forever Hounds Trust. Did you choose this worth-while Charity for a specific reason?

It started with a phone call from Naomi from the charity, who’d seen my work online, and we hit it off. Afterwards I looked at the gorgeous hounds on their website and I’ve never looked back. They have a fabulous team of volunteers who rescue abused or abandoned greyhounds, lurchers and other sighthounds from all over the country.

I believe the business is more than 2 years old, is this a full-time venture for you or something that’s still developing and growing?

Answering this question reminded me that Rollerdog turned 3 in January this year, and I completely forgot to celebrate! Yes, it’s a full time venture which continues to grow. It still feels new and I don’t get bored – there are always new products to try my designs out on (some more successful than others…let’s try to forget the unfortunate saggy socks experiment of January 2020).

Cushions, Tote Bags, Cards, Coasters, Aprons, Magnets, Tea Towels and Keyrings… what’s next for Rollerdog Design?

I often get asked about producing art prints and have recently found a fab print house that produces beautiful quality prints onto a range of art papers, so I’d like to offer this as an option in my shop. I’d also like to look further into getting my work licensed so that I can spend more time making new designs (although retail that can be great fun, and not meaning to lay it on too thick but I’ve truly never had a mean customer. I receive the most touching feedback, sometimes with very sweet photos – and quite often with the hound interacting with their new Rollerdog goody in the cutest ways, as you can see in these photos, the first one giving new meaning to the term ‘doggy-bag’ !

I’m loving the new cards and would like to see more of a range of those that you can purchase separately or together with the gift selection you presently offer. Also a few more male centered doggy designs for us dog loving males too : )

I’ve been talking with my printing chap (@artistgiftprinting) who produces the cards and we’re hoping to start offering just the cards on their own in the months to come. I’m also planning to bring some other animals into the mix, such as one of my favourite mammals of all time, the beautiful but endangered pangolin. I’m also a great fan of the beautifully dinosaurial rhea and seeing a hare in the wild always gives me a jolt of happiness – and they need our help too due to the cruel sport of hare coursing.

Any other dog related businesses or Illustrators work that you follow and admire?

So many. One of my favourite artists who also happens to love sighthounds is Whyn Lewis (@whynlewispaintings). I admire the characterful drawings of J. Otto Seibold (@jottoseibold) and Marc Boutavant (@chienpourriii) and Helen Dardik (@helen_dardik) produces the most gorgeous, fun patterns and paintings. Not dog-related I know but as a lifelong Moomin lover I find the work of the wonderfully wise and funny Tove Jansson endlessly inspiring. The list could go on and on.

Many thanks Helen for your informative, amusing replies. I get a sense that you match your chirpy characters very well ; )  I recently bought four beautiful coasters which I admire everytime I make a cuppa, which as were all in home isolation right now.. is quite often these days lol. How fab are these ? You can purchase anything from Rollerdog’s great range of gifts here and tell Helen I sent you : ).

Stay Safe everyone, I’m thinking of you all.

The times they are a changing !

March 23, 2020

Hi everyone, welcome to a strange time for one and all of us. I don’t want to dwell on what’s happening, nor make any particular comments as the media is filled with these already.  Sometimes, I think that it’s important to be able to find places of calm, when online too, where you are free to visit and wander without being bombarded with reminders of the world outside or the writer’s personal politics. I hope Fishinkblog is one of these places for us all.

I wanted to remind everyone that Fishinkblog has now been going for 10 years, which means there’s 10 whole years of blogposts to drift back through and read.. all 1,250 of them !!! Plenty for even the most bored of readers to contemplate !

You can look for specific names or topics using the search function box on the right of the blog, or if you like (for example) Midcentury work, then scroll down to the section headed

“Mid century Artists Posts on Fishinkblog”

and you’ll find a list of what or who has been covered there to date. I also thought that today I’d pick out a few artists, whose sites I’ve enjoyed visiting over the years, or simply work that has made me smile for one reason or another. I hope they flow out and bring amusement to you too. Do (as ever) please leave a comment and let me know.

Let’s start with the stunning work of Claire Ireland and her ceramic beasts.

Image result for claire ireland fishinkblog

Vriad Lee, these needle felted animals are so wonderfully serene.

Michael Sowa, I adore his little characters off on their day to day adventures. Wouldn’t they make a great animation.

Some sixties illustration from married artists John Ross and Clare Romano.

Fishinkblog 6740 John Ross & Clare Romano Ross 20

Fishinkblog 6724 John Ross & Clare Romano Ross 3a

Cartoon cookery illustration from Bill Charmatz.

Fishinkblog 7610 Bill Charmatz 12

A sense of wonderment and tranqility from Joey Chou.


Well behaved pooches by Christian Robinson.

Fishinkblog 7954 Christian Robinson 9

Beautiful scenic drawing from John Minton.

Or a little nature studies by Peter Donnelly.

Fishinkblog 8259 Peter Donnelly 9

Finally some sunny and summery illustrations from Paul Evans.

Fishinkblog 9277 Paul Evans 8

Just look at that yellow.. wow !

Fishinkblog 9278 Paul Evans 9

Needless to say there’s so much enjoyment to be had by losing yourself in another artists world for an hour. Grab a cuppa, sit yourself down and recharge your imagination and your smile cells !!  Thanks for accompanying me on my own continued journey and I hope you are staying safe, being kind and keeping well.

Zoe Stainton Marvelously Mad March Hares

March 16, 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to a rather special and rather beautiful return to the Mad March Hare. I spotted these guys recently doing their crazy boxing and looking rather splendid in the early morning /evening glows.

They reminded me of the work I’d seen a while ago at one of the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fairs, by Embroiderer and Needle Felting Artist, Zoe Stainton.

I tracked down Zoe’s site ( and asked her a few quick questions.

Hi Zoe, where did your knowledge and love of embroidery originate from ?

HI Craig, I am self taught in Felting and embroidery. I was actually originally trained in Ceramics B.A & M.A at U.W.I.C, Cardiff.

How did you first get inspired to create the animals you do ?

I suppose it was the natural thing to do , living in Holmfirth and surrounded by beautiful landscape and wildlife I was simply inspired by what’s around me.

Your pieces are wonderfully realistic, do you ever surprise yourself by thinking there is a Fox or Badger when you enter your studio room ?

I think the very nature and qualities of needle felting means you can create life-like animals. Although my latest ideas are leading me down the path of more experimental use of textiles and using printing within the piece.

What is the most common reaction when people see your work ? Any unusual responses ?

People love the fact they are realistic and very tactile. They are sometimes surprised by the fact the eyes are all felted and not glass and that they are so light in weight.

When you see the animals up close you can appreciate the intricate work that helps make them so realistic. Such lovely details.

How long would it take you to create a large Hare and is each one different in it’s own way from previous Hares ?

It can take me around two weeks to create a larger piece. Yes they are all unique which I love. The layering of colour and stitching is difficult to replicate and that is not my intention. Each piece has its own unique presence and character.

Are there more animals that you are thinking of introducing into your range and if so what are they ? I personally would love to see some red squirrels and hedgehogs : )

I’m currently working on some new ideas through drawing, something I need to do more of. I’m firstly looking at making an urban and rural fox incorporating textile elements. I also want to explore the idea of mother & daughter bonds , experiment with textiles and printing onto textiles which can be used in my pieces.

Any plans for other gift products, greeting cards or gift wrap featuring your animals would be lovely too ?

A lot to do but I’m very enthused and excited about pushing my work forward.

Thanks Zoe for the insight into your beautiful work. We will certainly be watching this space for more animals coming along in the year ahead. In the meantime you can also catch Zoe on Instagram (@zoestaintonsculpture).

If you liked this post check out the work of Mister Finch too.

Clarke Hutton Mid century Illustration

March 9, 2020

Stanley Clarke Hutton was born in Stoke Newington, London, on 14 November 1898, son of Harold Clarke Hutton, a solicitor, and his wife Ethel, née Clark.

In 1916 he became assistant stage designer at the Empire Theatre.

About a decade later he took a trip to Italy, which inspired him to become a fine artist. In 1927 he joined the lithography class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. He studied under A.S Hartrick, replacing him in 1930-1968 as the instructor in lithography.

As soon as he took up his post, Hutton began to experiment with using the autolitho technique for book illustration. His aim was to develop a process that would make it possible to produce affordable, colour illustrated books for children. Here’s a few of the covers he created.

For many different publishers and on a wide variety of subjects.

This is the story of Noah.

He later worked with Noel Carrington at Penguin Books to develop the Picture Puffin imprint.

He used the same technique on Oxford University Press’ Picture History series. He illustrated about 50 books in all, for publishers in the UK and USA.

The Story of Tea.

Wartime in Britain.

Life in other parts of the globe.

Also some of his geometric work from the sixties.

A more Surrealist feel.

His paintings, figures and lanscapes, were widely exhibited.  He died in Westminster in 1984.

Leaflet promotions by London County Council.

Such a wealth of talent, don’t you agree ?

Any images that grabbed your attention today ?

Evaline Ness American Mid Century Illustrator Part 2

March 2, 2020

Welcome back to part 2 of my post about the life and work of Evaline Ness (April 24, 1911 – August 12, 1986). Please look back one post to see part 1.

Evaline was noted for her ability to work in a variety of media and her innovative and unique illustrations that interweaved text and pictures to create a story that captured a young child’s attention and imagination.

This talent is especially evident in her own written works with their girl protagonists and subtle stories that have a backdrop of ‘feminism’ and present ‘real’ characters learning about all of life’s pleasures, problems, and pains. Because printer’s ink is flat, Evalines’ constant concern was how to get texture into that flatness. The primary challenge in illustrating children’s books, she believed, was how to maintain freedom within limitation. Some of the techniques she has used to combat these limitations include woodcut, serigraphy, rubber-roller technique, ink splattering, and sometimes spitting.

Her first illustrations for publication in a children’s book were for Story of Ophelia by Mary J. Gibbons (Doubleday, April 1954) —using “charcoal, crayon, ink, pencil and tempera”. Not, I feel, her finest hour illustration-wise !

Kirkus Reviews said, “Evaline Ness’ colour pictures of elongated, human-looking animals express in their flimsiness, a searching quality.”

Evaline considers her illustration career to have officially begun in 1957 when Mary Cosgrove, editor at Houghton Mifflin, approached her with the manuscript for The Bridge by Charlton Ogburn. Jr. Originally, Ness refused the offer, thinking the profit would not produce enough income for her to live on. Cosgrove persisted and eventually Evaline agreed. She used offset printing techniques for the production of The Bridge. Ness pushed her silkscreen illustrations beyond the page margins and integrated text outside strict boundaries. The Bridge received much acclaim and Ness decided to leave commercial illustration and only focus on book illustration. In the following years, Ness’s use of mixed media and experimental materials garnered accumulated attention from a wide audience.

According to Charles Bayless at the bookshop Through the Magic Door, the 1960s were a time of experiment in illustration for children, with some fashion for “drawings with sharp, angular figures, muted colors and representational or cartoon-like styles”, which helped Evaline to thrive. “Macaroon” from 1962 shows this to be true.

The first story Evaline both wrote and illustrated was “Josefina February” (Scribners, 1963), after visiting Haiti for one year. It was set in Haiti, about a girl’s search for a lost burro, with a series of woodcuts.

Evaline was known for her variety of styles and techniques in her artwork.

Look at the many different styles here in some examples from her illustrations.

There’s a rich diversity in her work, perhaps that helped make her art so desireable to publishers.

I still am really drawn to the more simplistic two or three colour work.

Here’s a few examples of her magazine work from the early fifties.

Her three Caldecott Honor Books were published 1963 to 1965: All in the Morning Early by Sorche Nic Leodhas, A Pocketful of Cricket by Rebecca Caudill, and Tom Tit Tot: An English Folk Tale retold by Virginia Haviland.  She herself wrote the Caldecott-winning Sam, Bangs and Moonshine (1966), about a fisherman’s daughter, illustrated with line and wash drawings. “Sam” (Samantha) tells lies or “moonshine”, which finally endanger her pet cat “Bangs” and a neighbor boy; she learns responsibility for what she says. (see post 1 for illustrations).

Late in life Evaline experimented with cut-out colouring books such as Four Rooms From The Metropolitan Museum of Art To Cut Out and Color (1977).

Her last illustrated book was The Hand-Me-Down Doll by Steven Kroll (1983) —using pencil, watercolor, ink and charcoal.

Evaline died in 1986 in Kingston, New York, then a resident of Palm Beach, Florida. What a colourful life and a talented artist.

Evaline Ness American Mid Century Illustrator Part 1

February 24, 2020

Evaline Ness (April 24, 1911 – August 12, 1986) was an American commercial artist, illustrator, and author of children’s books. She illustrated more than thirty books for young readers and wrote several of her own. She is noted for using a great variety of artistic media and methods.

As illustrator of picture books she was one of three Caldecott Medal runners-up each year from 1964 to 1966 and she won the 1967 Medal for Sam, Bangs and Moonshine, which she also wrote. In 1972 she was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s illustrators.

Great mix of printed patterns and pen and ink to create both texture and depth.

Evaline was born Evaline Michelow in Union City, Ohio and grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. As a child she illustrated her older sister’s stories with collages cut from magazine pictures. She studied at Ball State Teachers College 1931–32 to become a librarian, then at Chicago Art Institute 1933–35 to become a fashion illustrator. For a while she was also a fashion model.

She adopted and retained the name of her second husband Eliot Ness, married 1939 to 1945. She had previously married one McAndrew, and she married engineer Arnold A. Bayard in 1959, who survived her.

In 1938 Eliot Ness was already famous as a former United States Treasury agent. (As leader of a legendary team nicknamed “The Untouchables” he had worked to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois.) Now he was the recently divorced Safety Director for the city of Cleveland, Ohio, with a new team of Untouchables (men who cannot be bribed). By April 1939, when he cleaned up the Mayfield Road Gang, Ness and Evaline McAndrew were an item in Cleveland, where she was a fashion illustrator at Higbee’s department store. After their marriage (October 14), they remained an item because she would “keep house—and her job”, and because they went out with a female bodyguard for Evaline. A friend of the couple once said that “Evaline liked being Eliot’s wife when he was a famous and influential public official. She liked his prominence, power and fame. He loved her, no question about that. He always called her ‘Doll’.” After a 1942 scandal ruined his standing in Cleveland, the Nesses moved to Washington late that year. Evaline studied at the Corcoran College of Art and Design 1943–45 and taught art classes for children there.

After divorce she moved to New York City and worked 1946 to 1949 at Saks Fifth Avenue as a fashion illustrator.

Around 1950 she traveled to Europe and Asia, concluding in Italy, where she spent 18 months sketching until her money ran out. I

In Rome she studied at Accademia de Belle Arti 1951–52. Back in the United States, Ness found no work in San Francisco, so returned to New York and “assignments doing fashion, advertising and editorial art”. At some point she studied with the Art Students League and she taught art to children at Parsons The New School for Design 1959–60.

Check back in to check out part 2 of Evaline’s story next monday.

The Sun

February 17, 2020

I thought it might be fun to warm ourselves up in this chilly month and learn a few facts about the Sun. For instance, did you know…

The Sun accounts for 99.86% of the mass in the solar system.

It has a mass of around 330,000 times that of Earth. It is three quarters hydrogen and most of its remaining mass is helium.

One day the Sun will consume the Earth.

The Sun will continue to burn for about 130 million years after it burns through all of its hydrogen, instead burning helium. During this time it will expand to such a size that it will engulf Mercury, Venus, and Earth. When it reaches this point, it will have become a red giant star.

The Sun is almost a perfect sphere.

Considering the sheer size of the Sun, there is only a 10 km difference in its polar and equatorial diameters – this makes it the closest thing to a perfect sphere observed in nature.

The Sun is travelling at 220 km per second.

It is around 24,000-26,000 light-years from the galactic centre and it takes the Sun approximately 225-250 million years to complete one orbit of the centre of the Milky Way.

The Sun will eventually be about the size of Earth.

Once the Sun has completed its red giant phase, it will collapse. It’s huge mass will be retained, but it will have a volume similar to that of Earth. When that happens, it will be known as a white dwarf.

It takes eight minutes for light reach Earth from the Sun.

The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is about 150 million km. Light travels at 300,000 km per second so dividing one by the other gives you 500 seconds – eight minutes and twenty seconds. This energy can reach Earth in mere minutes, but it takes millions of years to travel from the Sun’s core to its surface.

The Sun is halfway through its life.

At 4.5 billion years old, the Sun has burned off around half of its hydrogen stores and has enough left to continue burning hydrogen for another 5 billion years. Currently the Sun is a yellow dwarf star.

The distance between Earth and Sun changes.

This is because the Earth travels on a elliptical orbit path around the Sun. The distance between the two ranges from 147 to 152 million km. This distance between them is one Astronomical Unit (AU). Deep in the sun’s core, nuclear fusion converts hydrogen to helium, which generates energy. Particles of light called photons carry this energy through a spherical shell called the radiative zone to the top layer of the solar interior, the convection zone. There, hot plasmas rise and fall like the ooze in a lava lamp, which transfers energy to the sun’s surface, called the photosphere.

It can take 170,000 years for a photon to complete its journey out of the sun, but once it exits, it zips through space at more than 186,000 miles a second. Solar photons reach Earth about eight minutes after they’re freed from the sun’s interior, crossing an average of 93 million miles to get here.

The Sun rotates in the opposite direction to Earth

with the Sun rotating from west to east instead of east to west like Earth.

The Sun rotates more quickly at its equator

than it does close to its poles. This is known as differential rotation.

The Sun has a powerful magnetic field.

When magnetic energy is released by the Sun during magnetic storms, solar flares occur which we see on Earth as sunspots. Sunspots are dark areas on the Sun’s surface caused by magnetic variations. The reason they appear dark is due to their temperature being much lower than surrounding areas.

Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius.

Energy is generated through nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core – this is when hydrogen converts to helium – and because objects generally expand, the Sun would explode like an enormous bomb if it wasn’t for it’s tremendous gravitational pull.

The Sun generates solar winds.

These are ejections of plasma (extremely hot charged particles) that originate in the layer of the Sun know as the corona and they can travel through the solar system at up to 450 km per second. In addition to light, the sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind. The wind blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) a second throughout the solar system, extending the sun’s magnetic field out more than 10 billion miles. Every so often, a patch of particles will burst from the sun in a solar flare, which can disrupt satellite communications and knock out power on Earth.

The atmosphere of the Sun is composed of three layers:

the photosphere, the chromosphere, and the corona.

The Sun is classified as a yellow dwarf star.

It is a main sequence star with surface temperatures between 5,000 and 5,700 degrees celsius (9,000 and 10,300 degrees fahrenheit).  The label “yellow” is misleading, though, since our sun burns a bright white. On Earth, the sun can take on warmer hues, especially at sunrise or sunset, because our planet’s atmosphere scatters blue and green light the most.

Here’s a few I made earlier.

And one more retro sun to keep this little chap warm. The Sun… we simply wouldn’t be here without it !

Many thanks to the many illustrative contributors today and the fabulous sun facts from The and National

Did you learn anything here today that surprised you ?