Red Crowned Cranes

Red-crowned cranes. Grus japonensis

The Red-crowned crane is one of the rarest, largest and long lived of the worlds cranes. It is a very handsome bird with its black and white plumage and red skull cap. Their plumage was highly regarded and used as fashion accessories. In Japan they were hunted to the point of extinction  surplying the demand for the feathers for the fashion industry. They are now protected across its range including China, Japan and Korea

In far eastern cultures the Red-crowned crane is a symbol of longevity, purity, and peace and a popular subject in art. The Japanese airlines JAL uses the red-crowned crane as its logo on the tail of its planes.  Captive cranes have been known to live for up to 70 years.

The crane  is famous for the courtship dance preformed during the mating season where pairs of cranes  engage in elaborate, synchronised courtship duets. It was this idea of their courtship dance and its compositional possibilities that attracted me to attempt a painting of these birds. I was also struck by the resemblance between the visual rhythm created  as they dance with that of  musical notes on a stave.

Ink, masking fluid and tipex pen on mountboard. (2014)

British birds of prey. Series 4. The Osprey and Eagles

All images are hand drawn and coloured in Photoshop

Related topics;

1. Introduction

2. What’s your super powers?

3. We are family

4. What’s in a name?

5. Brush up your Shakespeare

6. Know your place

7. Mind your language

8. It’s tough at the top

9. The female of the species.

10. All for One & One for all.

11. The beautiful game

12. Scourge of the Roman empire

13. A legendary tale

14. Explosive tear drop

15. Poetry in motion

16. Friend or Foe

17. Strictly come Dancing

18. Keeping a tight grip

Click on images for more informtion on each raptor

My Boy Jack- Rudyard Kipling

‘My Boy Jack’ 


“HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

Rudyard Kipling

Leafs Lament. Andrew Fusek Peters.

The Leafs Lament by Andrew Fusek Peters.

Said the leaf to the sky,
I would learn how to fly,
But I’m shaking like a leaf do I dare?

Said the sky to the leaf,
It’s a matter of belief
Just jump into my blanket of air!

Then the sky sang,
Then the leaf sprang,
And the trees were empty and bare.

Illustration in Black acrylic painted with card and worked in photoshop. Image inspired by seeing a tree when walking along Englands Coastal path in Dorset. It was incredibly windswept and sheep were sheltering under it from the strong winds blowing in from the sea.

Out of School by Hal Summers

It’s the summer hols! College  term has finally finished and this poem captures fantastically well that feeling of running out of that playground gate (or office door), and knowing your time is now your own. Whether aged 11 or 51 I have never lost that feeling the only difference is I now tend to spend the first 3 days of my hol’s in bed, exhausted, and recovering from the ravages of the preceeding term.

Out of School by Hal Summers

Four 0′ clock strikes,
Theres a rising hum,
The doors fly open,
The children come.
With a wild cat-call
And a hop-scotch hop
And a bouncing ball
And a whirling top,
Grazing of knees
A hair pull and a slap,
A hitched up satchel,
A pulled down cap,
Bully boys reeling off
Hurt one sqeeling off
Aviators wheeling off,
Mousy ones stealing off,
Wollen gloves for chillblains
Cotton rags for snufflers,
Pigtails, coat-tails,
Tails of mufflers,
Machine-gun cries,
A kennel full of snarling
A hurricane of leaves,
A treeful of starlings,
Thinning away now
By some and some,
Thinning away, away,
All gone home.

Illustration; pastel

Hal Summers, was a senior British civil servant. He was private secretary to  Aneurin Bevan while he was minister of Health seeing the National Health bill through the House of Commns in 1945. He wrote verse, publishing several books of poetry during the 1940’s 50’s and 60’s.

Fear. Ciaran Carson

This is my illustrative response to a poem that I have found personally illuminating. The poem says a lot about the relentless nature of anxiety. When in an anxious state of mind there’s always something you can find to worry about. That’s my experience anyway. Drawn using wax crayon, chalk pastel and coloured in Photoshop.


I fear the vast dimensions of eternity.
I fear the gap between the platform and the train.
I fear the onset of a murderous campaign.
I fear the palpitations caused by too much tea.

I fear the drawn pistol of a rapparee.
I fear the books will not survive the acid rain.
I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane.
I fear the Jabberwock, whatever it might be.

I fear the bad decisions of a referee.
I fear the only recourse is to plead insane.
I fear the implications of a lawyer’s fee.

I fear the gremlins that have colonized my brain.
I fear to read the small print of the guarantee.
And what else do I fear? Let me begin again.

Ciaran Carson

The Pirate. Samuel Menashe

This poem by Samuel Menashe is one of the few poems I remember from my childhood. It was part of a BBC, 1970’s, radio schools poetry programme which was  accompanied by a  book  (still in my posession). We studied the poem in class when I was around 11.

When I was 44 I studied  for a Masters degree in Children’s book illustration. As a subject for my major project (dissertation)  I decided on creating illustrations for a selection of  prose, poems and songs which have the themes of menace and lament. This poem gave me the idea for the themes and was the first  I illustrated.

“I plunder the World” what 11 year old boy could forget such a line? Alas my plundering days are behind me now, but oh the memories!

Drawing, Chalk and wax crayon. Coloured in Photoshop

The Pirate by Samuel Menashe

Like a cliff
My brow hangs over
The cave of my eyes
My nose is the prow of a ship
I plunder the world