Thursday 28 February 2013

A bird talks to Tibert the cat

A bird talks to Tibert the cat, an illustration by JVL, in Reynard the Fox, Abelard Schuman, 1969

Wednesday 27 February 2013

A Yak driving a truck

A Yak driving a truck, an illustration by JVL from The Truck on the Track by Janet Burroway, Jonathan Cape, 1970.

This was the first children's picture book I illustrated.

Tuesday 26 February 2013

The Old Woman

'The Old Woman', an illustration by JVL in Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset
Edito-Service Geneva, 1975.

Monday 25 February 2013

Trendy and economical interiors of 1970 and 1965

'Building a Shoestring Room', illustration by JVL, Sunday Times, 1970

'One room plan for one family', illustration by JVL, House Beautiful, 1965.

These were the type of 'bread and butter' illustrations I did on a regular basis during the 1960s up to 1970.

Sunday 24 February 2013

'For hours and hours they let it cook', The Giant Jam Sandwich

'For hours and hours they let it cook', an illustration from The Giant Jam Sandwich
story and illustrations by JVL and set to verse by Janet Burroway, Jonathan Cape, 1972.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Humpty Dumpty's fall and Humpty Dumpty screaming

' this moment a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end' 

an illustration by JVL in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.
'Humpty Dumpty raised his voice almost to a scream', 

an illustration by JVL in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.

Friday 22 February 2013

Fragments of a Fish Tale

'Fragments of a Fish Tale', a drawing by JVL, 1993.

It is a tale about a fish who leaves a tower, which, unbeknown to him, is situated within a fish bowl. He walks with the aid of prosthetic legs and eventually jumps out of a window from the tower only to land into another a fish bowl.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Survival of the Fittest

'Survival of the Fittest', an illustration by JVL; a publicity calendar page for Saxon Artists, 1969

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Crocodile and Fishes

The Crocodile and Fishes, an illustration by JVL in Lewis Carroll's  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Artists' Choice Editions, 2009

This is a wonderful example of metaphorical hypocrisy in one of Lewis Carroll's poems.

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
Wth gently smiling jaws.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Grendel, from 'Beowulf'

'Grendel', an illustration by JVL from British Myths and Legends 
(edited and introduced by Richard Barber), The Folio Society, 1998.

This is an illustration from Beowulf, a 10th century English poem.

'This gruesome creature was called Grendel, 
notorious prowler of the borderland, ranger of the moors,
the fen and the fastness; this cursed creature'...

'Then under cover of night, Grendel came
to Hrothgar's lofty hall' ...

Monday 18 February 2013

'An Old Man in a Barge'

'An Old Man in a Barge', an illustration by JVL in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear
Jonathan Cape, 1984 and republished in 2012.

There was an Old Man in a barge,
Whose nose was exceedingly large;
But in fishing at night, it supported a light,
Which helped that Old Man in a barge.

Sunday 17 February 2013

Friday 15 February 2013

'Texture' (a lot of writing)

'Texture'  -  lot of writing, written on a large ledger by JVL

In 2007 I produced this image below, entitled 'Texture'. It is a lot of  writing, written on a very large ledger, revealing the word 'DRAWING' in carefully contrived gaps in the writing.

'D-Day for decimal currency'

'D-Day for decimal currency', an illustration by JVL for Saxon Artists Ltd, 1971.

This illustration was one among several that illustrators carried out for our agent Saxon Artists, to mark the occasion when decimal currency was introduced in 1971. Pounds and pence gave way to pounds, shillings and pence or £sd. The arithmetical consequences of the change were made much easier when decimal currency was introduced. In the old days there were 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. 
As illustrators , before 1971, we were always paid in guineas (one guinea = £1 and 1 shilling).

Thursday 14 February 2013

The Wolf and Lamb

'The Wolf and the Lamb', an illustration by JVL in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.

The setting for this illustration is the entrance to the lane where I have lived for the past 42 years.

It is a fable by Phaedrus about a wolf who is determined to gobble up a lamb. He tries to find a pretext for doing so by claiming that the lamb had muddied the water in a stream when he was drinking from it. The lamb tells him that he was drinking downstream to the wolf and therefore it wasn't possible that he was muddying the water. The wolf then complained that the lamb had been grazing on his patch of ground, whereupon the lamb said this was not possible either, since he was still at the stage of drinking from his mother's milk only. The wolf, fed up with the lamb's justifications, decides to kill him and devour him anyway. 

The fable is appropriate to those who invent false charges by way of oppressing the innocent.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Leslie Cole

Two drawings of Leslie Cole by JVL, 1967

When I started teaching at Brighton Art College in the early 1960s I shared a drawing class with Leslie Cole (1910-1976). Leslie was something of a mentor to me in those days, giving me advice about teaching and always enthusiastic. He was a Second World War Artist of some distinction, whose work, in my opinion, isn't sufficiently recognised. He often told me stories of his experiences at that time.  In 1945 he was among the first war artists, along with Mervyn Peake, to observe, and draw, the atrocities in Belsen. An excellent book about his life, with many reproductions of his paintings, has been written by Malcolm Yorke, entitled The Artistry of Leslie Cole, published by the Fleece Press in 2010.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Castelmola, Sicily

Sketch of Castelmola in Sicily by JVL, 2009.

The written material on the left hand page includes daily timings when illustrating Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.

Monday 11 February 2013

'Head of a Sorrowful Woman' and a sketch by LS Lowry

'Head of a Sorrowful Woman', a drawing by JVL, 1957

My father had a bakery and confectionery shop in Glossop and it also had a café upstairs. A regular diner there was the artist LS Lowry, who lived in Mottram not far away. When I was an art student, studying at Salford School of Art, I met Lowry quite often in the shop and I had many a chat with him, mostly about music. He loved the bel canto repertoire, particularly the operas of Vincenzo Bellini. At one time I had an exhibition of my student work in my father's café and Lowry took a great interest in this particular drawing.

A sketch by LS Lowry drawn at Lord's Café, Glossop, on the 6th of December 1960.

I once asked 'Mr Lowry' what painting he was working on at the time. He had just finished a meal of  chicken salad, followed by apple tart and custard and many cups of tea, as was his wont. He told me that he was considering doing a painting of an entrance to a Yorkshire town (it may have been Huddersfield). You could get early Filofaxes from Chisholm's, a stationer's shop in Kingsway in London at the time and Lowry asked me for a piece of paper and something to draw with to explain what he was working on. I tore out a Filofax sheet of paper from my diary and handed over my Rapidograph. He then scribbled this drawing at great speed talking all the while. It is probably a unique drawing for Lowry to have drawn with such an instrument and on Filofax paper. When he signed it, he said, "You never know it may be worth something one of these days".

Lowry was forever leaving his walking sticks in my father's shop and his tweed suits often had an faint smell of turpentine.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Still Life with Colander and Beans

Still Life with Colander and Beans, a drawing (after William Scott) by JVL, c 1990s.

This is a parody of  a painting by William Scott (1913-1989) jokingly dated 1648 and with the intentional  misspelling of colander in the title. This drawing was one of a series but I have lost the others. For me William Scott's still-life paintings are absolutely sublime.

Saturday 9 February 2013

The Shed at Twynberllan

'The Shed at Twynberllan', a drawing in a notebook by JVL, 2012.
This is a shed at the home at one of my daughter's family home.

Friday 8 February 2013

A blown-out candle

A blown-out candle, an illustration by JVL from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Artists' Choice Editions, 209.

'And she [Alice] tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing'.

Thursday 7 February 2013

An Old Man who said , "Well!"

'An Old Man who said , "Well!"'  - an illustration by JVL from The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984 and reissued 2012.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Ars Long Vita Brevis

'Ars Longs Vita Brevis', an illustration by JVL for John Arden's play in The Radio Times, 1964.

Tuesday 5 February 2013


'Scorpio', a Zodiac illustration by JVL for 'Starscope' in Honey magazine, 1965.

Monday 4 February 2013

Jabotí, a flute-playing tortoise

'Jabotí, a flute-playing tortoise', an illustration by JVL in Adventures of Jabotí on the Amazon
by Lena F. Hurlong, Abelard Schuman, 1968.

I had been illustrating for 7 years before I was commissioned by Klaus Flugge (now of Andersen Press) to illustrate my first children's book in 1968. This was a collection of fables about an ingenious flute-playing tortoise called Jabotí, who outwitted the larger creatures of the jungle, such as jaguars and crocodiles.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Saturday 2 February 2013

Nude Descending a Staircase

'Nude Descending a  Staircase or The Bridgroom Stripped Bare by His Spinsters Even', 
an odd drawing by JVL, 1991.

Friday 1 February 2013

The Old Person of Woking

'The Old Person of Woking', an illustration by JVL in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear
Jonathan Cape, 1984 and reissued in 2012.

There was an Old Person of Woking,
Whose mind was perverse and provoking;
He sate on a rail, with his head in a pail,
That illusive Old Person of Woking.