Simon can drawSimon can drawLogo perhaps ..


Little Fee - PhenellaLittle Fee - PhenellaSketchbook page.. but it so sums her up.

Words Pictures and Cats 

Families First Workshop

April 05, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The collaborative exhibition includes the work of the young people who access Families First.

Naughty Dog and Mandascat were to facilitate a workshop to generate some 3D artworks with the participants.

After the exhibition is over these 3D artworks would adorn the 'Beach Room'.

I remembered from the first meeting with Nicola (from Families First)  that she had said they liked sharks. 

So sharks it would be!

Taxidermy Shark Heads! 

I had to practise making one, to break it down into manageable chunks.  To me its so important that all the young people are able to complete and be successful, nobody wants to feel they cant do something!  However I did also want to do make something with a little challenge.  

I started with breaking the shark into its simplest form, so I could piece it together to make a 3D form from the 2D shape.

Shark Templates Flat fish!

I started with a paper shape, the white one, you can see the many lines I drew whilst working out the shape. 

Here it is in action.

The First Born Shark This would also make a great hand puppet template too! Here is the final refined template, that the Shark School used!  Cute Shark Template

This shape was then cut out of foam and paper mache was added to give it some strength.  This would also give it a good surface to paint.

Naked Shark 1 Naked Shark 2

This involved lots to glue and recycled materials. 

School of Sharks

Then the paint and eyes where added.  I have to thank Families First for their fabulous collection of eyes.

They really made the sharks come to life...  I was seriously jealous of their tub of eyeballs... 

Shark Head One Shark Head

Shark Head Shark Head Shark Head Shark eats bottle

All completed in about 4 hours over two days. 

Shark School was complete!

Both myself and Diane loved the experience of working with these young people - they were such fun, and so engaging.

The people who work their are very special people and have such an amazing relationships with the young people. 

I have to say I would work with them again - especially Nicola and Demi - such energy to give to everyone!

I feel very honoured to have been a visitor to their nest!! 

I got to say a big thanks to Families First - So I hope Lisa, Nicola and Demi get to read this!  You are all the best!!! 


New Ideas

March 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Submarine Ideas ... 

But what is it for .... ?? 

A collaboration with @whaleycleverdesigns !


Sub ideasSub ideas

Sub ideas and port holeSub ideas and port hole

After the quick sketches, I redrew and scanned in my ideas.

Once on the computer I could place them in the correct positions.... 

However I am still not telling you what they are going to be for?


Back of SeatCat Wave

SeatShark bites I am getting excited! 

Hope this one comes off!! 

Ideas for the Young Peoples Fishy Workshops

March 10, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Workshop ideas....

Continuing with the Fishy theme, I am starting to develop my ideas for the workshops with the young people.

I am going to make an example to take with me, to show them and help them visualise what they could make.

So I really need to start saving old paper/plastic bags and newspapers.

My starting point for any idea, starts with drawings...  

My first thought was 'COD HEADS', hence the cod drawings.


These drawings have been quickly scanned in from my sketchbook. 

They are sort reference drawings so I can understand the form of the Cod.  Form is really about the shape, because these drawings are potentially going to inform a 3D outcome.  There is a clue in these drawings too.. I havent drawn the whole fish.. only sections of the body of the fish - I must not be interested in the centre section of the fish?

Once I had completed these sketches, I asked myself if the young people would really find a Cod interesting, just because I do?  So I did a little more research and found a more 'scary' or unusual fish. 

I had a light bulb moment! 

 Now I am going to see if I can include a light in this one - this is how ideas start. I think once finished he might look cool in my office.... 

So this is the fish I am going to make! Anglerfish Light this fish up!


So I am excited about making this now!! 

My eye is on Howard's flexible light on his desk!  

See you next time ..

Fred AFred AFred Anglerfish lighting the way!


Ideas are flowing in the North Sea ....

March 04, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I have been drawing and drawing!!

A little snow drift, gave me some extra time to indulge myself!  I have been thinking about work, that appeals to both young people and adults.  So I have decided I will create two different styles of art work to appeal hopefully, to both.  Work that could be rehomed with a loving family.  I am thinking that it could be cool to raffle a drawing  to support Families First.  I will need to discuss that idea with them?  

Not being able to put work directly on walls is a bit of a problem for me, so I am hoping to create a couple of long 'lenght's' of print to hang from the ceiling.  I will need to discuss the space also with the Naughty Dog, she may want to do the same.  

I continued drawing the Jellies (Jellyfish inspired by the Lions Mane Jellyfish) .. however they became increasingly more elaborate and decorative.  I can certainly see them as prints, but not necessary a narrative illustration.  I think a set of them might be good.  I have made two.. but I think there are more 'Jellies waiting to come out!'.  See what you think of them?

Outline Jelly 3Outline Jelly 3The drawing before the colour fill Jelly 3Jelly 3Based on the Lions Mane Jellyfish... larger than a blue whale when fully grown! Jelly Fish 2Jelly Fish 2Merry-go-Round Jellie

I was going to try and create a Octopus in the same manner .. but it didnt quiet work?

Hes far too funky! I will use him for the narrative piece of work?

EddieEddie OLet me introduce you to EDDIE O


However Eddie didnt resolve my other idea for a 'hartlepool themed underwater scene' for the narrative lenght!  This has caused me some problems!

 What is it going to be about?  

As I intend to include my sketchbook in the exhibition - you can take a look and see my struggles... 

However finally after some research on the submerged forest ... I finally decided what to do ... Its a rough sketch.  Quick drawings are the best to let your ideas out, and develop.  So they are allowed to look unfinished.  At the top of the image are iconic local scenery, well to me.. the light house, the cranes on the headland, windmills in distance, and the Steel works!  It will also include few seagulls, which I like very much, the local trouble makers!! A fishing boat on the top of the water, and perhaps on his lobster pot or fishing line - some unexpected catches!  Which I think also need to include a monkey and a stag and perhaps a wild boar... I will see as it develops.  However  this idea still needs some work on the composition (layout) to make it stronger visually.  

Take a look and see what you think?  (happy for suggestions?) 



New news - Its confirmed and dates have been set!

February 24, 2018  •  Leave a Comment



Mandascat and Naughty Dog

Its official the Cats and Dogs are working together!

Two fun filled fishy days of activity for the young people at Families First!  

I am going to make some examples of 3D fish to take with me... so perhaps that's another blog post!  With the dogs on board aka Diane, this could be some real opportunities for recycling of found rubbish from our coast line.  You should check out Naughty Dog on Facebook!

Meanwhile I  have been drawing and drawing .. and developing some ideas.

Ideas ... I am thinking of a large scale image to hang in the large space of One77, which would feature an underwater scene.  However I got rather excited about Jelly Fish.  Did did you know that a Jelly that visits our North East coast can grow bigger than a blue whale? 

Its called the Lion's Mane Jellyfish.  So I have focused sometime on this jelly!!  Not sure what I am going to do with the Jellies when I am finished with them... but they could be a design for chair in collaboration with "Whaley Clever Designs!", waiting to discuss this with Lynn.  She has indicated that we have enough time to get a chair finished if I can get my designs for the chair completed quickly!  So this means the chair is my first priority!  

Take a look at them as they develop....

Two Jellies

Lions Mane Jellyfish

My Plan as it stands

  1. complete a design for a chair
  2. create a series of paper hanging underwater scenes 
  3. create smaller individual images for sale 
  4. make a 3D example for the workshop
  5. keep blogging

Lets see how I get on with my plan!

That's all for now folks!

Something fishy is going on ....

February 16, 2018  •  Leave a Comment




Cat Shark It would have to be the first image.... Mandascat is super excited! having just visited Families First North East to discuss a potential project.

A project to engage a little art exhibition and workshops for young people who visit One77.  

Its a fantastic place for so many people, I am proud to be involved with them!! 

I aka Mandascat, will also be potentially collaborating with Naughty Dog and Whaley Clever Designs on 'Something fishy!

As the project is really still in the conception stage I thought it would be a good idea to log my progress through to the fishy finish!!

Immediately on my return I contacted the Whales to organise something upholstered and the Dogs for some environmental marine art.. what a team we will make!  At this initial stage they are all on-board!! 

What should cats draw ...   research first, North Sea, Sea Creatures ... wow!  Our sea is a wealth of amazing creatures, something we should try and preserve.  Both the Whales (Whaley Clever Designs) and (Naughty Dog) Dogs are dedicated to marine preservation in different ways.  I will get them to add a little about themselves as the project develops.

My research led to my first sketches of ideas ... 



The first drawing is a continuous line drawing, I like to do these to understand the shape and form and to add movement.  Then I draw the character from this practice.  The second drawing is my interpretation of a Cat Shark.  This one has eyelashes, I remove them in the final drawing, as I felt he needed to have more menace. 

So my ideas are racing at this moment - a seascape and some cod heads are my first thoughts!! However the Upholstery will take the longest to create and time will run out like sand, so I need to focus on a design for this first!

I am off now to explore whales.....


Hanging Baskets Inspiration

August 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

My inspiration has been from my own hand this time....

I made up some hanging baskets to match the new paint scheme on the house - purple not everyone's taste! 

I really felt the baskets made sense of the paint scheme, if a little seasonal. 

So I started drawing my own baskets.  I love them and I love the whole street, its covered in floral tributes to life on the headland.

It was easy to start drawing them, and even thou I had been unwell this really cheered me up.

So next came the art work....

Hanging basket with BEESHanging basket with BEESSave the BEES .... an improved edit ... Orange Flowers with BeesOrange Flowers with Bees

I couldnt resist bringing these images into our home, bringing the outside inside... and look what happened...

Hanging Basket with Bees RugHanging Basket with Bees Rug Hanging Basket Rug and Cushion #forsaleHanging Basket Rug and Cushion #forsaleMandas cats testing the rug for smooth softness to the paw...

This one is for my newly decorated dressing room... finally after about 6 years of waiting action has started to happen in the house and decorating mania has taken over... 

They can be purchased on my online shop -  or you can find it from my shopping link on this website.

It has been a big hit with the furry people especially the little black one Fee.  Now to keep the cats of them!


On the Doorstep

March 18, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Look where I have been today!

the visitThe Visit Subsea 7 Kestrel

Parked up - two streets down from my home was this amazing vessel - the Kestrel.  She looked to me, magnificent, but I had no idea, how magnificent!!

I started drawing her, she was nested across from some fantastic historical home's on the Headland's town wall, -  an amazing juxtaposition of old and new, and incredible shapes.  I was just caught up in making sure the 'colour's worked', and how superficial would I realise that was, once I heard all about her and her special crew.  

kestrel Subsea 7 Kestrel Hartlepool Port

I was very pleased with her, but I had nobody to share her with, who would appreciate her, - perhaps the owners I thought, and started googling.

Subsea 7, are a huge international company involved in the Gas and Oil industries - through the wifi I sent my image to them, not expecting a reply. One  amazing and responsive company - Julie replied in minutes, and the next thing I was invited on the kestrel.  That's when my life started to feel small - as John the Off Shore Manger, and Rob (local to Hartlepool) the Vessel Superintendent started to explain to me her job!

Its all about the divers!! The Divers The Divers live here! This is where they may live for up to 28 days, on board the ship, and leaving to go to work under the water to do a six hour shift. Its a tiny space with all the gases piped in.  I think John explained it took up to 12 days depending on the depth they were working at to come back up to breath ordinary air and  leave the capsule.  Everything on board was about them and their job and their safety.  I felt like I was on board a space ship going to the moon.  The space theme continued throughout.

John Explaining How much pressure? Lots of valves, dials and stuff from the Starship Enterprise - EVERYWHERE!

John is trying to explain the very basics to me - I am constantly astounded!!

This is the Captains Log!! He is the outright boss on board, and again its all about safety.  He was happily talking about the days before technological advances and posting letters home!  

Then Rob insisted we went up onto the helipad!! 

Where I liveWoah! The view was amazing.  This is a rare sight, I will probably never see this view again, in my lifetime.

Kestrel Helipad view


Thank you everyone - Subsea 7 - Julie, John, Rob and THE CAPTAIN!!  


Local Industry

March 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Local Industry

Everyday driving to work, I am surrounded by the most amazing structures... Coupled with amazing skies and lightening effects, I have a had a big desire to draw them.  So finally, I have gotten around to making some studies and taking some photographs.  All the time I am thinking  film set, never mind blade runner - this is the place for a sci-fi!! 

It was a beautiful day and walk was reminding me not to sit too long in my house drawing but get out here and sketch. Especially as the structures I was looking at are alien to me, I dont really understand what any of them are or do! 

This is a Blind Continuous Line Drawing - with only a bit of cheating - i.e you are not supposed to take the pen off the paper or look at the paper... Those experts out there will know - I cheated a bit and looked and took my pen off the paper!! But only a bit!!


Star Wars Big Crane things

I should really colour this one - its such fun.

However I went on to make drawings from the photos rather scratchy in places, especially when I am just not sure what is going on!! Can you see which bit this is on the final image... - no prizes as yet!

Bit at Bottom of Crane Side of river with stuff ...

I then went on to do this ...  TeesmouthTeesmouthOrange Sky's

Which I love to bits!!  The sea grass was a later edition after my husband insisted it should have some nature in the foreground.  I had to agree - this is what is so fascinating - we are in the middle of a nature reserve..... It's these juxtapositions that are so exciting .. so perhaps I will be keeping my eyes open for our local foxes, pheasants, herons, and mad march hares.... Or even the odd Colin the Robot!!

Teesmouth with colinTeesmouth with colinHe looks worried x

This so makes me laugh - perhaps I am on to something.... xx 

Thanks for reading !!


Mandascat's Illustration's - 'Its gone all quiet!'

August 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

cheetah studycheetah studyStunning creatures... cheetah study 2cheetah study 2She's looking for something...

The cat's and I have completed our Children's Illustration Diploma (with Distinction!!) and we have started a follow on course.

The blue folder dropped through the post, and I and cats read the course information with anticipation.  

'We are writing and drawing a Children's Picture book'

After all the stories that have raced through my head, over lots of years... I was a blank! The first task was the words and a 500 word summary.

Well I am not going to tell you the story - just yet, we will let it emerge from the scribbling cat paws..... 

It seems most others on the course have taken about 2 years to complete... and I am starting to see why.

First task after words was reference drawings for all the characters..... ARH!

Planning cheetah's, chicken's, rooster, foxes, cat's, giraffe's etc.... that's a lot of reference drawings...!!


Next job is to draw Cheryl Cheetah with various facial expressions.......

But that could be after the album cover I haven't even discussed yet... content for another post....   

So if its all quiet on Mandascat - its because I am busy with the cats drawing draft characters.... which I will reveal as they are created.... lets hope its quicker than two years... arh!!

Once a Community Artist, now an Lecturer at CCAD, this blog is about my personal creative journey.  Recently married to a guy who loves photography,  who gave me an impetus to create alongside him.  So out came the pens, paper and the computer.  My illustrations, are created via the support of 3 very industrious cats, so any criticism I past that straight to them....  I hope you like and would love any feedback... 
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