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Please #DrawACatforEllen in memory of wonderful Ellen…

Yesterday (Nov 10th) we received the terrible news which we had all been dreading. The wonderful Ellen has lost her battle against this horrible, evil, brutal disease. She had recovered fully from Breast Cancer shortly after I met her for the first time, where she came all the way to Stratford to see me ‘perform’ with the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

We had been online friends for a long time before that, she even held one of the first ‘Sketchbook Clubs’ at her children’s School. She was always so incredibly supportive and encouraging. Commenting, sharing and endorsing my posts and news.

It’s funny how much you feel you know someone and like someone even before you meet.

We kept in touch after last September and exchanged emails and messages, I hoped that we would meet more often and that I would get to know her family more, as I so enjoyed meeting them in Stratford. 

Then, a bombshell, Ellen’s cancer had returned. In a frighteningly short amount of time, the news went from bad to worse and she posted a ‘statement’ telling us that she did not have long to live.

I was beyond honoured that she chose to come to my All Day Sketchbook Club a few weeks ago. We spent such a fun, relaxing day, drawing and painting and laughing and chatting. It was impossible to comprehend that she may not have had long…

But here’s the extraordinary bit. The really really astonishing bit, the bit where she would say “I had no choice”, or “I am not being brave at all” or “anyone would do the same”, well, I’m not so sure Ellen. 

I am pretty convinced that the last few weeks of your extraordinary life were pretty exceptional. 

Ellen has, in all honestly, changed lives. She has made us, no, insisted on us ENJOYING our lives. Every day. Every second. We are beyond fortunate and immensely privileged to be here. 

Below are the words of Ellen, the very very wise words. Words that I hope we will all adhere to…

“Please go and enjoy today. Grab every f**king second of it. Live it for yourself. Live it fully. Have no stupid regrets. I have none. I have lived a life of love and privilege and even when I’ve been at my lowest and depressed I still had it good compared to many. I made some tough decisions in my life, especially since my initial cancer diagnosis, they helped open my eyes and heart, don’t wait to make those decisions, some I should have done years ago, hindsight is a wonderful but totally useless thing though. I’m ok with that. Clearly wasn’t to be before. But now they’re done I know it was right. Surround yourself with the people who love you not judge you, be proud of your actions and always remember just how bad life is, it’s no one’s fault, but your actions can help improve it. Live a life that you can be proud of, not of the big stuff, but the every day little stuff. Be kind. Because it’ll always come back to you.”

“Go on that holiday, learn sign language, draw a cat, ditch the d*ck heads, spend time with your chosen ones, your chosen family, your favourite family. And just really enjoy every minute.”

So, just for Ellen, here is a very special #Sketchbookclub 

She urged us to “Draw a Cat” (which made me really laugh) so I have put together a transfer sheet and instructions, it doesn’t include a video this time as I wanted to get this out quickly, so it is only £2.50 but EVERY penny will go to Cancer Research.

I hope you enjoy drawing your cats, she would be delighted that you’re trying something new and enjoying the moment.


#DrawACatforEllen (Link here)

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A Visit to Nain’s House

There is a Welsh word meaning homesick which is “Hireath”. Except Mum says it means more than just homesick and that there really isn’t an English equivalent. She says it means a powerful and emotional magnetic pull to home. A yearning one cannot ignore.

She says it was ‘Hireath’ that pulled her back to her childhood home of Anglesy and visiting as often as I do, I really cannot blame her.

‘Our Beach’ White beach, which is a 2 minute walk from her house and, of course, a picture of the spectacular Menai Bridge…Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 19.33.42      sus_bridge5

First let me tell you a little bit about my Mother; Photographer, Art Director and Artist extraordinaire, Maggie Jones Maizels.

My Mum grew up In Menai Bridge with her brother (the established Welsh Artist David Jones) and her very traditional and very Welsh parent’s Glynn and Glen Jones (both Jones before and after marriage, rather delightfully).

My late Grandperants died when I was a teenager, but my memories of them are very fond indeed. My Nain was a busy, bustling jolly Nain, she would sing “You are My Sunshine” when I sat on her knee. My Taid was equally jolly, supplying us with a constant supply of chocolate buttons and tales of his life in the Navy. He was, to our enormous pride, a long serving Mayor of Menai Bridge.

Their cottage was on the banks of the Menai Straights and from their bedroom window you could see the bridge. We were told how Menai Bridge was lit up at night ‘because of Taid’. I can only assume that as Mayor, he ‘made this happen’. Anyway, I have told my own children the same thing, so if it isn’t true I don’t want to know 🙂

My Mother only left Menai Bridge to go to the big brave world of Art School. She met my father at Chelsea School of Art and then went on to The Royal College of Art. With a successful career illustrating and lecturing followed by her long term position as Art Director of my parent’s magazine Raw Vision.

Mum is insanely talented and has always been an enormous source of inspiration for me, her work is stunning.

Here are some pieces I photographed whilst staying in her house…

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So, talking of her house, it is rather a special place.

We stayed there this half term and as I tend to Instagram anything pretty I see, I snapped her house and her work during my stay. There was an overwhelming sense that people wanted to see more, to see more of Mum’s creativity and of her colour, her work spaces and even her rest places.

The house is called ‘Gog’, which is Welsh for Cuckoo and is nestled in the hills overlooking Snowdonia near Beaumaris.

The views from her house are simply stunning.

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There isn’t a corner that hasn’t been carefully thought out and full of her creative touch…

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With her work and her collections dotted around the house (look at her miniature Welsh Dresser!) it is easy to spend hours just snooping around!

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Nain also, as well as being an extraordinary painter, is an extraordinary knitter and master of Crochet…

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My Children adore staying at ‘Gog’, it is so cosy and welcoming and when the North Wales wind is howling, it is such a peaceful and warm haven.

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Mum has been more prolific in this house than ever before, here is where she paints, peacefully, overlooking the mountains…

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On her sofa is a cushion with the word ‘Cariad’ (the Welsh word for Darling), the girls love that it tells them how welcome they are, whenever they arrive.

At the end of each visit, we try to find a little blue item to place on her blue Welsh dresser, sometimes it’s a painted pebble, a piece of china, but it is hard however, to add to perfection…

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So, until next time ‘Gog’ and Nain, thanks so much for having us… xxx

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The Wonderful Kate Petty

Five years ago today we lost one of Britain’s best children’s writers.

Kate published a staggering 186 books, writing nearly 100! She was gifted with the ability to explain even the most complicated subjects with sensitive simplicity, from where babies come from, to the periodic table, Kate made non-fiction huge fun and instantly absorb-able.

I found myself being re-educated over the years I spent working with her, her knowledge knew no bounds.

As Julia Eccleshare  said in her wonderful obituary “Petty had the gift for friendship”, this was certainly true. Her funeral, in a remote Cornish church overlooking the sea, was literally packed to to the rafters.

Kate was my best friend and I will never stop missing her but I am delighted that so many of her books are still enjoyed today. The Great Grammar Book, our first collaboration, is still selling well some 25 years later!

We had an incredible chemistry. I knew from the moment I met Kate that we would work together for a long long time. Ideas would fly between us, ricocheting around her tiny writing shed. We would sip our espressos and eat our homemade cakes in the Muswell hill sunshine. The air would buzz with our ideas, we would get so excited and so enthusiastic, we would sometimes have to go for walks to calm down!

She was extraordinary. Each and every person who was ever touched by Kate will agree with me in saying, that she will never ever be forgotten.

Kate Petty June 9 1951 – May 22 2007

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Dandy Star

We were lucky enough to be next to these guys at Top Drawer. SUCH fabulously lovely people. Lots of exciting ideas/collaborations were discussed… their children’s (and hurrah- ladies!) clothes made me come over all peculiar, such was their divine perfection, rare to see something quite so ‘right’.
Plus, must mention who were also our neighbours; who made us laugh. Allot. Thank you! xxx