Portunes and Animal Helpers

Hello everyone!

I intended to post much sooner than now but sometimes things come along and turn everything upsidedown!  I’ve recently come across and painted a little faery called a portune which is a type of elf.  They tend to live in farmhouses and come out at night, sometimes carrying out household chores like a brownie would.  But they do have a more tricksy side, delighting like so many faeries seem to do in leading travelers astray by coaxing their horses into bogs, then running off in peals of laughter!  Apparently their diet consists of frogs and maybe that is why they are a rare sight nowadays – as there are not so many frogs around.

I look forward to seeing if we will have any frog visitors in our little pond later this year as we often do.  I’ll keep an eye out for a portune waiting to ambush from the undergrowth too!  Portunes and other faeries can be seen the sketches section of my gallery.

Portune pixie drawing

I’ve had a couple of little helpers recently.  Well I think they like to think they are helping.  The first is my rescue guinea pig Mags whose friend sadly died recently so she’s been in from the cold with me.

Guinea pig on a desk with paintbrushes

My second helper is a recent addition to our family and the reason for lack of organisation.  She is Pinot, a now seven month old fox terrier who needed rehoming.  She can be a bit mischievous but is a lot of fun and likes help to look for the faeries when we are out walking.  I think all she achieves is chasing them away though!

Wire fox terrier dog in forest

Here she is out in the forest and I think she’s just spotted a little goblin or troll which she is about to chase!  Right, I’m off to see what trouble the dog has got herself into now so I’ll end this post now!  Thank you all for reading and don’t forget I have prints for sale from my Etsy shop.

Sketchbook Page and Changelings

Faerie greetings to you all!


Today I am sharing with you a page from my sketchbook from which I will be sharing more pages with you in the future.  I say sketchbook – this is rather a collection of loose pages folded together.  I have many “proper” sketchbooks too although often I am too afraid to use them, being too worried about spoiling them with less than perfect drawings.  With loose pages I can be a bit freer as if I have a disaster, they can be swiftly put straight in the recycling bin!

I’ve never been much of a sketcher, most of the time an idea appears, gets roughly sketched out and this turns into a finished piece.  More recently I’ve been encouraging myself to sketch more however as a few little characters that have turned out great for painting have appeared.

Another way I paint sometimes is when an entire painting appears complete in my mind with every little detail in place!  I do wish this would happen more!

Faery sketchbook page


I wonder if any of these sketched faeries will end up replacing human babies as changelings?  It seems that many types of faery are tempted to take a human baby and replace it with one of their own, or even sometimes a crudely carved piece of wood enchanted by faery glamour to appear as a human.  The spell will eventually wear off though to reveal a wizened creature.  Apparently some faeries decide to deposit an elderly member of their group in place of the human baby where it will be well attended to and cared for in its old age.  A faery changeling will often have an awful temper and spend their time in fits of rage and howling, biting and hitting.  They are bound to be problematic I suppose as the faeries would never give up one of their favourites!

The human baby, of which those of fair hair are most at risk are taken to improve the bloodlines and stock of a faery tribe which is dwindling.

A Danish story relates how a changeling would behave like a human child when in the company of its “parents”, but when left alone, the neighbours would see it running up the walls, sitting on the rafters and crying out in a strange language.  As soon as anyone entered the house however, it would appear quietly fast asleep.  Like other changelings though, this one was tricked into revealing itself for what it really was.

faery changeling

Several years ago, I was shown this photo of what at first seems like a log found in a cot – strange enough, but looking closer now, it appears to have a face – perhaps revealing this was not a log at all, but rather a changeling…

Supposedly, if a changeling is thrown onto an open fire, it will fly up the chimney, shrieking and shouting and usually the human baby would be returned – if not it may be possible to rescue it from the faery hill where it had been taken.  Obviously, suspecting parents must be very, very sure they have a changeling before throwing a baby on the fire!  And indeed, in the past there have been occasions where human children have suffered if they are suspected of being changelings, especially if they have changed with a sudden onset of illness.

It is possible to protect against human babies with the usual methods of protection which I will write more on soon, such as hanging scissors above the cot and tying a piece of red cloth around the child.

I often seem to be writing about the dangers of faery – they do have their more benign sides too – we just have to be careful!

Summer Inspiration and Spriggans!

Hello everyone, hope you are all well?

I love this time of year and I think the faeries do too!  A lovely time for faeries and humans alike to spend time being busy or relaxing outdoors and everything green is flourishing.  Every tree and flower looking drowsy and content in the sun but underneath all that they are busy all the same producing nuts and fruits for us, woodland creatures and the faeries to stock up on for winter.  But we shan’t dwell on that season for too long!

At this time I feel so inspired and feel so blessed to live here on the Isle of Wight.  I’m sharing a few pictures I’ve taken over the last few years which show just a tiny bit of the beauty of the Island.  I always feel the faeries are never too far away here waiting to emerge to be sketched or painted from winged fae flitting amongst hedgerows and branches, to pixies and mushroom men in deep forests and goblins hiding amongst tree roots and rocky crevices underground.

Footpath leading into trees under a bridge


Another faerie that dwells underground is the spriggan which I’ve included my little sketch of.  Supposedly they are exceedingly ugly and small although able to enlarge themselves at will.  They are said to guard treasure at such places as the Giant’s Holt, a stone structure in Cornwall and can be found around old ruins, quoits, old castles and barrows where treasure might be.  On Trecroben hill whilst a tinner was attempting to dig for treasure here, the weather suddenly darkened, a wind blew up and hundreds of spriggans emerged causing the tinner to flee and take to his bed for several weeks!


Beech tree woodland

They also cause other mischief and can be destructive and dangerous, blighting crops, thieving, attacking those who mock the faeries and stealing human children, leaving spriggans in their place.



I’ll bear all this in mind when out looking for faeries to draw and make sure I stay away from places where spriggans may be lurking.  Even though supposedly they are found only in Cornwall, I’ll not risk it – I don’t want them to think I’m interested in taking their treasure!  Have any of you ever come across something that might be treasure, only to have to abandon it as strange winds blew up, tools inexplicably break, or other odd happenings occur?  Might this be the action of spriggans or other guardian faeries…?

Faeries and Fungi

Today I thought I’d write a little bit about faeries and fungi. I’ve long been fascinated with fungi – often bright little splashes of colour popping up in woodlands, hedgerows and grassy fields. Sometimes they appear alone, sometimes in groups, or of course some as faery rings!

Little Shaggy Ink Cap









Like old gnarled trees, it seems mushrooms too have a watchful presence over their habitat. I think this is why my art often features mushrooms such as my Grumpy Waxcap and Woodland Amanita amongst others. I feel with these that while we may not always see them sitting there with their faces so clearly visible, we can sometimes catch a glimpse and get a clear sense of their personalities if we are observant enough!

In my paintings I aim to reveal their personalities. Often I think mushrooms do look rather grumpy but I think they are often just very serious about the roles they have or think they have such as guarding a particular tree. Many mushrooms do have very close relationships with trees and are essential for their survival, helping them to gain nutrients from the soil.

Flay agaric mushroom in woodland

I think other faeries are drawn to fungi too and find many different uses for them – whether for simple seats and other furnishings or as decorative hats. This is reflected in the names some fungi are given such as parasol, Goblet Waxcap, Dryad’s Saddle, Green Elfcup and Elfin Saddle.

Wax cap mushroom painting

Names of other fungi indicating faery association include Old Man of the Woods, Brownie, Fairy Inkcap and of course Fairy Ring Champignon. Many Types of mushroom form rings, often said to be places where faeries gather to dance or sometimes places where their villages are hidden away. It would be so tempting I’m sure to join in any faery revelries you might catch sight of but there are so many tales of humans stepping into faery rings and only with difficulty escaping lest they become trapped for years, used as slaves by the faeries or being entranced to dance until the point of exhaustion or madness. They are said to be especially dangerous on Beltaine or Halloween. Even if someone is rescued, they may find they have been gone for many mortal years and on their return crumble to dust… Apparently, some protection is offered by wearing a hat backwards. I’m not sure why wearing clothes backwards is often found to be a form of protection from faeries – does it confuse or amuse them into distraction?

So do be wary of crossing into faery rings unless you have your backwards hat and remember these wise words from Shakespeare


If you see a fairy ring

In a field of grass,

Very lightly step around,

Tiptoe as you pass;

Last night fairies frolicked there,

And they’re sleeping somewhere near.

If you see a tiny fay

Lying fast asleep,

Shut your eyes and run away,

Do not stay or peep;

And be sure you never tell,

Or you’ll break a fairy spell.

Winter Weather and Churnmilk Peg

So the sun is finally here! Looking out of my window right now, I can’t see a single cloud.  I just can’t remember the last time that happened! And along with it some much more seasonal frosty air. It hasn’t been cold at all recently but it has rained and rained!
So many spring flowers have made an appearance. Hedges everywhere are filled with new leaves, buds and catkins. I hope there are still plenty of things waiting to spring up when spring really DOES arrive! I’ve just walked round the garden – it’s late afternoon and there is still a lot of frost on the ground – I’ve seen primroses, snow bells, hellebores and lots of honeysuckle still in flower but no faeries. I’m sure they are cosily tucked into burrows snuggled into dried leaves and mosses and I don’t blame them.  It was nice to feel the sun but I soon came in for a wild berry tea.  I think I should take a pot out for the faeries!

Primrose flowers


I wonder if the faeries have been busy with their springtime activities thinking it has arrived already and are now wondering why it is so cold? Hopefully they haven’t put away all their warm things, although I’m not sure if they feel cold in the same way as we do. We see and hear a lot of human behaviour in the faeries – playing music, eating and drinking, rites and rituals such as funerals and the clothes they wear.  But as has first been suggested many years ago are these just imitations of our behaviours.  Or perhaps we have adapted ideas and habits from them?

Churnmilk Peg

I’ve recently sketched a drawing of Churnmilk Peg.  She is a guardian faery like the Lunantisidhe that I drew previously that guard blackthorn bushes. Churnmilk Peg though guards unripe nuts. Another name for her is the Acorn Lady. Oak trees are my very favourite – they always have such a presence to them.  Perhaps some of that comes from Peg watching out for these trees. She comes from Yorkshire and in other parts of the country there are other faeries like Melch Dick who perform a similar role. Whilst not pinching at little fingers gathering nuts, she whiles away her time smoking a pipe. Peg and Melch also watch over orchards where they have been known to terrify apple thieves!

Churnmilk Peg faery sketch

From spring to autumn, when she is active – watch out for a little wisp of smoke from her pipe and avoid gathering nuts from nearby trees!

I hear there is more rain on the way so hope you and all the faeries keep warm and dry until we next see the sun!