Lotti Brown Designs

-- Art to Give us Joy, Love, and Energy Through our Connection with Nature and our Pets -- Pet Art & Custom Pet Portraits - Wildlife & Bird Art - Floral Art --

Springer Spaniel Art - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, pet artCharlotte BrownComment

Colourful Springer Spaniel art - a beautiful dog, full of life and joy...

 Meet George - a super Springer Spaniel art print by Lotti Brown

Meet George - a super Springer Spaniel art print by Lotti Brown

If the Springer Spaniel is your breed you'll know this gorgeous dog for his love of life and larger than life personality, as well as his sweet friendship and loyalty towards your family... a dog who greets every morning with energy and enthusiasm, ready for a day of fun...

Meet beautiful Springer Spaniel George who is so enjoying his romp in a summer field of buttercups and long grasses...

His ears bounce as he bounds through the grass on the scent of something delightful, his pink tongue lolls and his trusting eyes seek yours frequently to reconnect with you across the space between you as he enjoys his playtime fun...

 Springer Spaniel art - showing artwork detail

Springer Spaniel art - showing artwork detail

I so wanted to show this wonderful breed in their element, at play in the grass, and to celebrate that very special connection and trust between dog and owner through the Springer Spaniel's delightful, trusting expression...

Springer Spaniel Art - Behind the Scenes

Here's how I created the artwork from my drawings, putting them through Adobe Illustrator to create the final artwork...

Please click on the images below to follow the process...

 The completed spaniel artwork - love, life, fun...

The completed spaniel artwork - love, life, fun...

I think the completed artwork really shows the beautiful nature of this very special dog and captures a cherished everyday memory of summer playtime amongst the fields and flowers...

I love the colours, the stunning russet of the spaniel's fur and the sunny yellows against the calming purples and greens... and I love way that the curves of the grasses and flowers echo those gorgeous curls in the spaniel's lovely long ears...

 Framed and unframed Springer Spaniel art prints are available in my online art store

Framed and unframed Springer Spaniel art prints are available in my online art store

 Click image to see all the print and frame options in my store

Click image to see all the print and frame options in my store

Springer Spaniel Artwork
from 18.00

Beautiful Springer Spaniel art - a playful and loving breed!

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My Springer Spaniel art print is available in my online art store - with framed and unframed art prints available... Check him out here...

You can see more of my pet art here in my pet art gallery - or you might prefer to commission your own pet portrait...

'September Squirrel' Artwork - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, new collections, shoppingCharlotte Brown

Gorgeous squirrel art with warm autumn colours from nature: 'September Squirrel'...

 'September Squirrel' art print by Lotti Brown

'September Squirrel' art print by Lotti Brown

A glimpse of russet red amongst the trees... a red squirrel exploring the tree tops - one of the most exciting wildlife spots in Britain!

I've been lucky enough to see a few red squirrels over the past few years - mainly in beautiful Scotland. Here's a sweet squirrel that I saw at a wildlife hide in a forest in southern Scotland...

 Red squirrel in Scotland

Red squirrel in Scotland

It's always exciting to catch a glimpse of a squirrel amongst the trees...

 Detail from my squirrel artwork

Detail from my squirrel artwork

Autumn is a great time to see these lovely little creatures as they build up their store of food to last the winter.

I wanted to create my artwork with warm autumn colours - browns, oranges and greens - lovely, rich colours that speak to me strongly of nature and this wonderful time of year...

Behind the Scenes of the Artwork

Here, I share the processes of creating the art from my original drawings...

Click the images below to see the full-sized image and find out more about the process...

 My completed squirrel artwork with rich autumn woodland colours

My completed squirrel artwork with rich autumn woodland colours

 Framed and unframed squirrel art prints are available in my online art store

Framed and unframed squirrel art prints are available in my online art store

 Click image for all the details about print and frame options in my art store

Click image for all the details about print and frame options in my art store

'September Squirrel' Art Print
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Beautiful and detailed autumn squirrel art print - with warm woodland colours and bracken.

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You can buy my squirrel art print in my online art store

You can see more wildlife art in my nature and wildlife art gallery

Moving to the Country

nature, personal musingsCharlotte BrownComment

It took me a long time to properly connect with nature and not just take it for granted - surprising, really, when I'm a country girl born and bred...

 Green fields and trees - nature is part of us and we are part of nature

Green fields and trees - nature is part of us and we are part of nature

First, a small Lincolnshire village, surrounded by fields, heathland and woods - then an even smaller village in Wales - hills and vales, and the sounds of cattle and sheep...

The overwhelming smell of grass at hay-making time as the huge hay lorries thundered past my bedroom window in the light of summer evenings - and I lay still, with cucumbers over my eyes to soothe the itch of hayfever, and my dad's giant hanky clutched to my red-raw nose. (Hayfever absolutely sucks!)

I left the countryside for the 'big city' at 18 when I went away to University and then found a job in the historic city of York. For several years, being in a city was exciting and stimulating - but then I got to missing the countryside - badly!

When my husband got cancer, we decided to run away to the countryside (he was brought up on a farm in the North York Moors, and later in a small Yorkshire village).

We wanted for him to be able to finish his cancer treatments and recuperate in the tranquillity of the countryside. We were finding living in the suburbs of York completely stifling at the time...

But even when we moved to our cute country cottage in our tiny East Yorkshire village, we still didn't quite take full advantage of the nature all around us.

 Lovely walks to enjoy and drink-in nature

Lovely walks to enjoy and drink-in nature

Still stressed from the traumas of Ian's illness, we still lived the commuter life. Though we appreciated the scenery we passed through in the car and the quieter location, we rarely walked out in the fields all around the village.

All that changed when I was, quite literally, forced to make changes in the pace of my life and to look again at how I lived it...

A couple of years after moving to our country village, I got sick with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME). I had to leave my work and become self-employed - a great opportunity to do something different... although it didn't necessarily feel that way at the time.

Working from home meant that - joy of joys - we could get a dog! As I slowly recovered, I started walking in the fields every day (to practice and make sure I would be up to looking after our new dog properly) - and soon we welcomed our first dog, Ginger, into our home - a wonderful, retired racing greyhound.

 Ginger in barley

Ginger in barley

Ginger loved walking through summer barley - the bristly fonds rubbing against his sides seemed to feel amazing for him - so we had a fab time on our summer walks, stepping out happily, side by side together.

But it wasn't, actually, until I got my second dog, rough collie Noah, that I really started to appreciate the precious time spent in nature - and how essential being able to be out in the green is to our well-being.

 The green of nature - with my dog

The green of nature - with my dog

We're supposed to be in nature and nature is a place where we can stop and see the beauty in this world - look at what's around us, listen to the sounds, feel the wind on our faces and the earth beneath our feet...

And lose what's whirring around our heads and instead ground ourselves in this real world we're living in.

 Taking some time to watch the world around him!

Taking some time to watch the world around him!

Noah loves to stop and stare - to watch the world go by and enjoy this very moment and everything that's going on around him - right now!

It's taken me some time to really appreciate the huge difference that this taking time to connect with nature makes - but it's essential.

I love to do this through my art, but I understand, now, that part of my art is feeling mindful and grounded in real life too - in daily walks in the green...

I feel like it's where we're supposed to be!

Border Terrier Art - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, pet artCharlotte BrownComment

Beautiful and colourful border terrier artwork - 'Jessie and Summer Daisies' - lovely, contemporary pet art for border terrier lovers.

 Colourful border terrier art 'Jessie and Daisies' by Lotti Brown

Colourful border terrier art 'Jessie and Daisies' by Lotti Brown

I love scrappy little border terriers - wiry-haired, clever little explorers who love to chase rabbits. They're feisty and fun but love a cuddle at the end of the day with their best friend... there's nothing small about their character...

 A look of doggie devotion - border terrier love! Detail from the artwork.

A look of doggie devotion - border terrier love! Detail from the artwork.

I wanted to surround beautiful Jessie border terrier with these gorgeous big daisies - she's busy exploring a summer field or garden, having fun, and chasing bunnies but checks back on her owner just for a minute... ever the faithful friend.

Behind the Scenes

I created my border terrier artwork from my individual pen drawings of the dog and daisies, scanned them all into the computer and put them through Adobe Illustrator to create the final artwork...

Click the images below to take you through the process...

 The completed border terrier art by Lotti Brown

The completed border terrier art by Lotti Brown

I love this border terrier artwork of sweet Jessie - a lovely summertime feel and oh, that perfect look of slightly quizzical devotion on her pretty little face!

 Border terrier framed and unframed fine art prints & mini artboards are available in my store - click pic to see

Border terrier framed and unframed fine art prints & mini artboards are available in my store - click pic to see

 Click image for print and frame options in my store

Click image for print and frame options in my store

Border Terrier Artwork
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Beautiful border terrier art ‘Jessie and the Summer Daisies’…

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Dog Moments of Connection - The Power of the Dog

personal musings, pet art, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

I love that having a dog means meeting new people, getting to know people, sharing a little of our stories... person-to-person connection growing through a dog.

When you have an unusual and very fluffy dog - particularly one that loves meeting people and calls them over with a massive grin - people want to come over and say hello to him and give him a stroke.

 My smile and fluffiness invites new friends!

My smile and fluffiness invites new friends!

There's a few things that people say in this situation - one, in particular, I really love. They say, "Aw! Isn't he fluffy!" ... "It's Lassie!" (this one is inevitable, but some youngsters don't actually know Lassie these days!) ... "I bet he takes a lot of brushing!"

My favourite, though, is, said with a huge smile, "You don't see many of these anymore," usually followed by, "My mum/my auntie/my grandma used to have one of these when I was little."

I really love this, as with a smile and a little encouragement, you get to hear what they loved best about their faithful friend.

And the power of the dog is that this isn't just a memory but a whole emotion. As people speak about their remembered pets and furry friends, their faces soften, their voices slow and mellow, and a smile transforms their faces.

 A rough collie is born to steal the show!!! We get photo-bombed by our collie and it's done with such a smile! (He knows what he's doing!)

A rough collie is born to steal the show!!! We get photo-bombed by our collie and it's done with such a smile! (He knows what he's doing!)

I remember particularly the day I met several lovely people sat outside a large city supermarket, waiting with my rough collie Noah for my husband to get some supplies for our holiday.

I met some very interesting people, including a charming gentleman who told me of 65 years of living with greyhounds, bearded collies, lurchers, horses, donkeys! He recalled travelling 100 miles by horse and wagon over a week to Appleby-in-Westmoreland horse fair - and a pair of 40-year-old donkeys called Noah and Moses from his childhood, prompting him to consider getting a pair of donkeys for his grandson.

Little connections, stories told, forgotten... but now remembered.

My favourite, though, was a gentleman who, stopping to greet our dog, told us about when he was a child and the elderly neighbour's rough collie, Duncan, who he used to take out for a walk to help out his neighbour.

He told us about getting to know Duncan and enjoying walking with him every day, building up a friendship.

He made a big smiley fuss of Noah, which Noah loved! He spoke with him and accidentally called him Duncan!

For this lovely man, he was taken right back to these warm, comforting, childhood memories. He felt again the happiness, the connection between himself and his doggie friend. And that was triggered by that meeting with our dog!

Something that's so priceless and precious.

These are the moments of connection that I love. Dog ownership at its best!

 There's nothing in the world like a rough collie grin!

There's nothing in the world like a rough collie grin!

If you'd like to celebrate why your dog is precious to you, I can create a special custom pet portrait for you to have always...

Pretty Hedgehog Art - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, nature, shoppingCharlotte Brown

Pretty hedgehog art 'Ragged-Robin Hedgehog' - hedgehog with sweet pink flowers.

 'Ragged-Robin Hedgehog' art by Lotti Brown

'Ragged-Robin Hedgehog' art by Lotti Brown

A lovely little hedgehog surrounded by pretty pink ragged-robin flowers...

I love the snuffliness of hedgehogs and remember the year, when I was a child, that we had a family of babies born in our compost heap and tiny hedgehogs pootling around the bottom of our garden - a real treat.

Hedgehogs are becoming more scarce now, particularly in rural areas, so I wanted to put this little hedgehog amidst some beautiful flowers where she can find things to eat and somewhere to hibernate safely come wintertime. 

I love ragged-robin flowers and I thought that the spiky petals would look really good with the hedgehog's spines.

 Detail from the hedgehog artwork

Detail from the hedgehog artwork

Behind the Scenes of the Artwork

Take a look at my creative process in the photos below, taking my drawings to a finished artwork via the computer.

Click on an image below to see a larger picture and read about the process...

 Completed sweet hedgehog artwork with ragged-robin flowers

Completed sweet hedgehog artwork with ragged-robin flowers

I think my hedgehog art print is really soft and sweet with pretty summer colours of dusk, gentle oranges, browns and pinks... gorgeous and snuffly!

 Framed and unframed hedgehog art prints and mini artboards available in my online store - click pic to see

Framed and unframed hedgehog art prints and mini artboards available in my online store - click pic to see

 Click image for more details about print and frame options

Click image for more details about print and frame options

'Ragged-Robin Hedgehog' Artwork
from 18.00

Summer hedgehog art print with Ragged-Robin flowers

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You can buy my sweet hedgehog art print from my online art store.

You can see more of my wildlife art in my nature and wildlife art gallery.

New: International Shipping and New Art Products in my Store

announcements, artworks, new collections, shoppingCharlotte BrownComment

It's a big day for my store with so many new things to tell you about!

I hope you'll be just as excited as I am...

  • New international shipping direct at checkout
  • New frames
  • New mini artboards
 Exciting new art products in my online store

Exciting new art products in my online store

New international shipping direct at checkout

While my store has always had international shipping available, you had to contact me for a quote - but now, shipping costs will be automatically added to your cart at checkout for a number of international countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Finland. Shipping within the UK, of course, still remains available.

I really have researched long and hard to find the best shipping options for you, for a fast and cost-effective delivery. And I believe I've found a great solution, especially as it's also introduced some wonderful new products to me, which I've added to the store as I think you'll absolutely love them (more about this right below)...

I've created shipping options for the countries that I see using my website the most, but it's still possible that your country isn't included. If your country isn't included in the drop-down menu on checkout, please just get in touch and I will provide you with a quote or add the country to the list. Shipping is available to almost every country worldwide.

New frames

As I said, my search for an effective international shipping solution led me in directions I didn't expect, and one of these was to provide my artwork in new simple and elegant black frames as standard...

 My new standard black frame

My new standard black frame

My new frames are a beautifully simple 'swoop' style that draws your eye into the artwork.

 New stylish black frames

New stylish black frames

Each frame is individually hand-built in the UK by Fine Art Trade Guild craftsmen and made from solid pine and the artwork is fitted using conservation-grade mounts/matts that won't discolour over time.

 Beautiful new 'swoop' frames

Beautiful new 'swoop' frames

The frame is fitted with clear acrylic plexiglass for greater UV protection for the artwork and reduced glare compared to standard framing glass. It's also safer to post and more lightweight, which means reduced shipping costs - yay!

Framed prints are available in 3 sizes:

  • 8" x 8" print mounted in a 12" x 12" (30cm by 30cm) frame
  • 12" x 12" print mounted in a 16" x 16" (40cm by 40cm) frame
  • 16" x 16" print mounted in a 20" x 20" (50cm by 50cm) frame

If you've already fallen in love with one of my old frames, just get in touch and I can still organise that for you as a custom option.

Which brings me onto my final new thing... something I'm so excited to have found and to be able to bring you...

New Mini Art Boards

My new mini art boards are a fun and cost-effective way to collect my art - starting at a very mini 6" by 6" (15cm by 15cm) these firm artboards are an ideal way to showcase artworks propped up on your desk at work, on your bedside table, or mantelpiece with no frame required!

 Colourful mini artboards are the perfect fun way to collect and display art with no frame required

Colourful mini artboards are the perfect fun way to collect and display art with no frame required

They are professionally printed with crisp and vibrant colour and a beautiful shimmer created by the subtle texture of the 1.5mm 4-ply watercolour board that it's printed onto. You can pop them straight into a frame if you choose...

And they make perfect little stocking-fillers or birthday gifts for all your friends and family!

 Joyous art to inspire you every day on mini artboards to keep or gift...

Joyous art to inspire you every day on mini artboards to keep or gift...

Mini artboards are available in 3 sizes:

  • 6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
  • 8" x 8" (20.3cm x 20.3cm)
  • 10" x 10" (25.4cm x 25.4cm)

There's more information about all of these in my store - once you're there, just click on any of the artworks to get started and check out the product description.

If you've got any questions about any of this, please just get in touch and ask me - I'm happy to help.

 New frames and mini art boards now available at Lotti Brown Designs

New frames and mini art boards now available at Lotti Brown Designs

All About My Frames

artworks, pet art, shopping, faqsCharlotte Brown

I wanted to share with you a bit about the beautiful frames that I have selected to go with my art prints and custom pet portraits so that they arrive with you ready to hang.

They are specially chosen to complement my art and also to look stylish in your home.

 Corgi art in stylish 'swoop' frame

Corgi art in stylish 'swoop' frame

I offer an elegantly simple black frame in a curved 'swoop' design.

The frame is a high-quality solid wood frame built by hand in the UK by my trusted framing partners who are members of the Fine Art Trade Guild.

 Fox art in black frame

Fox art in black frame

The frames feature a 2mm-thick conservation-grade single mount, which will not discolour over time, and clear acrylic plexiglass that provides UV protection for your artwork and reduced glare.

 Clear acrylic plexiglass in your frame adds to UV protection for the artwork and reduced glare

Clear acrylic plexiglass in your frame adds to UV protection for the artwork and reduced glare

My frames are sent ready to hang with all back and hanging fixings in place.

swoop_frame_reverse.jpg

The standard frame is an elegant, simple black 'swoop' style frame in solid wood

  • Frame width: 45mm
  • Frame rebate depth: 32mm
 Beautiful black curved 'swoop' frame in solid wood

Beautiful black curved 'swoop' frame in solid wood

 Frame details

Frame details

Without a Frame?

If you already have a favourite frame at home, or if you'd just rather get your local store to do the framing for you, that's perfectly fine. In fact, in my store, all my art prints are available as a mini artboard or loose print (which comes unframed and unmounted, rolled in a cardboard tube) so that you can deal with the framing requirements as you choose.

If you're ordering a custom pet portrait commission, just tell me that you'd prefer to source the frame yourself and I can quote you accordingly.

How do I care for my artwork and frames?

Avoid hanging your artwork in direct sunlight, close to a fireplace or radiator, or in a moist environment such as a bathroom.

Simply wipe frames gently with a soft cloth or feather duster. Avoid using cleaning sprays on the frames.

To clean the acrylic glazing in your frame, dampen a soft cloth with water and wipe gently. Do not spray household cleaners onto the glazing.

swoop_frame_detail_2.jpg

Will my Artwork be Sent Safely?

Yes!

Framed art is sent in a tough cardboard box that will protect the frame on its way to you.

Acrylic glazing, instead of glass, helps to ensure that there are no breakages in transit.

 Tough packaging will protect your framed artwork as it wings its way towards you

Tough packaging will protect your framed artwork as it wings its way towards you

 Unpacking the artwork

Unpacking the artwork

 Corner protectors will protect the corners of your frames in transit

Corner protectors will protect the corners of your frames in transit

Unmounted prints (loose prints) are usually sent rolled in a cardboard tube.

In the unlikely event that there is any damage when your artwork arrives, please get in touch with me as soon as possible.

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Our Bond with Dogs - Book Review – Martin Clunes: A Dog’s Life

book reviews, pet artCharlotte BrownComment

I believe that we humans and our dogs have a very special bond that goes well beyond a simple domestication of a wild animal. It’s like we’re meant to be together, meant to have each other in our lives.

 Us - with our rough collie taking centre stage as always!

Us - with our rough collie taking centre stage as always!

I was talking about this to my husband the other day, and we suddenly recalled an ITV series about this that we’d watched a decade earlier.

I particularly remember the series as our then-dog, a greyhound, Ginger, hadn’t been with us all that long. He never took any notice of the television, even when dogs were barking on it, but during this show, wolves howled… and Ginger pricked up his ears and really took note!

The series was Martin Clunes’ ‘A Man and his Dogs’.

I decided to revisit the themes of the series with the accompanying book to the series ‘A Dog’s Life’…

And I couldn’t believe how pertinent it was to what my husband and I had been discussing.

The book examines our relationship with dogs – how it started and how it developed – what dogs were to us and what they are now – with visits to learn about the dog’s wild ancestors (wolves, dingoes and African wild hunting dogs); modern breeds (including different working breeds that no longer work); and with the story of Martin Clunes’ own doggie relationships and the troubles and fighting within his own canine household and his efforts to remedy these.

The whole premise of the book could quite aptly be summed up in the very first sentence to the introduction:

There is a fact generally acknowledged, dear reader, that a man is not a man without a dog.

(Martin Clunes doesn’t specifically state it, but for ‘man’ I read humankind throughout the book as I feel like this was the intent.)

It seems that our modern dogs are descended from Asian wolves (through Europe). Our modern dogs are 99.9% wolf genetically!

So what happened to allow dogs to live in harmony with us humans while their wolf cousins remain wild and untamed?

 Wolf or dog? Husky artwork by Lotti Brown. Click image to buy this print in my store

Wolf or dog? Husky artwork by Lotti Brown. Click image to buy this print in my store

Visiting Wolves

Martin Clunes visits a wolf project in Devon where he discusses the idea with wolf-expert Shaun Ellis, who feels that the environment and experience dictate that the modern dog’s behaviour is different from his wild ancestor.

Early humans would have wanted to use the wolf/dog’s skills – “their ability to hunt and move faster than us as well as their acute sense of smell that can help us as an early warning system” as well as warmth, companionship, and simply the fact that dogs make you feel good.

Co-evolving with Dogs

In Australia, Martin Clunes talks to vet Associate Professor Paul Mc Greevy from the University of Sydney Faculty of Veterinary Science, who believes that “dogs domesticated themselves.”

They were attracted by our rubbish and “we then capitalised on dogs as resources for guarding and keeping the place clean.”

“The first step in the domestication process was accomplished when those parent dogs [of the first pups selected from those early proto-dogs] overcame their fear because of their need for food.”

Paul believes there is a ‘missing link’, a ‘proto-dog’ between wolf and dog – “wolf shaped but having certain characteristics that allowed it to come closer to us than most wolves would.”

Paul believes that man and dog have co-evolved together:

“We were both beneficiaries in this process. Dogs don’t have to hunt any longer. They don’t have to worry about competing with other dogs or being killed by them. We provide them with warmth, shelter, and companionship. At the same time, we’ve used them more than we have any other species. They’ve been used in warfare, for food, for haulage, guarding, hunting, transport. We’ve used dogs for every possible use a domestic animal can be put to. We’ve even used their fur as fibre. So they are the most useful of the domestic pets and we owe them a great deal.”

Early humans would have first domesticated the puppies of the bitches who lived closest to the camp and fed on our food waste.

Dogs were drawn to our resources and we were drawn to the closest pups.

“It’s called co-evolution and it’s still going on,” says Paul. “But …. we, as guardians of the dog, need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to keeping dogs healthy in the future.” Domestication is a process that’s still going on and what we want now in a dog is a good companion.

Visiting Dingoes

Also in Australia, Martin Clunes gets to learn a little about the Aboriginal view of the dingo, the Australian native wild dog. Baden Williams explained the Aboriginal view that, “Through Dreamtime, we’re related to one another.”

Dingoes came to us …. for protection. They’ve never been a pet – they’re just part of the family, like the kids. The same respect is given to the dingo as would be given to another person. A dingo’s a playmate for the young ones, a companion for the older people, and they act dumb with the others. You treat it as your kids.

As our traditional, western view of dogs is very much that they should not be mistaken for a child, this is quite something to ponder (and maybe it’s actually our treatment of our children that could be brought into question on this point when criticism does arise).

As Martin Clunes points out, “…it seems to me that men and dogs look after each other’s needs, so a dog deserves to be treated well.”

For Aboriginal people, a dingo is part of the family. It’s seen as an independent spirit, still a wild animal. A dingo “…contributes more to the family than just companionship … They can understand what we say and they respond to our feelings,” providing warmth, protection and healing.

So humans and dogs seem to really have this common bond that carries through right to the present day and our devoted relationships with our own dogs.

How we got to modern day dog breeds.

Of course, these days, we have hundreds of different dog breeds to choose from. Many developed from original working dogs, bred to serve a specific and useful purpose. This is why we have such a variety of sizes and shapes of dogs in the modern world.

In fact, I was talking to a friend and neighbour the other day about the fact that small children often mistake our rough collie for a lion. When we had our very tall greyhound, children were often convinced he was a ‘horsey’. She commented that it was impressive that even small children were able to (reasonably reliably) recognise most species of dogs as dogs, whether they were miniature Yorkshire Terriers, massive Great Danes, or somewhere in between…

 Greyhound or horsey? Our greyhound often used to be mistaken for a horse by young children - an easy mistake to make, especially in wet or cold weather when he was wearing his coat (horse blanket!).

Greyhound or horsey? Our greyhound often used to be mistaken for a horse by young children - an easy mistake to make, especially in wet or cold weather when he was wearing his coat (horse blanket!).

With tiny scraps of dog, great hulking giants, long-legged or short-legged pooches, long fur, fluffy fur, curly coats and smooth coats, flat-faces and long-noses, there’s such an amazing variety on show that, yes, it is truly impressive that a small child can fairly well identify that essential element that makes a dog a dog. Perhaps it’s something to do with our special bond and co-evolution with the dog?

Visiting vet and dog expert Bruce Fogle at the Natural History Museum in Tring, Martin Clunes discusses dog evolution and dog breeds with him. Bruce believes, “The dog is self-domesticated.”

“These [Asian] wolves [brought to Europe when Asian people migrated across the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia] took advantage of the new environment that human habitation created when we became agricultural. Wolves realised there were rich pickings by moving in on our campsites. The ones that survived were the ones small enough to live off what they could scavenge, because they were no longer catching large game. The humans had captured the large game."

Breeds like the pariah dog are genetically very close to the original wolf:

“If you compare its teeth to the Asian wolf, you’ll see that they’re more compacted. The vrain is smaller because the animal no longer has a large territory to cover, so navigating territories was no longer so important. The intestinal tract is shorter, because it had a smaller variety of foods to eat. All those changes were due to natural selection, not to our intervention.”

Probably one of the first ‘breeds’ humans intervened to develop would have been sighthounds like the saluki. The breed is thousands of years old and would have been specifically selected and bred for longer legs and thick muscles for fast running and hunting.

Dogs that barked loudly or at the slightest sound – like my collie! – would have been selected and bred for guarding.

Some dogs would have been selected and bred to give companionship, comfort, or just because they were appealing in some way – the same then as now.

Nowadays, ‘breed standards’ have strict rules about size, shape and colour. Many of the characteristics we originally selected for were actually a mutation or deviation from the norm in the original dog and were (and are) the cause of pain or health issues.

By breeding from a limited gene pool in order to meet the breed standards, “we haven’t always helped our best friends.”

Dogs like the Bernese Mountain Dog, as little as 40 years ago, were actually an aggressive breed, in general, originally bred as guarding dogs. Breeding since that time for a gentle temperament has created a gentle companion, a placid family dog, but has shortened life expectancy and increased risk of serious medical problems because of such a small group of dogs being used in their breeding.

 Bernese Mountain Dog by Lotti Brown. Click image to find the print in my store.

Bernese Mountain Dog by Lotti Brown. Click image to find the print in my store.

In fact, as we become more aware, now, of specific medical problems amongst pedigree dogs, this is one of the criticisms often levelled at organisations such as the Kennel Club who apparently promote pedigree breeds whose very breed standards seem to perpetuate features that can cause medical problems – such as the breathing difficulties endured by many of the flat-nosed breeds.

For Rough Collie Fans

I was particularly interested, in the section on working dogs, in the piece about canine acting royalty, Lassie – a rough collie – actually a male ‘actor’ called Laddie. I was relieved to discover that even Lassie, that paragon of dog obedience, isn’t the perfect canine that his on-screen persona makes him out to be…

Bob Weatherwax, rough collie trainer (of Lassie), says that rough collies aren’t as easily manipulated as some other breeds.

There’s a lot of things collies just don’t want to do. The reason why is because they were bred to sit up on a mountain with a shepherd and just guard the sheep. They’re tough dogs… That’s what they’re meant for. They’re bred to be suspicious.
 There are plenty of things my rough collie doesn't want to do - he knows his own mind perfectly well!

There are plenty of things my rough collie doesn't want to do - he knows his own mind perfectly well!

So this explains why my rough collie, Noah, is so watchful and antagonistic about any stranger walking past our house and so vocal about anyone stopping to go about their business or pass the time of day (“…lurk suspiciously,” thinks Noah) nearby – and why he alerts me faithfully, and noisily, to this every time. (Once he’s ascertained you’re not suspicious, you will probably get to pass quietly!)

Even superstar Laddie gets “upset or spooked” so I think I can allow for my rough collie’s little bit of nervousness around the unexpected. Clearly, it’s all in the breed.

Meant to Be Together

I know, from my relationship with my own dog, how special our bond is with our furry family members. It seems that it might really be that humans and dogs are just meant to be together, have evolved together and exist together for mutual benefit.

 One woman and her dog!

One woman and her dog!

But an awareness of where our pampered little pooches have come from, their original family (pack), and their place and role in that family, can only help us in moving forward with our dogs as our family members and cherished companions – and making sure that our relationship with them continues to work just as well for the dog as for the human in the equation.

We do have a responsibility to our canine companion to look out for and work for their best interests, just as surely and genuinely as they look out for us.

I like the idea from the Aboriginal people of the dog being one of our family – deserving our respect and permitting him an independence as his own being, even while living in interdependence in our human lives.

 Meant to be together!

Meant to be together!

This is a really interesting book that takes a journey to examine the true nature of that special relationship that exists between humans and dogs, where it came from, how it fits with the dog’s ancestral pack roles, how it developed, and where it’s going.

Entertaining and easy to read with lots of stories and personal anecdotes, it manages to take some weighty topics and discuss them in such a way that you go on a personal journey with Martin Clunes.

I think the book would be an interesting and valuable read for anyone the least bit interested in dogs.

There’s so much more to the book than what I’ve discussed here, so if you love your dog, I heartily recommend you read it yourself.

Please note that the above links are affiliate links. This means that if you buy via this link I will receive a very small commission for my part in recommending the book to you. The price you pay is always the same and I only ever make recommendations that I genuinely feel are of interest to you and that I personally love.

Please note that all images (except for images of the book itself) are my own, included to illustrate my review, and are nothing to do with the book and are not included in it or associated with it in any way.

Let Me Take You By the Hand

behind the scenes, personal musings, artworks, natureCharlotte Brown

When I create my art, I want to take you by the hand and show you all the little awesome things that I see in nature.

Sometimes we get too busy to see them, or too distracted by other things going on. One of the jobs of an artist is to see the little things that other people sometimes miss - and to share them with the world...

 Detail from my Wren and Physalis artwork

Detail from my Wren and Physalis artwork

The act of creating art, for me, is just me saying:

"I saw this. It made me feel happy (or serene, or joyful, or intrigued).

I want to share it with you."

I anchor this emotion inside myself by re-creating it in art - the thing that inspired it, and the emotion itself, are both what I try to put into the artwork...

Now that that special feeling, that emotion, are in a tangible form, I can share this emotion with you - I can properly tell you about what I saw and how I felt - and share it all with you.

"I want to show you the awesomeness of nature - how I see it, how I feel it - I want you to see it too, share it with me, experience it right alongside me..."

I hope that you enjoy experiencing nature along with me and that it makes you as happy as it makes me... :)

'Water-Sparkles Otter' Art - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, new collections, shopping, drawingsCharlotte Brown

Bold and colourful otter art by Lotti Brown: 'Water-Sparkles Otter'.

I wanted to capture the energy and watery nature of the beautiful and elusive otter - one of our most amazing wildlife animals...

 'Water-Sparkles Otter' art print by Lotti Brown

'Water-Sparkles Otter' art print by Lotti Brown

My beautiful, sleek, wet otter is surrounded by vibrant marsh marigolds, reeds and grasses to give a colourful artwork with a really watery feel.

I was inspired by a favourite film as a child: 'Ring of Bright Water' which tells the beautiful story of Gavin Maxwell's experiences of life in Scotland with an adopted otter.

I wanted the splashes of colour in the otter's fur to look like the sparkles of light and water from the film - and for the flowers and foliage to evoke those idyllic highland streams and ponds where the otter would play and swim - a little moment of tranquillity almost stood still in time.

 Detail from the otter artwork

Detail from the otter artwork

I also remember an amazing experience from a few years ago, stood watching an otter play on the island of Jura in Scotland...

With my husband, I spotted the otter on the shoreline from the car and we pulled over and got out the car to watch her eat a meal of fish - she saw us but had no fear and stayed to continue her feast - an awesome and unforgettable sight that I feel privileged to have experienced.

 Otter on the seashore in Jura, Scotland

Otter on the seashore in Jura, Scotland

The otter is amazingly sleek and lithe with wonderful arching shapes in her movements - you can just feel the strength, energy and absolute mastery and precision of the otter's body as you watch - and I hoped to try and capture some of that really special energy in my artwork, too.

Behind the Scenes of the Otter Artwork

Take a look at how I developed my otter art from my drawings with the help of the computer...

Click on the images below to see larger pictures and to find out more about the process...

 The finished otter and marsh-marigold artwork - an explosion of colour and energy - wild nature, untamed!

The finished otter and marsh-marigold artwork - an explosion of colour and energy - wild nature, untamed!

I love how we feel like we've just caught a very special glimpse of this very private animal in his element...

 My otter print is available as a framed or unframed giclee art print and mini artboard in my online art store - click pic to go there

My otter print is available as a framed or unframed giclee art print and mini artboard in my online art store - click pic to go there

 Click image for further details of print and frame options in my store

Click image for further details of print and frame options in my store

'Water-Sparkles Otter' Artwork
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Colourful otter art print 'Water-Sparkles Otter' on a waterside surrounded by dramatic yellow marsh marigolds.

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You can get my 'Water-Sparkles Otter' art print in my online store.

You can see more of my nature art in my Wildlife Art Gallery.

Heatwave Hermit

nature, personal musingsCharlotte BrownComment

I love the sunshine – bright, clear days, soft rays of sunshine across infinite blue skies and the gentle caress of warmth on the skin…

But I have to say that I’m not one for the heat. I know there are some that are loving this summer heat, but at the risk of being a grumpy so-and-so, you can absolutely stick your heatwave… and preferably where the sun don’t shine!

For the last few weeks, here and across much of the northern hemisphere and beyond, it’s been too hot, abnormally hot… claggy, muggy, heavy, uncomfortable… and completely overwhelming!

 Hot August evenings in Yorkshire

Hot August evenings in Yorkshire

Life is reduced to venturing out in early mornings and late evening when, on most but not all occasions, we can enjoy a relative cool – so important when you have a hairy dog who hates hot weather too!

The middle of the day is spent with blinds and curtains drawn, blocking out the heat of the sun and trying to keep the house cool. We have a daily routine now, following the sun around the house, opening windows when it’s cool(ish) and shady at that side and closing up when the sun moves round… but still remembering to come back and open up to let the cool air in later.

On our recent week off, we decided not to brave the elements on day trips out in the heat – too hot for us – too hot for the dog to come with us – too hot for him to stay shut up in a hot house...

 A shady spot for the dog to hide from the heat

A shady spot for the dog to hide from the heat

(Luckily, when we’re at home, Noah gets to choose his own shady spot in the garden and does follow the shade as it moves through the morning, returning inside in the afternoons where it’s a little cooler than the scorching garden.)

Excursions have been short and sweet and we’re getting to know, now, which shops and cafes are welcoming, cool, and air-conditioned, and which are stuffy, overheated and unbearable.

I do feel like we’ve become heatwave hermits – timing our outings with the dog for cool mornings and evenings (24C at 8.30am and still 26C at 9pm the other day, so that cool is relative) – and having to shut out that sunshine just to stay cool and avoiding anything even remotely strenuous in the heat of the day.

In Britain, we’re just not used to it being this hot. And we’re not equipped with shutters and air-conditioning that do make life a little easier in countries where this weather is more usual.

I can hardly even bear to imagine what life is like in countries where it’s now even hotter, with wildfires breaking out (we’ve had some, too) and burning uncontrolled and the risk to health and life is increased.

I was only two when Britain last experienced such a heatwave (in 1976) so I can’t recall it at all, but it’s so completely out of the ordinary for us that it does feel unsettling. And the fact that such a huge area of the world is experiencing the same makes it even more unnerving.

It seems that we may not have a choice but to take more note of nature, as nature reminds us that it’s still a powerful force in our everyday lives, no matter that we sometimes feel like we humans have dominion over all things.

 The golden summer light is beautiful - but the accompanying heat is overwhelming!

The golden summer light is beautiful - but the accompanying heat is overwhelming!

Stay cool in the heat of summer look after your loved ones and your pets – and look forward to enjoying the best things about a heatwave – the cool, refreshing summer rain when it does eventually come!


If you can't wait for nature to oblige with some cooling rain, click and enjoy the rain experience below... hope it helps cool you down!

Nature - Going Deep

behind the scenes, personal musings, well being, natureCharlotte BrownComment

Spending time out in nature isn't just a matter of seeing beautiful plants and flowers, or interesting birds and animals that I want to draw and make art of - it's something even deeper that that.

Mindful time in nature - by that I mean, not a hike through nature but a walk, a stroll - drinking in the green, stopping to look at a leaf or a a flower.

Taking a quiet moment and letting your ears, and your heart, fill up with the sounds of birds calling, the wind in the trees, the rustle of breeze in grasses or crops, the sensation of wind, sun, or rain on the face...

 A beautiful spot to drink in the healing calm of nature

A beautiful spot to drink in the healing calm of nature

This special time in nature brings us to a deep, inner place of calm and clarity within our own selves - a truer knowledge of our own values, wants and needs.

It's from this deep place of calm, energy and clarity that creativity comes alive and where the soul feels open to speak out, to call out, and connect with our self and with the world.

Awesome Places to Connect with Nature (...and you can bring your dog!) Part 2 - Skye

behind the scenes, nature, inspiration, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

One of my favourite-ever places for feeling connected with nature in a really wild, remote place, where you feel so far from the everyday life and the modern world is the beautiful Isle of Skye in the highlands of Scotland...

 Nature and wild landscapes on the Isle of Skye

Nature and wild landscapes on the Isle of Skye

This is somewhere where we've visited and holidayed several times now and we never fail to feel refreshed and rejuvenated from a trip...

 Holidaying in nature on Skye

Holidaying in nature on Skye

Here are some of our favourite places to connect with nature on Skye...

Coral Beach - Claigan, Skye

 White Coral Beach at Claigan

White Coral Beach at Claigan

A beautiful white beach with turquoise waters - if you're lucky enough to visit in the sunshine (which we have in the past - I recommend you plan to coincide your visit with a forecast sunny day, if at all possible) it looks truly tropical - but it's dramatic in any weather.

 The white sands at Claigan beach in Skye

The white sands at Claigan beach in Skye

The white 'sands' are actually created from a 'coral' which is made of a fossilised red seaweed growing in the waters here.

 'Coral' from Claigan, Skye

'Coral' from Claigan, Skye

It's an amazing place to sit for a while, put your hands into the 'coral' and examine the tiny pieces, listen to the soft 'hush' of the waves and look out to sea.

 Beautiful Coral Beach at Skye

Beautiful Coral Beach at Skye

Claigan Coral Beach is a short walk of about 20 to 25 minutes through fields (with cows, who seem used to the visitors).

  • Find the beach from the little road going past Dunvegan Castle (also recommended to visit for the lovely gardens) and going up further onto the peninsular
  • Look out for a small signed car park where you can start the walk from the gateway at the far end
  • It can be busy at weekends or peak holiday periods - try to go early or late to get the beach to yourself

The Fairy Glen, Uig

 Fairy Glen, Skye

Fairy Glen, Skye

The dramatic landscapes at the Fairy Glen seem otherworldly - and it's a place that seems to hold a certain energy and stillness...

 Pointy hills and dark lochans add to the atmospheric Fairy Glen

Pointy hills and dark lochans add to the atmospheric Fairy Glen

A steep and narrow winding lane leads to this anomaly of nature - park considerately and explore...

 On misty days in the Fairy Glen, when there's no other tourists around, there's a feeling of being completely separate from the everyday world - almost like you're Alice and you've fallen down the rabbit hole into a whole other world!

On misty days in the Fairy Glen, when there's no other tourists around, there's a feeling of being completely separate from the everyday world - almost like you're Alice and you've fallen down the rabbit hole into a whole other world!

We listen carefully to the deep silence in this mysterious valley - and get the slightly unsettling feeling that it's listening to us, too...

 You can clamber carefully up to explore 'Castle Ewen' - a rocky outcrop: do the fairies live here?

You can clamber carefully up to explore 'Castle Ewen' - a rocky outcrop: do the fairies live here?

It's a lonely, dramatic and deeply intriguing place that seems to draw us back to visit each time we go to Skye!

 Intriguing landscape formations at the Fairy Glen on Skye

Intriguing landscape formations at the Fairy Glen on Skye

You can find The Fairy Glen down a small lane off the A87, just outside of Uig. Just south of Uig is the Uig Hotel (where we've stopped for lunch).

  • With the Uig Hotel on your left, take a sharp turn left just after and follow the road to the end to reach the Fairy Glen.
  • It's also fun to visit Uig and watch the ferries arrive and depart for Harris and North Uist.

Talisker Bay

 Talisker Bay - Skye

Talisker Bay - Skye

Now this one may not be the most dramatic of the places we've visited on Skye, but I think its my favourite and has a lovely remote feeling about it...

A tiny lane across the hills leads to a quiet lane end where you can park up and walk 20 minutes or so down a quiet track to the beach.

 Walking from Talisker Bay

Walking from Talisker Bay

The beach at Talisker Bay is stunning - a sheltered cove backed by hills all around - rocks, pebbles, and as the tide goes out the most beautiful black and white patterns in the sand...

talisker_bay_sand_rocks.jpg

It's a place to sit and hear the ocean as it breaks with energy on this shoreline, and absorb the simple quietness of this beautiful location.

Take a small road from the village of Carbost (where Talisker Whisky has their distillery) to Talisker and park with consideration at the end of the road near a farm entrance - the walk continues down the track.


There are lots of other really beautiful and quiet places on Skye where you can take a moment of stillness and calm to connect with nature so do get out and explore this beautiful place.

Please note that we have not yet actually taken our own dog to Skye, although it's something we want to do - it's perfect for walkies! Don't underestimate the length of journey it takes to get here, though, from many parts of the UK - it's either a very long day's drive, or more realistically an overnight stay, even from Yorkshire in the north of England where we live, so both yours and your dog's tolerance for long journeys will need to be taken into account!

We usually visit Skye in early May when there aren't too many tourists or midges!

The Joy of Doing Nothing!

nature, personal musings, well beingCharlotte Brown2 Comments

"What did you do on your holidays?"

"Nothing."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing..."

And it was fantastic. No need to rush, to seek more experience, more novelty.

We just had the most wonderful holiday doing nothing more than sitting, looking out into nature and walking with the dog, slow meandering strolls in the cool of the morning and the shade of evening.

shropshire_hills_gorse.jpg

Time to relax, to think, to feel, to recover from a hectic few moths of 'everyday life'.

Time to be still, be quiet, to return to the core of ourselves. Time to connect with each other, with the natural world around us. Time to eat well and sleep deeply. Time to feel the wind in our hair and the sunshine on our faces. Time to cherish ourselves and each other. 

Time to come back to our true selves.

Time taken doing nothing is not time wasted - it is essential to our well-being to unplug from technology - to quiet the TV, the music, the chatter - and return to a sense of quiet, calm and self. We need it as part of our lives, our regular routines.

'Summer Stoat' Art Print - Behind the Scenes

artworks, behind the scenes, inspiration, nature, new collections, drawingsCharlotte Brown

A fresh and colourful summer artwork - 'Summer Stoat' by Lotti Brown. Perfect gift idea for wildlife and nature lovers.

 'Summer Stoat' artwork by Lotti Brown

'Summer Stoat' artwork by Lotti Brown

With the beautiful greens and soft russets of summer, this is a sweet and gentle depiction of a wonderfully inquisitive little stoat.

I'm only rarely lucky enough to spot a stoat out in the wilds, but we were privileged to have one move into our garage one winter, so I know they're nearby, just keeping out of sight.

I love the warmth of summer and the smell of fresh grass that seems to emanate from this picture - and I love the sense of connection we get from this unique moment of eye contact... of being-to-being connection that the artwork gives us.

 Detail from the stoat artwork

Detail from the stoat artwork

Behind the Scenes of the Stoat Artwork

I share a behind-the-scenes look at how I created the artwork from my nature drawings with a little digital assistance...

Click on the images below to see the images full-sized and find out more...

 The completed stoat artwork - colourful, fresh and full of summer joy and freedom

The completed stoat artwork - colourful, fresh and full of summer joy and freedom

 'Summer Stoat' art print - framed and unframed giclee fine art prints and mini artboards are available in my online art store - click image to go there

'Summer Stoat' art print - framed and unframed giclee fine art prints and mini artboards are available in my online art store - click image to go there

 Click image for details of print and frame options in my store

Click image for details of print and frame options in my store

'Summer Stoat' Art Print
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Super 'Summer Stoat' art print - beautiful stoat and daisies in a vibrant green field filled with the freshness and sunshine of summer.

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Featured on Training Tabby

behind the scenes, featured on, personal musings, well beingCharlotte BrownComment
TrainingTabby.jpg

I'm more than honoured to be featured with my dog, Noah, on Training Tabby - a new website aimed at helping you to live a happier, less stressed-out life (we could all do with more of that, right?)...

It's run by the Training Tabby himself, with able assistance from my friend Jill, and shares tips, ideas, inspiration and stories to leave you feeling well-equipped to deal with what life sends your way...

I love their ideas about opening yourself to all the limitless possibilities in life and avoiding overwhelm (a feeling I sometimes end up doing myself, more often than I'd like!) - information that we can all put to use right away in our everyday lives...

You can see my feature here - where my dog, Noah, shares his own ideas on stress and sniffing the breeze... 

 "Stop and sniff the breeze, my friends!" Sage advice from a wise, not-so-old collie!

"Stop and sniff the breeze, my friends!" Sage advice from a wise, not-so-old collie!

There's plenty we can learn from our animal companions, and the world around us.

Thank you so much, Jill and Training Tabby, for this lovely write-up - and good luck with Training Tabby. I can't wait to see how it develops and grows :)

New Phonecase Designs at Artscase

announcements, artworks, new collections, shoppingCharlotte BrownComment

I'm excited to announce that my art features in a selection of new designs now available as colourful phonecases at Artscase.com...

The phone cases are available for a range of iPhone and Galaxy phone models in slim-fit and strong-fit phone case styles.

International delivery.

The Lost Words - Nature Book Review

book reviews, inspiration, nature, well beingCharlotte BrownComment

I received a copy of the beautiful The Lost Words book, recently, as a gift from my husband... and I'm utterly transfixed by it...

I love it so much I just had to share it with you...

The premise of the book is how we are becoming disconnected from nature, especially our children, who are 'losing' words from the world of nature and the realities that are joined to these special words...

And yet nature is soo essential to our everyday wellbeing...

And it's such a beautiful book - wonderful poems seeking to 'spell' the world of nature back into life and illustrated with the exquisite art of Jackie Morris...

Watch her creating her wren below...

It's a very large-size book, which makes the illustrations all the more beautiful - perfect as a coffee-table book to peruse at your leisure or equally so for reading to children who will, I'm sure, be captivated by the world that this book evokes...

It's particularly poignant since we are starting, now, to recognise how much benefit we can gain from time spent in the green of the great outdoors, or even just from our small, mindful, everyday connections with nature, so it's particularly important for children to be able to appreciate and access the natural world and make it part of their growing lives.

Campaigns have now started to raise money to get a copy of this enchanting book into all primary schools and even, as the word gets out, for residents of care homes who may not be able to access nature in person, but who will be helped by being able to access the memories of nature that the book will surely evoke, to be able to benefit from the magical words and images in the book.

Crowdfunding is currently taking place for all primary schools in my local area, North and East Yorkshire, to all receive a copy of this inspiring book - you can donate here to become a part of this project (till 19th July 2018) or search the Crowdfunder site to see Lost Words fundraisers for your own area.

I love to just sit with this book in the evening, read the words and absorb the images - feeling the magic of nature it evokes...

If you love art and love nature I know that you will adore this book - a work of art!

If you purchase The Lost Words through the above link I will earn a small commission. The price paid by you is always the same and please know that I only ever recommend books and products I genuinely love and believe are worthwhile sharing with others. Thank you.

You might also be interested in this article about the dictionary's lost words of nature