Tag Archives: Dogs

Disastrous Dogs (and where to find them!)

We love our dogs. Wonderfully, adoringly, unconditionally, they love us too!

For all the “dog people” out there, I’m sure you can’t resist ruffling a pair of fluffy ears, a scratch under a soft, warm chin. Me neither!

For this reason, in preparation for this Mother’s Day, (31st of March here in the UK) I’ve been working from an aim to unite all the dog lovers out there, for a collective “Ahhhh!!!” among all the mum figures, a little smile for everyone on this special day!

A project made for greetings card marketplace Thortful (who sell some of my favourite designs!) with a little narrative twist- each of the cards is based on a dog I’ve known in life!

Hooked? Let me tell you the story of some mischievous pooches…

Act I- The tiniest of sausages

Around the time I started researching for this project, my parents were looking after a beautiful little sausage dog for a friend. She comes to stay from time to time, a charming soul to have around with bundles of energy (don’t be deceived by little legs- she can run like the wind!) and an inquisitive nose! I noticed that being so close to the floor, she always seemed to enjoy investigating low down nooks and crannies- underneath furniture, boxes on the floor, and especially squat flowerpots in the garden!)


This was a great place to start- and several sketchpages later some ideas had begun to form. Dogs are usually pretty interested in what we’re up to, often want to be with us when we’re doing things, and will usually want to help, too! (Even though, quite often, “helping” means standing or sleeping where you want to be, or “gardening” by digging holes or ripping bits off plants when you’re not looking!)

Inspired by little Lily’s love of low-down places, I started to sketch out the latter situation so familiar to many dog lovers- the canine gardener! A few experiments with hand-drawn lettering later (along with colour matching with the flowerpot and lavender!) I had my first design!

Sausage dog gardener FV (LR) © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration
“Sausage dog Gardener” – the most relaxed helper of all!! © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration

Act II- The curly golden bear of mischief

I couldn’t even begin to plan this project without a thought of our old family dog, Sunny- the kindest, gentlest, cleverest golden retriever that ever there was… and a firm believer in the phrase “rules are made to be broken”, particularly when it came to food. Her greatest hits included cramming almost an entire bag of discarded rolls into her mouth before she could be wrenched away, eating a “bird cake” (lard and nuts) I had made with my Rainbow Guide group before she could be held accountable… the list goes on.

One of my particular favourite stories came from a family friend who had looked after her over a weekend we were away, where he had left a slice of toast on a coffee table that was a little lower than ours at home. He apparently had looked her in the eye, saying something to the effect of, “Don’t eat that.” She had looked straight back at him, innocent and blameless, and without breaking her gaze, gave the toast one long, purposeful lick. “There, I didn’t eat it!”


A forever loving pooch, and a loyal helper – particularly if the task in hand relates to tidying up crumbs!

World's best tidier (LR) © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration
Final design – “Your best tidier” © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration

Act III- The Fastest Boy in the North

For my third design, I wondered who to use as my muse. Time was running out before my deadline, so I set myself a little challenge- to include more movement in a single image. Therefore, an agile, energetic dog- nimble and quick.

I suddenly thought of my good friend in Norway, who has sent me photos and videos of her border collie Charlie since he was a pup. They live near woods and lakes- and in winter Charlie bolts through the snow so fast he could melt it! If there was any dog out there that could inspire movement in a pencil it would be him, I thought.


Quick, or he’ll be gone!

Woolliest Jumper Final (LR) © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration
Final design- a dog is the greatest personal trainer! “Your woolliest jumper” © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration


All three of these final designs – sausage dog, golden retriever, border collie-  are for sale on my profile here. Let’s give some mums a smile, they deserve it! 🙂

The AutumnHobbit

© Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Quietly confident: Powers of Silent Picture Books

Hello lovely readers!

It’s been a busy couple of months; I attended the Bologna Bookfair with a friend at the start of April so a lot of my time went into getting work ready to take there! It was a fantastic experience, and also the first time I’ve been since I was a student- second year me would have been very proud (possibly even disbelieving!) to see me march up and speak to lots of different people about my work… It’s still scary, but I get such a buzz from it now! I’ve sent off one selection of samples already, here’s hoping for some exciting new opportunities and projects to work on!

As my friend and I made some time to poke about in Bologna while we were staying this time, we managed to see a lot more ordinary Italian life passing by when we were eating and not running for trains… We discovered, much to our delight, that the pet of choice in Bologna most definitely seems to be of the canine variety. If you’ve ever seen the introduction sequence of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians with all the dogs that match their owners, you’ll get an idea of what it was like wandering about in Bologna’s streets!

Of course, we took lots of photos, and took some time to draw… On the way to the Bookfair one morning, we paused at one particular shop (an odd mix of a wine bar, deli and newsagents) to have a sandwich, when an elderly man with two of the fattest, wobbliest bassett hounds I’ve ever seen came trundling around the corner. The man walked in to get a lunchtime glass of wine, leaving the dogs outside to almost immediately fall asleep, their folds and wrinkles spreading out across the pavements like melting icecream.

Fat Bassett signed.jpg
Bologna Bassetts!


Capturing these many glorious pooches in particular moments of their day to day life resonated with one of my favourite parts of the Bologna Bookfair- The IBBY Silent Book Exhibition. This is the place where this year’s shortlisted silent book concepts are gathered together and displayed! (To view a full list of the finalists, you can visit this link! You’ll see what I mean by “Silent”- these picture book concepts contain no text whatsoever, their stories are told entirely in their illustrations.)

Some of you loyal readers might remember that I work part of my week as a nursery assistant, and a huge part of my time there is spent reading books to the children. (It’s great, because I can get a lot more primary research into what imagery they are drawn to!) I wanted to learn more about silent books: not only for my illustration work, but for inspiration about how I could introduce silent books to the children I see every week, and how I could better aid their developing literacy skills.

Here are just some of the positive and sometimes surprising outcomes I read about when silent books are included as part of learning programmes:

  • Nursery practitioners found that both themselves and their children could use the images in silent books as talking points, to promote and develop vocabulary, creative language and storytelling skills. Silent picture books also helped younger children to grasp the natural sequencing we take for granted in books: beginnings, middles and ends, left to right pagination, and what might happen next.
  • Teachers and nursery practitioners found that since silent or wordless picture books had no “page-turning cues” from the text, they would spend longer talking about each page with children. This gave themselves and the children they worked with longer to pore over the images, and find much, much more detail in them than they might have done had the stories been accompanied by words. (Of course, these principles can work on worded picture books too! Words or none, young children will always alert you to interesting parts of the imagery which you can use as further discussion cues! This may also be helpful for less confident adult readers as the story then becomes less of a performance and more of an informal chat.)
  • Teachers and nursery practitioners also found that children enjoyed silent picture books when still on the cusp of being able to read to themselves: being able to read the books from cover to cover on their own without missing any information helped them to grow into more confident, enthusiastic story-devourers!
  • Silent books are being used as tools to aid refugee children during the current crisis to adjust to a new life abroad. Lampedusa, one of the Italian Pelagie islands in the Mediterranean, has a large collection of silent books in its central (and first!) library with local and immigrant children in mind, courtesy of IBBY’s 2012-13 project, “Final Destination Lampedusa”.   (Take a look at the full report here)
  • In terms of higher level learning, for example at Foundation Diploma or degree level Illustration courses, the creation of silent narratives is a process teaching staff often like to include in the programme to help to build storytelling and narrative skills in young artists.


It’s been an idea I’ve been toying with for some time now, but after all this wonderful inspiration, I’ve decided to enter the silent book contest next year! I’m still narrowing down concepts: one possibility is to use my title little chap from”A Bear’s Winter” in a visual tale of his journey…

Bear narrative for blog.jpg
“A Bear’s Winter” storyboard-style layout, featured in my Bologna portfolio this year!


Rest assured, whichever I develop, it will involve a featured animal character- bear, dog or seal!

That’s it for this post- next time will be an update about how my silent book project is progressing, with a little feature on painted textures and patterns, with reference to “The Song of the Sea” film by Cartoon Saloon! Keep your eyes peeled over the coming weeks for big changes to my portfolios too… There’s a lot of new work to be added!

As always, thankyou for taking the time to visit my blog, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do writing it!

The AutumnHobbit

© Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.