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« Helen Stephens, writer and illustrator of children's books. | Main | Sketchbook-ing. »


Rattling On

I have lots of mice in the garden (and outhouse...) they're lovely!
I always bury anything I find in the garden, seems the right thing to do somehow, but no ceremony.
One of my friends has her pets cremated and has all the ashes so eventually hers will be mixed with them and all scattered together. Including a parrot and a St Bernard...


Those mouse drawings are amazing.

We often find those round the garden as we have four cats. Rarely they are un mauled with, and occasionally we rescue live ones.

Ever thought of doing sketchbook stuff not just for you, but for sale too. I'd buy the mouse ones any day, or do an Etsy shop swap.


Hello Vanessa

I loved the peek into your sketchbook and you have captured the little mouse beautifully. It made me chuckle to think of her laying in your fridge though!! I think a nice send off would be a fine ending to her little life; and although it was cut unexpectedly short, I bet Mouse never for one moment imagined she would become a model for an illustrator!!

Julia x x x


Our cat usually doesn't leave a whole mouse, just a bit, either the head or the back end, tail and legs! It's not very nice. Glad you are feeling better, and I hope your face heals completely.


Your drawings are fantastic! Hope all goes smoothly for you next week x


I hope that burn heals very soon, I didn't know that about ice but I've never done it anyway.

The mouse sketches are so free and fresh, I have been trying to get back into drawing but I chose the wrong course to do. I could have supplied you with two live mice last week, they found a way into my cupboard under the sink. They were humanely trapped and released in a park.


Dear Vanessa, Your drawings of the mouse are brilliant as are your sculptures! I'm not surprised that they all sold! Sorry to hear about the food poisoning and the burns!


He's given you a wonderful all those sweet sketches and watercolor
naming him and burying him would be the right thing to do, I think. His images may bring you even more success with your artwork ;).


I think your exquisite drawings have paid tribute to this little mouse's untimely death perfectly. Even better than a stately funeral... although the latter would be the icing on the cake.

I'm very happy for you that so many opportunities are coming your way. You are reaping what you have sown. Of that I am certain.

I hope you are feeling better.


Kathy from Michigan USA

I think Mouse will find a new life in one of your wonderful sculptures & it will be a fitting tribute. Take care. Hope you feel better soon.


Wonderful sketches, you are so talented. Lottie often presents us with rabbits, even the odd rat :( We usually leave them in the hedge for the magpies to clear away! Glad your burn wasn't too serious. xx

Nina - Tabiboo

Oh bless - on all three counts - liquidising can be a tricky thing and I can sympathise with the food poisoning...icky tummies all round here, but with little mousy brown - such a shame for her loss, but a great opportunity for you to document her so perfectly. I couldn't think of anything more fitting and your illustrations are gorgeous - you've done her proud.

take care,

Nina xxxxxx


Goodness, you have had a week of it!
At the ripe old age of 14, Holly has now discovered how to catch mice - when she does, she carefully brings them to us, alive, with not a scratch on them.
So glad your sculptures sold, and that you've had more interest in both your sculptures and your paintings.

Lois Morgan

The little brown mouse will live on forever in your drawings, and has perhaps earned a spot in your garden. I remember when we lived in the country I found a dead rabbit under the gooseberry bush and watched for the next months as it slowly decomposed. I ended up with a shiny rabbit skull. Husband was a little horrified.

Lois Morgan

Hope you heal up well, my youngest was burned by hot tea when he was 2 on his chest and a bit on his face, he healed up very well but had an aversion to baths for a long time since I plunged him under cold water before taking him to the hospital...

harmony and rosie

Vanessa, such stunning portraits of that poor little mousey. I'm afraid our cats have taken to catching shrews when we're in the country and although it's so sad that one more is lost to the countryside, we all enjoy having a close inspection of something we might never be able to see otherwise.
Thanks for your A&E advice, I always run my finger under cold water when I burn it while cooking but it seems to work. I will definitely think again next time! Did you know that's how the powers of lavender oil were discovered? Someone burned his hand and plunged it into some lavender oil because there was nothing else to hand (can't remember who it was).
Congratulations on all your success, it is much deserved and I am mighty impressed about your school sessions. My daughter's school have authors in regularly and she LOVES it!
Kate xxxx


What a week you've had! Hope your face gets better soon, nasty things burns however small. As for your little furry friend I'd opt for the proper burial in the garden with a pretty flower to plant over the top!
When I was a little girl I tried to revive any little creature I found, (usually with out success) Bees, butterflies, voles, mice, birds, rabbits. If I failed they always got a proper burial. I did mange to raise a wild rabbit to adulthood once!


Your 'poor little mouse' drawings are amazing Vanessa. Drawing the mouse as you did reminds me of Beatrix Potter.
You have had a week of it haven't you!
Congrats on all your achievements as well, your hard work is paying off.
Vivienne x
P.S. I think the little mouse should have a good send off.


How lovely to see your sketchbook.They are rather personal things: children do seem to understand sketchbooks and it is always fun showing them to them.
Rough week for you though- hope everything that needs to heal and go does so and does it swiftly.
As for the sales and exhibitions-bravo!
p.s. Grand funeral.Pomp,flowers and music.

Vintage Squirrel

So you DID sell all three - fantastic news! I love your mouse drawings, they are so beautifully observed. You have such talent Vannessa. I saw a wonderful exhibition of Beatrix Potter's watercolours and drawings and yours reminded me of them. I hope your burn is healing - some week you had!
Katie x


Vanessa, All I can say is YOU are AMAZING. Such beautiful sketches, sculptures and books. That mouse is so cute and you are right it is so delicate, tiny, and precious, something we don't normally get to examine. So wonderful the school experience was so special. Congratulations, xoRobin❤


Dearest Vanessa, I have been worried that you were sick as I love to read your posts. You are an inspiration to us all. I pick up a lot of "stuff" but I don't know if I would have picked up a mouse--too funny. Best wishes-good luck and congratulations on all of your endeavors. Madelyn


I definitely wondered what sort of week you'd been having since your last post, Vanessa, but never would have expected the true combination of facts.

Your tiny mouse is so sweet. Both in its afterlife reality and in your very lovely, sensitive drawings. Please do find a special place to let that beautiful creature have its long rest.

Hoping that your pups were also respectful of their fellow creature.

That burn incident sounds a bit scary! I knew about the ice bit and also about applying unguents. Still. When something happens suddenly, it can be difficult to instantly remember What To Do.

Bravo to you on all the projects that are before you this year. Each of them is a tribute to your vast and varied talents.

Those school children are so, so lucky to be able to connect with you.

Best wishes. xo


Oh dear, you have had a week of it! I lightly boiled my left boob recently - a burst hot water bottle - so you totally have my sympathy, burns are sore!!! Every good wish that you heal quickly x

As for the dear little sadly departed mouse, what a wonderful opportunity for an illustrator! Your mousy sketches are exquisite Vanessa, or as my son has taken to saying, 'awesome dude'! And I really like the sketches of the vole, I'm not surprised the children were enthralled :D

Jenni at Baa-me Kniits

Oh dear Vanessa you seem to be getting the good with the bad! Hope the burn heals quickly, they are so painful xx

My feeder isn't working so I have been missing posts but I just did a catch up and wanted to say Eddie Spagetti is amazing. I breed JRT so I know that look and you have captured it perfectly!!


I'm so sorry to read of your accident. We swear by Pawpaw ointment to keep a burn and its scar moist as it promotes healing.

And your little mouse sketches are quite delicately beautiful. Beautiful! I love, too, that you still have all your early sketchbooks (as have I!) and knew exactly where to go to find your shrew drawings.

Wishing you a safer week...
Samantha xx


Hi Vanessa, what a darling little mousie, and your drawings are just gorgeous. These kinds of things fascinate me too. I am sorry to hear of your rather unhappier week health wise. I hope you are now well on the mend, and congratulations on all the wonderful work opportunities now coming your way. You are an incredibly amazing artist and deserve it all. With warmest regards...


So good to hear from you!!
I hope you are better now! Good luck with your gorgeous pieces of art!!
xxxx Alessandra

Pretty Nelli

The dog I had before Nelli, once killed a shrew. It was winter and I had rented a cottage. As it was warm inside, it lured two shrews to come in. He chased the shrews and killed the other one. Sooo... what I try to say here is that dogs can do things like that just like cats....

Wishing you a industrious March!


Vanessa your sketches are beautiful - really beautiful. I absolutely love them.
I hope your burns heals soon and you mentioned Bologna and set my heart racing. I love it there so mcuh. have a good week xx

Helen Philipps

Beautiful little mouse drawings, Vanessa. I'm so pleased to hear of all your success this year, it is very well deserved. Your work is so varied and inspired. Sorry to hear you have been poorly and about the liquidiser burn...awful. Hope you feel better soon and hope the book illustration roughs get finished in time. Take care.
Helen x


Well, I'm not around much on the computer these days so it was good to catch up with you via this latest post.
I'm not surprised that you are going from strength to strength with your work, it is so beautiful and you deserve the success. Enjoy it, and hope the burn is easing now. These accidents happen so easily don't they?


Poor little mousie, what a shame she came to a sorry end. She is pretty though isn't she? I wonder why people are so scared of them. Beautiful pictures of her, you have captured her for posterity in a very lovely way. I think she should have a fine mousie burial now. We used to bury our little hamsters in little boxes with lavender and dried roses; they are such sweet little things.

Your poor face Vanessa, that must have hurt so much! I hope you are feeling less sore now. My friends little boy knocked hot coffee onto his tummy and it was really pretty bad. I'm glad you WERE wearing your glasses. A very fortunate thing. I shall remember your advice about treating burns while hoping I shall have no need of it. Thank you. I hope the food poisoning didn't make you feel bad for long.

I am glad this year is proving to be a good one for your work. You do work so hard, I am not sure how you manage to do all you do. Your success is much deserved. All your work is beautiful, so it is not surprising really that everyone thinks so. Good news that you sold your sculptures that were being exhibited. And goodness it sounds like you are being kept busy for a while. It must keep it interesting when you use different media as you do.

I think I would have found it pretty scary going into a school for the first time too but I bet the children loved it. I think it is lovely for them to see people doing interesting things at first hand. I bet it sparks an interest in several of them too. It's a really nice thing to be involved in.
Siobhan x

Liz in Missouri (with Lucy)

I'm very glad you had your glasses on and escaped any damage to your eyes, though the burn on your face is bad enough. I hope it it healing well and no longer painful.
I think it's wonderful for you to be able to make a living doing what you love. The recognition that you are receiving is well deserved and I'm sure will continue to grow. I couldn't be happier for you. The school experience sounds perfect for you because how could the little ones NOT be charmed with your lovely drawings and books? Never underestimate the power of inspiration. One of those small people may grow into a famous artist someday and carry a memory of the kind woman who got her started.
I'm sure the wee little country mousie would rest peacefully under one of your garden shrubs. She has served you well and a tiny grave would be so much nicer than a trip away in the trash bin. I can see her now, coming back as a gentle little friend for Evangeline. They could have tea and talk about the wonderful life in the fresh country air. She would tell Evangeline all about the job she once had in a previous life as an artist's model, and you could show them both her portrait and discuss the fine points needed to show facial expression while Evangeline brought more cookies out of the oven.
There's nothing better than a special friend. Lucy thinks so too.


Hi Vanessa..what a lovely post this is.. I would be fascinated by the mouse too...and you have drawn it beautifully as a fitting tribute.
I hope your burn has healed nicely by now :)x

Sue, Victoria, Australia

Hi Vanessa, Just wanted to let you know that your blog has just provided inspiration to a class of Year 11 art students here in country Victoria. Beautiful sketches and the finished colours are lovely. Unfortunately the type of mice we get here are not as soft, fluffy and cuddly. Rather more feral, dirty and scruffy. Sue, Australia

Magic Cochin

The mouse sketches are so beautifully observed, I'm sure she will find her way into your illustrations and sculptures and will live on.
I found a tiny wren dead in the snow a few weeks ago... I wanted to draw her but in the end I gently buried her at the base of one of our big yew trees.

Take care of that burn, I'm sure much of the horror was from the 'what if it hit my eye?!' thoughts - but I can understand how it smarts, as I burnt my hand on the side of a hot frying pan while make pancakes the other night. I was in such pain I couldn't knit.
I'm so glad I didn't put ice on it!


Lovely mouse studies, Vanessa - really pleasing to see you painting and drawing from life - and great news about all the paintings,sales and the exhibition too. xx love Julia


Oh poor little mouse. You were brave Vanessa i couldn`t have picked it up! And your drawings are gorgeous.
Hope you scalds are soon on the mend.
Take Care
Love Carole from Rossendale xx


Lovely drawings!! if you hadn't told the story I wouldn't have instantly guessed him dead from your pictures, he's a beauty. I found a dead fox on a hot day so I had to bury him quickly, I felt really sad as he was gorgeous and not mangy at all. I so admire your sketches - thanks for sharing X

Archie the wonder dog

Poor mouse...your drawings of her are fabulous, it's wonderful to get a peek into your sketchbook! So glad the school visit went well - they were always the highlight of the half term when I was teaching, I hope you get to do more! Hope the burn heals soon and your tummy has fully recovered. Take care xx P.S. Congratulations on selling your sculptures!!


Oh those pictures are delightful, I'm not surprised you are finding it hard to say goodbye to the mousie! Like you I'm not squeamish and the opportunity to draw from life like that doesn't come about too often. I rather like your idea of giving it a burial though - it would be a fitting finale to a mouse who has given so much pleasure.


I love your little watercolour sketches of the mouse. What lucky school children! Some will be inspired to keep sketchbooks and some might even become illustrators one day as a result!
Sorry to hear about your burn, I hope it's not too painful and thanks for the tips, I thought you could put ice on it! I also thought that vaseline was bad for burns. It used to be thought that it kept the oxygen out and preventing it healing. I'll know better next time! (Hope there isn't a next time!) ;o)
Jess xx

deborah vass

Your drawings are exquisitely delicate - thank you for sharing them.


Hi, I love your little mouse drawings, so sweet! I just found your blog via a lovely dress on ravelry. Must say I am going to read it all. It is refreshing to read a blog by someone who is really talented and properly down to earth.


Hellooo lovely vanessa, i soooo enjoy your posts, especially your art and drawings/illustrations...It reminded me of walk that myself and twinny took a few years ago, we went for a lovely long 2 hour walk to Cawsands and when we stopped in the woods on a piece of mossy green to have our lunch we suddenly noticed a little shrew between us...It was dead, we wondered if it was there before we sat down or saw us and the shock killed it...but after lunch we held it in our hands - we both love to draw/illustrate too and we were so fascinated by its incredible beauty...when i was younger as my father was an illustrator for bird guide books and natural history he would come home with many hurt, injured and rescued animals and wildlife...we had a small sanctuary and even had a pet fox while i grew up...I so love the beauty of wild animals. I love your brown mouse studies, so wonderful ;0)x


dear Vanessa, do be gentle on yourself, it seems to have been quite the week, but I am so thrilled for you to hear of galleries clamoring for your work (and not the least bit surprised!)
looking at your beautiful mouse drawings reminded me of the lovely film about Beatrix Potter ...

Barbara x


oh dear oh dear. i'm glad your okay and didn't suffer worse burns than you did. i learned the hard way when my youngest suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns one time. scary.

dear vanessa, your mouse. that sketch belongs in a frame and hung up in a place of honor. LOVE. rest in peace little mousie.

congratulations on every good and well deserved thing coming your way.
love, lori

Planet Penny

I think Beatrix Potter felt much the same way about drawing dead animals, it's a new spin on 'life' drawing, but a wonderful opportunity to study a little creature really closely, and your drawings are so well observed. I hope he gets a state funeral!
Thank you so much for the information about ice and burns because I've been doing that for ages, thinking it was a short cut from the cold flannel thing. I'm so glad your burns are on the mend, what a horrible accident. love, Penny (and a comforting lick from Higgins!) xxx

Liz A.

What a week for you! You're splendidly matter-of-fact about keeping a dead mouse in the fridge in order to do drawings (Hugo must be very understanding) but a quiet burial in the garden is probably a good idea before you get too disconcerted to have milk in your tea at all.


I hope you have a pain free, sick free week. You deserve all the work that is coming your way. You area an amazing artist.


I love that you have immortalised this beautiful little creature with your drawings - simply wonderful and gave me a lovely warm glow. I'm crazy about anything cute and furry and so I just loved this post.


Vanessa, I do hope you are ok, I am concerned as no posts from you in 9 days! Hope your burn is well on the mend and that you are not too bogged down with work work work! We can all wait a little longer for a blog, just as long as you are well x

The Curious Cat

poor brown mouse - but wonderful works! Sounds like you have not been well? Need to catch up again as per usual! Hope you are good! xxx

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Me encanta que se han inmortalizado esta pequeña criatura hermosa, con sus dibujos - sencillamente maravilloso y me dio un cálido resplandor encantador. Estoy loco por todo lo lindo y peludo y así que me encantó este post.


I had a pet hamster and it was a great pet. The only problem was that it was easy for him or her to run away. I had a hamster lash for it but it never liked being in it.

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I'm impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that's both equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something relating to this.


I am in love with the statues

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Hello and welcome!

  • Hello, my name is Vanessa Cabban, and I'm so pleased you've dropped by! I'm an artist and illustrator, working from home. I have two Miniature wire-haired Dachshunds, Ellie and Douglas. I love being part of the blogosphere, reading your comments, and feeling like I'm part of a community. I hope you enjoy reading about my small world.

Books I have illustrated!

  • The Best Gift of All

  • Book and dvd,(narrated by Kevin Whateley), of Bringing Down the Moon

  • There's a House Inside My Mummy

  • The Magic Donkey Ride

  • Down in the Woods at Sleepytime

  • Dear Tooth Fairy

  • Dear Mermaid

  • No Place Like Home

  • Diamond in the Snow

  • Bringing Down the Moon