Jackie Morris: about the paintings

October 5, 2022

We feel incredibly lucky that Jackie Morris painted the illustrations for this year's National Poetry Day campaign. Here Jackie writes a bit about the process. 

Each of the small images was created using sumi ink. There are many kinds of sumi ink and the one I used was Japanese, made from pine soot resin and scented very finely with incense. To make the ink takes time, as you grind the block of ink against a smooth she stone, which has a scooped reservoir to hold a pool of ink. The more you grind the ink, the deeper and darker the colour. And water added to the ink gives it its range of gradations.

There is an alchemy to the manufacture of artist tools that I grow to love. It holds its own poetry.

It is an ancient tool. Travelling scribes would have made their own ink blocks in centuries past, with soot and resin and gum arabic. There is an alchemy to the manufacture of artist tools that I grow to love. It holds its own poetry.

Each image is small, and painted onto a separate page, with words attached. I also made blots of ink that could be used by the designer to create the poster used on the website.

Jackie Morris

Jackie Morris is the bestselling and award-winning co-creator of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells, two books which have captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers of all ages. She also illustrated and introduced a new edition of Barbara Newhall Follett's lost classic of wild literature, The House Without Windows. As an author, Jackie Morris has produced over forty beloved children's books; as an artist she has also worked with the New Statesman, Independent and Guardian, among others. She won the Kate Greenaway Medal and the British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year for The Lost Words in 2018. Jackie lives in a cottage on the cliffs of Pembrokeshire, where she is now working on her forthcoming third book with long-time collaborator, Robert Macfarlane: The Book of Birds.