The first painting I remember making was of a Hawaiian lady swimming the backstroke under a palm tree. Since then, making pictures and telling stories have been my favorite activity.

Gillian Hayes/dapple photography

I studied Illustration at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts, where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Distinction.

I was awarded a Master of Fine Arts degree in Illustration at Syracuse University.

After completing my degree I taught at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and illustrated for a variety of clients before relocating to Scotland and concentrating on children's trade and educational publishing.

I've illustrated a number of picture and chapter books for children and young adults. In 2005 I was selected for the Scottish Book Trust Words@Work mentoring scheme and developed my writing with Kathryn Ross of Fraser Ross Associates, who now represents me.

I was awarded a 2006 Scottish Arts Council New Writers Bursary to work on my first illustrated novel for 9-14 year olds, The Blackhope Enigma, which is published by Templar Publishing in the UK and by Candlewick Press in the USA.

Templar published the sequel, The Crimson Shard, in 2011 and Candlewick published it in autumn 2012. The final book in the trilogy, The Shadow Lantern, was published in the UK in 2013 and in 2014 in the USA. I wrote much of it while on a Creative Scotland residency on the island of Suomenlinna near Helsinki, Finland.

Barrington Stoke published Yellow Rabbit, a Little Acorn Reader (illustrated by Rich Watson) for younger, dyslexic and reluctant readers in 2013. They also brought out my illustrated supernatural teen novel, Jet Black Heart, in 2014.

I make commissioned artwork when time allows and I occasionally exhibit my personal work in galleries and open studio events. I travel as much as possible to absorb inspirations for new projects. Trips to India, Bali, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Finland and Thailand have all brought ideas and imagery into my paintings.

East Street Arts, Patrick Studios, St Mary's Lane, Leeds LS9 7EH, United Kingdom
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