Norman Thelwell did in fact sell many of his paintings in his lifetime, but his brilliant artistic talent was not widely known or appreciated. Luckily, he became famous as a cartoonist, so that his income from newspapers, magazines and eventually books, gave him a comfortable lifestyle. He was such a modest man. But to him, drawing came easily. He said "I just draw what's in front of me" and could not understand why his friends were so impressed, and did not have the same ability. From a very young age, he carried a notebook and pencil, and could scarcely stop himself from drawing everything he saw. At the age of about ten, he asked his mother what he could draw, having already done a house, a boat and a car: busy with other things, she said "Oh, go and draw yourself, then!" which was a novel idea to the young boy, who went and did just that. The self-portait of his ten-year old self, is marked (probably by his teacher) as V Good indeed.
This lovely book is packed with many examples of the exquisite drawings and watercolour paintings that he produced throughout his life. As a young man of about 19, he did a black and white pen and ink drawing of the interior of a church: the detail is extraordinary, and this before he'd had any art training at all. After serving in the First World War, he took the opportunity of attending art college as a relatively mature student; then a few years later became a teacher of art. Although he had a lively sense of humour, and his ideas for cartoons came easily to him, he says that his main interest and love throughout his life was the natural world. His depictions of landscapes, trees, flowers and animals are delightful, and they all make this book hugely enjoyable.
This is Thelwell's autobiography, and a brilliant book too. A wonderful 'Escape to the Country' long before the TV program was ever envisaged. 40 years ago when we moved from Kent to a village 8 miles North of Basingstoke few souls wanted to live in such a 'remote' place. Thelwell found similar joy in the Test Valley. How the world, (or Hampshire even), has changed!