Look! Me & Leigh

I went to see the fantastic Look! exhibition at the State Library -- and it's worth the trip into the city just to spend some time in that gorgeous building.

The exhibit was fantastic too of course, with original artwork by more than 40 Australian illustrators, including some of my favourites, below.

Anna Walker, Big Red Bus

(bought a copy of this, finally!)

Alison Lester, Are We There Yet?

Leigh Hobbs, Old Tom

It was a really fun day. I went with my friend Jody Pratt (and her daughter Abby), who is a fantastic illustrator/painter in her own right. I am very proud to own her beautiful hooty piece below. You should check out her stuff!

And speaking of Leigh Hobbs, lookie here!: (click to enlarge)

Me & Leigh on the cover of the Victorian Writer's Centre mag! Hee hee. They did an article on lil ol me and Anne Mangan, the author of the picture book I illustrated, True Blue Santa. We got a full double page spread! It's about creating a picture book from both author and illustrator's perspectives, with Anne's viewpoint on the left and mine on the right.

Neato! Thanks VWC!

Sun to snow

The last few weeks have been a beautiful blur of meeting with friends, incipient illustrations, and lots and lots of sweets.

And for now, I am about to hop on another plane to be with my family for Christmas- my first Christmas in Winter for 10 years. I am beyond excited!

I'm taking some painting to do with me - I have to catch up on my sketchbook project and have a few other bits and pieces to work on. But mostly it will be relaxing, laughing, eating, drinking, and if I'm lucky, even some snow.

So for now I just want to wish everyone a very merry one, and hope this is a very joyous season for all!

Christmas season

OK, so it's December 1st. Does that mean the Christmas season has officially started? I think so.

So, to celebrate that, I wanted to show you another step-by-step from my recently released book True Blue Santa. This is the final illustration from the book, and the only one which is set back in the Northern Hemisphere, and thus more "Christmassy" for all of you upside down people.

sketch of santa on his roof playing cricket with the reindeer

first pass with watercolours - lots of fun creating 'snow' with dabs of clear water on the drying paint
adding more colour

coloured pencil details & shading

collage finale!

top down view

a rather dark image of my drawing table / studio. I like affixing other illustrations from the project around me so that I am constantly referring to them.

Hope you enjoyed this step by step!

And so, if you've gotten this far, I will assume you are interested enough to know that True Blue Santa has been selling really well!! They printed 3 times the average print run and they have been snapped up by booksellers, with stock on the shelves quite scarce (and still the major Christmas shopping season around the corner of course) -- yowsa -- super exciting!

True Blue Santa Book Launch + GIVEAWAY!

Yesterday was the book launch for my children's book True Blue Santa at Readings Bookstore in Melbourne.

So, how did it go? OK, well I am a humble person. I find it difficult to blow my own horn, but I do realise that in this modern world, it has to hoot a little bit. So can I just say... (toot, toot) that the afternoon was a hit!

Readings was packed to the brim. So many people came - new friends, old friends, business friends... thank you thank you thank you to all of them.

There was champagne. There were savoury treats. There were gingerbread cookies in australian shapes. [only starfish shown below, there were also kookaburras, koalas, australias, and the random roo, but I forgot to take a photo of them! drats!]

There was santa claus. And colouring in for the kids. There were speeches, there was laughter, and there were smiles. There were book signings. lots and lots of book signings (and book drawings too) So many in fact that the books sold out! I couldn't believe it!

WOW-- a very very big day for me. A milestone in my career, to have my first children's book published by a major publisher, in bookstores, selling well. This is where I need to sit down and take a moment because I Have Achieved A Dream. My dream from when I first got into book illustration was to get to where I am right now.

THANK YOU to all of you who read this blog, who have followed along with me on this journey, whether you read the blog every week or are reading it for the first time. I appreciate each and every comment, and somehow feel because of all of you, and everyone who was there yesterday in person and in spirit, that what I do is meaningful, not just to myself but to you as well.

so to REALLY say thank you.... it's time for the giveaway!!!

I plugged the number of comments into a random number generator and got:

Linda Tieu at Tortagialla! Congrats Linda!
You will receive a copy of the book signed by me and the author as well as a pack of 4 True Blue Xmas cards.

Thanks for playing everyone. For those of you who are not Linda, here is a freebie for you: a colouring-in version of the below illustration. Enjoy! :-)

Book launches

I went to a book launch on the weekend for Paul Collins and Jo Thompson's The Glasshouse. It was a wonderful event held at the Prahran Market. Plus, lookie here! they were featured on the cover of Melbourne Weekly!

It was a treat to meet Jo (who I have met only through Twitter) and to see a few other familiar faces there, and to meet some new ones too! Because the main character in the book grows pumpkins, Jo had lots of pumpkin-related decorations and even her daughter had orange in her hair!

Well done Jo and Paul! A fantastic launch and I hope you have much success with your beautiful book.

And now it is T-minus 4 days to my very own book launch on Saturday Nov 6th. Have you entered the giveaway yet? Go on, do it now! **The winner will get a signed copy of the book (by me and the author) and also a set of 4 True Blue Christmas cards!

Until then, go here to download a colouring-in version of the above illustration. This is when Santa gives the reindeer a rest and uses some aussie critters to fly the sleigh instead. Stay tuned to find out who! I'll post the next one on the day of the giveaway, Nov 7th. Enjoy!

True Blue Santa goodies - process, FREEBIE & GIVEAWAY!

OKAY well it is T-minus 12 days to the book launch of True Blue Santa so it's about time for some FREEBIES!

Leave your comment on this post to go into the running for a copy signed by me and the author. As a bonus you will also get a pack of 4 True Blue Santa Christmas cards! The winner will be drawn Nov 7th so be quick!

Until then, you can download a colouring-in version of the illustration below. I will be offering a few more illos in this format so stay tuned between now and Xmas!

I took quite a few progress photos while illustrating the book and have been dying to show you my painting process.

This is one of my favourite paintings in the book, and the last double spread illo:

And here it goes from start to finish:

I sketch onto normal paper with a normal HB pencil. I will print out a frame for each spread at the book size so that I make sure I'm drawing to the right proportions. I erase and redraw a lot until I get it right. Then I scan it in and might touch it up a bit before I print it out at actual size.

I trace the sketch onto Arches cold pressed 300lb paper using my light box, tape it down to my artboard, then start painting!

I start first with the background. This is the funnest part really. I love big expansive washes. I leave spaces for all the foreground elements, making sure I fan out the background edges so I don't get any harsh lines (or I will soften these with some clean water if I do). I tend to work in sections.

More background work. Having fun with dabbing water on the paint while it is drying - creates some fun and completely uncontrollable effects, which is the thing I love the most about working in watercolours.

Switch to a different colour (I would change water/wash brushes at this point!)

And start filling in details.

More fun with backgroundy swirls and washes, the blank spot is where collage will go but I make sure to paint over those edges just in case I cut the collage paper slightly differently to my sketch.

Adding details and shading with coloured pencils. I currently use a mix of Faber Castell and Derwent but am considering a move to Prismacolours because they are softer.

Add in collage, some more coloured pencil on top of the collage, and voila! all done :-)

Hope you enjoyed a look into my process of painting. I'll post a few more of these in the lead up to the book launch and of course, Christmas!!

Release the hounds! I mean, my book!

No, the hounds weren't really released. But my book True Blue Santa was!! YIPEE!

(back cover)

So from now until the X-day, I will be hosting some Christmas fun (yes, I know it's early, but I'm excited ok?)

There will be giveaways of books and cards, sneak peaks and behind the scenes. There will also be a book launch in Melbourne for the locals. So stay tooned!

And if you happen to accidentally on purpose buy the book, leave me a comment and there will be something extra special for you! (it's not quite ready yet, I will tell you more when it is... hehe)

Happy early aussie christmasness!

My First Trade Book!

I resisted putting the title for this post in ALL CAPS, even though that's How I Feel. It's a bit like a first child.

Kim and her paintbrushes are happy to announce to the world that her little bundle of joy True Blue Santa has arrived, healthy and happy, weighing just under 5 kilos for 10 copies.

Gah! That's my name on the cover! And it's a real hard-cover-like book that's going to be in honest-to-goodness bookstores. neato mosquito.

I'm sooooo happy with how it turned out.

It will be on the shelves here in October, but you can go here to pre-order, if you're into that sort of thing. Not sure if that is for Australian customers only. I have my people working on world domination, so I will let you know.

Christmas in June

I recently took a trip to Sydney to visit a friend, but also did some business while I was there. I met with my editor at HarperCollins who is publishing the book I just finished illustrating - True Blue Santa - an aussie christmas story. I felt so little and nervous walking in there - check out this imposing building!

Anyway, it was all okay-- the editor was lovely as was the designer-- we had cups of tea and chatted, and then looked over all of the layouts. It turns out my timing was good as it was going to print that week, so I was able to go through it with a fine tooth comb and make final tweaks. I have to say I am VERY happy with how it is looking, and.... very proud (*blush*) of this being my first trade book. (eeee!)

So, it is due out in October! But I reckon it's about time I give you a sneak preview.... this is one of my favourite paintings from the book.... santa heading home after his australian adventure...