White Night Melbourne

Last night, hubby looked after the little one and I was able to head out on the town to experience Melbourne's 2nd annual White Night which ran from 7pm-7am and turned the city into a wonderland of light, fantasy, fun and folly.

here's a little picture show.

Princes Bridge with 'White Night' being spray painted live with different designs

Life drawing marathon at National Gallery of Victoria

'Tattooed City' pictorial projections on NGV

Busker's bike on fire :)

Awesome light projections onto Flinders Street Station and along Swanston St (below)

More fun light shows in the city
I do love Melbourne :-)

MATS: Wrap up

The Make Art That Sells experience was quite amazing. It was intense. It was challenging. It was liberating. It was frustrating. It was eye-opening. It was affirming.

Intense: 5 weeks, a mini assignment each Monday, a main assignment on the Wednesday, due on the Sunday. Posts almost each day (sometimes videos of 30minutes+) on the market we were exploring that week. Information overload, but what amazing information.

Challenging: Definitely getting out of the comfort zone. Trying to complete a professional quality illustration in 4 days. Thinking about my art (and myself, my role, what I want my art to be) in new ways.

Frustrating: I felt like I never had enough time in each week and could have kept going for ages on each piece! (This is a good thing I guess. But so is knowing when to stop!) At one point I started to fall behind in class posts and was struggling to catch up. But in the end, I was mostly pretty happy with the pieces I put up. (except was disappointed in myself for the Children's Book week)

Liberating: Trying new things. Things I'd always wanted to try but never given myself the time or the freedom to try them. Having fun doing things I wasn't sure I would like!

Eye-opening: Seeing what all the other amazing artists in my group game up with was truly inspiring (sometimes daunting) but mostly motivating to work hard and achieve a higher level with my own art.

Affirming: This is what I want to do. I think I can do it! Finding some new directions to take my work in.

The class was definitely good push to try new things and discover other avenues to get my art into the world. I look forward to revisiting some of my pieces because I would have loved to have had some extra time to work on them during the class. I also look forward to reviewing some of the class posts because there was SO much amazing information given out, I'm sure I missed some along the way. But I feel like I am armed with all of the necessary info to enter any one of the markets we studied. It's just a matter of making some amazing art and getting it out there!!!

These are the pieces I created during the class:

You can see my posts here: Fabric / Home Decor / Children's Books / Wall Art / Gift

Another wonderful part of the class is the incredible wealth of information from classmates, as well as feedback and support through the Facebook group. Lucky for us, the fb group continues on indefinitely and we still use it as a sounding board and support network.

These are a few of the amazing pieces from some of my classmates: (soooooo much amazing work let me tell you!)

Rebecca Jones

Anna Whitford

Mary Tanana

Linda Tordoff
Kirstie Cookman

Hui Yuan Chang

Hung-yu Chen

And here are some of the other participating artists with blogs who are blogging about the class. Take a click to see incredible art from these talented people!!

Katie Wood - http://www.katiewoodillustrations.blogspot.co.uk/
Anne Waters - http://annewatersdesign.com/blog/
Aisha Khan - www.aishaandherwork.blogspot.com
Linda Tordoff  - www.paintlovestudio.blogspot.co.uk
Martina Lenhardt - www.ma-len.blogspot.com
Melissa Doran - www.goradiate.ie
Jo Chambers - www.studiolegohead.blogspot.co.uk
Son Atwal - www.applekaur.com/blog
Bari J. - http://www.barij.typepad.com
Eva Marion Seyffarth - www.eva-marion-seyffarth.blogspot.de
Rachael Schafer - www.rachaelschaferdesigns.com
Danielle McDonald - http://reddogandjude.blogspot.com.au/
Renske de Kinkelder - www.renskedekinkelder.com
Jordan Vinograd Kim - http://www.foundandrewound.com/blog/
Emma Schonenbergh - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emma-Schonenberg/175939639128136
Aileen Tu - http://aileentu.com/blog/
Sarah Ehlinger -  www.verysarie.com
Jen Burbridge -  www.madebyburbs.co.uk
Carolina Coto - www.carolinacotoart.com
Claire Lordon -  www.clairelordon.blogspot.com
Anna Whitford - www.rosanna-rossi.co.uk
Mary Tanana - http://www.barij.typepad.com
Jennifer Wambach - http://jennartdesigns.blogspot.com
Victoria Johnson - http://victoriajohnsondesignblog.blogspot.it
Nic Squirrell - http://nicsquirrell.blogspot.com
Melinda Hopkirk - www.crouchriverstudio.com
Jennifer Appel - http://www.jaillustration.com/
Wendy Brightbill - http://www.agirlandherbrush.wordpress.com
Andrea van Dalen - http://dreamkeeperfae.blogspot.nl/
Ohn Mar Win - http://illustrationsouljourney.blogspot.co.uk/
Jill Byers - http://jillbyers.blogspot.com
Sarah Gager - www.sarahgager.com
Angie Sandy - http://www.angiesandy.com/blog
Diane Neukirch - http://dianeneukirch.blogspot.com
Larisa Hernandez | https://www.facebook.com/pages/Larisa-Hernández/166215440228435
Kathy Weller - http://www.wellerwishes.blogspot.com
Lisa Deighan - http://www.lisadeighan.com
Deb Trevitt - http://www.debtrevitt.com/blog/
Tara Lilly - http://taralillystudio.blogspot.com
Nicole Piar - http://www.ghostkittendesign.blogspot.com/
Stacy Peterson - http://stacypeterson.net/blog
Emily Dyer - http://www.emilydyer.com/blog
Antje MO (Martens-Oberwelland) - http://antje.art.com

Noisy Neighbours

I happened upon a lovely book at the equally lovely Younger Sun (children's) Bookshop, by illustrator/designer Ruth Green.

I love Ruth's palettes and fun characters. The design of the book is fantastic, and I think my son will really love the bold contrast in the images.

It looks like this is her first book, but she has lots of other delicious work!

It's been interesting reading to Oscar - I have a good selection of children's books, but many of them I have collected for the illustrations and haven't actually read them! Reading them now, I realise many of them are so very simple. (And also that a good rhyme is hard to come by!)

This Is Melbourne

I've got a piece in the upcoming This Is Melbourne exhibition, as part of the Fringe festival. It's my first completed piece since my little boy came along! I will post it here soon, but for now, consider yourself invited :)

Caitlin from Pesky is curating, and has a list of all the artists on her blog, here. The exhibition includes works by Shaun Tan, Andrea Innocent and Tracie Grimwood to name but a few!

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!

Around the edges

Today I went to see an exhibition and talk from one of Australia's most amazing illustrators Graeme Base. I got to see the original art for his new book The Legend of the Golden Snail at Melbourne Arts Rooms and my, are they breathtaking. The detail is so incredible, and his rendering is top notch. He uses a blend of watercolours, airbrushes acrylic inks and coloured pencil to great effect. so very inspiring.

I TOTALLY forgot to take my books of his to sign (doi) so I got him to sign my notebook instead :)
In other news, I've been working on a few illustratory things around the edges which I can't share with you yet, so instead here is something I was involved in as part of the Melbourne Festival last weekend - a flash mob dance! (SO FUN!) See if you can pick me out, ha ha. There were a total of 5 dances done throughout downtown Melbourne that day (I did two), but so far this is the only one I can find...

How beautiful is this?

I was recently introduced to Pamela Zagarenski by Stacia over at my critique group Creative Cup.

All I can say is I am in LOVE. Her work is so incredibly beautiful and I must admit I secretly covet this style. (It is acrylics though. I need to explore how to make something similar work in watercolours) But the way she uses collage and words especially, and her colour palettes, and oh.

Here are some more images and you can see an interview with her with tons of her work here. Enjoy! (and remember to wipe up your drool when you're done ;-)

The Greats

I went to see the European Masters exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria today. It is a collection that is travelling from the Stadel museum in Frankfurt, so many of the artists were German or had lived and/or painted in Germany at some point (Franz Marc, Uhde, Beckmann..) and a lot of French too (Monet, Degas, Rousseau..)

Here are a few sketchies I did:

(one of my favourites from the whole exhibition)

next week, the Tim Burton exhibition.... can't wait!

SCBWI L.A. conf : Part 3 : BUDDIES

One of the best parts of going to a writing/illustration conference is.... meeting other writers/illustrators! So, here are some I'd like to tell you about:

I arrived at the conference late on the Thursday before the early start Friday morning, so I was so relieved to be greeted by my roomie Jill Kassander, who I had met through the SCBWI forums. Jill had been to the conference 4 times before and so knew the ropes, and was a fantastic roommate, tour guide, carer, advice-giver, and confidante. Thanks Jill!! :-)

It didn't take long before I met the aussie contingent:
The unmissable Chris Cheng who was named SCBWI member of the year!
Then I found the fantastic Western Australia cohort: writer/illustrator Samantha Hughes, and writer Caz Williams. Here is some of Sam's spooky work:

It was fun meeting up with these ladies throughout the conference. Sam and I ended up waiting nervously for our portfolio critiques together, and then sharing a still-jittery tea afterwards to hear the outcome (she got really great feedback too!) And I knew if I wanted to find someone to sit with that I could scan the crowd and find Caz's bright red hair. :)

I also got to meet fellow Melbournian Angela Driver and I also briefly met aussie Kandace Mavrick (no link). HEre's artwork from Angela's up-and-coming-book:

At the illustrator social on the first night, I was introduced to the inimitable Kelly Light, who incidentally has just raised $10,000 through her Ripple blog -- Way To Go Kelly!!

Kelly in turn introduced me to the lovely Angela Matteson/Angelato (whale and boy image below) and Linda Silvestri/Sketched Out (monster image below), and together we formed a terrific trio. We talked, we laughed, we badgered Loren Long. It was such a joy to meet them. So funny because we all knew each other from bloggy land, but didn't know what the others looked like.

Then LAST but not least, I met and had a good chat with Priscilla Burris who just has such an incredible amount of bubbly energy it's amazing! (even after 4 days of organising disorganised illustrators!) As I mentioned before, Priscilla bought my ripple painting for her daughter Laura, who I also had the pleasure of meeting.

WEll I don't think I missed anyone. It certainly is such a pleasure to meet all these amazing artists in person. It's funny when you know someone by their work alone, you think you know them already. But meeting in person and sharing experiences, facial expressions, hugs, it really cements those friendships.

Everything is still sinking in for me -- the inspiration, the career opportunities, these new friendships -- but all I know is I am so happy I went.

So, all I can say to anyone who is considering going to the SCBWI conference.... do it do it do it!!!!

SCBWI L.A. conf : Part 2 : BUSINESS

When I went to the NY SCBWI conference a few years ago, I was excited about hearing illustrators talk and gaining inspiration.

This time, with my first trade book under my belt, I was much more business focussed. My little group kept saying I was channelling Leeza, who I met in NY, and who is the queen of networking. Well it's not so easy for me. I have to force myself to talk to strangers, but I figured everyone was there for the same reason so everyone's open to being approached. Plus, I had made these:

business card size mini portfolio

...so I figured I owed it to myself to be bold and hand out as many as I could.

And while I'm at it, here are all my promotional materials: portfolio, mini-folio, postcards, business cards.

So, armed with these goodies, I tracked down as many editors, publishers, agents, and all-around good people as I could....

I got them into the hands of Stephanie Owens Lurie (Disney-Hyperion), Justin Chanda (Simon & Schuster), Claudia Gabel (HarperCollins), Jennifer Rees (Scholastic) and by mail post-conference to Josh Adams (Adams literary) (who was actually the one I really wanted to talk to but could never find him) Anyway, some salient points from them:
• Your book will be judged against publisher's 'list' - it could be a great book but if they have recently published something similar, it may not be attractive to them (so much of this business is about timing!)
Your pitch/query letter should capture in 30 seconds or less
• An agent or publisher wants to build the career of the author/illustrator
• They will help with grow and shape your career but will not be your shrink, or your mother. you still need to work hard and give them something to work with!
• The ideal author/illustrator: keeps their audience in mind always, is selective on publishers, willing to promote the book, and is open-minded about future technology.
• Many editors prefer to receive material through an agent, but gems are still found in the 'slush pile'
• Think about how your story could be converted/used on new technology and think globally

I should say there was a lot of discussion at the conference about ipads and the like and how it will change (or more likely 'add to') the role of the author and illustrator. What wasn't discussed was whether the digitisation of books will ruin the industry as it has the music industry - where companies lose so much money because the free proliferation of the art is so rampant, it is unable to be monitored. that means less money to promote up-and-comings, and less confidence in the printed market...... but i digress.....

One of the most amazing parts of the conference for me was on Day 2 at 8am: My one-on-one portfolio critique with the man who created this:

To say I was nervous is probably an understatement. I mean LOOK at that lion! You can see each inidividual curl. It's insane. He's an amazing artist.

But then the moment I sat down with Richard I was put immediately at ease. He is the kindest man you would ever hope to meet. Especially because, after introductions and niceties, the first words out of his mouth were 'I looked at your website - I really like your work!'

He proceeded to go through my portfolio and point out all the GOOD things I had done! What a revelation! I thought I was going in to have my folio picked apart. But I realised what he was doing was so much more valuable: this is what is working for you, this is where your voice is strong, work on this, develop this.

Of course he gave me lots of areas to work on, all completely on the money:
• My characters are all very 'happy' -- show a range of emotion & experessions
• there should be a story behind each image. (I heard this several times throughout the conference)
• Show some B&W work and even some sketches
• my images are all quite flat -- work on perspective

and then..... came my million dollar question.
I asked Richard if he thought my work was ready for an agent.
--hold breath--
Yes, he thought so. I could talk to his agent who was at the conference.

so i did.

2 days later, I met for a glorious 5 minutes with Rubin Pfeffer from East/West literary agency. He said Richard had talked very highly of me (really?). He leafed through my folio and picked one image (which Richard liked too):

and said if I could build up a story around this little guy for him, he'd be interested in working with me.

so that's my homework assignment. I've already brewed a lil story around him on my 14 hour flight home. I can't tell you how exciting this is for me. Now I just need to follow through on this amazing opportunity.

So I have to say, that business-wise, for me, this conference was a definite success...

next post.... conference buddies :-)

SCBWI L.A. conference wrap up : Part 1 : INSPIRATION

I'm home! Back to winter.... back to work.... back to real life....

but let me delve back into a childrens bookmaker's wonderland for just a moment. oh please...

The SCBWI conference in LA was fantastic on many levels. I'm splitting it into three: Inspiration, business, and personal.

I'll do more of a general wrap up of my time and experience there as opposed to a workshop-by-workshop synopsis, seeing as you can get those in multiple places, not least from Team Blog who was blogging about everything live from the conference!

It was such a thrill to hear people like the ones below speak. (It was also great to hear M.T. Anderson sing a love song to Delaware.) Unfortunately I missed the last keynote Ashley Bryan because I had to leave for the airport.

A few tidbits of advice from the heavyweights:

The stinky cheese man himself
• read every picturebook you can!
• be proactive and determined getting your work out there
• if you have written a pb manuscript, cut it down by half, at least! (too true)

amazing work and wise words
• start one sketch at a time
• work should have that "emotional hit" and tell a story -- think lighting, posture, mood
• what music might be playing during the scene? try to evoke the same feeling with the pictures. (I love this!)
• the characters and book should be your friend

• a great way to build a 'new world' is to base it on your own (eg. Delaware) but then twist it a bit. A place you recognise partially is more powerful than something completely outlandish.
• show children new ways to see

this guy was hilarious!
• Do what the kid in you thinks is 'cool'
• Subtlety isn't lost on kids

E.B. Lewis, artistrator:
amazing inspiring art
• uses models for his characters
• find simplicity in compositions

Overall the main thoughts/feelings I came away with were things I already knew but are always good to have affirmed: do what you do. work hard. get it out there.

WRITING MASTERCLASS: Strong Emotions on the Page
The illustration masterclasses booked out so quickly, but I was able to get into a writing class by Arthur Levine, the VP at Scholastic and owner of his own imprint, Arthur A. Levine Books. It was really fun to put myself into a writing situation. We even had homework! Although the assignments were very interesting (write about a place, then write about it again evoking a totally different emotion), I don't feel like we got through very much in the class because there were 26 of us! Maybe the classes need to be even smaller next time, for more hands-on interactivity.

So I don't know if I'd sign up for a masterclass again, unless it was something I was 150% into. Because it was run for an hour each of the 4 days, that meant 4 other workshops I couldn't go to -- and there was so much to see!!

But Arthur was fantastic - a very patient, insightful, funny, deeply engaged and engaging teacher.

THEN, there was the portfolio show, with about 100 illustrators (including mine) displayed for all to see. So amazing to see everyone's work, perspective, creative presentation, aptitudes, talent, dreams. There was a winner: Molly Idle, whose work is, yes, jaw-droppingly beautiful (below).

The folio extravaganza was squeezed in between a 10 hour day of speakers/workshops and the 'heart & soul' themed dinner/ball, so after about an hour of looking at folios, thinking alternatively 'wow! this is amazing! how inspiring!' and 'wow! this is amazing! what am I doing here?' I took my leave to ready for the partay....

knitted heart 'brooch' my friend made for me to wear at the heart & soul ball

so next post, the business side....

And fun was had by all...

Have been having a fab time with friends in Montreal and family in Boston. Lots of good food, good drink, staying out late (one night with no sleep at all -- my 3 and 5-year-old nieces couldn't quite understand why Auntie-K needed nap time too) and genereal fun and mayhem.

In illustration news, in Montreal I got to meet wonderful illustrators Susan Mitchell (aka Sweet Pea), Paula J Becker, and Suana Verelst. It was great to have a face-to-face with these inspiring ladies, and to see Susan's work space. I was the lucky recipient of one of her lovely felted softy bunnies, and some of her illustrated Xmas cards which I will show you at some point.

I was also put to work in my time in Montreal and did a mural in my friend's soon-to-be baby's room. some photies:

And yesterday we went to the Eric Carle museum which was as much fun for little ones as it was for me! It was great to see some of Carle's original collage work, along with his amazing linoprint work I had fogotten he did.

They had spotlights on artists Leo Lionni and Lisbeth Zwerger - always great to learn about new (to me) illustrators. Zwerger's work was incredibly detailed - some pieces were so small!! one was about 3in x 3in. and she uses some amazing perspective in her work too.
While I was checking out the exhibition the littlies were having fun in the art studio making their own collages or in the library reading from the amazing book collection. fun had by all :-)
Staying in Boston until Thursday when I'll head to LA for the conference.. excited!

Check em out

I'm checking up on some of the speakers who will be at the SCBWI conference. I got into illustration after I left North America, so even though I'm pretty au fait with who's who in australian illustration, I don't know some of the most common names in the US. So I'm doing my research. lookie at these heavyweights:

(he's got a great website)

(can't you just feel that rain?)

Priscilla Burris - website & blog
(who, incidentally, bought my ripple painting, and who I'm looking forward to meeting at the conference. She also did all of the illustrations for this year's conference materials -- sweet!)

(some lovely mexican influences here)

Phew! I think I need a nice cup of tea and a good lie down now...

Drawing out Drawing In

Last night I went to hear one of my favourite illustrators, Shaun Tan, speak at Melbourne's State Library new Wheeler Centre. I always pick up some tasty tip or get inspired by a piece of his work I haven't seen before.

He was speaking as part of Drawing Out, Drawing In : Spotlight on Graphic Novels. I must admit I haven't been in to graphic novels much but the talk was eye-opening for me in many ways. I picked up Persepolis which I am eager to read (and see the movie/animation, once I have read it)

Shaun Tan talked a lot of the themes he enjoys exploring in his work: Language or lack thereof, miscommunication, displacement, and giving a voice to the voiceless (like his dogs in Tales from Outer Suburbia)

It made me think a lot about what themes there might be in my work, what I would like to explore in my painting on a deeper level, beyond technique and improving skill. One theme I see in my work is exploring the notion of 'home'. Tree imagery appears a lot in my work and I think of them as a home to many things, and I think of grounding, roots and family trees... there are many metaphors. Anyway that's something I'd like to delve deeper into in the coming weeks and months as I develop my folio for the LA conference....

For the love of art supplies

For anyone who's ever fallen in love with art materials, check out the link below for a guest blog post on author Damon Young's blog from artist Steve Light (from Rachel). He professes a love for his ink pen I can totally understand. I know there are a few paintbrushes I would want to save from a burning building!

I like what he says about how his pen takes him on a journey and he is really just along for the ride.

I didn't know of him but he's got a really fun, loose style.


9 x 5 = 20

The Illustrators Australia annual 9 x 5 exhibition opened this past Friday with the theme of "20" as it is our 20th anniversary this year. It was part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival and it was a fun time had by all! We had lots of people through, lots of food and drink consumed, and lots of artwork sold (including mine, hooray!)

I had a very good night. Lots of good conversations with fellow illustrators which is always such a treat! We are such a solitary bunch aren't we? so good to talk shop once in a while.

Annd, because my artwork sold, I always like to share the love... so I bought Penny Lovelock's piece, who, besides having the best name in the world, is also one talented painter!! See for yourself:

Cute eh? I love the humorous blackbirds. I'd like to frame this and hang it in my kitchen!

I have so many posts about different things that I want to do... children's books I have acquired, the process of illustrating my current book, but I am still working hard at the moment. but soon.... very soon..... I will have a bit more time on my hands, so stay tuned sports fans.

postcard from Espana

What a treat to find a postcard in my letterbox from the lovely Natascha!! Isn't it so exciting to receive real mail these days? Especially when it's so whimsically illustrated (and collaged, love that happy bear). Thank you so much Natascha!

I have been burning the candle at both ends the last few weeks. Just yesterday I finished up one of my two big illustrations projects I had on the go (I will post more about that soon), so I am very happy!

For now though I am diving back into working on my Christmas book which has been sadly in the back seat lately. (I kept looking at it longingly in the rear view mirror.)

I found it hard to shift my headspace between the two projects because they were so different -the one I just finished was digital, relatively rote, the book is traditional, extremely creative- so now I'm excited to really dig my teeth in again.

so off I go! But see you soon :)