Book Launch & Exhibition Opening!

Well it's been a pretty exciting week for me with the book launch of Mummy You're Special To Me as well as the opening of an exhibition featuring the illustrations from the book.

I think I've probably said enough about these events in various places lately so I won't go on too much about them and just let the photos speak for themselves. I will just say they were both lovely events and I was very happy and touched to have so many friends and lovely people come to both... But especially my good friend Jody Pratt, President of Illustrators Australia, who launched the book for me, and my new friend Leith Walton whose amazing work shared the gallery with mine.

Held Sunday May 4th at the Hill Of Content bookshop in Melbourne
see on Facebook

Opening Friday May 9th, runs until June 8th
Hunt Club Gallery, Deer Park
with Leith Walton (woodwork, metalwork & watercolours) & Emilly Milosevska (papercut)
(see more on Facebook)

I love Leith's octopus in the centre and he had a time lapse video of him doing a watercolour painting, on the right

Emilly's paper cuts were fantastic, she had her pieces in the foyer.

nice to see all of my illustrations together!

A4 Book launch

I've got the above piece (one of my personal faves) in print in Lara Soulio's A4 Book, being launched in Melbourne at the Old Bar on Jan 25th. Get along if you can and let me know how it goes as I can't make it! ;-)

"A4 Book is a soft cover book of writing, images, photographs, drawings, poetry and ideas. Work included is visual, conceptual, literary or analytical."

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!

IF: racing

OK so this is a bit of a stretch for 'racing' but perhaps he is racing to catch as many stars as possible?

This is also a submission for my critique group The Creative Cup where we're all illustrating the namesake. We will soon be revamping the public side to the blog which is very exciting!

Oh, and don't forget to check my previous post for lots of free goodies and giveaway madness surrounding the launch of my new children's book!

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!

Books and book launches

Last night I went to the launch of Karen's new book Miscellaneous Voices, an anthology of blogging in Australia. Some of the contributors were there and read engaging passages of the book. It was good to see Karen again - it had been a while since we worked on Surprise! together - her kids have grown, her hair has been cut, but she is still forging through the complicated world of publishing with great avidity. Way to go Karen!

And while I was at Readings for the launch, I of course couldn't help pick up something for myself. This would have to be the most cleverest book I have ever seen:

The Black Book of Colours is an all black book - the grey parts you see in the picture above are actually black embossed glossy illustrations, on black paper. The only thing that is not black is the text in white, but it is accompanied by braille, in black. I know there must be tons of books for seeing impaired children (is that the correct pc term?), but I must admit this is the first one I have ever seen personally. It is quite exquisite. This one will not be for little greasy fingers in this house, and that means adults too!!

Surprise! Book launch + GIVEAWAY!

Last weekend was the official launch of my latest book Surprise! and I would have to say, it was quite the success. Music, a magician, cupcakes & lots of kids! what could be better than that? Here are a few pics:

Magician Max being silly

The best part - a reading! This is the ultimate success to me, to see kids enjoying the book.

Look at those faces! Just enthralled with the wonder, the mystery, or possibly just confusion...

and I've never posted an image of me on this blog, but I thought I would keep the mystery a little bit anyway with this faraway pic... But if you don't really care about the unwritten law of not showing your face on a blog and are just DYING to see what I look like, I think there will soon be some videos posted on Youtube - will update :)

And well I guess this is a post of 'firsts' because it is also my first GIVEAWAY! It is VERY exciting. This book is really about giving, and not the kind of giving to simply receive kudos, but the kind where no one will ever know who the giver was. Those random-acts-of-kindness that are always such a joy, but so rare. So, it is my pleasure to give one of these books to YOU. If you would like to be in the drawing win a copy of Surprise!, here's what you need to do:

Please leave a comment on this post with your name, and also what was the best surprise you have ever given, or received. (and if you have never been a perpetrator of a random act of kindness, then maybe now's the time!)

A winner will be drawn on Sunday November 9th (Australian time). Good luck! :-) And if you don't win this giveaway, stay tuned, because there will be some other opportunities as well....

** update ** Deadline extended to Sunday November 16th!

Surprises galore

Life is full of surprises. I haven't been blogging lately because I was off surprising by mother by arriving on her doorstep (from Melbourne, Australia to Portland, OR, USA) for her X0th birthday! (and I know she reads my blog so couldn't give any hint towards the trip here either!)

It was an absolutely wonderful time that I will never forget. And now back in Melbourne, I have come home to a few surprises myself.

First of all, a mail surprise, which is always so much fun! Recently I won a giveaway on flossy-p's blog of her Happy Happy Garden Card Pack. Now, I didn't actually know what this was at the time, but it turns out to be the most beautiful thing: a small series of cards, about half the size of a business card, with illustrations and phrases such as 'You have such a lovely garden' or 'Your tree is so tall'. The idea is to walk around your neighbourhood and 'sprinkle compliments' by giving out these random-act-of-kindness cards. What a great idea don't you think? The problem is, they are so beautiful!! I don't know if I can give them away! oh, it's going to be hard, but I'll try... In the little mail package wrapped in the coolest paper ever (top of picture) was also a bookmark and a flossy-particles tag. This made my day amongst all the junk mail and bills I came back to - thanks flossy!!!

and still more surprises, this one not so good. There are some major revisions to do to the roughs for the 4 book series I am working on. My art was well received, but it seems that the marketing department has decided that elephants are not 'sellable'. Who would have thought? So back to people it is. I see a lot of erasing and redrawing in my future... sigh.....

BUT, this last "surprise" lifts my spirits, as next Saturday Oct 18th is the launch of my book Surprise! at Eltham bookstore. I have seen one advance copy so far (which I have already given away), but next weekend I'll finally get my hands on a stack of em, so 'watch this space' for a giveaway!! And if you are in Melbourne and fancy a drive out of the city, please come along - all are welcome, especially kiddlies...

Mothers, artists and the creative streak

Last night I went to the book launch of my friend Rachel Power's book The Divided Heart, published by Red Dog Books (a division of Black Dog Books). It's about artist-mothers and keeping that creative streak alive while taking on the joys and tribulations of motherhood. In the book Rachel interviews over 20 artist-mothers and also reveals some of her own experiences with this balancing act. I've only read the introduction but already I've vowed to use the time I have for creativeness as much as I can, because it seems like your sense of time totally shifts post-baby! I would highly recommend it to any artist who is a parent, or wanting to become a parent, and also would like to pay my respects to all those amazing women who are able to do both on a day-to-day basis and keep smiling! As we say down here, Good On You!

And speaking of creativeness, I've finished cutting (ie. smashing with a hammer) and sticking down the tiles for my new house number! I will leave the glue to dry and then grout it this weekend. I'm pretty proud of my first mosaic :-) Now off to finish up 'Foggy' for Illustration Friday.

Me & Shaun Tan

Well I don't think I can put me in the category with Shaun Tan except to say that we both had book launches in the past week. I have to say Shaun's was a bit more exciting!

The book launch of mine was for Short which I posted about here, published by Black Dog Books. I had one little illo in it, but it was cool to go along and meet the editor, and Mary Ann (the co-owner) again. I had showed her my folio ages ago, and she encouraged me to keep submitting samples as it really is a 'timing thing' - so that was good. Lili Wilkinson was the editor and she made a very humorous speech where everything was 'short' - "I hope you don't feel short changed, that Short stays on your short list", etc. I signed quite a few books and almost felt famous!

At the Short launch I ran into a good friend of mine who is involved with a certain book publisher who publishes a certain Shaun Tan and she told me about the book launch on Friday. Lucky or I would have missed it!

Shaun's new book is Tales from Outer Suburbia, a set of 15 stories (you can see a sneak peak here) If you don't know Shaun Tan's work you MUST check him out. He is totally out of this world, literally. He is an Aussie illustrator, and wins awards for almost every book he does - it's pretty obvious why, because not only are his ideas so original and often very heartwarming, but his execution of painting/drawing/collaging is simply first rate! There is so much detail and texture in his work, that's what I love the most besides the fact that it's technically amazing, you could just stare at one illustration forever looking at all the little details.

I also bought his previous book The Arrival which I had been drooling over for quite a while but hadn't made the "investment" yet. I thought it about time when I could get it signed! It is a wordless book about immigration and again, indescribably amazing. He said it took him 3-4 years to finish. good work takes time, obviously.

The night was a mini who's who of Australian illustration. The book was officially launched by Ron Brooks, and I also saw Lorette Broekstra (who I took a children's book illustration class from a few years ago) and met Craig Smith. Yikes! The heavyweights! (what was I doing there?)

So I think tonight I will settle into bed early and get stuck into some amazing picture books...