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!


Well this is another special Mother's Day for me. Last Mother's Day was my first Mother's Day as a mum, and I was illustrating a book at the time. This year, that book is available, and I am so proud it is out there in the world!

It is such as special book to me as I was working on it during a really lovely time in my little boy's life. I started it when he was 8 months old, so the real difficulties of having a newborn were over, things got a bit easier and more fun. He went through incredible changes in his little life like crawling, turning one, walking and starting to talk! what an amazing time. Truly a time of marvel. I feel like I was able to put a lot of emotion into this book, and it will always remind me of this time in my life.

This is the next to last illustration in the book, and I said to my husband when I finished it that this is my son and I :)

I hope you like it. And as a little treat for following along and reading this post (does anyone read blogs anymore?) here is a bit of downloadable goodness:

mother's day card

colouring-in page

If you are interested in buying the book you can get it here: booktopia or bookworld
(only in Australia, unfortunately. With any luck it will be available in other countries/on Amazon soon....)

So happy mother's day to all the mums out there! I certainly enjoyed my special day :)

Website is live and book is released!

Well it's a pretty exciting day for me as my brand-spanking-new-crying-with-joy-website has finally sprung into the cyberworld, along with the release of my latest book-baby.

Please check out my new website at the same ol good address of

it's got a fresh new look, lots of new work, links, behind the scenes peeks and all sortsa good stuff. I'd love to hear what you think of it, if you'd like to come back here to comment, or on Facebook or twitter.

Along with the new work on the site is my latest picture book through Scholastic Australia: 'Mummy You're Special To Me'

This is indeed a very special book to me because I was working on it while celebrating my first year (and Mother's Day) as a mum. Each page opening is of a different baby animal with their mum. It was really one of those dream-come-true books that came at exactly the right time in my life. I was able to pour so much motherly emotion into it (even on very little sleep sometimes!) and this book will always be dear to my heart.

I'll be having a book launch for it at the Hill of Content Bookshop in Melbourne in May, (curiously, just in time for Mother's Day, imagine that) and then some of the illustrations will be exhibited at the Hunt Club Gallery in Deer Park as well as back at the HoC later in the year. So stay tuned for details on those!

I really hope you like both the website and the book. I've worked hard on both of them. Really I have! It's no joke, even though it's April Fool's Day! (also the day my parents got married. Fitting somehow...)

MATS: Main assignment Week 3 - Children's Books

Our main assignment this week was to illustrate either the cover or a spread from a text given to us - "The Language of the Birds", a russian folktale.

It's quite a sad story, but we could illustrate the story in any style we liked.

I ended up not using any of the sketching from the mini assignment and went with quite a literal representation, and, sigh..... I can't say I'm very happy with what I came up with. I wanted to start over halfway through but just didn't have the time, so I did what I could but my heart really wan't in it :-(

One thing I was really excited to work on was hand lettering which was part of our mini 'warm-up' assignment. I had a lot of fun doing these:

(might look like penance to some people!) - but I didn't really have time to push myself any further. Same with the colour palette which is something I wanted to work on this week, but didn't! What happened? I think I got bogged down in the details of things - the background, the tree bark, etc. that I didn't leave enough time for other things.

Oh well. Brush it off, and on to the next is all I can say!

if you missed it, see last week's classwork on the Home Decor market

next week is Wall Art


Well, I have finished illustrating the book I have been working on since March this year. Since I began working, my son has started crawling, then walking. We got a new (old) Prime Minister (again). And I did a lot of sketching and a lot of painting. And had oodles of fun.... Oodles I tell you!

Unfortunately I can't tell you much more about the book until it is out and available... not until April next year! But I will let on that it involves my favourite animal in the world, the giraffe. so here is a sneaky peak at my drawing table before I packaged up all the illustrations to send off to the publisher in Sydney.

The next thing on the cards for me is Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells course in October. I am soooo excited about it - I have had a few friends take it already with nothing but rave reviews. I'll be posting my progress on it here!

The other thing I'll be working on in the background is redesigning my website. Goodness does it need it! Something simple, something easily updatable (so I do it more), something me. Still have yet to figure out exactly what that is but I'm on the road :)

Still going....

I've been working hard on my current book project, a mother's day book to be out next year with Scholastic. I've completed 9 of 13 illustrations - woo!
I have really loved this book more than anything I have done to date - I think it's because the characters are all animals!

Anyway just wanted to pop in to say hello, but need to put head down and paintbrush to paper again (but first, head to pillow!)

until the next time, here's another little snippet, this time of one of the finished paintings...

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! This is my first mother's day as a mum, and how lovely it is. I've already gotten lots of kisses and cuddles from my little one, what more could I ask for.

It is a complete joy and a privilege to be illustrating a mother's day book at the moment (out next year) - Above is a little snippetty sketch from one of the scenes.

Enjoy the day!

Little Dog Lost

My good friend Monica Carnesi has recently published her first picture book!! It's called Little Dog Lost.

It is a true story of a dog called Baltic, who was found stranded on an ice floe in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Poland. Monica's simple watercolour-and-ink style is so graceful, and her text fits perfectly with the illustrations.  It even comes with a little Baltic! 

I'm very proud to have my own signed copy.

you can read more about Baltic's story on her blog here:

Monica and I met at an SCBWI conference in New York several years ago. I'm so happy that we have maintained our friendship and it's a thrill to see my friends have such successes! Well done Mon!!!

Picture Show

For the school holidays the gorgeous Hill of Content bookshop in Melbourne is hosting a lovely little picture show in its front window of some original children's illustrations. I've got two pieces in there (below) and am humbled to be sharing the window with wonderful illustrators such as

Jody Pratt
Lisa Coutts
Anna Walker
Sonia Kretschmar
Sarah Hardy

Some pieces are for sale and others have prints available for sale. Contact me if you're interested in a print of one of these babies:

In other news, the final painting for my current book is fresh off the press! I of course can't show you too much, but here's a little snippet. :-) I filmed a stop motion of me creating this painting so I look forward to showing it to you when I can.

Hope all is well out there in bloggy land.....

Darcy & Griff

In between spending time with family and enjoying the Australian Open tennis and gorgeous sunshine, I have been beavering away on my current book project. I can't really share much with you yet, except to say it is being published in the US and distributed in the US and Australia, so that is pretty exciting!

For now, here are the characters I am working with, who are not named in the text, but who I am affectionately calling Darcy and Griff.

I always like to make a colour sketch of my main characters to stick above my painting space, to remind me what they should look like! I've written down all the colours I use for the watercolours and also for the pencil details, to help maintain consistency.

With this book, I am going to be working slightly differently. I love using collage in my work, and am always experimenting with new ways to incorporate it into my paintings. This time I'm going digital for the collage process -- I'll miss not having millions of little bits of paper all over the place, but I'm excited to see what effects I can come up with... (all hail Photoshop!)

Stay tuned sports fans.....

Travelling home.

I am back from my 5 week trip to the US!

It was such a great time....

Getting inspired, and meeting new and old friends at the SCBWI conference in Seattle (see previous post)....

Dancing all day and all night in New Orleans....

Catching up with family including two little nieces....

And to top it off a positive meeting with a publisher in Boston....

And I've returned to some fun news too:
 My illustration is one of the chosen ones for They Draw and Cook's Cookbook, out now! (buy it here)

I will also be featured in 100 illustrations next illustration Annual

I will be starting work immediately on 2 books for Five Mile Press.

It's always nice to have some good news and something to dive into to help dispel the post-vacation blues!

I-F: Toy + IA for JP auction LIVE

I am soon heading to the bustling metropolis of Redmond, WA, USA for the regional Western Washington SCBWI conference. woo! I was quick off the mark this time and managed to sign up for the Illustrator Masterclass which promises to be VERY cool.  We were asked to illustrate some supplied text as "homework". The text I chose was:
"I love socks," said Blink.
"Some socks are more lovable than others," said Gollie.

Also, Illustrators Australia's fundraiser for Japan (IA for JP) is now ON for the next 6 days. PLEASE go visit this link and buy some wonderful art at bargain basement prices and help rebuild an amazing country. My piece (post below) is also included for sale.

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! :-)

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!!

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...

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.

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....

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...