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!


I got a lovely little present in the mail yesterday from the lovely Monica. I am the lucky recipient of Monica's first giveaway - a totally cute little puddytat.
Thanks Monica! I will give him a very good home here :)

And speaking of cats, sometimes I find it very hard to work, I'm not sure why...

the generosity of flossy

I should have posted this much, much earlier.... but my good bloggy friend flossy-p is having the most amazing giveaway for thanksgiving - and she's not even American/Canadian!

The lucky winner gets to commission her to do a painting for free - go check out this post to find out more, it's quite unbelievable really. Quick! Go now!

We have a winner!

Thank you sooo much to everyone who entered my first ever giveaway!! It was so exciting to get so many entrants, and also to hear everybody's lovely surprises - from wedding proposals to overseas travel to chance meetings - thank you for sharing and inspiring more surprises!

A winner was chosen by - And I'm very very happy to say it was Isabelle who followed the making of Surprise from the beginning, and loyally left many comments and questions (and also a fellow Montrealer so that's nice too :) -  I think she was perhaps a bit frustrated with not being able to find out exactly what the "surprise" was in the book, but now SHE WILL! Congratulations Isabelle, and thank you so much for your faithfulness to my process - serendipity has rewarded you! I hope you and any children in your life enjoy it.

Back to the giveaway

Sunday is almost over, and I am a bit full of too much champagne at the moment, so I think I will extend the giveaway deadline until next weekend, if that is okay by you. :)

Check this post to see what to do.

I-F: Late

I guess it's appropriate that I'm late for the IF topic 'Late'. This week's topic is 'repair' - um, so I suppose if the bough did break, there would be some repairs necessary? There you go. brilliant.

This is for my friend who is about to have a baby. I don't think she'll be so foolish as to put her baby in a tree top, but you never know.

Made fresh today using watercolours, coloured pencil, ink and collaged paper. (it's only a paper moon...) Hope you enjoy!

ps. I am having a giveaway of my latest children's book Surprise! - check out my earlier post if you would like to be in the drawing, and click on the graphic to the right to see the 'making of' xx

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!