A few good things

Since I handed in the roughs for my book, I have been up to my neck in home renovation land. I am soooo happy to say that it is almost done! The last few weeks have been a blur of plasterboard, insulation and power tools. (how different to paper & pencils!) But by Monday, the walls and ceiling of our 3rd bedroom and new pantry will be ready to paint. Very exciting!

In the mean time, here are some good things:

spring blooms

tomatoes, spring onions, olives and haloumi with cumin.
I then cracked a few eggs into this and it was so yummy!

My blueberry plant has blueberries on it! Apparently you're supposed to take them off the first year so that the plant puts its energy into growing, not into the fruit, but I can't help myself - I want some homegrown blueberries! (and that's my little puddycat again, Whiskey)

New studio for a new book

Sorry for my lack of posting lately . . .

I have been busy moving my studio . . .

(It's still in my house, but we are renovating the room where it was, so i now share the lounge room. I was reluctant to give up my room at first -- small as it was, it was all mine. But it actually feels really good in here -- and now I have a couch in my studio!)

And just in the nick of time as it happens, because I am about to start illustrating a new book which I am VERY excited about. [contained late-night dozy wohoo!] I can't say much about it, except that it will be published next year, for Christmas, (it's a Christmas book) and is going to be A LOT of fun.

It's also the first hardcover book I've done, so it feels like a 'real' book! Not that my previous ones weren't, but this one just feels more . . i don't know . . solid.

Hopefully there'll be a few preliminary sketches and things that I can show here. I have 7 months to produce it which is a nice long lead time for me, so I'm going to enjoy some rare 'experimenting time' in the next coupla months. I'll update as much as I can!

every day in may : day seven

Today was a sometimes frustrating but ultimately fun day of doing a second mural in my house, this one for the entry. You can see my first one in our living room here.

Whereas the living room is moroccanny/spanish, the entry has a real japanese feel to it, so I came up with the idea of doing a cherry blossom mural:

The kanji characters say 'welcome' (kan-gei, I think) - the mural greets you as you enter the house and directs you towards the kitchen, the heart of the home.

I thought (wishful thinking!) that I'd be able to get it done today, but I didn't calculate the redesign factor. I had already come up with a design, printed it out at the right size...

cut it down, got it onto the wall and realised (after some convincing from my husband) that it wasn't quite right - it was tooo big...

the next one was toooo small...

but this one was juuuust right....
that's it in place. After this photo was taken I transferred the design to the wall, so now I'm all ready to paint! Though when I'm not sure. Hopefully I can steal some time this weekend...

mercury rising

biggest heat wave in 100 years they say... 42C (107F) today.... more tomorrow... my poor cat is a puddle of fur....

So instead, I'll just pretend that I'm in Spain. Which is not hard at the moment thanks to a birthday present from my husband - pots a la Andalucia, and a herb garden like you wouldn't believe (the entire garden bed is about twice this). Full points to those who can name all the herbs pictured!

and full points to anyone who has some extra ice cream they can lend me?

Bringing Spain to Sunshine

We finally finished painting our lounge room - and my mural! Here are some pics:

(you can't really tell but the birds are a dark blue)
The design is inspired by our trip to Spain, especially Seville and its oranges. The two bird sculptures on the mantlepiece were my 'payment' for selling this fish painting in my friend's store (I need to do two more paintings for her ASAP, just in time for Christmas!)

So, now that the lounge is finished, we are painting our entranceway! And I had so much fun doing the mural, I think I might have to do another one - perhaps japanese-inspired this time...

blue birds

As I have mentioned in a previous post, in the cracks of time between work and everything else, we have been painting our living room. (I can finally say that!) For the last 2 or so months we have been doing the prep work - lots of prep work! - but today we finally started painting. What a difference with just the undercoat! with two coats of paint it will look fab.

We are painting a burnt orange feature wall and on an adjacent wall, I am planning on painting this:

(i love owning a house and being able to paint murals!)

The seasonal unfurl

Today is the first day I feel myself standing a bit taller, breathing a bit deeper, unfurling from hunkering down through winter. It is such a good feeling. Bring on spring!

That said, I have been nose to the grindstone lately. I’m working madly on my book series every chance I get. I love it! One thing I’ve discovered: elephants are fun to draw. I must admit I was a bit worried about how to logistically place trunks in a composition so that they are not in the way, but I’ve found that they actually lend so much more emotion and expression. They are up in the air when all is well, drooping down in sadness, intertwining to show a connection between two characters, etc.

In between that and the rest of life, I have also taken on the task of painting our living room. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be! I was woefully unprepared for the endless scraping of cracks and sanding of walls in our 1950’s gem. (the painting part will be easy when we finally get to it!) Every time I start talking about this though I see people’s eyes start to glaze over so I think I’ll stop my whinging there! It will get done... One day... And it will be beautiful :-)

In other news, the author of my last book Surprise!, Karen, had a little talk at the Melbourne Writers Festival last week (you can see some videos of it on her blog, if you like). I went along and also got to see a positional proof of the book. Nothing to write home about really, I didn't get to see the printing proof unfortunately. Anyway, the good news is that they are due back end of September! Hooray! Get ready for some giveaways when that happens!

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.

I kneaded this.

It has been really lovely to have a bit of a break from illustration-as-work and to do some other creativey things. "Creativey things" to me includes cooking and it has been great to cook for pleasure as opposed to subsistence ie. "must have something quick so I can get back to work". So... I finally tried something I have been threatening to do for a long time and made bread! It turned out really well (so yummy!) and I was very proud of myself :

this could be the beginning of something beautiful... do I hear herb bread...? olive bread...? raisin bread....? ummmmm. With the price of everything going up these days it's nice to be able to provide some of the basics yourself. I have dreams of veggie gardens and fruit trees. all in time...

My next creative endeavour is a mosaic house number to continue to improve the front of our house so the neighbours feel a bit better about us ;-) This will be my first mosaic ever but I hope it will be the beginning of something else beautiful!!