MATS Bootcamp: Main assignment February : Cuckoo clock iPhone cover

Our assignment for this month was to create art for an iPhone cover.

Somehow in converting my sketches from the mini assignment to the iPhone dimensions, it became more about the birds than the cuckoo clocks. I'd still like to take some of the sketches and turn them into something more - patterns maybe? But here's what I submitted to the Bootcamp gallery for February:

You should DEFINITELY go check out the gallery and see what everyone else has come up with… as usual… Blows Me Away! so much talent!!

Here are some of my faves:

12 Days of Christmas

The inimitable Christopher Cheng - Author, SCBWI ambassador, general great guy, has a lovely tradition of posting '12 Days of Christmas' on his blog. Each day an author or illustrator recounts their favourite Christmas memories.

I'm delighted to be included this year! And already am in amazing company with the likes of Dan Yaccarino, Janeen Brian, Wai Chim and Gabrielle Wang. Mine can be found here and I'm looking forward to the next 7...

Thanks Chris!

(and just by the by, I did the image for my last post (the 'first day of Christmas') before I knew I would be included in Chris's tradition this year. how funny is that?)

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 -
Anne Waters -
Aisha Khan -
Linda Tordoff  -
Martina Lenhardt -
Melissa Doran -
Jo Chambers -
Son Atwal -
Bari J. -
Eva Marion Seyffarth -
Rachael Schafer -
Danielle McDonald -
Renske de Kinkelder -
Jordan Vinograd Kim -
Emma Schonenbergh -
Aileen Tu -
Sarah Ehlinger -
Jen Burbridge -
Carolina Coto -
Claire Lordon -
Anna Whitford -
Mary Tanana -
Jennifer Wambach -
Victoria Johnson -
Nic Squirrell -
Melinda Hopkirk -
Jennifer Appel -
Wendy Brightbill -
Andrea van Dalen -
Ohn Mar Win -
Jill Byers -
Sarah Gager -
Angie Sandy -
Diane Neukirch -
Larisa Hernandez |ández/166215440228435
Kathy Weller -
Lisa Deighan -
Deb Trevitt -
Tara Lilly -
Nicole Piar -
Stacy Peterson -
Emily Dyer -
Antje MO (Martens-Oberwelland) -

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!

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!!!

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 ;-)

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!!!!

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...

I-F: Giant

Imagine going on a surreal flight with a giant turtle?

I wanted to do something unusual and a bit whimsical this time -- this will be the last piece that makes it into my folio for the SCBWI conference in LA. I leave in TWO WEEKS !! wohoo!

and... I've finally discovered a few other people who are heading there too, (thank goodness!) through Chris Cheng at SCBWI Australia. So hello to fellow aussies Samantha Hughes, Caz Williams and Angela Driver! (Angela's website will be live July 10th) Looking forward to meeting all of you in person!

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....

seminars & websites

Illustrators Australia held seminars this past Saturday about contracts, copyright and pricing from and illustrator's perspective. It was a great day!

I learned a lot about PLR and ELR (Public Lending Rights and Education Lending Rights) which I hope get for the first time with the book I have just completed. Basically, PLR/ELR are payments made to australian authors/illustrators to compensate for books being available to view and photocopy for 'free' in libraries and schools, in theory diminishing sales of the book. You can read more about it here.

I was also finally able to meet the lovely Majory Gardner in person. Marjory and I worked on a similar series of books for Five Mile Press (Brimax) last year, and she also has a brand new sparkly website. Do go have a look - it really is beautiful and her bright work just pops from the page!

some other cool revamped illustrator websites to check out too:

such lovely folio sites - they make me realise mine needs a serious update/revamp too!

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.

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 :)


I just got a lovely email from Joe at Shiggy saying he has created a Link O The Week feature on his website and lil ol me is the inaugural link! How exciting!

Joe is a fellow Aussie Illustrator who now lives in Darwin. Go check out his work! He's got some lovely slick illustration, as well as some gritty grungy stuff too. Even his works-in-progress are beautiful! I think my personal favourite would have to be Chewbacca. But he's also got design, film and TV and a dog named ValJean. Now you can't go passed that.

Thanks Joe!!

I-F: Theatre

Kids are natural actors aren't they? (and artists, and musicians....)

This one was baked fresh today just for IF. Feels good to do an illo just for fun again.
When I drew this, it was going to be the typical damsel in distress scene, but when I started painting, I realised she was acutally a sorcerer casting spells. Funny when a character tells you what they should be doing!
Well with some extra time up my sleeves, I have been doing a few things I've been meaning to do for ages, like join Jacketflap. If you're a flappin' and want to be friends (maybe even best friends forever), please look me up here. If you don't know what Jacketflap is, it's sort of a myspace for writers/illustrators/publishers/editors of children's books. I still haven't fully checked it out myself, but it looks good! 

Goodies and tidbits

Ooh it's been a while since I've posted. My blog was getting lonely. sorry, blog.

I was just finishing up a few bit and pieces of work - a few small textbooks illos, here is part of a rough sketch for one:

These were in B&W which was great timing for me. I'm about to start writing/illustrating the dummy for my book, and it feels good to get back to basics, review the way I work, start from scratch. Nice to work in B&W and think about showing form in light and shade instead of colour.

so until I have something other than 'work' to show you (soon, I hope!) I will show you some lovely goodies I have picked up along the way:

Lovely, sweet, wonderfully loose illustrations Paige! well done.

And I also picked up this little guy from Paul at Trianglenose, affectionately called El Muerto, but dubbed Miguel by me. I love his cheeky little grin. And I also love Paul's funky little striped cat too - too cool!

Plus... have you seen this stop motion animation using photos? or this one using paper cutouts? Both worth a look. The first so fun, the second so crafted, really incredible. Enjoy!

chirp, chirp

the crickets are chirping because there hasn't been much happening on this blog lately. sorry about that, but let me assure you, there has been a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity!

I've painted my hallway (but still want to do a mural), have illustrated 1.5 out of 4 books, witnessed history (go Obama!), had a birthday, got some good books (see below) and have been watching the tennis as much as possible (in person last night, but in breaks from painting today)

So no illustrations to show you at the moment, but here are some books I would like to share. I finally got around to getting some of my buddies' books, and they are all so amazing in different ways:

firstly the fabulously illustrated and beautifully produced Haunted Ghoul Bus by Jannie Ho aka chickengirl. So much humour, so much colour, so much WORK! Way to go Jannie!

then, the incredibly soft and beautiful I Love You All Year Round, the debut book from Alicia Padron - and a pop-up book no less! So sweet and heartwarming, in words and pictures. Gorgeous, Alicia :)

and then a novel called Couch from an old (okay, not that old) college friend Benjamin Parzybok. It's sort of a modern day Lord of the Rings type quest where 3 guys deliver a magical couch back to ... somewhere, I haven't gotten that far yet, but I think I will soon as I am devouring it. Well done Ben!

Then for my birthday I got this book which is next on my list to devour: Noa Noa - The Tahiti journal of Paul Gauguin. it is filled with actual excerpts of his journal with sketches and original penned diary entries in French. i know I'm going to love it!

and i must apologize to anyone who has left a comment or sent an email recently who i haven't responded to. i've been working hard on my books but will get back into blogosphere soon ... Hope you are all well and happily busy out there in bloggy land!

Stuck in February 2008

This year, Illustrators Australia made a fantastic calendar with members' illustrations to send out to clients for promotion. For the last few months I have had it permanently turned to February, because it is an illustration by one of my new favourite illustrators, Anna Walker, from a book of hers coming out next year, The Miggy Tree:

I have pre-ordered the book for its release, and as a little end of year splurge, I have decided to buy for myself a limited edition print from the book which I think is just gorgeous:
I also recently picked up some fun yuletideness from Anna.

But no, I'm not obsessed or anything.