Hiccups / IF: Capable

These guys are certainly capable of driving this train!

This is an illustration I did for the background of a poster for the Winter Kids Festival happening here in Melbourne in July.

Sometimes, a project goes incredibly smoothly. An idea springs into your head, you sketch it with perfection, and it gets approved in a flash. Other times, you have a few hiccups along the way.

Last year I did some illustration work for the Northcote Kids Festival which was a lot of fun - I got to see my illustrations displayed across 2m high billboards! Quite the thrill. So when they asked me to do some more work for them, this time for the Winter Kids Festival, I was of course very excited.

The great thing about these festivals is thst the imagery is very whimsical - which I love but don't often have the chance to do. I came up with the following sketch which I was super happy with:

Unfortunately, the festival organiser was not super happy with it. Because it is being held at the Newport Substation, an old train station, he wanted it to involve a train (even though my brief was for a boat). OK, fair enough. I did two more (very quick photoshopped) sketches with trains:

But they decided they would prefer to have a more side on view. So, sketch #4:

...which was accepted. To me, this is the least interesting! It doesn't have the movement and energy the others do. But, that is the business of illustration. You don't always get your way. I added a bit more movement into the final, and luckily, I'm happy with the way it turned out! It hasn't been designed into a poster yet, but it will be fun to see my artwork on those big billboards again....

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.....

Merry everything!

No matter what you may or may not celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful end to the year, and that 2012 starts out in style!!

It has been quiet here, I know, but there has actually been LOTS happening. I find myself pulling back a bit from the whole blog/facebook/twitter world a bit now. As much as I love the connections and appreciate all of you out there in cyberland, it can be difficult to time manage! (as we all know)

But I am not deserting you completely! The roughs for my book have been approved with minor changes (yay!) and as I move into doing the paintings in the new year, I hope to be able to show you some sneak peeks. I haven't told you much about it yet. For now I'll tell you it is a sweet book with a great message, and is being published by Bright Sky Press in the US of A.

and with that good news I will leave you to your turkey dinners and/or pavlovas, and hope that the holiday season treats you, your mind, spirit and waistline well.

lots of joy and good cheer from this lil blogger xo

Omeo & Alice

I spent a blissful few days in the mountains last week, in and around a beautiful little town called Omeo (wherefore art thou..) We had beautiful weather so a lot of my time was spent in the sunshine by a burgling creek, and the rest was spent in a rustic little cabin with a log fire.

Here is a little painting I did while sitting next to said burgling creek:

And here is another one I did (in a very different style!) for What is the Use of a Book Without Pictures, where illustrators are illustrating the entire text of Alice in Wondeland in B&W!

My paragraph, #415, was
"I mean what I say,' the Mock Turtle replied in an offended tone. And the Gryphon added [to Alice] `Come, let's hear some of YOUR adventures."

It was fun to play with ink again!

Sketches for my secret home

Here is an illustration I did recently for a kids theatre show called 'My Secret Home' by Curious Legends Theatre Company. I'm very happy with the way it turned out.

I thought I would show you a little bit of the sketching process behind this illo. The theatre piece is essentially about a boy's love of books and adventure. I was working with the director of Curious Legends Theatre Company, and his idea was to have the characters jumping out of the book. So here are some initial sketches:

so here is the more 'final' rough sketch I did because it's what he wanted:

and here is the sketch that I wanted... Even though the other sketches were more active, I felt that this one captured the cosy feeling of safety a child has in their self-made fort.

So as you can see, my first choice won out in this case. But it doesn't always happen that way! I was happy when he agreed with me in the end, but I think either one could have worked well.

I did the shading on the animals with graphite as opposed to coloured pencils which I used on the boy, to make them less intense so that they fade into the background more. I really had a great time doing this piece!

Illustration Friday : Stay

New Orleans would have to be one of my favourite places to stay in the USA.

This is a map I did for They Draw And Travel -- they asked for a very personal map -- things that aren't necessarily in the tourist guides but the things YOU love to do in a city. And that's exactly what this is. We often visit NOLA due to my musician-husband's desire to have been born there, so we have many rituals, a lot of which are on the map.

I have always wanted to illustrate a map and I had sooooo much fun doing this. If I have time I may do another for Melbourne!

I-F: Shadow

I can just picture these two flitting in between the shadows and the sunlight at your local pond. I really enjoyed doing the watercolour background on this, and for the first time in a long time I have added some digital elements (the pattern in the background) which I'm really happy with.

This will be by submission for the Illustrators Australia A3 print show, which forms part of the Northern Exposure Festival. The opening is Friday June 17th, so come along if you can!

I-F: Stir

Japan has been shaken and stirred this week. I almost can't quite come to terms with what is happening there. It seems like something out of a hollywood movie with insane special effects - tsunamis 30m high, destruction far and wide, nuclear meltdown. Hugs of the biggest and warmest kind to them.

This is a piece I did to donate to Illustrators Australia's auction with 100% of money going to Japan. (the kanji characters in the right hand corner say 'for Japan'. I hope I got that right!) The auction is currently being set up, so stay tuned for more details as they come to hand.

Other ways to help out:
Art for Japan
comment at Karen Andrews' blog to up her donation
buy one of Alicia's prints
buy one of Kathy Hare's prints

It feels good to at least be doing something.

Happy New Year!

Did you have good holidays? eat a bit too much? drink a bit too much? I know I did! But now it is back to real life, and much less chocolate.

Starting very soon in the chinese calendar it is the Year of the Rabbit. I am a Rabbit. A wood rabbit to be precise. So this is my painting for the new year. My year! (here's hoping ;-)

It hasn't been a great start to the year for people up in Queensland, though. This crazy country-- if it isn't burning, it's flooding. Sending strength and resilience to all those affected....

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!

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!!

Moroccan Orange & Date Salad

This is my submission for They Draw and Cook. I did this sketch AGES ago but then it dropped off my radar, until I realised that the deadline is TOMORROW! And... very exiciting, it is getting published by Weldon Owen Publishing, so hopefully mine will be chosen!

This is one of my favourite quick and mostly healthy desserts -- very refreshing in the summertime. So now that the weather is hotting up here (25C tomorrow - woo!) hopefully I'll be able to make it soon :-). It is from a fantastic cookbook Casa Moro which has recipes from Morocco and southern Spain.

And after all that food painting.... I am hungry - time for dinner!