Inspiring Surroundings

New Project…time for a break

The start of every creative project is an idea and a brief. And it’s always nice to receive those from a publisher and get the contract signed. But after that comes the best bit. The faze of gathering more ideas and inspiration and letting it all sink in. It can be daunting but it’s necessary to take a bit of time and not rush.

Last week we travelled up to the hills of northern Victoria. A week of being tucked away in a valley surrounded by beautiful wooded hills. We swam in the river, ate chips at the pub and drank locally brewed beer. The dogs enjoyed every minute of their freedom chasing rabbits and barking at passing cows.

Research and Inspiration

Almost exactly a year ago Victoria was hit by the worse bushfires in history. Although our little valley was untouched by the fires, we were an hour or so from some of the worst hit areas. So I took the opportunity to visit. It was research for an exciting new illustration project directly related to the area. The scenery was spectacular. Layers of mountains, hills and large valleys of winding rivers. Every turn is glorious. There are some reminders of the fires, of course, but we were struck but how much cleaning up has been done to properties, fences and towns. Up in the forested hills though it’s a sea of burnt out trees layered with thick, bright green regrowth that grows up the whole stem of the cindered trunks. There’s a distinct lack of wildlife apart from the white cockatoos that flock in bare trees and from a distance look like blossoms.

Real Life Sinks In

The internet is such a fabulous resource for visual inspiration and reference. Most of my past books have been set in a domestic setting so I’ve drawn inspiration from my own house and others. But this project is so specific to rural Victoria and the bushfire recovery, I went with an open mind and it was very fulfilling. It wasn’t just the scenery that was so great to see. The people we met in the stores and cafe’s were just wonderful.


So it’s post holiday now and well and truely time to get back to work. The creative process and workflow is something that often overwhelms me. I schedule, make endless lists and over plan. There’s always so much to do! But the process of developing ideas and translating them into compelling illustrations isn’t really something that can be rushed. Ideas pop into the mind at the oddest time, and almost never when you’re staring at a blank page. So I’m busy sketching and playing around with colours and compositions but the good ideas come when I’m walking the dog or those moments just before going to sleep.

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