I have been thoroughly enjoying teaching a group of very talented young people at Oak Hill Gallery. Last week we ventured into the community rose garden for some observational sketching. I was really impressed with the level of focus and commitment and I’m really looking forward to seeing more.
The 52 Week Illustration Challenge is a beautiful community of people. They give a word a week for illustrators to respond to and post on their FB page. I used to do this through ‘Illustration Friday’ but somehow this community has a more personal feel, probably because it’s managed locally so I know some of the admin and contributors. They’ve just kicked off the new year. I’m hoping to keep up with it each week, so I won’t be doing pop-ups, although I love them they take up too much time.Fancy Dress
I was delighted to receive this unexpected parcel of advance copies this morning. This book has been out for a while and I illustrated it ages ago, but Hachette have brought it out in a board book. It’s very cute.
I also received the happy news that ‘You’re Different, Jemima’ will soon be in print. This book has had a rocky start in life and almost didn’t make it. But the fabulous Naomi and Jeremy Hunter at ‘Empowering Resources’ look it on and now it’s available for pre-sale.
We’re coming to the end of our incredibly long Summer break. This year has ben one of our best in Australia. The weather has been amazing, the garden has been beautiful and the kids have been a lot of fun. We’ve been camping, discovered ‘The Pillars’, entertained overseas and local visitors and shot down a crazy long waterslide in a main street in Melbourne. It may not be illustration but this lot are my constant source of inspiration. (The chicken was a Christmas present made by my youngest)
This week I’ve been working on Naomi Hunter‘s new book. If you know her first picture book you’ll know that she doesn’t shy away from tackling the big issues. This one is about parenting and depression. Which sounds very sad, but it’s a book full of hope. It’s beautifully written and I really hope the pictures do it justice.
Depression and mental health are uncomfortable issues to discuss in relation to parenting. My oldest is nearly 15, so I’ve been to many playgroup sessions week after week and school mothers nights out. Predictably there’s always a lot of talk about mile-stones and achievements. The one thing you can count on not hearing is ‘Do you know what? I’m not having such a great time of things’. Parents can’t talk about not coping. It would be like admitting failure. And when you live in a gorgeous suburb by the sea, with a nice house, good jobs and healthy children….well failing to be anything but joyful and grateful is frankly not on!
Picture books often tackle the big issues. Here are some of my favourites:
If you’ve heard of anti-colouring books you’ll get this. I’ve never given my kids advent calendars with chocolate in them, firstly because I’m a really mean old cow of a Mother, but also because book illustration doesn’t pay much and dentistry isn’t covered by health funds or the state in Australia. But that’s a different issue.
So, this year we’re building our own advent calendar! Adding a little bit each day. The kids really surprised me by latching onto this idea and running with it. We’re only two days in but our Aussie Christmas scene is coming along nicely.