New book on the way

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:

Refugees and migration:

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Memory loss and Altzeimers disease:

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas

War:

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood

Grief and Loss:

Badgers Parting Gifts by Susan Varley

Anxiety in children:

Go Away Worry Thoughts by Nicky Johnson

The Anti-advent Calendar!

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.

Playtime!

I’ve had a day day of messing around and experimenting. I listened to a gorgeous podcast interview between Wil Anderson and Bryony Kimmings yesterday (Wilsophy). She said something fabulous about being an artist, something along the lines of not understanding why artists are so self important and claim that making art so so hard…..it’s not hard, it’s just playing and experimenting. Loved it.

So today I played and experimented, and it was totally appropriate because I had this to do for the Illustrators Australia 9×5 Exhibition titled ‘Playtime’

This was watered down acrylic and graphite on wood sealed with gloss varnish.
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More cake creativity

Loved making this cake last week. It was for a birthday….yes, chameleons again. It isn’t over, we still have the party to come! I really enjoyed practicing painting on fondant again.

The chocolate cupcakes were made for the class at school. They are completely gluten free, dairy free, nut free, colour and preservative free. Not egg free, but I am assured that that is also possible. They’re really delicious. It’s great to be able to cater for everyone.

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Myths and Magic

It’s my middle child’s birthday this week and she’s mad for chameleons at the moment so I was inspired to combine the ‘52 week illustration challenge‘ with something to do with chameleons. According to African Mythology a chameleon discovered the first tiny humans in a basket by a river. I thought he probably found them pretty funny looking.

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And here is a little bit of magic

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Storytelling

This week I have been exploring a change in colour pallet and using pencil instead of ink for lines. I’m happy with the results. It’s also been Book Week in Australia and there’s been a flood of gorgeous pictures of kids dressing up as their favourite character.

These images are drawn directly from personal experience and memories. Some of my best memories are of holidays with my sisters. The other picture is a remake of a picture I did a while ago based on my eldest child love of climbing. She competes in rock-climbing now, but when she was younger a large tree in the back garden was her refuge when things got too hectic for her.

Storyteller

Storytime