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Time for some Dancing Bears

I scribbled down some dancing bears today. It seemed right to find something silly to do. Things are still pretty easy for us in southern Australia, but we know that the schools will close soon and we’ll told to stay at home.

Over the years I’ve run private art classes and school workshops on drawing and painting. It’s always been something I have loved doing. I pulled out all my files of ideas and plans for children’s art activities today in the hope that I can translate some of the most successful lessons to short videos or blog posts.

In the meantime I was reminded of the truely fabulous blog/website Deep Space Sparkle. It’s a fantastic space to find ideas on doing creative projects with kids.

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Rainy Day Mock-up

It’s been raining non-stop today and I’m feeling a bit coldy and yuck, so what better to do that play around with some mock-ups. It’s so great to see a whole collection of patterns come together. I’d love to see it come to life one day. There is so much brown, ochre and muted tones around for children and babies, which may look stylish but colour is more fun.

A mock-up picture of a nursery crib with cushions and blankets in brightly coloured patterned fabrics.
Mock-up of artists print. Blue and pale blue guinea-fowl in various size
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Setting up shop!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been setting up shop on my website. The idea is that this will support my market shop. At the end of last year I was able to have a small stall at a twilight market for alumni at Chisholm college. It was such an uplifting experience to have my work in front of people and talking about how it was created, I can’t wait to do it again! First I have to create the stock though. I’ve been really enjoying creating these little cards to go with baby blankets and newborn wraps.

That Chishom market also led me to meet a wonderful creative entrepreneur Rondelle of Rondelle Designs . She’s a total inspiration. She’s recently set up the amazing Rita and Frank Creative Studios in Capel Sound on the Mornington Peninsula. It looks like it’s going to be a fabulously busy creative centre.

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New Collections!

African Discoveries

It’s taken a while but I’m so pleased I have taken the time to create three new collections that I’m happy with. Last year was really eventful. We were thrilled to be able to take the children to Zambia. It’s been ten years since we last went and being able to take them on safari in the Luangwa National Park was unbelievably special. From all the sketches and photographs I’ve created a pattern collection including rich colours and animals that’s designed to be joyful and fun.

Big Oak Tree

Two weeks before our trip to Africa I returned to the UK. Early July a beautiful time of the year to visit rural England and the trip included many early morning walks around familiar lanes. It always surprises me how green and dense with life the English countryside is. I was there because Dad passed away after having dementia for many years. It was a sad time but also really nice to have the time to enjoy walking in the places he loved. This collection celebrates those walks.

Children of Nature

Last year I created a pattern for a Spoonflower contest inspired by my husband’s childhood in Africa. The idea developed to include other patterns related to children’s curiosity and wonder. Each of these patterns takes me to a time when either my children were small or I was. Looking for bugs and beetles whilst camping. Getting new chickens for the garden coup and fishing or searching rock pools for prawns, or seeing a rare lyrebird in the rainforest.

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Springing Forward

I’m finally getting back to work! It’s the start of another school year here in Australia, and we’re all wondering where on earth the Summer went. The country has had a hideous time and we’re not sure what the future holds. On a personal level our little household has been very busy with the start of renovations and a new puppy who is growing before our eyes. We also bought four new chickens who are delightful to look at because they’re all black, but they’re pretty useless. We’ve had several escapes as they try to navigate the ladder back into the coup at night and not a single egg has been laid!

Spoonflower this week

Of course I set myself some lofty and ambitious resolutions and goals for the start of the year. And of course they’re not being met. One of them was to write a blog post each week…hahaha! Another was to complete two Spoonflower challenges each month. It’s February and this is the first one for the year. It’s a Springtime theme so an opportunity to illustrate some cute little lambs with the potential for making baby blankets. I’m really happy with this. I drew on some of the many many photos I took in the Devon countryside when I was home last year. My particualr favourites are heather and cow parsley (how good is that name!) because they remind me of walking with Dad.

cushion with a pretty Springtime pattern design
blanket with a pretty Springtime pattern design
a pretty Springtime pattern design of lambs, flowers and ducks
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Walls That Talk

My illustrations on the outside of a public building!

Back in August The Maitland Library in New South Wales approached me to ask if they could use the illustrations from one of my books for their Christmas exhibition ‘Walls That Talk’. So I was delighted when I checked out their website and saw that they are there! Click on the screenshot below to have a look. It’s the classic ‘The Night Before Christmas‘ and was the first published picture book I illustrated back in 2012. So it’s particularly dear to me. I remember exactly where I was the day I got a call from Hachette Children’s Books to say they wanted to offer me the opportunity to illustrate a childrens book.

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Christmas! Just round the corner.

A fun illustrated advent calendar

It’s going to be a bit of a mad Christmas this year at our place. With relatives driving across the Nullarbor Desert to be with us, a new puppy and just one bathroom because the renovations haven’t progressed in time….what could possibly go wrong? One thing is certain there’ll be a lot of laughing and probably some emotional tears. We’ve had some tough times since the kids last saw their cousins so we’re all incredibly grateful that we’re all still here and able to enjoy the gorgeous Aussie summer together.

Advent Calendar

Over the next 20 days I’m offering this free A3 printable to anyone who chooses to subscribe to my news and ramblings. It’s a bit of fun and I’m thinking of using some of the motifs for cards and patterns.

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Book reading on Play School!

We’re on the telly!

Front cover of 'Eva's Imagination' a children's book illustrated by Karen Erasmus and written by Wenda Shurety

I was super excited this week to hear that ‘Eva’s Imagination’ is going to be read on Play School. I used to watch the program every day with the kids ten years ago, but on Tuesday this coming week I be sitting in front of it again with my three near grown-up kids and a bottle of champers. And to add to the excitement the reader is Kate Richie (of Home and Away and Nova 100 fame). This past year I have been exploring surface pattern design with a passion and I really enjoy it. But book illustration has a beautiful lasting quality because people really treasure books.

Maitland Library

A few weeks ago Maitland Library in NSW contacted me to ask if they could use some images from my first published picture book ‘The Night Before Christmas’. They are using the images their Christmas ‘Walls that Talk’ exhibition on the outside of the building. I illustrated the book seven years ago now, so I’m thrilled that people are still enjoying it.

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Inktober

Well, a new month has arrived and that always gives me a bit of a boost…’This is the month! This is the month I will get my s*** together!’ I can start with good intentions anyway. I’m in complete denial that the year is nearly over. It has been a particularly tricky year. But less of that, I’ve decided to set myself the ludicrous task of doing not one, but two, Inktobers. The official Inktober was started several years ago and now has a huge following of super talented artists. Let’s hope I don’t contribute to bringing the standard down! I’m really looking forward to following #inktober2019 on Instagram. I also decided to do my own African Inktober. This is a way of disciplining myself into getting some drawing done from the wealth of material I gathered from our trip to Zambia in August. I’ve set myself some rules

Rule #1 Work ahead of schedule

I have to do this to stay in it, to get to end and to stay sane. From past experience with these kind of things it never gets finished unless you work ahead of schedule. Life is crazy and unpredictable and the reality is that I am fairly unlikely to be able to sit down and draw and paint every day for a month. It’s nice to think that that’s what a professional artist does but in honestly it’s a round of marketing, emailing, doing other work, running a household and having three kids. So, in reality I have taken full advantage of being sick all weekend and I’m a week ahead of schedule. Round of applause for me!

Rule #2 Keep it relevant

I could let my imagination go mad with these prompts and try to do clever, illustrative images. But what I need are motifs for pattern making and prints for children. After all that’s what I’m offering and what I most enjoy creating. So I’m steering away from drawing people or scenes and keeping it simple.

And that’s it. Wish me luck. There’s a heap of other things coming up as well. Not least preparing something for the fabulous Illustrators Australia 9×5 Exhibition ‘Grow’ in December.