Yesterday I had the absolute joy of experimenting and getting to grips with photoshop. I was motivated to reproduce a pop-up piece I did for The 52 Week Illustration Challenge last year. It came together surprisingly quickly.
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.
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.
Week 3 ‘Retro’ The inspiration for this was 50s dress pattern covers. i’m not sure it’s very successful because it was hurried a bit.
This is today’s effort. Week 4 ‘Insect’. My youngest has been enjoying reading Mary Norton’s ‘The Borrowers’. This is taken from the scene when Arrietty experiences the garden for the first time: “An ant came hurrying in a busy zig-zag. She danced in front of it to tease it and put her foot out. It stared at her, non-plussed…”
And here is one of my favourite pictures of my two older girls many years ago when the oldest was about to start school. The younger one would never admit it now but she still watches her older sister very carefully.
Two years ago I had heaps of fun putting together a pop-up sketchbook. This year I went through a bunch of fancy ideas involving the Shark cull cause and then taking sentences from a novel. But it was all too hard and I wasn’t getting on with it. So I’ve gone with the self-indulgent theme instead because it suits me. So here are the first few pages. Snap shots of my life. The collage is fun but it has to go because I’m supposed to have 16 sketches by the end of next week.
I cycled up a really big hill.
We went to dinner with some gorgeous friends who have built a house in a beautiful rural setting. They said they were over run with rabbits that helped themselves to the fruit on the trees.
I thought I’d go for a dramatic title. You never know, it might generate more hits. I think the majority of those hits will probably be hugely disappointed though…..
I swear I don’t know what happened this summer. A series of gorgeous days out and trips to the beach, and its all over. Christmas came and went and the kids started school and now it’s Easter in the blink of an eye. But I’ve been spending the past six weeks painting the finals for another Christmas book! (yes, that’s where the title comes in. Confused? Not as much as me) Yep, that’s four Christmas books now! It’s like I’m turning into one of those crazy people who wants it to be Christmas all year round. It’s fun though. I had to reinvent Santa this time and gave him an eccentric 1940’s pilot look.
I’m sad to say that ‘Little Red Boots’ has been delayed. It wont be available until August now. It gives me a chance to organise some workshops around it for later in the year though. New Frontier are promoting it to the international market at Bologna though, so that’s exciting.
I’m not going to have my annual rant about this ridiculous American borrowed custom that makes absolutely no sense at the start of the Australian summer! Whoops. The kids love it and creatively its juicy inspiration.
Last year I illustrated a book named ‘A Secret Safe to Tell’. I must admit it was a confronting a difficult book to illustrate but it felt like the right thing to do. Since the book was published earlier this year I have had the pleasure of getting to know the author and now consider her a good friend. She and her husband have worked tirelessly to promote the book and its message. It aims to encourage children who are victims of abuse to speak out and find some one they trust. The books words and illustrations are not scary or inaccessible to children in any way. In my experience it allows children to talk about important questions and issues freely.
I have been continually amazed at how much Naomi Hunter (the author) has promoted the book through radio and press interviews. We are all very excited that she has been interviewed by the current affairs program ‘The Project’. It will be aired on Channel 10 Thursday 9th October at 6.30pm.