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Learning new skills

Skillshare class…at last!

I’ve had it on my to-do list to put together a Skillshare class for about a year. I had all the equipment and knew how to structure it and write a script. The one thing that stopped me was putting myself in front of the camera. The thought of it was paralysing. But then we had three months of being at home with three teenagers who are fairly successful on insta and tick-tock because they have no inhibitions at all about sharing their opinions, dancing and generally being silly in front of a camera. It’s a very different generation of course. They helped me enormously with speaking and the editing but I’m proud to say I pulled it together, and now I want to do it all again.

Here’s a little gift for you

If you’d like to explore what Skillshare has to offer and maybe take my class click on the button here. It’s a referral code to give you two months absolutely free! Theres an enormous number of well qualified professionals there teaching all sorts of skills from crochet to marketing. And you could learn an awful lot in 2 months.

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Black illustration

This week the world has changed.

I’m ashamed to admit that although I know about discrimination and white privilege across all industries, it feels so huge that I’ve been complacent about doing or saying anything. This weeks events have shifted that and I can see now that even the smallest acts add to the whole system of change. And wow, things really need to change.

I’ve always been passionate about voting. Knowing that women died for my right to vote. I’ve made sure my daughters know how important it is too. There’s a lot of complacency around that too. People believe they are just one person and can’t make a difference. Of course that’s not true.

1%of all children’s picture books feature central characters who are black!

That’s and incredible statistic from a reputable source. One of the best posts I’ve found on this is this one by A Mighty Girl. She reviews and celebrates a huge number of really great picture books including these pictured above. You don’t have to look far, but you really do have to look for books with central characters who are black. They certainly don’t appear frequently on the bookshop shelves in Australia. It fact the above statistic is no doubt much much smaller here. Magabala Books is a wonderful publisher of books by indigenous authors and illustrators. Fremantle Press also have a wonderful selection of books by indiginous authors.

The illustration industry is no different.

Black illustrators are massively under represented. #drawingwhileblack is a fantastic celebration of black illustrators. In the field of textile and pattern illustration Spoonflower have a post from a few years ago celebrating their designers of colour. Here is Australia one of my favourite designer clothes stores Kablooie is owned and run by a hugely inspiring woman. If you’re looking for fabulously colourful clothing for women it’s truely amazing.

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More sewing

Face masks with wire!

So life is opening up again and it feels weird and worrying so this weekend I hid behind my sewing machine. That’s not strictly true, we did have drinks with a few friends and of course I ferried the kids around but I did spend a large amount of time sewing and it was great! I started with making a few super pretty masks with pockets in the back for an extra filter and pipe-cleaner wires across the nose for good fit. They’re beautiful but honestly, I’m still not really sure what to do with them. We don’t travel on public transport at the moment but when the kids return to school and university they’ll probably need them. There are many many articles out there about making your own masks but I particularly liked reading Happy DIY Home because it’s so comprehensive and practicle.

My pattern designs on actual fabric!

Next in the sewing project queue is pyjama making! The absolute best thing in the world for an illustrator is seeing your own work come to life on products, whether that getting first editions of children’s books or seeing note books, paper, cards or fabrics printed. Last week some of my own fabric arrived from Next State (a digital fabric printer in Melbourne I use. They’re awesome) and I was joyful! It’s from my African Discoveries collection. The colours are a touch more vivid than I planned. And that’s why you really have to do a print test! But then again sometimes mistakes are happy mistakes and lead to bright and cheerful pj’s and you can’t complain about that. A few weeks ago I bought a pyjamas pattern from the fabulous Style Arc and I’m itching to get going with it.

A quilt in a day!

I am shocking for getting diverted into other projects if the mood grabs me. I do all the grown-up things like making lists and plans. But on a rainy Sunday if one of my kids says ‘Can I make a quilt?’ my head spins and it’s ‘Ooh, a shiny thing!’ So that’s what happened yesterday. Literally no housework or meal prep was done by me. We planned, tacked and sewed until a gorgeous quilt was made. I’d like to say that I guided my daughter and taught her and that she did loads of the sewing, but that would be a total lie. She designed it, chose the fabric and helped me tack it. But honestly when it came to the sewing I hovered over her painfully correcting her until she gave up and I did it.

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Happy Easter

Stay home, stay safe

This time next year

With any luck I’ll be able to look at this picture and remember this crazy time as a distant memory. A time when life was really odd but it’s ok again now. It’s not really looking likely at this stage though. But it is Easter! There’s chocolate and we’re all together and healthy.

Looking back

Having us all together all the time does make me look back on a time when I was at home with the kids a lot. My mum told me when I had my first baby to make sure I didn’t give up on my creativity. She might say I took that a bit too seriously. But the really great thing now is that all my children draw and paint to get through it all. I found these two drawings from 12 years ago when the kids were 2, 4 and 7. I’m not sure who drew them but they say a lot. I kept this ‘I’m sorry’ one on the fridge for ages to remind me not to shame the kids and make them feel this way. I wish I was a perfect mother, but let’s face it, who is? Someone who’s not telling the truth. This other drawing shows me on the phone. The blobby shape is a speech bubble. From my persepctive it shows I’m desperately trying contact the outside world but the little child hanging onto me would have a different perspective.

Easter Bunnies

Looking back on old pictures makes me realise there’s been a lot of projects featuring rabbits over the years. I’d forgotten all about this gorgeous quilted rabbit. I think it went to Hong Kong with a quilt for a new baby.

Creative Kids

A few weeks ago I put together a list of really great sites with a wealth of ideas and activities for kids. Check it out here.

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The 100 Days of Animals in Hats

It’s getting to us all

Well of course, like everyone else on the planet, life is just not the same. We’re all working at home now. But it’s going just fine. There’s an endless list of things to be thankful and grateful for of course, and we’re all massively productive in pursuing our fabulous passion projects now we have so much time. And every single person in the house is helping out without a single complaint. It’s utter paradise, I don’t why we didn’t think of doing this before!

Ticking off the days

I decided to take on a project. A 100 day project in the hope that by the end of these 100 days life will have shifted into another dimension. One that’s a bit more normal and involves having a more healthy amount of time around my immediate family. I thought about an earnest project, one that really ‘makes a difference’ like making cloth masks (it’s still jogging along). But for #the100DayProject I felt the world needed me to contribute something utterly useless and a bit silly.

Animals in Hats

So here it is. I’ve done a few in preparation. The style might change and some of them might be especially silly. I’m really enjoying it so far. I might even try to make some of them look like my family. One way or another there’ll be far more drawings or animals in hats by the end of this and that can’t be a bad thing

Whilst you’re here

I really hope that you’re ok during this disturbing time. I know it’s really terrible for many many people. Take care of yourself.

Grace’s Book Launch

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post here. I’ve been so busy setting up my business in surface pattern design. There have been some delightful goings on in the children’s picture book area though. This weekend is the first book launch for Grace’s Mystery Seed. I was fortunate enough to meet the author the other day and she is a bundle of enthusiasm, so the lunch should be a lot of fun. This Sunday 24th March 2019 – 2pm, Ford Street Publishing, 162 Hoddle Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne

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

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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