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.
It’s been an eventful couple of weeks. I set myself some mad projects and seem to have miraculously come through it. I’ve been promising to decorate the middle child’s bedroom for quite a while as she chose the powdery purple colour on the walls when she was four. Never let a four year old choose their wall colour. So here it is, much more suited to a twelve year old.
And of course there’s been cake making. My first attempt at shaping a cake and covering it in fondant. And it tasted great too!
We’ve had tragedy as well with yet another fox attack. RIP Bonny, Cilla and Annie. Not sure if we can handle any more sadness, so we’re holding off on getting more chickens for a while. I really miss visiting them twice a day and hearing their happy clucking noises.
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.
Whilst I was painting this cake I was listening to the news on the radio. It got depressing after a while. The half hourly reminders that Tony Abbott is using every tactic available to him to block marriage equality in this country. It’s shameful and embarrassing.
But this is a blog about illustration, not politics. So whilst I was painting this cake I was able to remember the absolute highlight of my year so far, my sisters marriage to her long term female partner. It was a glorious, joyous and emotional day of celebration as all good weddings are.
This is the first time I’ve tried painting on a cake and I’m really happy with it. The fondant is home made, as is the delicious chocolate cake inside. Next time I’ll get some proper fondant smoothers to make it super-smooth. If you know anyone who would like to give me the opportunity to create an original, hand-painted wedding cake, I’m up for the challenge.
Still keeping on track with these pop-ups for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge. So far I haven’t managed to scalpel into any of my fingers. Anyone who knows me well will know that that’s pretty good going!
This one is ‘Portrait’ I used to do a lot of portraiture and sold quite a few of pastel paintings of my eldest daughter. She gets fairly bored with sitting for me.
Here’s the first painting I ever did of her. Wow, that was a long time ago!
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.