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27 June 2014

Have moved...

To my lovely followers, just letting you know I have set up a website to help promote my work a bit better. And I have relocated my blog there too.  I have not found a way to automatically move you over, and wouldn't want to assume, but also don't want to lose you.

I do hope you come over and have a look and re-subscribe so I can continue to share my work and news with you.

The new site is at
And the blog, with all my old posts is at

I do have some exciting news there to share with you. Come on over...

16 June 2014

Food and feasts

It is funny how some things seem to coincide. The theme for last week on the 52 week illustration challenge was feast. And I signed up for an online course on creating illustrated recipes. Food, food and more food.

For those of you who have been long time readers you will know that I submitted 2 recipes to the wonderful site They Draw and Cook last year. And had both accepted. Which was a great thrill for me. I have been wanting to do more recipes but other things have been a priority so when I saw the course Draw it Like its Hot  being presented by Koosje Koene I thought it was a great opportunity to get back into it. And I love doing courses. This one is for four weeks and I am looking forward to an influx of new ideas and inspiration, and meeting a whole new bunch of wonderful people.

On the theme of feast I decided to go with a child's tea party. I used to love having tea party when I was young. I used a new colour palette which I think adds a lot to the illustration. It makes it light, bright and happy. Just what I was after.

The first weeks activities for Draw it Like its Hot was to sketch pages of food and kitchen items. Just to get you drawing. She calls these Foodle pages. I love the name. They are a lot of fun to do. I really like how the page turns out. I think it would make a great pattern page.

For something different I decided to colour this page in Photoshop. It certainly makes it bright. A totally different feel. But still nice.

I am looking forward to more food and recipe fun in the next few weeks and I will continue to post my progress for you all to share.

06 June 2014

Eyes, the window to the soul

Eyes are fascinating. I love drawing eyes, though I do find them a major challenge. They say so much, capable of expressing so much feeling. It is hard to capture that at times. The eyes give so much away about a person, their age, how they are feeling.

Not only do we have eyes but so many other creatures and things. You can look at an eye and know where it came from. A cats eye is distinctive from a horses eye or a goat. This means you really need to pay attention to the detail.

When I was young I had a Mr Potato head toy. It was fun to take off his eyes and mouth and nose and ears and put them back on in funny places. When Toy Story came out they changed Mr Potato head. I still like him but he just isn't the same for me. Does that show my age? This is how I remember him...

One of the things I love to paint is cats faces, paying particular attention to their eyes. This is one I did this week. I have been sick for a couple of weeks and not painted for some time. It really shows. But boy did it feel good to do. I love using watercolours. Just doing this simple piece reinforced this for me. Do you get that feeling when you go back to a medium you love? Now this is why I create art.

This is how I am woken in the morning most days. With a cat prodding me and staring at me to get my attention. How could you get angry at that? It is love.

With all drawing skills it takes practice and more practice. I do like to do sheets of different parts of the anatomy so to help move things along I also did this page. I mainly focused on children's eyes. They are just quick pencil sketches but I think they worked well.

25 May 2014

Lots and lots of colour

Who doesn't like colour? I love working with colour. I do like working with just a black pen but colour is always special.

Not only do I like making pictures and illustrations with colour but I also just love playing with colour. When I get new paints or pencils or a new palette one of the first things I do is make a colour chart so I can see how good the colours really are. Colour charts are great resource material. It can often be hard to distinguish the actual colour by just looking at the tube of paint or pencil. They seem to look different on the page.

This week's theme for the  52 week Illustration Challenge was colour. Did you guess that?

At first I was at a loss of what to do. Too  many options, hard to narrow it down. So I went back to basics. This is one of my new watercolour palettes. It is bigger than my Winsor and Newton travel palette but still small enough to take with me. As usual I laboured over the decision of which colours to include. You may notice there is still one empty slot. I was going to include Quin Gold but when I tested the paints I saw that the Gamboge I had selected was very close in colour. I am still deciding what to put in there, maybe Paynes Grey...

When I was first learning to paint with watercolours we were taught to paint chickens as an exercise in colour mixing. They are fun and simple and just a bit different from random blobs. But you may argue that they still look like random blobs. Here are a few mixing chickens.

The Bird of Paradise is one of my favourite flowers. Not just for its wonderful colour and great structure but because it does not have perfume and therefore I am not allergic to it. I was going to include a small bird perched on the stamen as I have seen them do but then decided to have some fun instead. The little mouse just likes hanging around...

I am trying to become more proficient and confident with my digital drawing and painting. Here is a simple illustration done in Photoshop. I am trying different styles.

18 May 2014

Something fishy going on...

This week was devoted to fish in the 52 Week Illustration Challenge. There was a mass of goldfish and other wonderful creations presented. I procrastinated for a long time before finally coming up with a couple of ideas.

I did some browsing on Google for ideas and came away with this page of fun quirky sketches.

I know whales are not technically fish but I really love them. I would so love to see them in the wild one day. The size, the majesty, the freedom they represent to me. Would be amazing and mindblowing. Here is my little tribute, a sketch done in watercolour.

I kept thinking about the idea. I had fish fingers on my mind, the kind you eat. But then a spark led me down a different path and I came up with this. I drew my hand and then scanned it and coloured in Photoshop. This is a different way of colouring for me and I must say I really like it. I like the boldness of the flat colour. I think it is really strong and would be great for children's illustrations. I will do more like this.

09 May 2014

Sometimes life just gets in the way of art...

I have very little to show for the last week. Things have been busy, lots going on, not a lot of art going on. I need art for my sanity so feeling bit down about it all.

I did a few rough sketches in my sketchbook on the bus. And one finished piece for the challenge. Not much else going on. Didn't even really do much homework either. But I am ready to get back into it all this week.

Pen in hand, ready to go...

This was my entry for the 52 week Illustration Challenge. The topic was Celestial bodies. My only thoughts on the topic were the nursery rhyme "The cow jumped over the moon" Was done digitally in Illustrator. Didn't turn out too bad at all actually.

Just sharing those rough sketches. They all add up and keep you in touch even if just a small way. Keep drawing...

And a different view of a shoe...

02 May 2014

Networking with other Illustrators

As many of you are aware I am in my final year of an Illustration course. The end of the year is looming fast and I have committed to putting myself out there in preparation for hopefully finding some work soon.

Participating in the 52 Week Illustration Challenge is part of that commitment. I have met some wonderful illustrators in that group. As a whole the group is amazing and supportive and encouraging and friendly. I have been made to feel very welcome there. I am pleased to be able to consider some of the other participants as new friends.

Part of my networking goal was to actually seek advice on the Illustration industry from a couple of these wonderful people. I chose a few whom I admire, work in the children's book industry and whose style resonates with me.

Kayleen West was one of the people I contacted. Not only did she gladly offer to provide the information I was seeking but she posted it as a page on her blog for others to benefit from as well. She is a very kind hearted lovely woman and I am so thankful for her words her advice and wisdom.

Here is a link to her blog and the page she created. I hope you go over and have a read and look at all the other wonderful information she has available.  Kayleen West Q & A for Illustration students

Never underestimate the power of networking and just participating in social media and getting to know others in your industry.

Horses, a challenge full of love

The theme this week for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge was horse. I love horses, always have. I had the privelege of owning one for a short while when I was a teenager. Every girls dream. I have continued my love affair with horses even though I no longer have contact with them.

The horse is such a recognisable image and evokes such strong emotions in so many people. Their majesty and strength shine through. This makes them a challenge to draw.

As in past weeks I have tried a few different approaches to drawing my horses. I started by drawing 5 pages of realistic sketches in my sketchbook. I have included just a couple of those images.

I think tried something more fun and whimsical on the horse theme. This was done in watercolour in my handmade sketchbook.

I also had a play with this fun digital painting done in Photoshop.

This line drawing was completed in Illustrator. I think it turned out really well.

As usual time was limited this week or I would have loved to devote more time to this wonderful theme.

29 April 2014

Dreamworks Animation Exhibition

Last week I had the absolute pleasure of going to see the Dreamworks Animation exhibition currently being held in Melbourne. As a big fan of animated movies as well as great art work this was a treat from start to finish.

The exhibition was divided into three areas covering character development, story and world.

Outside we were greeted by this massive giraffe from Madagascar. A sign of the delights we were to encounter inside. And yes you are allowed to take photos inside.

The room was a mass of artwork, animation, videos, clay models, and more divided into sections for each of their movies.

These are some of the work presented for the first Kung Fu Panda movie. They had the clay models for each of the main characters.
 Some of the original artwork and concept drawings. I found it really interesting to see how the characters developed and changed so much from the original drawings. There was  a short video for this movie that explained that until they knew that Jack Black was the actor playing the part of Po they could not finalise him. They were then able to incorporate some of the mannerisms and facial expressions of Black which added an extra dimension.

A really innovative and interesting part of the exhibition were areas such as this table that were set up with video showing the design process. It showed drawings being developed using reference material and storyboard. It was really well done.

Having original concept drawing included was great as they often had notes included on them for the artist and directors.

I enjoy seeing all the variations for elements being drawn.

The artwork was amazing. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Another part of the exhibition which was amazing was the Dragon Flight video. You entered a small room with a screen taking up 180o. It showed the original sketches of the dragon, how it developed, then colour being added then they added the environment. From that point on I found it hard to watch as I suffer from motion sickness but you were flying through the sky on the back of the dragon. Amazing. Breathtaking. Dizzying. Accompanied with an awesome soundtrack. I would highly recommend you do not miss this part, unless you too suffer motion sickness.

The exhibition is being held at Federation Square until 5 Oct, so if you are in the city I would highly recommend you spend a couple of hours immersed in the wonderful world of animation.

26 April 2014

Another Challenge week

I have been rather busy the last couple of weeks and not producing much art. Luckily the theme for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge was book cover which is what I was working on for an assignment for TAFE.

I was hoping to have time to do another specifically for the challenge but it just didn't happen. Maybe this is another thing I can come back to...

The book I chose is The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It is a very dark, disturbing story. I hope I conveyed this in my image. I am happy with it turned out.

A3 size, done with dip pen and ink. It literally took me hours to do all the line work. But well worth the effort.

17 April 2014

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery visit

Last week I visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery. It is a small place but well worth a visit. There were three small exhibitions.

The one I focused on most was the Signature Style show. This showed a number of pieces of jewellery and wearable art that were collaborations between an artist and a friend, often an artist in some form as well. Some of the pieces that caught my eye and appealed to me most were the Gown of Shadows. A dress made of acetate and spray paint. It was intriguing. The shoulder pads created by Natalie Milosz-Piekarksa were lovely. It was great seeing the accompanying video where her dancer friend was wearing them. It showed how they moved. Very nice. The collection by Katherine Wheeler and Polly Cn der Glad were great. It included woven gloves and flowing locks of hair. The shadows they created on the white table were great.

There was one piece in the collection that I did not particularly like. The Cosmic Elevator was a funeral bier with sound playing. To me it had garish colours and weird objects included such as a bell, cups and fake feathers. I guess I just didn't understand it.

One of the other exhibitions on show was Behind the Lines 2013. This was a collection of political cartoons. It was great to see them in a large format. They were so well done. I loved them. I am not politically minded but even I understood the majority of them which I think says something positive about the message they are conveying.

And then there is detail...

On the opposite end of the spectrum from simpicity is detail. This too can be challenging in how you interpret it. Does it mean lots of fiddly bits, all the lines included or just focussing in on a part. I had a try of both approaches.

This one is also part of an assignment for TAFE. It is a motif for the book The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I did this quite large so I could include the fine detail but it will be reduced down to 6 cm which is pretty small. Hopefully not too much detail will be lost. Completed using dip pen and ink.

I love macro photography. You see things with a whole different light. Parts of an object that you wouldn't normally focus on too much show their brilliance. I have a photo of a part of a barbed wire fence that I have admired for some time. I decided to paint it using watercolour.

To round things off for the week I also completed a portrait of a friends cat. Lots of detail in the face, expression, fur and the fabric of the couch he is resting on. I think I captured his look pretty well. They were happy with it.

So that was week 15. Time is flying by already.

10 April 2014

Simplicity can be harder than you first realise

The challenge theme this week was simplicity. On first thought... easy. But when you sit down and try to actually come up with an idea you realise it is pretty darn hard. To capture an image in its simplest form, to express an emotion with just a few lines, all so hard to do. But when it is done well it is amazing. I did not achieve greatness this week but I am pleased with what I produced. For some really great images visit the 52 Week Illustration Challenge group page.

To start with my simplicity images I decided to go back to basics and the most simple of things for me is drawing with a lovely smooth fountain pen. And my favourite topic... cats. Cats know how to live and enjoy a simple life.

Jasper loves to just lay flat out and soak it all up.

When Tristan was a tiny kitten he used to love curling up in the fruit bowl. So cute and gorgeous. No way he would fit in there now, he is a big boy.

A simple scene to enjoy.

At the supermarket the other day I saw these lovely pears and bought one to paint. A simple piece of fruit done with simple watercolour washes.

To round things out I then went into Photoshop to create this simple scene of living life simply. A boy and his dog flying a kite.

It turned out to be another busy productive week. I am loving this challenge.

02 April 2014

This weeks theme... Water.

I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying past. I am having so much fun with the 52 Week Illustration Challenge. This week the theme was water. I must admit I procrastinated for most of the week over this. I can say I was also busy with other projects too.

I ended up using this week to do some studies and try new techniques as well as express some ideas.

Some studies painting waterdrops. One of the other participants suggested using dishwashing liquid to create bubbles for a water type effect. I had never heard of this before. The bottom blue sample were my first really bad attempts. Here I tried just swishing the foamy mixture on the page. It did not work as desired. But could still be useful as a background texture somewhere. 

I then looked up how to use the dishwashing liquid more effectively. Here are the results. Nice bubble imprints which would be great as a texture background. It took me a while to get my bubble blowing technique going just right... lol

An underwater scene with seahorse. For the background I used clingwrap to create the textured effect. I like the effect but maybe a bit overpowering for my little seahorse.

Finally, the dreaded dripping shower.

It ended up being a productive week.

Picture Book Submissions

The wonderful author and artist Tania McCartney, from the 52 Week Illustration Challenge, presented the participants with an amazing opportunity. She has a new picture book coming out and allowed people to illustrate two sections of her text as a submission for possible selection as illustrator. This is an amazing and unknown of opportunity.

Naturally, being an aspiring children's book illustrator I could not pass up this opportunity to at least try my hand. I did several roughs trying a variety of ideas. I then did paintings of a few of these. I was not completely happy so redid them with modifications. It was a long arduous, scary, daunting process. There were several times I nearly gave up with whole idea feeling very negative about my own skills. I am glad I pushed through those feelings. I do not expect to be selected but I am so pleased to have been able to present two pieces that Tania and her publishers will see. Who knows where it may lead to in the future anyway. Gotta give it a go....

Here are my final pieces and associated text they are based on. Both done in watercolour with pen. The crying piece also had the background added in Photoshop.

Sometimes - a lot of sometimes - I want to smile. It could be... a spinning round-and-round smile.

Sometimes - just sometimes - I want to cry. It might be... an ice cream plopping-down cry.

I think I ended up putting most effort into the "crying" piece. It was a challenge to express those lines. I must say I was very surprised at all the positive feedback and response I got for these pieces, from the other participants, especially for the crying piece.

From original concept ideas and sketches, to finished pieces with redo's took me approximately 12.5 hours, with lots of thinking time and research added.

29 March 2014

Numbers week

The topic for Week 12 in the 52 Week Illustration Challenge was Numbers. I found this a very hard topic to come up with something creative. I know I tend to be very literal in my interpretations and have to push myself to come up with something outside the box, so to speak. The other participants did some amazing work, like usual, and were SO creative.

My initial thought was an old fashioned strongman. Not really sure where that idea came from... but the weights were the number aspect. I had some fun and came up with this little character. Painted in watercolour in my handmade sketchbook.

I then was thinking about board games, with numbers and dice. One of my favourite games as a kid was snakes and ladders. Cats are one of my favourite things so here is my Cats and Ribbons version. You climb up the cat and slide down the ribbon. The stretchy cat is your friend. This was created in Illustrator. I think I could have done a better job on the ribbons, they were hard. I need to go back and have another play with this maybe. But it was fun.