Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ella Diaries NEW RELEASE - MAY 2015

Introducing the latest book in the Ella Diaries series. I love the colours in this cover artwork and I had such a great time drawing some crazy animal antics for the inside pages! Yet another GEM in this wonderful series.

It's released next month so keep a look out!

I spotted this in our local library last week! It always makes me smile to see my books out in the 'real world'! It makes me feel like a 'real' illustrator! Maybe one day I will accept that I really am living my dream!

In the meantime, I am currently finishing up the internal artwork for Book #4 in this series, and the cover artwork for Book #5! Busy, busy!!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Did you know I am more than just an Illustrator?

I have just realised that I don't really share much more than my work life here.
I guess that's a bit boring now that I reflect on it. 

I am also a full time Mum....and we live on a gorgeous farm! 

I think it's time to get a bit more of an insight into life beyond illustration, inspired by a walk I took with my girls yesterday.

We each had our own cameras and the golden light of late afternoon created some beautiful imagery.

If you scroll down to the bottom you will see some lovely images captured by my girls!

Through the eyes of my girls...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New and unexpected directions

I have been hinting about things on the home front taking a new and unexpected direction and I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this one. 

Our eldest daughter started Preschool this term for a couple of days a week and it was a struggle for all of us. She became anxious and sad. I could not help but feel that her spirit had somehow been broken. After about 4 or 5 weeks we decided that enough was enough and with-drew her from the system. This is an over-simplified version of events as there were many factors involved in our decision, but the end result is that it has taken some time, but we now have our happy little girl back.

I have spoken with lots of parents who have had similar experiences with those first few weeks and everyone assured me that we would ‘get over it,’ and it was ‘just something we all had to do.’ Some even told me how their kids were physically sick with anxiety about attending Preschool, or that they had cried for most of the first year, but that they eventually ‘got over it.’

Maybe that's true, but all I know is that this just didn't feel right for US. We could not continue down that path any longer.

So, where does that leave us? What next? What other choices do we have?

The interesting part about this experience is that it has made us take a long hard look at the type of education we want for our children. I feel that we did not REALLY think about this until we experienced those few weeks of Preschool. We just automatically enrolled our child in Preschool because that’s what you do when your child reaches that age. Preschool prepares your child for the full-time requirements of our school system.

But what is the alternative? Our research uncovered a ‘road less traveled’ if we had the courage to travel it.

I can’t believe I am saying this as I NEVER, EVER imagined this path for us, but we are seriously considering home schooling. Ok, I need to have the courage to say this:
We ARE going to home school our kids.

In some countries this may be no big deal, but this is quite unusual in Australia and I don’t know anyone else who has taken this path. But the more we look into it and the more we research, the more we realise that this is just what our family needs. Maybe not yours - but ours.

I could write a novel on the emotional roller coaster we have all been on for these last few weeks, and the hidden stereotypes and biases that we have uncovered along the way (including our own), but now that we have made the decision I am actually really excited.

It already feels life-changing and liberating! I look at everything in a new way now. We are still in research mode and have uncovered some wonderful resources, families and support groups in the area who are already on this journey. Did you know home schooling can be so much more than just ‘schooling at home'?! There are so many different approaches and philosophies on how to educate children and it’s opened our eyes to a whole new world. It feels so right for us that I can’t believe we did not consider this before.

It’s also changed my night time reading choices! There is so much to learn!!

Of course I still plan to continue my illustration and design work, so some things won’t change, but it’s going to be busy, busy, busy around here!! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Crafty Easter!

I actually managed to find some time to start my craft project over the Easter break. I have not done any hand sewing or embroidery since my school days so it was great to have my Mum's expertise to help get me started. It's not the neatest, but I have started! I am just trying not to think about how long it will take me to finish it!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I am delighted to announce that as of today, I am officially one of the new ‘guest bloggers’ over at the amazing blog: THE MAKERS’ COLLECTIVE!

If you are not familiar with this website/blog it’s well worth a visit. It’s the brain child of Mikaela and is a Canberra based business bringing together and promoting local talent. It’s a one stop shop for DIY Art Craft and Design ideas. It’s a place to learn, share and be inspired. Want to know more?

Check out the website to find out about THE MAKERS' HUB, THE MAKERS' BOX, AND THE MAKERS' DAY! What an incredible resource.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my first ever blog post over there. It’s live right now and features an insight into the processes involved in bringing the ELLA DIARIES artwork to life!

There’s also a sneak peek at the BRAND NEW Book #3 in this series, so CLICK HERE to check out the details.

Almost forgot to extend a special welcome to any new readers visiting my blog from The Makers’ Collective. Please feel free to look around, leave a comment or ask a question. Thanks for taking the time to drop by!

I will be posting on THE MAKERS' COLLECTIVE on the first Wednesday of each month, so please keep in touch for a few more insights into the creative life of an illustrator!


Friday, March 20, 2015

A Birthday week...

My beautiful little baby girl turned 2 this week!
Happy Birthday my Darling Girl. You are a delight and we love you. x

Monday, March 16, 2015

Editors: Why they are so amazing to work with.

As usual there has been a lot going on over the past few weeks - not only on the work front, but behind the scenes. If I was going to draw things together in a theme I would have to say it’s all about new directions.

So, let’s start with work. I really want to share some insight into one of my current projects, as it really highlights the important role of an editor in the book making process. I also think there is a bit of lesson here for people just starting out, or new to this field.

When I work with a Publishing company on a book project, the Editor is the person that I have my day to day contact with. They are in charge of co-ordinating all of the people who work on the book, along with shaping the look and feel of the final product.

Currently, I am working through some cover artwork ROUGH concepts for a brand new book . Usually this is pretty straight forward. ( I am lucky that my editors have great imaginations to visualise the final product as I realise how ROUGH my roughs usually are! I have seen some stunning roughs that could be framed as works of art, but not mine! Mine are worthy of their ‘ROUGH’ title!)

Anyway, I personally like to send through about 3 different concepts in a rough, sketchy format just to get the ball rolling.

My philosophy on the magic number 3 is that I usually like to do the following:
  •            x1 rough that is exactly what was asked for.
  •            X1 that has a slight variation – usually with more of my own ideas       thrown   in there to tweak things a bit.
  •            x1 that might be more based on my own interpretation of the brief.

This doesn’t always involve x3 totally different roughs. Sometimes it’s just variations on the one idea, but I usually find that this approach leads directly into a clear brief for the final go ahead to colour up the artwork into final art, often using bits and pieces of ideas from all three roughs, and sometimes with a few extra new things added. I usually then go straight into the full colour, final artwork.

However, sometimes the path is not so straight forward.  In this case, my first roughs were a bit too ‘young and cute’ for the target audience. Here’s an example:

I was then sent lots of great visual reference to help guide me in a slightly new direction. This feedback was the outcome of some brainstorming sessions at the Publishing house. This is a great help to me as I sometimes feel that I am working alone and in isolation by working from home.

Such clear and direct feedback helps me to understand HOW to create artwork that will be more appealing to the target audience. I have been working in the ‘younger girls’ market for a while now, so it’s great to get a gentle reminder to push things into an area more suited to an older audience.  I am excited to be challenged in this way. Basic feedback included the need for more ‘attitude’, and a slight ‘sassy’ feel to the characters. I was excited with this feedback as I thought I had been a bit cautious with my initial ideas and was not sure how far to push things.

Here are some of my new ‘sassy’ girls and I was pretty happy with these actually:

These latest sketches were very well received but they have also sparked a brand new way of thinking for this cover artwork -  so it’s back to the drawing board with this one!

 It’s at this stage that I know many artists might get frustrated or take things personally.

I think that sometimes as a creative person, it’s easy to let your ego get in the way of things and to wonder if there’s something wrong with your artwork. But you know what. This happens every now and then with a project. Sometimes what you think you want in a design changes when you see the idea actually drawn up. This is part of the importance of the “roughs” phase of the design process.

 I guess my background in Product Development has helped me to understand that at the end of the day, we are all working towards getting a great product out into the market place that is really going to SELL! And this takes a team effort. I always see it as a great learning opportunity.
Once a book is out in the market place it’s easy to just give credit to the author or illustrator if you don’t really understand all of the work that an editor does to get a book into shape. The Publishing team is full of wonderfully experienced and talented people and I always learn so much from them with each new project.

I am lucky that I have been working with this team for a few years now and I know that they have great respect for me and for my work. This in turn helps me to trust their judgement and to see this as the great learning experience that it really is. I am so lucky to be working with such great people and I wanted to give some credit to the Editor’s role in the process.

So for now, it’s back to the drawing board! I can’t share too much more about this project at this stage, as we are on a tight deadline and the next batch of illustrations are going to have to be good enough to go to colour art as soon as we can, so that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for more NEW DIRECTIONS on the home front soon (no we are not moving house again, and NO I am NOT pregnant!!)

 I have also decided to delay my post about the processes we went through with the Ella Diaries cover artwork, as I hope to use this one as my introduction to a new  ‘guest blogging’ gig coming up shortly.

So thank you to those of you who waded through such a long post! I hope it helped someone out there! ….and now I have a toddler party to plan! Yep. My little baby is turning TWO this week! Busy, busy….x