Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Week with Wombats and Monsters!

Welcome to another of my all-too-infrequent blog posts!

Children's Book Week was a few weeks ago and this year I was thrilled to be invited to speak at three Eastern Fleurieu R-6 campuses. I talked to 27 classes from reception to year six across 3 days.

Everything was beautifully organised by R-6 library co-ordinator, brilliant children's author and all-round unstoppable force, Jane Jolly, and things could not have run more smoothly.

The response to "No Room for a Wombat" (text by Lynn Ward, pictures by me, published by Scholastic) was absolutely wonderful. I took the kids through my process for creating the characters and illustrating the pages from scribbly roughs to finished artwork and talked to them about drawing from life (the zoo being a great place to start) and the importance of always carrying a small sketchbook around to jot ideas into. They loved seeing some of my own sketchbooks and were full of questions about the fuss-free wombat and his over-zealous buddies!

As great as that response was, I truly was not prepared for the overwhelming enthusiasm for the second half of my presentation - MONSTERS! Now, I know that kids love monsters. I certainly did when I was young and if anything, I think I love them even more now. So it was especially gratifying and actually quite emotional to see them respond so positively to my monster illustrations. For this part of the talk I focused on giving their imagination free reign (of course) but I also talked about composition in their drawings, experimenting with different media (sometimes using a few different media in one drawing) and telling a story with their artwork.

They were all bursting with ideas and after the first day of talks I returned the next morning to stacks of drawings the kids had made in their classrooms of all kinds of amazing creatures! More drawings came in each day, some of them with little stories (even some rhyming ones) attached. It made me so happy to see them so engaged and so proud of their work and proud to show it to me. I think one of my most special moments (among many) was being approached the following week in a local cafe by a mum who told me that her daughter was drawing every day since the school visit and that she had to keep going in to her daughter's bedroom to turn off her light at night because she was still drawing in bed! Definitely teared up for that one :)

So I want to say a huge thank you to EFS R-6 for inviting me, to Jane for being Jane, and especially to all the beautiful, enthusiastic, intelligent and talented students I had the absolute pleasure of meeting during Book Week. I LOVED seeing all of your amazing illustrations and answering your excellent questions and I hope you keep drawing and creating whatever you can imagine.

Check out the pics below for a small (by no means exhaustive) sample of the kids' fabulous work :)

Slide presentation and table of original illustration work.

Yours truly with an illustration from "No Room for a Wombat".

Magnificent  year 6 class display.

Amazing monsters drawn with graphite and a touch of colour by year 4 class.

I spread a selection of drawings that students gifted to me on my studio floor. Wow! These are all junior primary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"No Room for a Wombat" is in bookstores!

My first children's picture book, "No Room for a Wombat" was published by Scholastic Books last month. It was exciting and slightly surreal to see it in bookshops and online stores!

To my delight, my favourite Adelaide bookshop, Imprints Booksellers, featured it in their window display which was a kind and supportive act that meant a great deal to me.

This book was a labour of love - a very steep learning curve that was often frustrating yet remained thoroughly enjoyable right to the end. I feel so grateful to have had the support and encouragement of my family (who are beyond awesome) and special friends Patricia, Dyan, Linda and Greg, who were always ready with excellent advice and excellent coffee :)

I already have a number of projects on the go for this year. I'm currently working on my second picture book for Scholastic Books, as well as teaching within the Visual Communication program at UniSA. There are some sculptural projects underway and I'm very excited to be teaching a 5 day sculpting/doll-making workshop at the Fibre Arts Australia Winter School in Ballarat in July.

So that's my long overdue update. I intend to make every effort to update this blog on a more regular basis...yes, I know I've said it before, but maybe this time it will stick :)

Till next time.

"No Room for a Wombat" 2017

Spread from the book

My book in the window of Imprints and my beautiful niece enjoying her copy