Thursday, 30 June 2016

Home-made pet parade, pencil A4
A very early sketch from 2004, which later evolved into a scene in Rules of Summer by 2013.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Chameleon, scraperboard, c.1997

A drawing I produced for my own letterhead in my early years as a freelance illustrator, but never ended up using (I just didn't write that many letters). The idea was that to be a freelancer you needed to be somewhat chameleonic, ready to adopt a variety of styles and processes, ready to catch any good ideas too. 

I'm often asked by new illustrators, is it better to be diverse or have one particular, signature style? I'm still not sure, but starting out I had no real choice, in Perth at that time I needed to be diverse just to survive: paintings for galleries, murals, scientific illustration, architectural, product labels, concert posters, children's books, SF, horror, political cartoons; you name it, I tried it. Over time it morphed into something like a singular style anyway. Two good quotes by painters on style that I often think about: 

Georges Braque: 'Style is the inability to do otherwise' 

Frank Auerbach: 'Style is what you do in a crisis.'

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Unmasking the Wild


June 30th is your final chance to bid on your favourite mask!

A unique collection of masks collectively titled Unmasking the Wild, created by 22 Australian illustrators celebrate the end of the 30 year journey for Isobelle Carmody and her legion of faithful readers, that was The Red Queen, the last in the Obernewtyn Chronicles.

My own contribution: Cypress Trickster, paper, clay, acylic and oil paint.

All of the masks are available for sale by auction online to raise funds for two charities: Crisis Fund, run by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) and the Moon Bear Sanctuary in Chengdu, China.

View this terrific collection on display at the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, Ground Floor. Until 3 July.Geelong Regional Library - What's On Page
                                
Bid on your favourite mask here!
                                 
Matchbox backyards, pencil

Thursday, 23 June 2016

2016 Book Week Poster - Australia: Story Country!


Poster for Children's Book Week 2016: Australia: Story Country

Earlier this year I completed designs for poster, badges, bookmarks and stickers commissioned by the Children's Book Council of Australia, who coordinate Book Week every year in late August. It's customary that the winner of the picture book award from a previous year (Rules of Summer in my case) be invited to create visual materials for the next celebration. And 2016 is a special anniversary year for the CBCA, celebrating 70 years. That's a lot of reading! Given the theme 'Australia: Story Country' my idea was to try and include as many characters from Australia classics as possible into one landscape, which leaves me feeling immediately apologetic for the vast majority of iconic figures not included. Too many! On the other hand, I'm grateful to all the authors and publishers who granted permission to reference their creations, and the CBCA for supporting this. I hope the poster captures the overall feeling of vibrancy and sheer fun that comes to mind when thinking about all the great books published in this country over the years.

 
Book Week poster detail, showing a mix of both classic and invented characters

I also created a version of the same poster as a colouring-in exercise for school students (below), but of course anyone else is welcome to have a crack at it. You can find out more about Book Week here, and also buy posters and other decorations here. The CBCA is a non-profit organisation with all proceeds going back to the running of book awards, conferences and other activities that promote reading. 

CBCA poster as a colouring-in exercise for kids (and adults)

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Stuff from my high school folio

Balcatta, pencil, 1991

The view from the window of our high school art room, looking down on Poincaire St(?), lots of low brick and tile houses. My interest in the idea of endless suburbia has not changed much from this school assignment, when I look at it next to books like Tales from Outer Suburbia and The Lost Thing, it's all the same sort of imagery.


Sand dunes, Hillarys, pencil, 1991 (aged 17)
The landscape near my family home, sandy coastal dunes with low scrub and an encroachment of houses in the distance (it's now all very built up).

Rottnest Trees, pencil, 1990 (aged 16)
A study of trees - probably for another high school assignment - on the island of Rottnest, off the coast of Perth (so named because early Dutch explorers mistook marsupial quokkas living there for giant rats). One of my favourite things to do is drawing trees, still, so haven't changed much on that front either.

I had to do all these sketches for high school and keep a neat and tidy folio, which I later rejected – I hated all that assessment-based cataloguing and note-taking. Ironically, 25 year on,  I'm very particular about keeping sketchbooks with notations! So helpful in keeping larger projects organised. But I never really learned it at school, only when I needed it over a decade later.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Girl worried that she doesn't belong, pastel A2
Another drawing from my exhibition at the Illustrationcupboard Gallery in St James' London, which opens shortly (May 11). You can view an online catalogue of works here.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Kate Miller-Heidke in The Rabbits. Picture: Alex Coppel / The Australian
ABC Classic FM will be playing The Rabbits album in full this Saturday the 30th of April (tomorrow), at approximately 10:50am. You can find your local frequency at http://www.abc.net.au/classic/about/frequency-guide/

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sea Butterflies, gouache and coloured pencil 1994

An early SF illustration of mine based on no particular story, partly inspired by a dream. Some may recognise the craft as a forerunner of the big kite that appears in The Red Tree. The work was subsequently used as a cover for Interzone magazine in the UK, after the writer Terry Dowling saw this painting at a small exhibition and wrote a short story about it, 'No Hearts to Be Broken'. This was an interesting reversal, where the illustration inspires a story rather than the other way around.