Sunday, 22 November 2015

happy merry everything!

Every year, my Christmas decorating becomes more and more simple . . . in fact, I relish adding the merest lick of shimmer and Scandi-inspired pop of red and + white into the year-long mix of greenery in our house. Not only is it stress-free, it just looks fresh and pretty and light.

I've used a small handful of gold metal ornaments this year. After dragging in a large, bare branch from the garden and upending it in a large pot, I wondered how it might look snaked in fairy lights. I then added white paper ornaments from Kikki-K and these little gold ornament treasures which include a fire engine and a rocking horse.

I'm slowly adding to my collecting of mercury glass ornaments, and have added these to our little table-top feather tree. We have a monster faux pine in our garage, hidden away. It's become a fine home for spiders these past three or four years but that's not why we're neglecting it ... it just seems so HEAVY and 'too much'. So, we're sticking with the feather tree which provides a light little signpost atop its perch in our living room.

I've also taken to using gift bags rather than wrapping paper, as much as possible, and this type of recycling is not only kind to our wallets and the environment, it makes cleaning up, post-present-ripping, a breeze. I'm already smiling at how easy it's going to be!

So, herewith a peek at our house this Festive Season. A little earlier than usual this year, but I'm glad of it. I so love flicking on the fairy lights and seeing everything glow.

Closer to Christmas, I'll be lighting the candles on our spinning balsa wood creations. They are an absolute joy to behold--and count among my favourite Christmas treasures, especially the multi-tiered house (from Dusk, but wait till I've finished in there before going and snaffling them all, please!).

Enjoy this peek . . .

(PS: many of the orchids are faux . . . I made them from a downloadable and printable orchid flower template, and attached them the bare orchid stems while I await new blooms!)

Friday, 20 November 2015

One Word Wisdom with author Hazel Edwards

Just delighted to welcome Hazel Edwards to my blog to answer my One Word Wisdom challenge, and to show you her new memoir, Not Just a Piece of Cake, which is packed with humorous anecdotes and plenty of insider info and priceless advice from decades of industry experience. 

Typical writer—she simply could not stick to one word per answer, but I’ll allow this because she’s so utterly fabulous (and I also know how hard that is).

1. What is the best thing about being an author?

2. What’s the worst thing?

3. How did writing Not Just a Piece of Cake make you feel?

4. What do you hope it brings its readers?
Realistic creativity.

5. Name your greatest writing achievement.
Mentoring my 'hazelnuts'.
f2m;the boy within
Astrid Lindgren nominations.
OAM for Literature.

6. Who has influenced your writing the most?

7. What has been your biggest career reward?
Poignant fan mail.

8. What's the most important contribution an author can make to the world?

9. What’s your biggest writing goal?
Collaborating on significant projects.

10. What’s next?
Hijabi Girl junior chapter book.

Head to Hazel's website for more about her work, and to purchase your copy of Not Just a Piece of Cake.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

52-Week Illustration Challenge Christmas Auction

The 52-Week Illustration Challenge is launching another milestone--our very first online art auction!

Almost 30 artists have both original works and prints up for auction, with hugely reasonable start prices. And they are gorgeous! So diverse and beautifully-done.

If you love collecting original art or even limited edition prints, do check it out. Previews start today and the auction goes live on Sunday night.

Click the poster to check out the artworks up for sale, and info on how to bid.

Happy shopping!

Monday, 9 November 2015

the elusive grant

A little while ago, I learned I had won my first grant. I put on a blue dress, heels and a peach paper crown, and ran around the house while pink sparkles popped all around. It was a lovely, lovely thing--thank you, ArtsACT!

This Grant was awarded to serve as an income for six months' work on my very first self-illustrated book, and it's meant I'll be able to truly put my head down and focus instead of teaching, speaking, running workshops, editing, writing articles, hosting book signings, and the myriad other things most creators do to earn an income (other than, er ... create).

Friday, 6 November 2015

happy accidents

Creative work often comes with accidents. And no, I don't mean leaving it too late to go to the loo because you're so engrossed. I also don't mean that time you spilled a full cup of freshly-brewed coffee all over your WIP--I felt your heart break from here.

I mean 'happy accidents' that strike you by surprise but don't involve a crashed laptop or irrecoverably deleting something (these things always end in guttural howling--have you backed up recently???).

This week, I drew a quick image for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge for Week 44: SCANDINAVIAN (couldn't resist--am Scandi-obssessed). You can see the image, above, rendered in watercolour and fineliner.

Before I coloured the image, I scanned the line drawing so I could play around with it in Adobe Illustrator.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

ANNOUNCING THE WINNER! Australian Kids Through the Years

Thank you to everyone who entered our fabulous colouring comp! The entries were truly divine and you all made it SO HARD TO CHOOSE!

But biggest congratulations to:

Eden, age 6

I found the colours in this piece absolutely exceptional. I loved it. In fact, the scan has washed out the colour--it's a lot brighter and darker in real life!

Well done, Eden, your signed book is on the way, along with your original Andrew Joyner artwork from the book. Lucky thing! We hope you love it.

I also wanted to give a BIG SHOUT OUT to two other amazing entries that I particularly loved:

Bianca, 10

Vanna, 8

Keep up the amazingly creative work, kids, and happy reading!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

loose and lovely

This past weekend, I was inspired (as I always am) by my gorgeous friend Jen Storer's latest Baxter Street post. It contained art, humour, bunnies, haystacks, daleks and cinnamon toast (or dreamings of cinnamon toast)--what more could you possibly crave??

But it also contained a video on painting lovely loose artworks that I soooo admire and drool over, but never have the courage to produce. Jen produced one--and it's beyond lovely.

I have a relatively controlled style of illustrating--neat, tidy, planned. How I yearn to hold a pencil a centimetre from the end in that achingly nonchalant way, and flick it across a page. Or press really, really hard on a graphite pencil. Or use colour in a way that looks like smeared rainbows. Wrong colour. Out-there colour. How I crave to see purple and turquoise in shadows and yellow and rose in midtones.

So, I took up the self-imposed challenge and followed along this Mindy Lacefield video 'playing with caran d'ache'. Mindy's illustrations typify that utterly unfettered, loose, whimsical style that makes the breath flutter. So I gave it a go. And here is what happened ... (please excuse the cruddy low-light photos):

A light sketch with a watercolour pencil. I still think this is too controlled, but ah well ... I'll keep practising.

A gentle wash over the lines with a wet brush. Not looking too bad.

This is where things get interesting. Stricken with mild panic, and a flashback to an old aunt and her commit-me-now makeup routine, I take deep breaths over my candy-coloured splotch girl, and reach for the wet brush.

Surprisingly better. Thank you, water. I stop myself from blending to within an inch of the dear girl's life and just 'let things be'. I add a little background stuff in a tres random way and then I LET GO.

I grab a white texta and add a few popping highlights. The texta pools on her cheek so I rush at it with my finger and make it worse. Then I slap my own hand and I ... LEAVE IT! (I can hear your gasp from here!)

I'm done. I try not to hone in on the fact that it was me who did this. If someone else had done it, I might actually like it very much. Interesting, non?

And PS: I want her hairstyle.

Will be interesting to see where this sort of freestyle creating leads. Creating it was like standing in the kitchen in front of the closed laundry door, prepping myself to do a handstand against it. I try to do this every day, if I can. It's monumentally scary because I'm no longer twelve and one day I might snap a vertebrae or my arms might give way and I'll land on my head, crack it open and candy will fall out ... but I figure that so long as I continue to do it, two things are absolutely true:

a) I'm still young
b) I've got some pretty solid chutzpah

c) optional: I'm completely crazy

Go smear some rainbows!!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

the agony and the angst of works in progress


Any creator, in any field, will tell you that when it comes to launching their project/book/artwork/play/invention into the big ole world, a certain inner turmoil descends upon 'release'.

What will people think?

What will they say?

How will they react?

Will they be offended?

Will I be panned, canned or slammed?

Will they LIKE it?

Having pondered these questions many a time in my career, I've only recently come to the biggest (and most meaningful) question of all . . .

Does it really matter?

Some might say yes. Perhaps if people LIKE our work, we'll win awards. Or we'll sign more contracts. Or gain renown. Or finally snag that holiday home on the Amalfi Coast.


But also, maybe not.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Tea with JT - author interview

I first met Jenny Tiffen back in 2009. She is one of these Renaissance women--four gorgeous kids, once ran a fitness business and several other initiatives, now blogs (as Love Wednesday fantastic blog--you must check it out!) and writes for several sites including Canberra's The Riot ACT. She's also one of these freakish women who is not only a gorgeous person, she's beautiful, sharp as a tack, dedicated, dynamic, creative and FUNNY!

So it was a joy to catch up with her for tea at Local Press in Kingston this week for a chat and an interview for the Riot ACT. Oh, and she's also brilliant with photography--and most graciously put up with my paranoia over being photographed for the interview. Typical author used to living alone in a dark hole. I think she's done an excellent job of photo shopping my part of the images, don't you!?

You can see the full interview here. It was a lot of fun. Thanks, Jen!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

An amazing review for Australian Kids Through the Years

Sometimes a review comes along that just makes your heart sing and makes all the research, passion and seemingly endless hard work on a book feel worthwhile. (Truth by told, even if my books didn't receive such heartwarming reviews, all of these things would still be worthwhile because I just love making books that much!)

Like all books, Australian Kids Through the Years took a lot of my heart into its pages--and this reviewer so 'got' everything Andy and I (and the NLA team) did to make this book come alive--it just felt goosebump-tingly to read all she had written.

So, thank you, thank you, Momo.

You can read the full review here.

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