a note

Here's where to look if you want to know what I'm up to. You'll find photographs, sketches, anecdotes, ideas and updates, including - hopefully - book publishing news. I can't promise to post regularly while I'm travelling - and I can't promise to be witty or clever, but I will promise to be honest. No fake news here.

Last week I worked furiously to create a new colouring book featuring several iconic Australian animals in my signature natural history illustration style. It's now available as a digital book to buy via Etsy! To preview all the page designs (my favourite part of the process is coming up with new compositions) have a look here. I'm also running a sale for the book launch, just add the code INKLANDS in at checkout to get 20% off the book until the 13th of April 2020.

I was spurred to create Inklands by a request for a digital copy of my first colouring book 'Wildscapes'. Sadly, Wildscapes is out of print and due to my living in Scotland and the original artwork for Wildscapes being in storage in Australia, it's not currently possible for me to produce a digital copy. Maybe one day...

I really enjoyed drawing this new colouring book and already have ideas for more colouring pages and books. If you have an animal or insect or flower that you'd like to see as a colouring page let me know - I am definitely open to ideas :)

Writing this post I see my poor website has been pretty neglected recently! Besides the colouring book I have been working on a series of new oil paintings. This series is inspired by my time living in Scotland, as you'll see from the photos below.

This series is a bit of a departure from my watercolour natural history illustrations, but I'm loving the vibrancy of the oil paints. Owing to living in a small flat I'm working on a small scale now, and these paintings measure 13cm diameter. For those of you who are crafty with needle and thread, yes I have used embroidery hoops! I've stretched canvas in them and think they look quite cute as a framing device. This series is an ongoing project ... I was hoping to put the collection up on Etsy, but have decided that owing to the corona virus I'll hold off. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to have an exhibition some time in the future. If you are interested in the paintings do email me, as they will eventually be for sale.

I think I have waffled long enough now...

Hoping you are all well and finding plenty of activities to do at home, while we're all in lockdown. I've got drawing, painting, renovating and writing on my list... I just don't think I have time to fit them all in!

As another year draws to a close I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has been following my work. I haven’t been able to share as much as I would have liked – nor spend as much time painting as I would have liked!

I have been writing, but that is not nearly so photogenic. I’m three quarters finished a new novel - a quirky mystery - and I plan to send it out to agents in the New Year. I have a good feeling about this one and hope the publishing world gatekeepers like it too!

The only clue I can give you about my current novel-in-progress...

Most of my time currently is (still) taken up with house renovation. It’s proved to be a much bigger and more time-consuming job than I imagined, but the good news is the bedrooms are done and there’s only the living room, kitchen, bathroom and halls to go… I have learnt a huge amount about renovating along the way – and am getting quicker (now that I know what I’m doing).

(Our living/dining room - a work in progress, including a creepy hole in the wall under the wallpaper. Hoping to have this room done by Christmas!)

Big life changes are coming in 2020, which will also impact my creative time and work, but more on those as they unfold.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up hope that I’ll be published again, but at the same time I can’t give up writing or drawing. I like creating too much. So here’s to a new year filled with life, love and creativity.

Best wishes to you all!

I never get as much done in a day as I hope but, working in snatches at night or before work I have managed to *mostly* finish 1 illustration for my new children's book portfolio.

It was quite experimental for me – and very different to traditional natural history illustrations where I know exactly what colour every element should be. For this, I got to make up my own colour palette, which was both fun and, in some ways, more challenging.

This is the almost finished illustration.

Almost finished! A fantasy forest illustration for a children's book.

For anyone interested in the process I've shared a few progress shots below.

I'm a long time fan of the picture book, Where the Wild Things Are and so I decided to start by laying in lines with a black pen....

Adding some pen lines.

Then I added some colour. I started with watercolour washes, then added watercolour pencils to give it a very hand-drawn, coloured-in feel.

Watercolour washes. My scanner didn't scan the purple flowers very well :(

Adding more colour! Watercolour pencils are fun.

Then it was a matter of building up layers of colour – trying not to ruin the picture in the process!

Adding even more colour!

Then I scanned it (unfortunately, the scanner I purchased in the UK is not as good as I'd like) and added the final touches digitally. I added adjustment layers (adjusting levels, brightness/contrast and curves), space for text.

I don't like how the small fly characters turned out, so I'll be adding new ones in digitally. But, for a first attempt, I'm pretty pleased with the results. (This isn't always the case!)

Signing off until next week to do some more painting!