Monday, 31 December 2012

Scaling Up

Until January of 2012 I had only ever painted illustrations on paper at my desk. But about a year ago I was asked by Brad Hammond of the Orange Regional Gallery to paint a mural for the children's ward in the new Orange hospital. It's been up on the wall since about February of 2012 but I've finally got some work in progress images together.

Here's the wall that needed cheering up:

Brad had mocked up a visual of the wall with images from a book I had illustrated called No Room for A Mouse. Essentially the mural needed to be bright and cheerful and interesting to children and their parents and tolerable for hospital staff! 

I went off to think of ideas but it was Ivy who came up with the best idea. She wanted to see a crocodile doing a handstand. Naturally. So this became the basis for the mural design - a procession of animals and children heading toward the seaside.


And from that, I produced a drawing in finer detail and to scale:

After this concept was approved, I had to somehow make the drawing into a 6 m x 1.77m painting!

The mural was to be painted on MDF panels and installed when completed. This way I could work in my studio rather than in the ward, getting in everyones' way. 

I primed the boards, and then applied a wash of raw umber to give a base colour. I'd rarely used acrylics before so decided I'd just treat it like I would a watercolour painting, but on a BIG scale.   

I then used an old style projector to project the original drawing onto each panel, using charcoal to trace the linework. I fixed the linework with spray fixative and then started painting, learning a great deal along the way about drawing with charcoal, painting with acrylics and various acrylic mediums and that spray fixative causes chemical reactions with most sealers! Eeek!

I also got help from my mum, Katie and some lovely friends, Laretta and Jen.

 Here are the finished panels photographed separately before installation:

And installed in the hospital:

And a few nice details:

This project was the highlight of my year - challenging, super fast, rather gorgeous and for a lovely purpose. I'm a little bit proud! 

If you'd like to read more about Brad's work at the hospital, installing artworks to bring warmth and interest to the otherwise sterile and alienating environment, click here.

The photographs in this post were taken by Kate Blackwood and Brad Hammond.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Treasure Box

One of the advantages I've noticed of being an illustrator, is that just when life gets a little bit tedious, a parcel arrives in the mail. They don't always contain anything particularly exciting, but every so often a package arrives with an advanced copy of a new book.

A few weeks ago, a nicely wrapped parcel was delivered to my house. I found it propped up on the commode that stands on the front porch. (I haven't quite worked out where one puts a commode nowadays). And the parcel contained The Treasure Box, a story written by Margaret Wild that I spent the first half of this year working on.

It wasn't the easiest book I've worked on, mostly because I decided to create each illustration in layers, cut out and stuck one upon the other like a paper diorama. This meant the illustrations had to be lit and photographed rather than scanned. There were many technical learning curves, much stress and numerous breakdowns. But the final result is rather lovely, thanks to those who helped with the photography, digital editing and design.

Here are some of my favourite images from the book:

The Treasure Box, published by Viking is due out in February 2013. For more information about the book click here.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Maudie & Bear Abroad

It's been a little while since I've posted any news. Really I've been waiting for something to actually happen and this week seems to be the week of happenings.

Quite out of the blue Maudie & Bear has been shortlisted for in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards for the Patricia Wrightson Award. The other books shortlisted for this award are Crow Country, Taj and the Great Camel TrekFor All Creatures, Angel Creek and Bungawitta. Click here for a list of all those nominated in the various categories. 

Maudie and Bear are also making an appearance in New York at present. Published by Putnam in the US, Maudie & Bear was selected for The Original Art, an annual exhibition showcasing the year's best children's books. 

It makes me giggle to think of Bear riding his bicycle with Maudie in the basket all the way over there... while I sit and work. Actually I feel rather envious. Maudie and Bear are currently cycling through the United States, Harry and Hopper bounced through last year but I've never been to New York. But I'm ever so proud of them! 

Here's some more information about the exhibition, which is open until 22nd December and then touring through the US the following year. 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Runaway Hug Returns

Ivy and I journeyed to Adelaide for the launch of Book Week 2012 and the presentation of the Children's Book Council of Australia awards. Ivy was dubious about The Runaway Hug winning an award because the drawings are simply too messy, apparently. She also thought that it would be much more exciting if I won an olympic medal. 

Never-the-less, The Runaway Hug WON the CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year for 2012! Needless to say I'm very pleased that the judges didn't find the drawings too messy. The shortlist and winners of all awards are listed here

Who needs an olympic medal when you have a Children's Book of the Year Award medal! 

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Nick Bland, the author of The Runaway Hug and many other books (that he himself illustrates) including The Very Cranky Bear, The Wrong Book, The Very Itchy Bear and Twinkle. Sadly I forgot to get a photo of the two of us together, or any photos for that matter. Instead I spent most of my time trying to keep Ivy and her shoes and socks contained. 

Sorely missed on the day was Ana Vivas from Scholastic Press. Thanks again to the Children's Book Council of Australia. Who knows what I'd be doing to make ends meet if it weren't for these awards. 

Here are some of my favourite images from The Runaway Hug.

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Post Deadline Clean Up

So I've FINALLY finished the drawings for The Treasure Box, written by Margaret Wild. After every job my studio is pretty bad, as I've mastered the art of resisting the temptation of cleaning as a form of procrastination. But after this job it was abominable! So today I started cleaning the space that had once been my studio and along the way I discovered...

my studio:

scattered remnants of The Treasure Box:

and these strange little colourful pellets:

These were found in an old box of my grandfather's brown drawing pencils (but are shown here in a match box) and are in fact the excrement from the family of cockroaches that inhabit my studio and eat from my paint palette. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Terrible Suitcase Alights

The Terrible Suitcase, written by Emma Allen, has landed in stores around the country. 

The Terrible Suitcase is about a young girl's first day at school. Keen to fit in, she has asked her mum for a red backpack with yellow rockets and a silver zipper as a going-to-school present, but instead gets a terrible, old suitcase. Of course, the suitcase saves the day and becomes a special and much loved object.

In a brief reprieve from the torture of attempting to finish a job during school holidays, I thought I'd post some of my favourite images from the book. For lovers of endpapers I have included a photo of the endpapers of this book, showing a diagram of our solar system with the red suitcase spinning through on an eccentric orbit. 

A big congratulations to Emma Allen on the publication of her first picture book!

This is the first published image of my whippet Pivot.