marvellous May, maps, mammals, microbiomes and making changes

Sunday, 20 May 2018

platypus playing with gouache

It's marvellous May! and winter has finally descended on Canberra. But it's not the winter I know. I may be decked in knits and beanies and ugg boots (hurrah!), but many of our trees are STILL in full leaf. Or part-leaf, dotted with a red leaf or three. There is still no blaze in our neighbourhood--no trees on fire with red, yellow, orange, no no. It's still 'meh'.

It's summer being strangled by the cold paws of Jack Frost. There has been no autumn in our city this 2018. And other than this snatch of yellow down at the lake recently, it seems there will be no autumn. And it makes me uneasy.

Maybe you've seen the same kind of changes where you are, maybe you haven't. But it's a timely reminder that our dear planet isn't well, and that every little bit we can do to nourish her is a must. Yes, even if we feel the horrendous impact multinational juggernauts are waging on our planet while chasing a buck, makes it feel like our efforts are for nought.

But then, I guess, there's always Mars, right?


On a lighter note...

I had some super lovely news this month. My nephew and his fiancée are expecting a baby, and the joy this has brought our small extended family has been unparalleled. A little girl will enter our lives this October, and the idea of being a Great Aunt has sent me into a happiness tailspin. I've tried not to shop, I really have, but the forces were against me. How much baby cuteness is out there in retail land?
from Mamie, HarperCollins, Dec 2018

And isn't it lovely that new life fills us with such life?

May has also been a month of big changes. Recently, I discovered I'd probably topple over the edge if I continue to work so slavishly, and my heart and head might be in a lot of trouble if I continued spending so much time on social media. I knew it was time to make some major, long overdue changes with how I'm working and living.

The Four Pillar Plan : How To Relax, Eat, Move And Sleep Your Way To A Longer, Healthier Life The - Rangan ChatterjeeThe interesting thing is, it wasn't even about 'doing less', especially as I've been doing a hell of a lot less this past year or two, anyway. It's really been about doing things differently. Multitasking is SO yesterday, and I'm tired of its health-sapping brain scramble. It's been a case of pure enlightenment to schedule my workload in a cleaner fashion -- committing full days or even weeks to ONE project only. I'm more productive, more focused, and happier for it.

I've also officially scheduled in a heap of daily non-negotiables, in order to boost my health and emotional and mental wellbeing. After reading Dr Rangan Chatterjee's amazing book--The 4 Pillar Plan--I've made the simplest, most basic, almost too-good-to-be-true changes and additions to my every day, and the results have been incredible. (Note: this is not a sponsored post. You can listen to Dr Chatterjee on YouTube, too.)

I feel more balanced. More inspired. I'm sleeping better. I feel happier and less overwhelmed. I'm producing better work and am coping with stress like a boss.

Just some of the changes and additions include:
  • screen-free Sundays
  • a massive 80% drop in my time online and on social media
  • 2 litres of filtered water a day
  • more vegetables, and protein with every meal
  • limited processed food of any kind
  • feeding my 'microbiome' with foods they love
  • an 80% drop in sugar intake
  • 20 mins outside every morning, no matter the weather
  • at least one 5 - 10 min meditation session a day
  • moving every hour on the hour--a walk, raking leaves, sun salutations, whatever works for you
  • special exercises to wake my 'sleepy glutes' (we all have 'em)
  • limiting screen exposure after 7pm or wearing amber glasses to block blue light
  • saying no
Most of these are free, none have side effects, and all of them are a breeze. Perhaps the biggest challenge is hammering home the fact that everything must be daily. There is no other option. Even when you're feeling so much better, happier and well-balanced, you can't stop. It's daily maintenance. Like brushing your teeth. And lo, it is worth it.

Towards the beginning of the month, I dedicated some time to new artworks (these will likely end us as cards), part fun, part developing my folio. I've been wanting to experiment with gouache for ages, and these koalas, and the platypuses at the top of this post, were the result.
I also experimented with watercolour, creating free-form shapes, and morphing them into animal  balloons...

And my houseplant obsession overtook my drawing board, too, with a series of potted plants and cacti. I've been interested in exploring overlapping and translucent watercolour, too, as you'll see in the plants at the end of this line-up.

Another thing I had a lot of fun with was creating random splodges of watercolour, letting it dry, and 'finding' flowers in the paint with white opaque ink and a fine brush. This was the most meditative, intuitive work, and I loved every minute. I'd love to try some more deliberate works in this vein, like the potted flowers, below.
Along with this stress-busting fun, I worked hard on my latest WIP for the National Library--it's called Fauna and it's a non-fiction title for kids. I've been working with a wonderful scientific advisor/editor, and creating a cladogram (look it up!) was some kind of experience.

I've absolutely loved creating digital, graphic design-style imagery for the book--a peek, below. Alas, this title isn't out for at least another 18 months, perhaps even into 2020.

I'm creating lots of adorable mammals for the book, and here is one of my favourites--the sugar glider. He's a baby glider.

I have another book out this year with the National Library--all about geological sites, created with amazing friend and illustrator, Christina Booth. It's called The Gum Family Finds Home and will be released around Book Week (August). Here is a peek... and more peeks coming as soon as I can.

Printing for my World: Illustrated Map with Hardie Grant Egmont was delayed a wee bit by technicalities, but the great news is, it's still on track for a 1 June release. Watch this space for the map reveal! Coming très soon.

A few months ago, Australia Illustrated sold out. I've been in talks with the wonderful people at EK Books, and we've decided to go ahead and do a brand new print run, but the hugely exciting thing is, the book will be given an entirely new cover, as well as endpapers, title page and half title. Can't wait to share it with you, but it's not out till October, so a few months to go. Because I love you so much, here is a peek...

Lastly, in more book news, Jess Racklyeft and I will soon be signing for another book with Windy Hollow -- another picture book about a gorgeous little girl who loves birds. This will be a 2019 title, along with Hip Hip Hooray!, our follow-on to Merry Everything. Hooray is looking so adorable--wait till you see the colours.

And now... for my latest Instagram crush, the divine, Switzerland-based illustrator, Isabelle Follath whose work is not only exquisitely accomplished, it's toe-curlingly charming and inspiring. Isabelle is currently working on a cast of 'whodunnit' characters for #the100dayproject and I'm completely obsessed. Just take a look at her divine characterisations and linework. Pure joy.

I'm warmly and happily ensconced in a deeply productive time of late, so I've been trying not to take on any events or talks. A few opps came up, though, that I couldn't say no to. I hope to see you at one!

Magical, Marvellous, Magnificent Maps!
Sunday 27 May 2018
11am - 12pm 
State Library of New South Wales
Explore time through the marvelously magical and magnificent world of maps with children’s author/illustrator, Tania McCartney. Tania is positively, absolutely mad about maps, but then, who isn’t? Children can then make their very own map, featuring plants, animals and markings of their own travels. Suitable for kids aged 4 – 12.  
Book a place

Australian Booksellers Association Expo
Sunday 17 June 2018
QT Hotel, Canberra
I will be at the EK Books stall from 12.30 - 2pm.

Picture Book Chat - Twitter
Thursday 5 July 2018
8 - 9pm
Join me live on Twitter #picbookbc with Picture Book Book Club (@picturebookbc) as we talk all things picture books, followed by Q&A.

Watercolour Painting Workshop for Kids
Tuesday 17 July 2018
Goulburn Library, Goulburn
10am meet and greet. 10.30am

This coming weekend, a very important book, Sorry Day, will be launched at the National Library. It's been written by my dear friend Coral Vass, illustrated by Dub Leffler. Click the poster for more info. I hope you can come along.

Sorry Day

Also, our local SCBWI Chapter (ACT and Surrounds) has announced it's next glorious event, with visiting author/illustrator Caroline Magerl. Not to be missed! Click the poster to learn more.

Well, I think that's all the bookish news I have for now! It's lovely to be deep in production, and I hope to have some more book news soon.

Here's to a cosy winter of snuggling in and creating wonderful works to delight children everywhere. I hope it's a productive and magical one for you, and that you find the time to hone your craft, and create what you love.


1 comment:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Tania! Full of lovely juicy tidbits of all kinds. Thanks for brightening up my Monday morning so. ��

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