July - a snugglefest of writing and illustrating

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

watercolour/paper-cutting experiments

Finally, finally winter is in full force here in Canberra, and I am enjoying every frosty beanie/boot/mitten-wearing moment! Endless cups of hot tea, toasty soups, faux fur blankets . . . my feels are quite Icelandic. And of course, other than a quick dash to the shops and a brisk walk in the glorious winter sun, it's lovely to have every excuse to shut myself away in my light-filled studio, and create create create.

Speaking of beanies, can you believe how gorgeous my gumnut beanie is, below? I found it on Etsy--the store is Fibre Delights--and how could I resist? I'm hoping to wear it to my launch for Mamie--my picture book on May Gibbs, out this December. And how good would this beanie be for Book Week dress-ups?

In my May blog post, I talked about my need (and YOUR need) to find more Real Life balance, and I've been doing really well. I've developed bursitis in my left shoulder this year, and of course, being busier than ever with illustrating, this was pretty devastating. A good physio, exercises and more movement have helped so much, and I'm ever mindful of how I hold my shoulders when I'm illustrating now. Digital artwork is particularly hard on the body, and we have to be so careful with the way our bones and muscles interact.

I've been cooking again, going out more, and have even done a wee spot of house redecorating, taking advantage of the end-of-fiscal year sales. My husband has been overseas a lot, so it was the perfect time to upend the family room. I've also done a wee bit in our master bedroom, though I still have pictures to hang.

Above is a new rug--shagpile is back, baby! and a new leather butterfly chair and leather pouffe--all from Temple and Webster. The TV cabinet is from IKEA and I LOVE it! Inside are little white tubs with all our DVDs in them. It was some process putting the unit together on my own, but it was so worth it.

And nothing too exciting . . . but here is our ugly old wardrobe covered in leaf decals from ebay. This entire decoration only cost about $20, and the decals are really great quality--they come off easily. I might have to change it up each season!

As part of my getting-out-more, I tripped off to the Cartier Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia last month. Oh my. It was very sparkly.

I was gasping over this clock set gifted to Queen Elizabeth back in the day. There's something wonderful about clocks.

More gadding about, I spotted this yarn-bombing in Queanbeyan recently. So hard to get a good shot as the trees are all in a row, but how spectacular do they look?

My daughter has a casual job at a boutique hotel in Canberra, and my husband and I actually went out AT NIGHT (gasp!) for a drink and to see her in action. We ordered these incredible flavoured gin/tonics. Talk about utterly delicious. Of course, I was under the table after one sip.

The Australian Bookseller's Association was in town recently for its 2018 conference and trade fair. One of my publishers, EK Books, invited me to come along to their stall and it was so much fun. It was so great to meet my lovely publicist Alison, and wondergirl Siobhan. Alison sorted the delicious cupcakes, which I did not eat!

This event was aimed at booksellers, of course, and it was interesting to be on the other side of the coin, so to speak. I ran into a slew of booksellers I know--both local and interstate--and my publisher from the National Library was there, too. That's where I got to see the first copies of The Gum Family Finds Home (out this August, NLA Publishing).

EK were showcasing the brand new cover for Australia Illustrated's Second Edition (out this October with EK Books). I hope to reveal the new cover soon!

Here I am with a spiny leaf insect brought to Canberra from Cairns by author and uber bug man, Alan Henderson. I also met another type of leaf insect and a giant burrowing cockroach, which I only just the week before finished researching for a book of my own for the National Library! They are just the most superb creatures. If you're into bugs, like I am, check out Alan's beautiful book, Minibeasts.

I was so fortunate to receive an invitation to gatecrash the Conference proper the next day. I only stayed for the first two sessions because they were, of course, about children's books . . .

Joel Becker, ABA CEO, welcomes delegates

a keynote by the amazing Morris Gleitzman both enchanted
and uplifted us with its message of hope

Jane Godwin, Anna Walker and Leesa Lambert of The Little Bookroom, talking picture books

a breathtaking peek at Anna's superb studio

My workload is so heavy, I've been unable to do many events this year (and this will likely extend into next year), but it was a joy to attend a literary breakfast with students at St Francis Xavier College in Canberra, during their Writers Festival. They had a stunning line-up of guests and fascinating opportunities for the kids, and I could not think of anything more perfect than enjoying a beautiful breakfast, and talking shop with these dedicated students. Below are just some of the talent I met. Kudos to Rachael Hind and her team for creating this brilliant literary week--your students are so lucky.

One kind of events I can do more easily are those held online, like this Twitter chat with Picture Book Book Club. We'll be talking all about the senses, and I'll be featuring my book See Hear. Hope you can join in, this Thursday 5 July at 8pm AEST. Use the hashtag #picbookbc

Because we can never get enough picture books, below is my stash from the past month or so. It's a little light-on, but that's due to deadlines. You'll absolutely love these books, photographed in the Icelandic fur tradition. Look out for them.

My Australia Map has been doing the rounds again, with fabulous teachers, teacher/librarians, book lovers and kids enjoying its combined educational/aesthetic qualities! The World Map is also doing well, though I'm yet to see it in the wild. Let me know if you see it! Thanks to the amazing Sue Warren for these first two pics. I also have some VERY exciting news in relation to the maps which I'll share with you towards the end of the year.

The lovely Sian of Teach Investigate Play on Instagram, has used my map in her kids' play area--a space she cleverly changes around to inspire her little ones.

Now, as for book news . . .

My book about May Gibbs, Mamie, is going off to print any moment now and it's looking incredible, thanks to the HarperCollins team. I'm gagging to show you the cover but that's under wraps for now (out December). I'll be launching the book in Adelaide, so if you're a South Australian, I'd love you to come along. More info in a few months.

While you wait . . . here is a scotty dog from the book!

I will have a few things coming up for the launch of The Gum Family Finds Home, including giveaways, so watch my EVENTS page for that. I'll also have some fun happening for the relaunch of Australia Illustrated in October.

I haven't been illustrating for leisure very much these past two months, but here is a peek at a book I'm doing for the National Library of Australia. It's been the most incredible journey, creating this book, from the research to the illustration and layout. Again, beside myself to show you more! This one is at least 18 months away, alas.

I'm hoping to sign for two enormous projects shortly--one is certain, one almost certain--and it's going to mean no sleep for four or five months, but it will be well worth it. Will reveal more when I can, but needless to say they are DREAM projects.

So, a huge production period ahead, but I'll try to post again with updates and peeks. You can see my EVENTS page for what I have coming up, and I'd love to see you if you can come along to any of these.

To finish this post, I wanted to share the most exquisite gift--sent to me from London by my niece. This amazing tree has just touched my heart, most especially the words she wrote on the back. To be told I'm a woman who lives and works from her soul . . . well, what could be a greater compliment? My niece is the most remarkable young lady and this tree will soon be framed and will take pride of place on my desk.

What gifts have you received this past month? Something simple? Something huge? Or something both simple and huge, like this one?

I hope you have a blissful July. Thank you for wading through my post!


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