Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Beard, Pipe, Beret.

I will be cartooning at a great conference later in the month and in preparation for it they asked me to contribute the usual photo and short blurb about myself. Most of the speakers at the conference are academics. Their photos and bios have gravitas.
The most recent photos of myself, however, were taken accidentally when the kids were doing tricks on the trampoline and stopped for advice on how to get the camera to film things. So I'm blurry, carrying a load of washing and looking a little distracted/harrassed. Sometimes my head doesn't even feature in-shot. In the voice-over, David Attenborough would describe me as being in my natural habitat. Well, yes, David, you are correct, but I don't think these photos carry the gravitas that I need as a professional artist.

Which led me to do a little pondering on what kind of photo does give you the "I'm a deeply successful, wildly talented, artist person" vibe. A quick search of art history revealed that Great Artists of the world have three key elements to their appearance: Beard, Pipe and Beret. So I went with that.

I'm very pleased with the results.
Though I would like to add that if you do overplay it a little you can end up looking like Popeye, the sailor man. See bottom, second from right.

Thanks go to my skilled photographers (aged 9 and 11 years old).

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Artist in Residence

Q.  What kind of institution has an everlasting bucket of chips, a happy birthday cake that sings to you and a track for guinea pig racing? 

A.  A Super School, as imagined by students from a tiny school in the bottom bit of Australia.

Just finished a residency with St. Patricks Primary School in Port Fairy, Victoria. The kids and I worked together to produce this artwork which is a "Super School". The children imagined what they'd like a Super School to include and then drew those elements. I then cut them up, and constructed the collage. I used spacers behind some of the drawings to give the work a three dimensional appearance. The coloured work around the edges was contributed by the preps and grade one children who lacked the fine motor skills to do detailed cartoons but had great crayon skills and combined some gorgeous colours.
Collage detail
I worked with every class in the school, holding cartooning workshops over three weeks. The fourth week was spent with just the grade sixes, cutting out younger kids work and doing final drawings. At this point I felt like a renaissance painter with a stable of my own little artists "We need some roads, draw me some roads! Trees! Let's add treeeees!" The children were very accomodating.
Full image of our 'Super school'
This project taught me to never underestimate the creative force of young minds. Their ideas for a what a Super school should include were both practical-a waterslide that teaches you everything- and the wacky -hand-standing penguin, rocket ships and a wrestling ring. 

I also encouraged students to critique their own ideas and try and evaluate the implications of them. For example, if a super school DID include a ravenous beast that ate all bullies (and sometimes teachers) what problems might this possibly present? How might the students overcome these problems? The answers were surprisingly pragmatic and imaginative i.e. for the example above, the monster doesn't actually fully digest the bullies (and teachers), he just pooes them out again and they consider it a lesson learned.

By the way, St.Patricks Primary School, Port Fairy, has the best artist-in-residence program I've seen, with a different artist every two years. Is it a co-incidence that this small town won the title of the WORLDS most liveable community in 2012? I think not.
It took out 'Under 20,000 population' prize and the shire's mayor had to go and dig out his best suit and passport and fly to Abu Dhabi to be presented with the prize.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why I windexed my art folio.

Last week, I had 10 book illustrations to complete and a book pitch to write. I felt a bit like this:
Now, with all of that completed, I feel like this:
I'm all ready for Kid Lit Vic 2016. I even windexed my art folio.
Following this conference is another school adventure-a residency with St.Patricks, Port Fairy, Victoria.
We are imagining, and drawing, our 'dream school'. Should be fun!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015 in review.

This blog is quickly becoming something akin to the annual christmas letter you send to distant relatives and old friends. Oh wull. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! & Look what I did last year!
In following with christmas letter tradition, I will list the successes and skip the angst, failures and flawed coping strategies.
Here is some of what I did in 2015...

1. I continued selling cartoon prints
I extended the print run to 14 designs and started selling through Blarney Books, Port Fairy, as well as The Artery in Warrnambool and F project artist markets.

2. I held an exhibition with Rachel Peters, on the theme of 'Somewhere between domestic and wild".
This largely featured drawings of monsters doing mundane, domestic things. Because even monsters have to wash. I guess.

Below: Portrait of my husband flossing and Portrait of my husband shaving. My husband is not at all monstrous. But he is a wonderfully exotic beast. and has hairy toes. Hence the works.

The exhibition also included almost 20 terrariums featuring more monsters and giant mutant beasts. Plus plants to make them pretty. Leading up to the exhibition I spent a lot of time in $2 shops, nudging aside 7 year old boys to get to the  GOOD matchbox cars and plastic dinosaurs. When I'd caught my breath, I'd continue on to the glass bowl section and elbow aside all the other 40 year old mummies making terrariums. It was harrowing. 

Rachel's work included pieces like the one below. She is one classy dame, no?

 3. I made some giant flowering gumnuts. They were commissioned by the local council, as replacements for the tinsel-covered council decorations that normally adorn light poles.
I used old aluminium lampshades for the gumnuts, and unravelled rope to make the flowers. I figured rope would stand up to the seaspray and wind of Warrnambool, and it's wiry kink was evocative of the real flowers. I made the gumflowers detachable with carabina clips. Having detachable gumnuts will enable the council to store the metal panel flat and should help with installation as the panel can be installed and then the gumflowers added later.
And just quietly, I kept making our strawbale home. The house is finished but making stuff, growing plants and children, continues. The cartooning and artwork happens around this and both feel creative and challenging.

Finally, this was the year that I joined facebook and reluctantly got a mobile phone. Soft. I'm sure there are ways of hooking up my blog and my facebook page. From memory, a hot-glue gun, pipecleaners & some batteries are required. This may take some time. Bear with me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Highlights from 2014.

1. Medicare Local job:Lunchbox Blitz Attack.

This aim of this program was to educate children and parents about healthy lunchbox alternatives. The program needed an artist-graphic designer to work with the children and come up with some compelling visual images that could be used to promote healthy food choices. It was a pilot program that saw me visit 5 local schools, becoming an art teacher for the day. I chose to work in 3D,  photographing our creations, and the kids and I brainstormed slogans to go with our personified veggie people. Below is a selection of what we created.

2. Giant Sea Urchin and Laneway Festival.

Both of these jobs were funded by Warrnambool City Council and involved me working with dear friend and fellow artist, Rachel Peters.

"Echoes of the Sea" was an event that transformed a quiet Warrnambool laneway into a sea-themed wonderland. Rachel made some gorgeous beach junk sculpture. Delia Crabbe hand-painted a buoy, with her usual flare for detail and intricacy. Together we organised live music, kids activities, a lifesize penguin, and a hanging kelp forrest.

The Sea urchin was made from beach junk collected from local beaches. It was a great project but when we delivered it to the council it was placed on the floor outside the local library. Apparently they didn’t have a plinth. The Urchin, being of a certain height, was sat upon by every small child in warrnambool under the age of six…and it wasn't really made to be sat upon. Last time I saw it the Urchin looked like it had lost a good deal of it’s structural integrity. Oh well.
Much like leading a horse to water, you can lead a council to public art but you can’t make it plinth.

3. New print run of cartoon prints.

Warrnambool has a blooming Artist Co-operative called The F project. The F project is a veritable hub of creative projects which include a gallery, a shop, workshops and seasonal art markets. For the Christmas Artist Market I  printed and packaged 10 cartoon designs and they sold well, covering my print costs. I’m now selling the prints in the F projects Shop which is called 'The Artery'. They were the best selling product during January 2015 and I’m hoping this will continue!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caution. Nautical themes, and some blood, appear in the following scenes.

Well, I'm back.
This blog is officially re-launched. I just smashed a bottle of Dom Pérignon against the port side of my scanner. I have a large gash on my left thumb, blood and champagne on the carpet. That's the price of a good relaunch, though. Tally ho! Ships ahoy!

I like to imagine my career as a danish houseboat painted teal green. I named her, with an earlier bottle of champagne and an earlier gash, Tilde. Anyway, Tilde, my career, has undergone a careen.
  1. 1.
    turn (a ship) on its side for cleaning, caulking, or repair.
  2. 2.
    N. AMER.
    move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.
    "an electric golf cart careened around the corner"

Definition number 1, not number 2, I hasten to add.
Tilde's careen was necessitated by us building a strawbale home. I wanted to get all down and dirty with the process so I've spent about eighteen months wearing clumpy boots and picking straw out of my hair each evening. I packed Tilde into a leaning boat shed and replaced publishing deadlines with building deadlines. I leaned up against the boatshed doors and played all hard to get, hiding under my fringe, muttering "No, no, no, I'm not working."

Now, however, the house is done. ish. I'm throwing open the boatshed doors again, full of gung ho* and sailing lingo. The sun streams in. I have a sailing cap.
"Hello Tilde old girl! Let us sail forth into the deep waters of the blue yonder."

Sailing lingo rocks. Rocks starboard! Begad! Look lively lubbers! All hands on deck!
It's hard to stop. 

Actually, I have kept up with a bit of work. Some graphic design, some painting and some drawing. In a career direction that initially did feel like a careen, definition 2, I started teaching a little dance class for kids. We call it Make and Move. We make stuff, we find ways to move, we play. It's been deeply, refreshingly, fun.
I admit that, coupled with a recent divergence into face-painting, Tilde does seem to be sailing the easy seas of mumsiness. The 22 year old me-the edgy VCA art student I once was -is disgusted.
"You've gone from political cartooning to crocheting baby owls and face-painting kinder kids." she sneers. "Can I get you a LARGER armchair?"

I quietly sit her down. I explain that working with children is the most world-changing work of all. I explain that my new motto, besides use more sailing terms, is have fun, sailor!

And as Captain  of my good ship,(Admiral perhaps? All that gold trim..), I have a strong feeling, deep in my beard, that play leads to good art. And that not taking yourself too seriously is a gift of middle age. I lift my pipe and shout  "Let's pipe the side, cast off and launch her leeward, crew!"
So send me a pigeon, or email me, via the contact link on the side of the page, if you want any cartoons and illustrations. Or if you just want to stroke my luxuriant beard.

P.S. I'm writing a book of cartoons about parenting. I'm just putting ideas down at the moment, quick drafts, but here was what I drew when I got back from the school drop off this morning.
I didn't actually do it. But I wanted to.

P.P.S. Just quietly, I really have been crocheting baby owls.

*Gung Ho: This term originated as a Chinese expression used to describe ship crews when they would join together to make it through a difficult situation. The term was brought into the English vocabulary when WWII Marine Lieutenant Colonel Carlson  used the term for a motto for his division. Today the expression is synonymous with excited or ready for action.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This blog is a deserted town in a Western movie.
This post is a tumbleweed that blows across a lonely road while a crow eerily cries
"Arrkk Arrrkkkk".

Truth is, all my creative energy, and time, is going into this.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New kids CD cover and CD artwork.

2012 Ethical Consumer Guide Cover

Here is my artwork for the cover.
The original artwork (below) got flipped. I still can't look at the cover without wincing a little-I think it looks deeply weird. But the designer who flipped it, and the client, obviously thought it was ok. Interestingly, I almost always prefer to draw my faces facing left on the page. I wonder if its a left brain/right brain difference? It'd be interesting to get some artists together and see if right handed artists predominantly draw their faces facing left, or vice versa.

I also added some more icons to the guide. I love doing these.
I come up with a few ideas, send them to the client (see below) and then we choose the best. Lots of fun.

The icons appear like this on the page.

The guide is an excellent resource. It's sold throughout Australia (http://www.ethical.org.au/stockists/ ) or you can buy it online (http://www.ethical.org.au/shop/).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Folk like watching other folk make stuff.

People like watching other people create. I watched a friend blow glass the other day and it was entrancing. Yes, the sculpture of molten glass dripping like toffee, and the threat of third degree burns at any moment is a particularly mesmerising combination. But I don't think it matters what you're making; creation is exciting!

A fortnight ago, I cartooned at Kidsfest, a childrens festival held in Shepparton.It was my second festival doing 'the sit down all day drawing constantly ' gig, having worked at The Royal Melbourne Show for a few years. Basically I sit down in front of a big batch of posters, and a queue of children, and then personalise each poster with a drawing. The poster usually advertises the festival and whatever business/agency I'm working for. The kids get to choose what I draw for them. They ALL lean on the table and watch.

I have to draw quickly, as there is almost always people waiting, so the day is a blur of different kids in the same spot assuming the same pose; the lean, the elbows on the table, the patient watching. I just love that kids of the Playstation/Wii/Nintendo/X box generation will still stand still and quietly follow the line of my pen on paper. Seeing where it will go. Seeing where it will take them.

Next door, more creation was taking place. In the background of the photo above, you can see a few figures hovering around a desk. One of those figures was a local celebrity; Lucy, from junior Masterchef. Aged 11. She went OFF. Like a frog in a sock. Very very popular, going from the queries. Loooots of queries.
"Where is Lucy going to be at 2 o clock? The main stage or here?
"Is Lucy on after you?"
"Is Lucy doing a spanakopita?"

Usurped by an eleven year old chef. Couldn't help but feel it was a career low-light.
But whilst I scribbled away, listening to her chop, dice, and fry, I did glance up once or twice at the gathered throng. And they were doing that watching thing. Watching her create. How cool.

Noticing how the general public loved to watch art being made was affirming as an artist, but more importantly, it confirmed my belief that creativity is necessary and vital to human beings. On an individual and societal level, creativity is essential. We need it. (Anyone resolved the conflict in the Middle East yet? Anyone? Hello?). Everyone is born with a measure with a of it. We expect it of our pre-schoolers. You will never ever see a three year old cross their arms and say "I don't do drawing or cardboard boxes".
You will, however, get plenty of thirty year olds doing just that. In fact, after primary school, creativity seems to be regarded as a 'you got it or you aint' kinda thing. You're either one of the 'arty' ones or you're not. Rather then seeing creativity as a valuable attritube that can be developed, much like diligence or rationality or public speaking, creativity is seen more like blue eyes or the breast cancer gene. You're born with it or your not.

Which is weird because you can actually make art in an incredibly uncreative way (trust me, I've done it) and you can do almost everything else in a very creative way. (Ever got so sick of doing dishes that you've bunged them in a baby bath and hosed the hell out of them on the back lawn? Didn't do a great job but, hey, it felt good. Yes, you're right, I should just get a dishwasher.) Being creative isn't the domain of hipsters, creatives or crafters. It's about the creation of something new. Everyone does it, and, as we are all unique, everyone does creativity differently. And we like to see, and enjoy, each others way of being creative. It's exciting stuff.

Cheers to you and your spanakopita, Lucy.

Cartoon printed in The Age, 2010.

P.S. Sorry 'bout the cartoon, Lucy. I'm sure your Mum isn't named Alison.