Australian Wren

Australian Wren

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Graduation show

Well the day came and went for our end of course graduation show.  It was a good experience to have to get ready for the public to view my work. Putting your work out in front of people is a little like exposing yourself yourself in public! On the whole we illustrators can be a fairly reclusive lot so to have to mingle and chat and talk about ourselves is fairly painful but I survived!

                               Here are some pictures of my table and the items I showed.

my banner and table

the givewaway bookmarks I made featuring my images


                                        the book I got printed and some of my original images

                                     my business cards and postcards featuring my images

Happy Day!

My graduate exhibition is next week and I was thinking about how I was going to show some of my original paintings which have been incorporated into my narrative project. I remembered seeing some table top easels at one of my favourite vintage and used goods shops recently. I was so happy that they still had some left. It will make it so much easier displaying my work next week. I love them better because they are old and worn and another painter used them before me.

Visualisation, the way I see it.


"the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form"

It was an interesting concept to take three words and think about them to see what images could be produced. At first the really obvious images associated with the words came to mind but after a while weird upside down things started to happen and exciting images began to develop. The images were produced in black and white.
The words gender, bell, grass produced this image. I had the idea of this wild free ladybug flying through the grass on a Canterbury Bell with her bonnet off, having a great time, while the other less uninhibited bugs look on shocked, a litle like village gossips talking behind their hands!

It is a message about being yourself!

The other image I produced was based on the words, transport, light and cloud. It started off really obvious;

but after idea generation was used to think of things in a different way  it developed into this image.

Visualisation is a great thing to do as part of the illustration process because it forces you to think deeper about image making. When you apply idea generation to the process it can create exciting possibilities. I will write more about idea generation and image making soon.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Here in South Australia at this time of the year leading up to Christmas the jacaranda trees are in bloom. They are so beautiful with their bluey purple flowers. It always makes me think of the song  "Christmas where the gum trees grow".

Christmas where the gumtrees grow,
there is no frost and there is no snow,
Christmas in Australia's hot,
cold and frosty's what it's not,
when the bloom of the jacaranda tree is here,
Christmas time is near.

 by Val Donlan and Lesley Sabogal
You can't be grumpy and sing that song!

Another thing particularly associated with South Australian Christmas is the delicious cherries grown in the Adelaide Hills. Here is an image I created to capture the mood of Adelaide Christmas, the iconic cherry and the heart representing the love that is what Christmas is all about.

This is another image from my narrative project. These happy little mice are enjoying the summer outdoors!

Summer's coming!

It's a lovely day today so here is a cheery bunny picture to remind us that summer is on it's way! This is another spread from my narrative project.


As you may know it was Remembrance Day on Sunday where we pause to think of all those people who lost their lives in defence of their country. I wanted to share these beautiful poppies with you. I took these photos in the garden of some lovely friends. What strong visual communication poppies are. I can't look at them and not remember the tragedy of war. . 

These are some quick watercolour studies I did in my sketchbook


These are some of the concept sketches for the old toys which I listed on my previous blog entry. I love doing preliminary explorations to imagine how compositions could be.





Old Toys

I have always loved old toys, they are just so reassuring! Some of mine have been with me for a long time! I recently did a series of illustrations focusing on emotion and old toys. These three illustrations below are some of the end result. The illustration featuring the peeping panda had some extra texture added to the tree by using impasto medium.

acrylic on canvas

acrylic on canvas

watercolour on 300gsm Arches paper


I would like to share my book cover idea  which I did as a student project. It was for a book about pirates as the title suggests. I picked an image which I had done as a detail in the background of a scene and decided to focus on that. It is a funny monkey with a bit of a twinkle in his eye.
Just wondering what he is going to do with those canon balls!

Kitty Galore

When I started my narrative project at uni about a cat I owned no cats. Along the way a scrawny mother cat turned up so we started feeding her. A few weeks later she turned up one day with a kitten, then a few minutes later another kitten, then a THIRD kitten.
By this time I was about to have kittens myself!
Anyway, I now have 4 cats, all  boys and all shades of black like their mum. All have been to the vet for the necessary snips and the dynasty ends here!
They make me laugh every time I see them as they all have their funny little quirks.
Makes me think thank goodness I didn't do a narrative about a serial killer!!

Sad, exhausted, skinny Kitty when she arrived

                                            Kitty little muffin top!

The boys, then and now.
 Fom the top, Monty, Koko and Carlo

So honour of black cats everywhere...

Moon Cat

Narrative Project

seaside cat

Snow cat, spread from my narrative project

I recently produced a narrative based on the adventures of a little cat.

Inspiration everywhere!

Just in case my last post gave the impression that I am only inspired by my country of origin I can assure you that it is not the case. Beauty is not confined to one spot! I made a series of images relating to my garden in the winter which I would like to share. Now I must state that my garden is not pampered, in fact it is a miracle that anything survives but survive it does. The images were made as a series of quick studies and are impressions rather than fully rendered images.

                                                               photo transfer
pen drawing with transparency underneath
acrylic bird on monoprint background



Back to my roots!

I grew up in Northern Ireland, in fact apart from a spell in Scotland that was where I lived until my children were born and we all moved to Australia. I love the scenery in N.I, the trees, the colours and the beauty of  nature in that country. The memories of my roots  have stayed implanted in my brain and so when I illustrated the poem 'The Song of Wandering Aengus" by W.B.Yeats, (one of my favourite Irish poets) those inspirations from my past were allowed to spill out onto the page. I love the wistful quality of the poem, the ethereal girl who Aengus meets for a moment and who he never forgets. This is a storyboard which illustrates the poem.

W B yeats is buried in Drumcliff cemetery in Co Sligo. I love to visit Sligo when I am back home. here are some of my images which inspire me. They are all winter scenes and the bleakness really appeals to my dark side!

Glencar Co Sligo

Glencar Co Sligo

Glencar Co Sligo

Book Cover Hansel and Gretel

Do children still like Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm? I loved it when I was a child, the creepy woods, the scary witch and as for the cage....shudder! I painted this image to show the attraction of the gingerbread house to the two children, the woods are dark and menacing behind the house and the children are warily drawn to the sweets glowing on the walls. It is painted using watercolour. I loved creating the weird bird.



In my previously mentioned trip to Sydney I came across this great little guy. He was lying on the pavement outside his house and there was a sign on the gate saying, "Please do not feed Dasher". I couldn't help but love the irony of his name, sadly this guy's dashing days seem to be over. Somebody had drawn a chalk outline around him...did they think he had died?? Anyway, he made my day!

Adventures in Sydney

I recently had a week's holidays in Sydney. There are so many wonderful things to see there, the Bridge of course, and the Harbour, but the best things as in most cities are those things which you chance upon. One such thing for me was the beautiful art installation "Forgotten Song" by Michael Thomas Hill.
This work features 120 birdcages suspended between the buildings in Angel Place. The cages are empty which is sad and haunting. There is an eeriness as you listen to the recordings of birds which used to live in Sydney and area, but which were pushed outside the city as European settlement occurred. A sad, sweet moment to pause and consider how we live with nature and each other.