Children’s digital and traditional media book and editorial illustrations by Author and Illustrator Kayleen West.

We Worship God
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We Worship God by Kayleen West and Nancy Streza

We Worship God – Limited AU copies…

PRE-ORDER NOW!

Exploring the character of God through alphabetical devotion

I thoroughly enjoyed and fondly illustrated We Worship God. Each illustration is painted in watercolour. A very limited number of books are arriving in Australia soon. I will have the only copies! Reserve your copies by pre-ordering yours here!

We Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen West

‘C’ page (comforter)

We WWe Worship God, ABC Christian Picture Book. Nancy Streza and Kayleen Westorship God – Poetic ACB

We Worship God is written by a very talented US author, Nancy Streza. This beautiful picture book is not only an alphabetical story but a poetic dedication of praise – so clever! I can imagine this book will be recited by children. I fell hard for this one-it felt like an extension of Adoptive Father and my heart was immediately invested. Rainbows of love poured from my brush as I personally devoted each illustration to our amazing God.

I took several studio and work in progress photos so I’ll share more later on the making of the book. Perhaps even a video.

It is so good to finally get to share with you this gorgeous new picture book!

>>Read the reviews<<

PRE-ORDER NOW!

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Colouring Books for adults by Aussie Girl!

Colouring books for adults have finally broken the pretentious I’m-to-old-for-that-nonsense barrier and staked their rightful claim as not just art therapy but plain ol' fun!

Colouring Books for adults are a hit in Australia and throughout the world!

Perhaps you’ve heard about the neuroscientific celebration breaking out across the globe? Colouring books for adults have finally broken the pretentious I’m-to-old-for-that-nonsense barrier and staked their rightful claim as not just soothingly therapeutic but plain ol’ fun! Colouring books are seen as not just okay for adults but one of the healthiest activities we can indulge in. The world is getting smarter as they discover how important art can be for balance and health. Anyone can profit from the rejuvenating benefits of colouring in. Our world is so fast now. We all need to take more time to unwind.

Our savvy men are jumping on board too – good on them! Lord knows, we all need more balance in this frenzied world of ours! Kids have the science down pat but it took us longer to catch on.

For years I have been advocating how meditative drawing, doodling or simplified creativity play, encouraging others to PLEASE have a go and test for pleasure! I stress not to get trapped in performance based creativity and simply PLAY!

So what did I do about it?

I created an exciting new colouring book that is more than its pretty seahorse face. Positively Quote Colouring Books are full of intricate illustrations AND affirming and encouraging quotes and phrases (some famous and borrowed and some of my own). I have made every effort to give you variety over the pages as well. And…it is printed in soft sepia lines for an authentic artistic finish.

Positively Quote Colouring Books for adults - sample pages

Positively Quote Colouring Books for adults – sample pages

For the perfectionist and anxious, I have ensured there are 2 of each illustration for practicing. You can chill out even more. If you make a mistake or want to try a couple of colour combinations it allows for a second chance. Positively Quote Colouring Books will be printed on one side so if you want to frame the affirming reminders you won’t be sacrificing all the work you did on the back.

People have shared with me some of the benefits of colouring books for adults. They are great aids for:

  • Dementia
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fear of flying
  • stroke rehabilitation
  • insomnia
  • Stress and relaxation
  • Pain relief (distraction)
  • group, family or team bonding
  • loneliness

I have launched a Facebook page and a pre-order special. I haven’t had a chance to post here because the orders took off like crazy. It has been so busy! People are snapping up the pre-order copies super-fast. My distributor for retail, Dennis Jones has snapped up a large part of my print run already. The ring of Christmas gifts is in the air.

Here are a few photos to demonstrate what is happening. It will be published in October but who knows – it may be sold out before then!

If you want to reserve copies go grab them now!

You can PRE-ORDER HERE 🙂

Pages: Positively adult colouring book. Colouring books for adults and teens.

Pages: Positively adult colouring book. Colouring books for adults and teens.

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Use the blob brush tool in hand lettering

Childrens Illustration: Space Pirate
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Combining Illustrator and Photoshop tutorials – textures

Photoshop time savers - action. There are just a few Photoshop time savers I use.
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Best Photoshop time savers I know!

Photoshop Time Savers #1

Do you want to save a ton of time when working with Adobe Photoshop? Then let me tell you about the best Photoshop time savers that I know of – Actions.

Creating actions in photo shop is as simple as recording a set of actions you do so that you can replay them with just one click. I have several actions recorded, saved ready for me to utilise when I open up Photoshop.

For instance, I have an action for all the different sizes of images that I optimise for the Internet. Not only do they reduce the image size, saving it as a small file, but I also can nominate where to save it to. One of my actions saves my 600 pixel web optimised images into the specific folder that synchronises with my iPhone.

I have actions that change the colour of a black and white design. Actions that stamp my work with my watermark and automatically typed my web address. And actions that change the appearance of images with filters and by importing image files into layers.

Photoshop time savers - action. There are just a few Photoshop time savers I use.

Photoshop time savers – action. There are just a few Photoshop time savers I use.

One of my most favourite actions is one that prepares my files as I scan them in. It releases the base layer, adds a new layer, turns my work around because when I put my sketchbook in the scanner it is in the wrong way for the screen orientation, and adds a levels layer ready for me to adjust the levels of my drawings and ink sketches. I know – Photoshop time savers – right?

All these simple actions took little time to record, name, and save but saves me a tremendous amount of time now!

So if you are not utilising actions in Photoshop, PLEASE do yourself a favour – go record your most commonly used actions now! You’ll save a ton of time!

Want to know how? Here’s the help on Adobe: Photoshop time savers: How to record actions

What you best Photoshop time savers? I’d love to know!

Stay tuned for something else that I’ve recently discovered that city saving me even more time.

SURFACE PATTERN DESIGN: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing
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Creative courses – Swallow the lemon and spit out a strawberry

But you recommended a lemon!

On Social media, someone recently voiced their concern about recommending courses. A valid concern. Some require students to invest large sums of money in their education. Illustration and design courses can run into the thousands – as much as $14,000! The larger the fee the larger the risk of people returning to blame you for their financial loss if it doesn’t suit them.

Learning is subjective. All you can offer is your personal experience and state it as such. I always like to begin with something like, For me the benefits where x,y,z ….and I was glad I took the X class but you will have to decide if it fits your needs. Or, this X classes wasn’t a good fit for me but read up on it, it may totally suit you.

Swallow the lemon and spit out a strawberry

I shudder when people bag out tutors on social media (I do see it too often). Most people who teach genuinely want to help others but have to make a living as well. Student concerns are fine, but sarcasm is unwarranted. There are the exceptions to warnings. For example, I was watching a particular video introduction webinar recently to see what other tutors are offering in a particular area I will be teaching soon. I didn’t want mine to duplicate anyone else. I don’t mind amateur video but this was really challenging to watch. Her voice was constantly dropping out. If I were a student I would have been terribly frustrated by this. To add to this there was error in the information as she was sidetracked. These were not edited later – an oversight that could confuse the students. It is always a good idea to share your concern with the tutor or school and give them a chance to respond.

If I were a student and someone asked my opinion, I would respond privately if there were negative concerns. Having contacted the tutor, I’d be equipped with a fair response too.

Remember when recommending others that a starting approach like …In MY experience, or for ME personally may be the clearest way to express your joy or disappointment but in all responses please be kind.

A few design courses I’ve done…

Firstly, none of the following 2 courses where associated to any negative comments I refer to. Both are more affordable than many classes also.

Bonnie Christine on Creative Live

One of the best pattern design courses I have taken was Bonnie Christine’s Creative Live course, Design Surface Patterns From Scratch. The regular price is under $79. It was meaty learning and worth every cent because I had limited experience in several of the areas she taught.

Creative Live has live courses running all the time. You can watch for free or buy to watch as your leisure. The production of the videos are exceptional. https://www.creativelive.com

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch with Bonnie Christine
Image credit Bonnie Christine: http://www.bonniechristine.com/

Elizabeth Olwen on Skillshare

The very first class I took for pattern design was Elizabeth Olwen’s Pattern Design: Creating Inspiring Repeats. http://www.skillshare.com/classes/design/Pattern-Design-Creating-Inspiring-Repeats/1356401580/projects on Skillshare.

I benefited from seeing the blob tool used as a main tool in a pattern design. As I like to freehand and draw, this tool is appealing. The easy to understand instruction on repeat patterns and exporting a tile was valuable to me too.

Elizabeth’s beautiful work can be seen here: http://www.elizabetholwen.com/

The fishy result: new patterns for licensing!

As a result of the classes and the videos I’ve watched over the past few months I have produced many designs. This is one of my most recent below. Please someone license this for lamps!

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing
I loved seeing all the great projects submitted after the class today. You can see them here: http://skl.sh/16xq5xt

I just haven’t wanted to stop long enough since this journey started! This class was the first pattern class I took and in a few short months I have totally immersed myself in surface pattern design, trying to learn as much as I can. I LOVE learning and watching videos but better still is implementing the learning. The blog brush was a breakthrough moment for me – love that brush! I found the repeat pattern teaching in this video easy to follow – thanks Elizabeth!

Until then I had been working in Photoshop, Illustrator was a bit of a mystery to me. I have learned so much through great resources like this and hungry for more!

This is one of three fish designs I have been working on. One has hugs and kisses on it and why I named the collection, Fishy Hugs & Kisses. I wanted to challenge myself to mix the pen tool objects with the contrasting soft blob brush shapes and lines. I am pretty happy with the result.

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing

Pattern Design: Available for Licensing

Mock ups are also new to me. I had to test this design out on a lamp shade for a children’s room. The only issue I have now is….I want these on lampshades for real!

Pattern Design: Children's decor. Fish aquatic design for bolt fabric, lamps, clothing, wallpaper or stationary. Available for Licensing

Pattern Design:  Available for Licensing

My new creative courses – strawberries welcome!

If you want to get in the front of the queue for information packs on my new courses in Children’s illustration, drawing or creative inspiration (coming soon) click the image below.

Online courses in Children's Picture Book Illustration, Drawing and Creative motivation and inspiration with Kayleen West

School drawing competition. Eye and imagination winning drawing by prep student Jed Fraser Monbulk Primary School
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Monbulk Primary School has great imagination!

Students of imagination at Monbulk Primary School

Take a look at the clever drawings from the students of Monbulk Primary School! Some students entered the eye and imagination competition for a chance to win one of 2 books. The winners are Jed Frazer (Prep class) and Samantha Daly (2/3 class). Well done everyone who entered. All the entries where brilliant!

If you haven’t seen it yet this is the video I created about using your imagination creatively. (At the time I posted this it is positioned on the side bar) It uses a simple illustration of an eye and turns it into all sorts of object. This is what the students did for their competition entries.

Monbulk Primary Students Montage of entries. Drawings for the eye and imagination competition.

Monbulk Primary Students Montage of entries. Drawings for the eye and imagination competition.

I was also impressed with some of the original ideas some students created like eyes-cream and the spider and web. There were impressive birds and animals of all kinds and the strange creatures were pretty popular.


Congratulations to all students who will receive a certificate this week. The prize winners will also receive a personalised certificate created just for them and their personally signed picture book. Well done Monbulk Primary, you all have wonderfully creative imaginations.

Scotch College Student cartoons from workshop.
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Fun ways to make faces with students

Scotch College Student's cartoons from workshop.

Scotch College Student’s cartoons from workshop.

Teaching facial expression is one of my favourite activities. I recently work-shopped with the delightfully well-mannered students at Scotch College doing just that.

For further practice , I encouraged the boys to pull faces in a mirror to copy. Exaggerated faces help us understand how the different parts of the face alter our expression. Cartoon faces often utilize the eyebrows in particular to express emotion. In children’s books facial expression is important. You don’t want stuffed mannequin-looking characters that are all facing front when trying to illustrate an expressive story – well I don’t anyway.

Joining forces with over a dozen Ford Street Publishing authors for a special Ford Street festival we enjoyed a day of fun with staff and students. It was a whole day event. Together, myself and Victoria Lane (author of Celia and Nonna) worked with 3 groups of very enthusiastic boys. Victoria spoke to the students about herself as an author and journalist and did a small writing exercise. I stepped the students through a fast-paced practical exercise in drawing cartoon faces. There wasn’t a lot of time so I was particularly impressed with the results.

At the end of the class I asked the students, “Can you draw cartoons now?” With faces beaming, they all echoed a resounding ‘YES!”

For the teachers looking for the cheat sheets I mentioned they are here.

Well done boys!

Scotch College author visit for Ford Street Publishing Event

Scotch College author visit for Ford Street Publishing Event. Victoria Lane

Victoria Lane

 

Every day be inspired to create something beautiful. Deign illustration quote
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Balancing Manuscripts on the Hop

I have been asked to join a writer’s blog hop by the lovely and very talented, energetic, diligent, story-savy, entertaining, encouraging , creatively marvelous, and astoundingly popular children’s author Penny Reeve – too many adjectives? Isn’t that is what blogging is for?

Penny is a children’s author who held that passion since the age of three! Yes three, she even created a picture book. You can see it on her about page. Penny has authored several popular children’s books. My kids have enjoyed everyone I have bought home for them.

Penny’s blog hop and see what she is working on go here
Every day be inspired to create something beautiful. Deign illustration quote

1. What am I working on? (writing)

This little story about a market,
this little story began at home,
this little story is about roasted leaf
and this little story needs a nun
and THIS little story…
WILL GO wee, wee, wee … ALL THE WAY HOME!

In my writing, I have picked one picture book and one chapter book to mainly focus. However, I have permitted myself to play with up to of each maximum. I have too many started manuscripts and need to get some wee, wee, wee, ALL THE WAY HOME!

After I did a workshop last month I realised I could dramatically improve everything I have written so even my submission ready work has gone back into my writing inbox. It is imperative for me to narrow down my project hit list to be truly productive. There will always be more beginnings than final projects, but I am avoiding the pitfall of imbalance and stress. I am already spread out with my addiction to illustration and design making this discipline even more important.

Latest picture book manuscript

I have been working in both prose and rhyme (okay, okay, so I got distracted with rhyme. I am undecided which one will win out. I am testing both options and pretty determined to beat the rhyming barrier (challenge) in my writing. Why? Because I LOVE rhyming picture books!

Chapter book manuscript/ graphic novel?

The chapter book is fantastical and needs a mountain of work but I am having fun with some interesting and very different kind of characters. I may want to illustrate some pages for this as I think it lends to a graphic novel.

So…. I am a long way off having anything ready because I’ve taken a step up in my writing and want to hammer my manuscripts into winning submissions.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Now at this stage answering THAT would be giving too much information away [Secret writers business – DO NOT ENTER]

3. Why do I write what I do?

If I stopped, I’d need to take medication for it! Okay a serious and honest answer then…

There is always an underlining theme in my work, an undercurrent of acceptance and survival in a seemingly complex and scary world. If my stories can be fun, amusing and emotionally helpful then that is the recipe for me. I like to write enduring characters who find a way to move through the tough stuff to overcome weather is through reflection, experience, or personality. I like to transition the fearful, cute and not-so-cute into over-comers and celebrate the final page with them with a shout- YAY!

4. How does my writing process work?

I begin with a pretty clear idea or I jot down quirky book titles I think up and develop them. Usually it is a pretty fleshed out idea that gets my attention though. I can wake in the morning with a whole story downloaded into my head. I’ll lie there for a little while exploring it and then throw the covers off in a rush to get it down quickly before I forget it, often improving the vision as I write. I might play a little then I leave it for the day. I return the my stories after time gaps to make sure I am seeing it with a fresh idea, much like developing a painting. I utilise my writers group for constructive input and enhancing my work. If an editor gives me feedback then even better!

Now I’d like to pass the batten to  3 delectable, intelligent, magnificent and creative literary masterminds (who have most likely cured their adjective obsession)…Any takers???

 

 

Children's education. Literacy Expo notes illustrated.
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Literacy, books, child development and behaviour.

After a full day of lectures and workshops last week I reflected on the clear message throughout; literacy begins before school – the earlier the better!

Growing your child’s brain and helping them to learn

Listening to Barbie Bates (Paediatric Occupational Therapist) I learned about the brain activity of a baby and how early we (adults) influence a child’s mind. I love Psychology, learning more about new studies in neuro-plasticity and the brain. I am a fan of Caroline Leaf since a conference I attended last year in Sydney. This talk elaborated more on the young brain.

Babies brains are influenced by the sound, touch and the sight of their main carer. This aids language and “grows a baby’s brain” regulating it. What stood out as important, was that the limbik system needs to fire up to reach the right sub-cortex, for the child to take in what he or she is learning into the top area of the brain where learning occurs. This explains why children need to be engaged when learning to remember what they are being taught. Put simply, we need to motivate our children to learn by delivering engaging material and have an attitude to match. This interested me as an educator. When I go into schools, I present with high energy and remain animated when I address an audience of children. The disadvantage is that it is hard to get stage photos of me because I am always pulling expressive faces…LOL

Dad can make a difference

Books are important and our attitude toward books influences our children’s passion to read. Dad’s take note! If you find your little boy squatting on the toilet and reading a book because you do, you’re a champion! Your little lad knows you like reading. He watches your movements and is mimicking you. Little boys are more inclined to mimic their dads and other boys. I have observed and it has also been verified by Leonard Sax MD Phd in his book, Boys Adrift that girls are happy to learn from adults in general, male or female.

My conference notes

I pretty much draw every minute I can these days. I like to take my notes in a visual way. I remember them better as my brain learns better visually. As I also learned, my brain is stronger in this capacity. I noticed the other day that I recalled the exact conversation I was having when I went over a line I had drawn hours earlier. Sometimes I can remember a song or moment  even years later. I take my notes in church this way too. It is not only better for remembering the message but a lot of fun. I thought I would post this image for a bit of fun.

Children's education. Literacy Expo notes illustrated.

My education: Literacy Expo notes illustrated.

Language Comprehension and strategies to address learning difficulties

Nadine Shome from www.reminds.com.au mirrored that children mimic adults. Also that repetition was a key element to learning. Talking about early brain development, she also stressed that the mind has more to do with learning than the eyes. Parents and teachers can look to sight as an issue but the mind is more influential when it comes to reading. It is important to understand and accommodate that children learn at different rates. Apart from specific medical needs, repetition is the key to overcoming learning difficulties. In spectrum children and children with ADHD, repetition can strengthen the child and influence their capacity to learn. This talk focused on auditory processing, eyes movement, visual processing and visual memory. She also talked about tools to help children learn and build confidence.

Children's education. Casy-Cardinia Library Corporation Literacy Expo.

Casy-Cardinia Library Corporation Literacy Expo. Workshops and talks by professionals in child development and literacy. Pitctured: From top left: John Marsden, Myself (middle images) Botom left: Amanda Mickelson. Bottom right: Barbie Bates.

Storytelling and Puppets

I attended a workshop with Cindy Lee Harper from Communities for Children Plus on story time which was interactive and fun. I can’t wait to try a few new games with the kids.

I also did a puppetry workshop with Amanda Mickelson. She had an array of different types of puppets and one I particularly fell in love with (pictured below). I have been in correspondence with Amanda on my Facebook page and I have since and told her she is totally responsible for my puppet shopping spree the next day. I am delighted that my turtle is on his way to me from America as we speak – yay!

John Marsden kills off the critical red pen.

The finally was an incredibly informative talk by author John Marsden. He also gifted us with his book, Tomorrow, When The War Began – thank you John! His talk was liberating. I loved his advocacy for creative exploration, original thinking and especially the death to the overused red pen. His message: to encourage children to create with freedom of expression and play, to bridge the gap from ignorance to knowledge, and without fear of adult criticism or over-controlling mentorship (my words and interpretation). He was entertaining but with a strong and important message I totally agreed with.

Draw with your children

Author/illustrator Jeanette Rowe, talked on literacy and play and the stigma of being the best or good enough. I very much related to her life experiences and she demonstrated a very similar drawing exercise I use myself.

A lovely lady who is an integration aid was sitting next to me and feeling a little intimidated by my drawing. When I told her I was an illustrator so had practice she asked for a copy of my drawings as a cheat sheet. I offered to upload it to share. In my 200% way, I created a 2 page lesson sheet. It is basic cartoon drawing make it easy for students and anyone wanting to give drawing characters a go. You begin with basic shapes, create eyes, noses and mouths, then mix and match the face parts to make characters. Jeanette did this by using 2 pieces of paper. One to draw the parts on and the other to trace over them to make the faces. I didn’t think of the tracing idea – thank Jeanette! This link will take you to the download page: How to draw funny cartoon faces – cheat sheets

Cartooning faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers free download

1 0f 2 Cartoon faces cheat sheet for educators and teachers – free download

Casy-Cardinia Library Corporation

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I stayed the full day from 11am until 9pm and all the workshops I did were worth my very valuable time. I can’t thank the Casy-Cardina Library Corporation enough for putting on such a wonderful event. Not only was it packed with professional advice, but it was accessible to everyone. I am finding it more difficult to source learning to equip myself because all organisations charge larger and larger entries into everything. CCLC put this whole expo together and offered free admission – well done! The organisers and staff where friendly and approachable – I couldn’t fault a thing. Pat yourselves on the back!

Pakenham Library

Anyone who lives anywhere near the Pakenham Library would be well advised to join. They have so much to offer members including educational kit hire for educators within the shire. I am dedicating this paragraph to you all in appreciation of a great training day not only as an educator but as a parent. All the children I influence will benefit from this day I am sure.

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes word illustration challenge #illo52weeks
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52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #21 Boxes

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes word illustration challenge #illo52weeks

Welcome to your new home gift card illustration. Boxes – Word illustration challenge #illo52weeks

A “welcome to your new home” gift card illustration – sketch stage. Of course one must unpack teddy first. Her mum has opened the kitchen box for accessing coffee ASAP – I soooo understand that. Caffeine is essential in any house move, several in fact. I shudder at the thought!

My last move was 4 years ago and still a nightmare I remember. The home owner hadn’t moved out when we arrived and left the house in a very dirty state. We had to do a frantic call out for help to half clean the essentials before we moved in. The removalists damaged several things, took cigarette breaks every 5 seconds and left us that night with half of our possessions on our front lawn. Yes we were expecting rain too and NO the removalist wouldn’t repair or compensate for the damage he caused. I won’t be moving again in a hurry.

I am thinking of adding a cat in the kitchen box to magnify the curiosity of the pets. I’ll have only its tail seen, poking up out of the box. Cats get into everything and know no boundaries. What do you think?

Interestingly, an obscure theme like boxes seemed impossible at first but in fact was easy once I began. I avoid painting the subject like a still life. Those days are over. I prefer more story. I also wanted to ensure I did a gift card illustration this time. I need to finish it in watercolour now. I will pop it on my blog when it is done.

The next word challenge is eye. I have already been working on this and it turned out to be an even bigger surprise. I’ll have something very different to show and tell next time; something I use as an activity in schools and hopefully a fun video idea. Stay tuned!

Kids Show and Tell Invitation

Teachers and parents: If you children are inspired by anything I share on my website blog I would love to see what they are creating and celebrate some of those creations. I would love to start an online gallery for kids to show and tell. If you have anything you want to share email me via my contact page. I would love to see!