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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

How the humble sketch can become so much more

Okay, so I do get a little distracted today. I started doodling on a care package as a surprise for a stranger who is going through a tough time. It is nice to draw a little something on parcels. It wasn’t meant to be a masterpiece but I started thinking that it could be fleshed out into something. What started out as a quick play turned into my afternoons illustration.

This is the result.

A small care package doodle becomes a finished illustration. Blessed from a blessing.

A small care package doodle becomes a finished illustration. Blessed from a blessing.

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Walk the Contemporary Graphic Art Fair – Supergraph!

In design forums there is a keen interest in trade shows. When you’ve never had a booth before, it’s always a good thing to hear what others do that works well. At Supergraph, Contemporary Graphic Art Fair held in the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne this month, I paid particular attention to the best decorated booths and the way illustrators showcased their wares. It made a difference having an attractive display; some artworks in and of themselves.

I interviewed the most creative booth owners on my phone and put together a short clip to share as I thought it would benefit others. It was so much fun and all were happy to oblige. I have credited those filmed. Most of us a little awkward or shy in front of the camera, but not too obvious.

Warning: I have never done this before and promise to turn my phone around next time! Take a look inside Supergraph and see some of the creative and unusual ideas there – complete with a very cute blooper. And please give me a like on Youtube if you enjoy it!

Video Art Showcase: Illustrators and designers share there display booths at Supergraph Melbourne February 2015

I was represented on the Illustrators Australia Showcase. I popped in to say hello and found myself helping out with handmade business cards as they had run out.

Illustrators Australia at Supergraph

Illustrators Australia business cards on the fly! Is that a run of 1/20 or 1/30 limited editions from me?

Me with my print, Koala Hugs (limited run soon available on my website)

My print, Koala Hugs displayed with Illustrators Australia at Supergraph

In collaboration with Yarra Trams and The City Of Melbourne, Supergraph held an Instagram competition of which I was runner up. This is my entry.

Yarra Trams, City Of Melbourne and Supergraph Competition: Trams to Supergraph

Yarra Trams, City Of Melbourne and Supergraph Competition: Trams to Supergraph

Face O Mat joined Supergraph with his quirky portrait booth.  I think it would be fair to say, participants paid a small fee for the entertainment experience rather than a portrait of any resemblance. The machine installation spat out an rather unusual but fun result.

Face-O-mat at Supergraph Design Show, Melbourne February 2015

Face-O-mat at Supergraph Design Show, Melbourne February 2015

The Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne are worth seeing; beautifully decorated and maintained.

Interior of the Royal Exhibition Buildings - Supergraph Contemporary Graphic Art Fair

Interior of the Royal Exhibition Buildings

Interior of the Royal Exhibition Buildings - Supergraph Contemporary Graphic Art Fair

Interior of the Royal Exhibition Buildings

The paper arch installation made interesting abstract photos.

Supergraph paper arch installation

Supergraph paper arch installation

Supergraph paper arch installation

Supergraph paper arch installation

Browsing the Supergraph favorite picks wall, I mistakenly thought you filled out the little scrap of paper to win one of the paintings. I picked one by Ian Mutch, titled Grow. It wasn’t until I handed my slip in at the desk, the lady asked if I wanted to pay cash or credit card. I then realised my vote didn’t count. You can take a better look here: http://www.ianmutch.com/prints/grow

Supergraph picks and my own from that wall: Ian Mutch, Grow

Supergraph picks and my own from that wall: Ian Mutch, Grow

It was Valentine’s Day. I was reading the wall of statements on Before I Kick The Bucket installation when a young man wrote Make a family with the woman of my dreams. I wondered if he hadn’t found her and was sad for him. Then I saw her melting over his dedication – so sweet!

Supergraph 2015 - Before I Kick The Bucket wall

Supergraph 2015 – Before I Kick The Bucket wall

Valentine on the Before I Kick The Bucket wall, Supergraph 2015 -

Valentine note on the Before I Kick The Bucket wall, Supergraph 2015

Redbubble had a live painting installation where a group of cousins could be scribbled on and they created an art piece once finished. I left a little random bird doodle behind with the words, Born to FLY. Their photographer took a few photos of me scribbling away. Redbubble also created the OZ Lounge Area where we had beds to lounge on.

I was impressed with the quality of their products too. I had a feel of the fabric and it was so thick! The printing was great. I am looking forward to setting up some products through them soon even more now.

Redbubble at Supergraph Design Show, Melbourne February 2015

Redbubble at Supergraph Design Show, Melbourne February 2015

Wood engraver, David Frazer was working away on very intricate wood blocks. I was fascinated. The process was kindly explained to me and part of me wanted to race off and try it! David has one-day workshops running in May 2015 in Castlemaine – very tempting!

Wood engraver, David Frazer at Supergraph 2015

Wood engraver, David Frazer at Supergraph 2015

The Drawing Olympics at Supergraph

The Drawing Olympics at Supergraph

The was lots more going on. The agencies had some gorgeous works too, some of artists I follow on Instagram. I could go on and on but you’ll have to go yourself next year and see for yourself 🙂

http://www.supergraph.com.au/

Surface design whale and creativity quote.
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Overview of a VERY Creative Year!

1000 apologies! I neglected posting in December but at least I backed off at a time your inbox would have been bombarded with Christmas promotions and copious amounts of reading anyway.

But I’m back and charged for 2015! This year is going to ROCK! I can feel it with every part of me and I am READY! Are you?

Authentically makes us buzz

I spent every minute outside paid work, experimenting with my craft in 2014, questioning what was developing and where to go from there. It was a busy and exciting year creatively.

Freelancing, I was blessed with a variety of assignments from toy product design to program covers to interesting logos and adorable picture books.

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Illustrating children’s books for a few years has been wonderful but I discovered a desire for additional singular assignments. I really enjoyed doing small series or one off illustrations for jobs. Self-inflicted illustration challenges I committed to last year like Inktober, the 52 week illustration, challenge and the occasional Daily Doodle submission where helpful when I had freedom to be authentic to my own vision.

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge

The many illustrations and sketches produced from the inspiration of the 52 week Illustration Challenge CLICK TO ENLARGE

Producing a book is a marathon task and requires a particular boundary that limits exploration. You need to stay true to the character and style throughout all 25 plus illustrations. It not unlike creating a large body of work for an exhibition that requires the final art pieces to be all part of one series in a particular style. It is a skill and it’s fun, but it is restrictive. As I have consistently produced one picture book after another since late 2012, I need play dates with self- expression.

By the end of a book I am bursting to download what is now in my head and heart if I haven’t had enough in-between work or experimental time. We all need adequate time for risk-taking. As a result, in addition to books, I am looking for opportunities in surface design and editorial illustration this year.

I am also looking at teaching in the near future. (More on that soon!)

My new romance – surface design and patterns

I can’t tell you how it happened but I it happened late last year. In a matter of days I found myself obsessing over the beauty of pattern design and indulging in the fun creating them.

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Surface pattern design: Umbredrops

Vintage surface pattern design swatch. Floral

Vintage surface pattern design swatch.

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Illustration by Kayleen West

Happy poster print Happy Butterfly. Available as a print here

2014-12-18_ADVENT_snowman-brandedCombined with illustration pattern took on a life of its own. As a consequence my newest book, We Worship God, due for release this year by Xist Publishing, written by Nancy Streza, adopted a hint of pattern in my illustrations.

Children's illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God - Xist Publishing 2015 release

Children’s illustration from ABC Christian picture book, We Worship God – Xist Publishing 2015 release

 

Unleashing the authenticity

Sometime we need to stop long enough to align ourselves. January is perfect for this. My family go on a holiday for a couple of weeks and I take a break on my own. This may sound strange but I really need it. I am a step-mum of a very active young tribe and I am very tired by the end of each year. It is hard to get time to reflect seriously enough. Without parental responsibilities (a significant distraction) or too many commitments of any kind, I can catch up on my own thoughts and have time to play unrestricted.

Let’s play – MATS Bootcamp begins…

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Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

This week launched Lilly Roger’s MATS Bootcamp, the creative briefs being the main attraction – the springboard to begin the year.

The first mini assignment exploring Edwardian Brooches. In my self-indulgence as a faux–bachelor (I made that word up), I have produced dozens of sketches in ink and Illustrator already this week, staying up into the night (and morning) and sleeping past 10am – because I can! I suspect creative ADHD though as the more I create, the more I want to. The ideas keep coming!

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Detail of WIP design

Surface design: MATS mini assignment: Edwardian Brooches.

Belated Happy New Year!

Sorry, I didn’t even wish you all a Merry Christmas. I pray you have an awesome 2015 everyone!

Peek into my year summed up:

  • Both Adoptive Father and Celia and Nonna were awarded the seal of approval by the Children’s Literacy Classics
  • My picture book Without Me won an International CLC Silver medal.
  • I finished illustrating a new picture book, We Worship God, an ABC books with the letters hidden in the images and I love it! I am so pleased with the cute illustrations.
  • The art advertising agency, The Art Mob approach me about representing me. They are a new agency and so I have agreed to see how it goes. Hopefully this will bring more editorial work. I am looking for an established agency for my surface designs.
  • I completed every week of the 52 week Illustration Challenge with loads of illustrations to show for it. Many are sketches and some are completed. Some will be valuable to build on for future projects. I fill many sketchbook pages in the process.
  • I completed the Inktober challenge which was a huge advantage as I picked up ink for the first time in years – and LOVE IT! This is an important part of my design work now.
  • I discovered the world of surface pattern design! I have a huge amount of pattern files already. They are waiting to develop or put into a final portfolio. This is high on my TO DO list for this year.

So there it is. I hope my endeavors encourage you in some way to explore creativity yourself more.

Daily Doodle Happy Hippo birthday card. Childrens illustration
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I can’t stop drawing, drawing, drawing!

Scribble, scribble, scribble. I carry my sketchbook everywhere and now I have my baby Cintiq in my lap TV time means more drawing time. My family like to wind down with the TV and I like o draw. Why the influx of extra drawing? Well….apart from working on the sketch stage of an awesome new book, I have added Daily Doodle to my routine more. I don’t participate every day, but pick a few to challenge myself .Here is a catch up on some of my Daily Doodle drawing…

Drawing is the key ingredient to a strong portfolio. The more you draw the stronger your work will be. The best illustrators draw exceptionally well. A sketchbook can be your best friend. When I see illustrators with piles of sketchbooks I almost need a bucket to drool in! I regret not drawing in my own sketchbooks more often but now I do a lot; illustrating at church my notes (I remember the message a lot better this way), sketching whenever it is not anti-social, early before the kids wake, when my husband is training – any time I can.

This year I know my work has advanced because of the amount of drawing I’m doing. I have always had the skill to copy and draw but imaginative drawing is another ball game all together. My imaginative drawing has strengthened as a result of the challenge themes. Just like writing challenges or other goals you commit to, you end up far more productive when faced and focused on a regular challenge.

This week I found a quiet cafe/restaurant with a sitting area where I can work away from my studio. A get away like this was needed to get me out of the studio and my desk. I intend to meet with others ans scribble in the near future and encourage others to start drawing more. It is SO MUCH FUN!

How often are you drawing? Maybe do a little today?

Wacom Cintiq Companion for illustrators and artists.

Transforming my studio and going portable

How long are the days when you are waiting for a dream to come true? I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas, holding my breath as I wait, wait wait – come on already!

I did it. I am expecting my new baby any day now; a baby Cintiq. Oh my goodness, I am so excited. I finally have a portable option for my studio. Nothing will ever compare to my old 22″ Wacom Cintiq monitor. I just love it. I used to use a Intuos tablet (see image below) but once spoiled with the option to draw directly on screen it is hard to go back.

Wacom have recently released a portable Cintiq that doesn’t need to be connected to a computer – it’s a computer/table. It supports both pen and touch input and has up to 2048 pressure levels! This is what I have been waiting for.

I needed an occasional laptop or small computer for conferences but more than that, a Cintiq that I could move outside my office. Now I can coffee shop hop, chill with the children more, slouch on the couch and not hate the wait in hospitals etc – oh the joy! I think I will drag my poor child for extra check ups in future.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I literally sat all day and into the night reading, watching reviews and chewing over all the information, comparing all my options including the Android Hybrid version and the new Surface Pro3 – both a lot cheaper. I ended up with the machine I believe is best for my needs – the Windows 256GB version (although I dislike windows 8). I am hoping  to update it to 8.1 ASAP or I guess I will adjust.

Of course fancy equipment only helps you with your work a little, you have to put in the hours and effort, but if you have what suits your lifestyle you’re going to be more productive for sure. I am very productive, drawing, painting and writing whenever I have time, but this gives me the option of grabbing a little more “wasted” time for my work. I can also indulge in more relaxed settings on occasions or change of scenery. It is good to get away from the desk. It is also good to do something when the kids or hubby is watching mind-numbing TV or I don’t feel like doing leggo all afternoon 😉

Maybe we can have show and tell when I get my new baby? Until then, I will continue to patrol the front door for any sign of my postman, grind my teeth and ignore the butterflies in my stomach as best as I can. Whoo hoo!

My Cintiq monitor and my old Intuos tablet.

My Cintiq monitor and my old Intuos tablet.

Birthday card illustration. Feast of cupcakes and a very greedy mouse.
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52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #22-24 Eye, Feats, & Octopus

Watermarks on my work.

I have had too much of my work stolen on the internet and so I have decided to watermark my work. You may have noticed me putting my web address over the images lately. Unfortunately as much as I would rather not, it is unavoidable. I have even had someone claim that my work is their portfolio as they advertise themselves for hire. I would hate to see what the clients end up with. Possibly an empty bank account and no goods.

Week 22 – Eye: This theme became a video not a card illustration. Short 3 minutes of creative inspiration for even the most intimidated of beginners. Check it  out  if you haven’t already.

Week 23 – Feast: This was a really quick sketch in a small sketchbook. I finished it with ink and Intense water soluble pencils. I am using these a lot in my sketchbooks and like to travel with them in my bag.

Birthday card illustration. Feast of cupcakes and a very greedy mouse.

Birthday card illustration. Feast of cupcakes and a very greedy mouse. Look out for that candle!

Week 24 – Octopus No1: My youngest child was turning 9 and wanted me to illustrate a card for him. He was first asked for the teddies in the tree house but later asked for drums. He is learning the drums at school and we were surprising him with an electric drum kit for his birthday. As I was drawing for the theme octopus so I combined the two.

Boy's birthday card sketch rough. Octopus drummer.

Boy’s birthday card sketch rough. Octopus drummer.

Boy's birthday card illustration. Octopus drummer.

Boy’s birthday card illustration. Octopus drummer.

Boy's birthday card sketch rough. Octopus drummer.

Boy’s birthday card sketch rough. Octopus drummer.

I decided to use the white background in the end. The progress images show a splotchy yellow background in the last image but I decided it was too busy and distracted from the funky octopus.

Week 24 – Octopus No2: I ended up with a second octopus. I was winding down from a tough day and pulled out an older sketch to illustrate in colour. My eldest daughter’s boyfriend proposed this week so I had this on my mind as I developed the sketch. The octopus has big sad looking eyes but they reminded me of my daughter’s eyes. They are big, beautiful and bright when she smiles, always sweet, but some times sad. I am sure her now fiancee often gets swallowed up in them. This isn’t a final illustration – only a sketch but still fun to put up for show and tell 🙂

Romantic gift card sketch rough. Octopus with love heart and flowers.

Romantic gift card sketch rough. Octopus with love heart and flowers.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.
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52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Horse

Work in progress. I have been wanting to finish this for ages! I have too many illustrations started that need some time on them. Sorry not exactly a horse but close. The mouse was pulling his tooth with a string but I am going to change it. I am almost there.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.

52 Week Gift Card Challenge – #17 Donkey Illustration in digital pastel.

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator's portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge
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Bunnies for SCBWI Illustrator’s Portfolio.

This week I have been working approximately 16 hours a day and 12 of those hours on a new book. It is difficult to stay super-enthusiastic after a several weeks of working on one project without creative breaks in between. It is counterproductive not to spend time doing other illustration work. It also increased my learning and growth as an illustrator as I experiment and give time to my learning.

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator's portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge

Bunnies swimming. SCBWI illustrator’s portfolio. 52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge – Final Version

I have been using a weekly challenge to stop any monotony slipping in. Experimental time on the computer is no different to playing in my sketchbook; I mess around with ideas and try out different methods to see what I can produce.

This illustration is one I began for an earlier theme challenge: water.
I need an online image to represent my illustration portfolio for the new SCBWI online illustrators portfolio gallery for the upcoming conference in July. I decided to finish one of my bunny illustrations as it has got such a wonderful response. I guess if other illustrators ooh and arh over them so much, hopefully publishers and art directors will too. I am very fond of the little fellows too I must say.

You may remember the earlier beginnings…

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks water - baby rabbits

My bunnies at an early stage.

So what do you think now?

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1
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Simplify Creative Breaks and Downtime.

Is there any such thing? Yes in a strange kind of way – in my world anyway.

I have an unusual style of visual or creative downtime. Usually my downtime results in free creative time. I will be working on a book or attending to business duties and need a break, what do I do? Usually more illustrating or writing – lately illustrating.

The creative challenge I am involved in (#illo52weeks) is really satisfying me artistically. I get to scribble and experiment to my heart’s desire (time restricted) and come up with fresh work for my portfolio (once finished) or blog (work in progress).

I have been flat out working long hours over the past month and have welcomed the latest theme, simplicity. This theme gave me permission to back off the complexity of my illustrations and to my delight resulted in some pretty cute stuff.

This is what I came up with:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

All these were done in Adobe Photoshop while listening to a rather helpful audio eBook by Katie Davis. Yes I will have to re-listen as I was somewhat distracted.

My bunny theme from the last 2 weeks:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

This one was at the end of today using a sketch from my sketchbook doodles. I thought I would try a little more texture in the background.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks architecture - Candy Land
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Illustration Challenge Catchup – architecture, numbers and water

3 weeks of Illustration Catch up

Topics: architecture, numbers and water. These are the beginnings of some illustrations in progress. I think my little rabbits below may appear in future challenges also. I am very fond of these little guys.

All 3 illustrations are works in progress and painted digitally after initially drawing them in my sketchbook with a 2B pencil. Candyland was painted on my iPad and the others in Photoshop. I hope to finish them once my next book is finished, in-between working on the following.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks architecture - Candy Land

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 11- architecture – Candy Land

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks numbers - baby rabbits

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 12 – numbers

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks water - baby rabbits

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks Week 13 – water

You can see the finished illustration for water here: http://kayleenwest.com.au/portfolio/bunnies-for-scbwi-illustrators-portfolio/

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