Avant Card Arts Project

Rainy-Day BoyThis is rather belated news, but late last year I submitted some illustrations to Avant Card’s Arts Project, and was thrilled when they chose one to be printed as a postcard. It will be distributed at participating venues around Australia, and is of course great self-promotion. The only catch is that the postcard won’t be in the stands for another 4–5 months.

The illustrations started as a concept for a series of greeting cards, and the first one I did – ‘Rainy-Day Boy’ – is my favourite. It was also the favourite of the people at Avant Card!

Initially I had wanted to experiment with the gradient mesh tool in Illustrator, and my first random shapes turned into the beret Rainy-Day Boy is wearing. I had already designed the retro fruity surface patterns, inspired by something cherry-themed that I saw online somewhere, and decided to use them as backgrounds. They are a cheerful counterpoint to the doleful Rainy-Day Boy and Broken-Legged Girl. I suspect Balloon Boy is a less successful illustration though because he is too happy! I couldn’t decide between the banana pattern and the grapes for him. (Scroll down to see these.)

It amuses me that something that started as an experiment evolved into a postcard that will be seen around the country. However, I do feel lucky, and very grateful to Avant Card for giving the opportunity to people like myself to have their artwork seen far and wide. Thanks, Avant Card!

The call to artists is still open if you’d like to participate.

Broken-Legged Girl

Balloon Boy


Vintage Russians

Vintage Russian tree ornaments: (clockwise from bottom left) snowman, pony, monkey, bear with banjo, chilli.

Many years ago, I stumbled across some gorgeous Russian Christmas tree ornaments in a quaint Melbourne shop, Babushkas. I didn’t buy any at the time as they were quite expensive. However, the year before last I went hunting on eBay and discovered vintage Russian Christmas ornaments.

I fell in love. I bought a couple dozen and waited in breathless anticipation for them to arrive. They did – just a few days before Christmas. I hung them on ribbons in my windows. Afterwards I turned them into earrings.

This year, I managed to get hold of that rare commodity – a small white Christmas tree – through the efforts of a friend ($1 from an op shop!) and decorated it with the ornaments. It’s my first Christmas tree for many years.

I found these vintage glass ornaments so much more inspiring than modern-day versions … until I ventured into Myer’s Santaland and discovered a number of retro glass finials, ribbed ‘onions’, and spotted and striped baubles and bonbons that would complement my vintage pieces admirably. The same friend tipped me off to Boxing Day sales, and sure enough, I returned after Christmas and swept up a handful of bonbons at half the price.

Christmas Loot

…I ventured into Myer’s Santaland and discovered a number of retro baubles and bonbons…

Sadly, they aren’t as robust as their Russian counterparts. Two broke by the time I got home, and bereft, I had to replace them the next day. I took those home heavily bubble-wrapped. By contrast, the Russians date from the 1940s–80s and apart from scratches and worn paint, are still intact.

Next year I will be investing in a bigger tree, to accommodate all these goodies.

I’ve entered the second photo in Hipstamatic’s ‘Holidays Captured’ competition – please vote for me!


New Year’s Inspirations

So it’s the first day of the new year, and here is the January page of my new calendar. Pierre Mourgue’s Paris Fashions featured on the cover of British Vogue, March 1929.

The Twenties and Thirties are my favourite periods for fashion illustration. I love that in this case the medium, watercolour, is confined to the stylised shapes and geometric lines typical of Art Deco, rather than bleeding outside the lines in its usual haphazard way (although this can also be good, of course).

I am so pleased I chose this calendar in the end; I’m sure that it will be a continual source of inspiration throughout 2011. One of my resolutions will always be: Draw more; draw more!

I hope that your new year is similarly inspiring!


Gabriele Münter: Paintings of home

Murnau, 1933

I bought a 2011 calendar by teNeues this week, featuring covers of Vogue from the ‘NineTeens’, Twenties and Thirties. I was tempted to buy one of the enormous art calendars – beautiful posters with a few tiny numbers at the bottom – but was deterred by both the price ($65) and the impracticality, as I like to be able to write on the days.

However, the ones I was admiring featured the work of the German artist Gabriele Münter (1877–1962). Surprisingly, she was not an artist I was familiar with from my art school days, and I am embarrassed to admit I only discovered her work via a calendar a few years ago!

‘Farmhouse On a Hill’, 1908In 1911 Münter, along with Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc founded the avant-garde expressionist group known as Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Prior to this she lived for a long while in the Bavarian market town of Murnau, where many of her landscape paintings were created, placing an emphasis of nature and opposing German modernity.

It is these serene landscapes that I particularly love: the uncomplicated, stylised shapes that are usually thickly outlined; the gorgeous colour palette and homely scenes. I find them comforting, soothing, as though I could step into Münter’s canvases and come home. 

‘Blue Mountain’, 1909



It’s been some time since the last entry in the sketchbook, but in the lead-up to Christmas I’ve been rushing round doing relatively unexciting things, and not enough creative ones. But the Day is finally here! So I can relax now and get into the holiday spirit; eat lots of cake and feel sick, etc. Hope you are too.

Merry Christmas!