Leanne Barrett: July 2017

Saturday 29 July 2017

Anatomy of a Picture book with Bob Graham

Today was a beautiful day for so many reasons.
One. The sun was out. 
And two. Bob Graham was talking @ Muse Canberra, Eat Hotel, Kingston.

Bob Graham came to Canberra a few days ago to open a new exhibition, Imagine If.. by The National Centre for Australian Children's Literature, with Muse being one of the sponsors of the exhibition. In addition to the exhibition Muse Canberra hosted Bob for two events today, one for children and another for adults. 

Bob began the adults session by standing at the front of the room, resting his right hand on the back of his head in an unassuming way and said, 'I've never talked to a room of writers and illustrators before.

If I was only allowed two words to describe Bob it would be gifted and humble.

Imagine If... Exhibition Opening.

Welcome to the new National Centre for Australia Children's Literature (National Centre) exhibition, Imagine If... at the University of Canberra (UC). 

10 July to 30 August 2017.  Open Monday – Friday 10.00am – 2.00pm in the Clive Price Suite, Building 1, Level C, University of Canberra (map here).

The Imagine If... exhibition showcases the creative process of creating children's books. On a display are 40 artworks by everyone's favourites, including Bob Graham, Freya Blackwood, Shaun Tan, Jane Tanner, Graeme Base & 14 others. The artworks include framed illustrations, storyboards, manuscripts and other memorabilia. The illustrations come from the National Centre's collection and the Children's Book Council of Australia (CBCA).

The National Centre's collection, is of great historical and social value to all Australians. Its collection is now valued at over $10M. The National Centre holds; 
  • 36 years of children's books donated by Australian publishers and creators
  • 32,000 books with 3,500 of these in 55 languages
  • 65 collections of authors; papers and manuscripts, and illustrator's artworks
  • 2 publishers' archives
  • audio, photographs, realia and rare material
  • 52 Cultural Gifts donated under the Department of Communications and the Arts.

At the Imagine If...  opening event we were regaled by supportive and enthusiastic supporter of the National Centre and children's literature. 

Friday 28 July 2017

Canberra 52-Week Illustration Challenge Members

Kelly, Ami, Tania, Genevieve, Leanne, Shaye & Cate (plus Jen)
This morning members from the 52-Week Illustration Challenge meet in Canberra for the second time in 2017.

It was a fabulous morning of networking with 'old' and new friends. Its just wonderful to meet with like minded people.

We shared our art.
We shared our stories.

We shared some of our favourite art mediums.
We shared tips and hints.

Our next meeting?

When: Friday 20 October 2017
Time: 10am to 11.30am 
Where: A.Baker in The New Acton Courtyard, 15 Edinburgh Ave, New Acton 
RSVP: For numbers please leave a message below or contact me. 
What to Bring: Please be brave and bring an illustration to share and your favourite art medium or equipment to show everyone.
Children are welcome.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Illustrating with Flair: The Art of Creating Books for Children

What kind of illustration are you interested in doing?
To find out the answer to this question and more we gathered at Gungahlin Library to attend a workshop by award winning author and illustrator, Stephanie Owen Reeder.

Stephanie showed us examples of books that highlighted the variety of illustrations that are found in children's literature;

  • picture book illustration
  • cover art
  • concept books
  • younger chapter books with black and white illustrations
  • illustrated books - novel style book that includes illustrations

What is your style?
Do you already have a style? I am not sure what my style is and during my year of creative discovery the 52-Week Illustration Challenge is helping me find my style. I know that I like working with watercolour paints but I am also currently exploring collage and acrylics.

  • What mediums do you like to work in?

Friday 21 July 2017

Art Journal: Collage of Hearts

I love attending art classes with Sylvia Marris because her intuitive painting stretches me outside of my usual style and comfort zones. This is a place where I can try out different;

  • processes
  • art mediums
  • stamps
  • stencils
  • collage
  • acrylic paint pens
  • designs and doodles

Using an Art Journal.
This week I began my Art Journal. The art journal is a place that I can explore without judgements (I feel this way about all my my art @ Sylvia's). A place where I can add left over paint to explore other art elements using layering at another time. It is also a place where I can doodle designs without judgement.

Wednesday 19 July 2017


52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 29: Swing
This week I wanted to focus on doing a more 'illustrative' type of picture. The illustration is a girl swinging off a rope into water.

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

Why do some artists produce work sporadically?

Card and Envelope
Gigantic Lilly (Doryanthes excelsa), Newcastle, 6 Nov 1835
Ever wondered about the number of works that a female artist produces?

This thought struck me during a recent talk by Treasurers Curator, Nat Williams at the National Library of Australia (NLA), Life and Death - Dorothy English Paty's Newcastle

So how many works do artists produce? 
Some artists create works daily, called by their creative need to create continuously. While other artists create sporadically or they express their artistic ability creating less traditional productions.

I wonder if the amount of work that an artist produces and whether we consider ourselves artists could be directly linked to our artistic pursuits towards the end of our high school education? Maybe at this point of our artistic endeavours we could be categorised into three main groups of artistic pursuits. 
  1. You were discouraged to pursue your art interest at school beyond year 10 and were told to pick something else as 'Art is not a real subject.'  
  2. You studied art for your High School Certificate but followed other pursuits after school.
  3. You continued your artistic pursuits well beyond your school years.
If you categorise yourself in groups one and two you have probably dipped in and out of your artistic pursuits, letting less traditional artistic productions be the expression of your creativity.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Trove for Research

Shannon - NLA Newspapers and Family History
At a SCBWI event last month author Stephanie Owen-Reeder mentioned that she often uses Trove and newspapers to research information for her children's books. Coincidentally earlier on the same day I attended a session at the National Library of Australia (NLA) about using Trove for Family Research.

What kinds of things can be searched using Trove?
  • Australian Newspapers 1803 - 1954 (except the Canberra Times, up to 1995)
  • Government Gazettes
    • NSW 1832-2001
    • Commonwealth 1901-2011
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Images
  • Maps
  • Diary and letter archives
  • Music, sound and videos
  • Websites
  • People and organisations

Tuesday 11 July 2017

A Trip of a Lifetime: Monica McInerney @ Harry Hartog Woden

Are you looking for a consummate story teller about families? I think I found one last night in Monica McInerney at Harry Hartog Bookseller, Woden.

I was one of 80 women (plus store manager James) who were entranced by Monica's story telling ability. But don't all authors tell stories? I hear you ask. Yes, they all do tell stories in words but not all authors are great public speakers, Monica is an engaging speaker.

I have never read a Monica McInerney book, until now, so I have quite a back-list of books to read. Monica has written 12 books to date and will begin writing her 13th book upon her return to Dublin in Ireland, once this book tour is finished. 

Monica has lived half her life in Australia and the other half in Ireland. She grew up in Clare Valley, South Australia as the middle child of seven children. Monica told the audience that her books are 'not autobiographical but emotionally biographical.' Monica has experienced many of the same emotions that her character Lola Quinlan encounters in the book, The Trip of a Lifetime.

The Trip of a Lifetime is the third book in the Quinlan Family Saga. The main character, Lola Quinlan, has decided to visit Ireland for the first time after 65 years of living in Australia. Lola doesn't travel alone, she is accompanied by her granddaughter and great-granddaughter. In this story you will delve through the themes of homesickness, sibling rivalry, secrets, grief, lies that we tell ourselves, homecoming and most importantly this story is told with splashes of humour.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Bush Countryside

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 27: Bush Countryside
There were a lot of ideas swirling around in my head for this theme. The distant hills, the mid-ground of farmland with its lone paddock tree and leaning on fences made out of wood from local trees are very strong images for me. We may have farmed sheep but a lone cow seemed right for this illustration.

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.