Leanne Barrett: 2018

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cats in Bed - Drawing Lab

One of the new books that I bought recently was Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Carla Sonheim.

The first activity was to sketch lots of cats while in bed. I chose a few of my favourites and added water colour, pencil and ink to the illustrations. To see each cat illustration go to my Art Gallery.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Artist @ work - SFX Writer's Festival

SFX Facebook Photo
I had a delightful time at SFX at their Writer's Festival.

As the Artist @ Work I spent my time finishing one of my Adventurous Chicken series illustrations, the Aerial Skiing Chicken.

The students I spoke to liked to draw or were interested in drawing but felt they weren't very good at drawing. So we talked about what they used to draw with, how I made my illustrations and that with regular practice you can improve your skills.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Canberra Children's Illustrators Group June Coffee & Pictures

Another wonderful catch up with my local group of children's illustrators. You all inspire me and I know that getting together gives each and everyone a creative lift to keep on illustrating or to get back to illustrating if things have been a bit slow creatively.

It was a delight to see two tiny little ones, Suzy's new baby and Iona's niece plus we met Catherine's larger child who was home from school getting over the last of his cold.

Our next meeting dates are still to be set as I am working on my diary dates as I really want to get to Melbourne to see the MoMA exhibition at the NGV. The 1st will be an impromptu one during the school holidays and the 2nd will probably a Sunday arvo in  August.

Monday, 4 June 2018

My Practice Inspired by the Sketchbook Revival


These four words are what I would use to describe my experience of the 2018 Sketchbook Revival: An Online Workshop created by Karen Abend.

It was quite a task to complete the 24 workshops that ran for two official weeks - with a 2 week catch up period. Each day there were two sessions to learn new techniques and mediums from a range of artist's that work towards sketching daily. Each session's video length was around one hour, so on top of the viewing time I spent extra time stopping and starting the videos, following the process to create my own sketchbook pages.
See my sketchbook revival creations later in this post.

Reflection On Workshop

It is now a few weeks since I finished the workshops and I'm really pleased that I took the time to immerse myself in developing my craft's; skills and techniques. Many of the workshops aligned with other creative practices that I am currently following ie: The Artist's Way by Julian Cameron and the Jen Storer's, Scribbles online creative writing course.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Canberra Children's Illustrators May Coffee and Pictures

This month we met at Pollen, the cafe at the Australian National Botanical Gardens, with the idea that we would spend some time sketching in the gardens. The weather forecast of only 11 degrees and showers were against us. At the halfway mark we were having so many worthwhile conversations that we all decided to continue with sharing our artworks, tips and materials. As usual the two hours flew by and while the cafe was closing the conversations didn't stop and some of us talked in the car park for another 30 - 40 minutes. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

Ideas Jar - Loving the Salamander!

Wow what a change a few days can make.

When I first found out that I was going to have to draw a salamander I totally recoiled. I have now sketched a salamander for the last 4 days and I'm loving this little guy or gal.

Since the terrible first sketch I have drawn my salamander  7 times. Here is a sneak peek at some of the sketches.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Sketching Ideas Jars - Why a salamander?

One of  my goals for 2018 was to draw every day. I haven't yet been successful with this daily practice. So this week I joined a new group, Sketchbook Revival Online Workshop, it will begin in late April. I hope by doing this workshop that it will help me with my daily drawing.

How did I find this group?
Nina Rycroft highlighted this workshop at the end of her blog How to use your sketchbook practice to find your illustration style. In Nina's blog I read about Idea Jars. Idea Jars are filled with words to help inspire you to draw. I now have 3 jars labelled; animal, objects and actions, and in these jars I have 380 words.

I bought a new sketchbook for the workshop and decided that I needed to conquer my fear of how bad or good my drawings are in this book. It's about practice, ideas and opening yourself to creativity. 'But I don't want to ruin my new book!' I heard my inner child say to that horrible inner critic. I reminded myself that if I can do what ever I want in my Intuitive Art Journal (Sylvia Marris) no judgements, then I can do the same to my drawing sketchbook! Today I drew out the word the animal - Salamander.
My inner conversation went like this.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Creative Kids Tales Writers Festival 2018 Wrap Up

Georgie Donaghey asked the attendees of the Creative Kids Tales Writers Festival 2018 to be 'Prepare to be inspired!' and we were definitely inspired.

The hand of hope is needed in the story. - Suzanne Gervay
Write something memorable. - Suzanne Gervay
Do things in a positive light. - Georgie Donaghey
Take the germ of the truth, then lie and be good at it. - Wai Chim
Go to lots of talks and gleam ideas. - Tristan Bancks
Write the story that only you can tell. Your heart story. - Sue Whiting
Authors please leave space in your manuscript for the illustrator. - Sarah Davis
Illustrators are like film directors, they choose the cast (characters) and the set for the action to occur. - Sarah Davis

Friday, 9 March 2018

Canberra Children's Illustrators March Coffee and Pictures

To meet, share and chat is an opportunity that is too precious to miss. It warms my heart that people keep coming to each meeting.

I know that everyone who wants to come can't always attend because somehow the rest of life manages to get in the way. But when you are able to get together it is special.

These meeting's are scheduled a bit randomly. We try to get together at least once a school term, while trying to work around many other literary events on the calendar.

This month we met at Bookplate at the National Library of Australia. We talked about all things illustration. We discussed: painting techniques, pencils, parchment paper, the brand of watercolours we use, light pads, mechanical pencils, sculpey modelling clay, pens and copic markers.

Danielle has been on the book launch trail.
Jess is busy making clothes.
Kelly and I are loving Nina Rycroft's Picture Book Illustration eCourse.
Tania showed us some of her botanical illustrations, just divine! You can find Tania's illustrations on her Facebook page.
Catherine is working her way through the Character Design Weekly Challenge themes.
Stephanie gave us a seek peek at a map she is drawing for an upcoming book.
Suzy showed us some beautiful small illustrations that are reflecting her stages of pregnancy.
Genevieve is busy with William Brambleyberry, her beautiful family and growing baby number two.

Everyone that came received a two page list of upcoming booky events in the Canberra region. This list also included some online courses, plus a couple of illustration competitions people might be interested. See the list at the bottom of this blog for more information. 


We discussed the next meeting and thought a trip to the Australian National Botanic Gardens might be a lovely location, plus we could do some sketching of plants while we are there. At the May meeting we will chat over coffee for the first hour and then wonder along some of the pathways and sketch for the other hour. As usual children are welcome.

Canberra Children's Illustrators Coffee Pictures & Sketching
Date: Saturday 12 May 2018 (please note date change as the Sunday is Mother's Day)
Time: 2 - 4pm
Location:  Pollen located at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St, Acton ACT
RSVP: Please message me for numbers

Thursday, 1 March 2018

CBCA Notables Books Wrap Up

In Canberra on Tuesday night (27 February) CBCA ACT Branch and Harry Hartog hosted the CBCA Book of The Year Awards Notables List Announcement. See the complete list here.

It was a glorious night catching up with authors, illustrators, teacher librarians and other book lovers.

We were delighted that two of our local authors' books were long listed.

Tania McCartney's book Merry Everything, illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, was long listed for the Picture Book of the Year Award.

Cate Whittle's book Trouble and the New Kid, illustrated by Michael Stephen King, was long listed for the category of Younger Readers.

There were so many wonderful books chosen this year and as per usual some books that you hoped would make the list but didn't.

I was fortunate enough to have reviewed the following Notable Books for Kids' Book Review.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Rewarding My Inner Child

Last week during my Artist Date I took my inner child on a rewarding trip to the art store and bookshop. These are the two places that I can lose all sense of time passing.

In the art store my creativity comes to life as I browse the shelves choosing pencils, paint and paper.

While in the bookshop my imagination is fostered by the brilliant stories and engaging illustrations. On this Artist Date I was looking for illustrations that made my heart sing.

My inner child soared with delight at the colours, textures, characters and words. Now that my inner child is nourished she can activate my creativity.
I sure need my inner child to let help me let loose my creativity now that am participating in the Nina Rycroft Picture Book Illustration e-Course. The course is stretching me in ways that I didn't consider. It is giving me new insights to the process an illustrator goes through to create illustrations that will complement and add to a manuscript.

However the hardest part is the critic that is in your head yelling louder and louder that you cannot possibly create characters for a manuscript. My morning writing pages are working overtime to stop these Monsters that exist in my head. Monsters from my past that crushed my inner child, the child that liked to dream.

So HOORAY to places like the art store and the bookshop that help set my inner child free from the monsters.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Book Launch: Marvellous Miss May

A fabulous book launch at Harry Hartog (Woden) with Stephanie Owen Reeder for her new book, Marvellous Miss May, published by The National Library of Australia. 

Stephanie read the book to an enthusiastic crowd. Clowns and a ringmaster were there plus preforming jugglers.

Like any great book launch there were colouring in sheets,lollies and cake. You always need cake for a book birthday!

For a book review by Shaye Wardope from Kids' Book Review see here

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Freda Coyo Flamingo's Birthday

Say hello to Fredo Coyo.
She loves bright colours, celebrations and dancing the Paso Doble.

Freda is special because she has found a home with my friend, author and illustrator Tania McCartney for her 21 again birthday.

Freda is quite different to my usual paintings, she has embraced the bright colours and acrylic paints because she has such a lively personality.

Freda is my week 6 CDWC - long necked theme illustration.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Slinking Fox

Chickens still dominated my mind this last week.
My adventurous flock needed some down time at home.
But things are never as quite as you would like at home.
Today the slinking fox has decided to drop in for a visit.

This illustration focuses on the villain for Week 5 of the CDWC theme of Hero/Villain.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Bungee Chicken

The theme of this week's Character Design Weekly Challenge is Poultry (Week 4).

My fearless chickens that want to fly have returned. 

They have parachuted and walked the tightrope and now an adrenaline junkie chicken is BUNGEE JUMPING.

See below for my daredevil chickens and some other chickens that I drew while having my hairdresser appointment this morning.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Lucky Draw to Win An Illustration

Winner Announced: Kerry Malone

Do you live in Australia?
Would you would like win one my Riding High hand-painted watercolour and ink illustrations?

It's very easy - Go to my website leannebarrett.com and subscribe to my Newsletter by 14 February 2018 at 11.59 pm AEDT.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


The theme of this week's Character Design Weekly Challenge is Jump/Stomp (Week 3).

I have illustrated a kangaroo jumping over the farm fence.

When my family lived on the farm I used to view this daily occurrence from the kitchen window.

This kitchen window view inspired the idea in my picture book ms of the little dog playing chases with the kangaroos.

Below are the individual images of each kangaroo illustration.

Sunday, 14 January 2018


This is my illustration for the Character Design Weekly Challenge Week 2: Toddler/Baby.

Over the last week I have been working my way through the Nina Rycroft online classes for faces and body proportions. While this illustration is still very static I am showing progress in being able to draw the face and proportions of the body. 

Plus I  have included one of the toy rabbits that I illustrated a few weeks ago.

I'm hoping the toddler with the toy rabbit will appear in the illustrations of the picture book that I am working on.

Those of you who are familiar with the coloured illustrations from the SCBWI 2017 Storytime Exhibition will notice that I have used the same colour palate for this toddler illustration.

Below is an image of my preparatory work for this illustration. I have used blue pencil as part of my initial sketching process. Utilising the teardrop shaped head and quartering line on the head for proportions of the face. I also draw in the skeleton and body to give the clothes some structure to hang on.

Friday, 5 January 2018

A Bunny Infestation in Leanne's Drawings

I have been surrounded by rabbits the last few weeks and they are multiplying.

Like in nature you begin with a few bunnies and then their numbers explode.

It began with my sister wishing for an Christmas Bunny. (5 rabbits)
It then spread into the PET theme for the first week of the Character Design Weekly Challenge. (17 more rabbits) Continuing through to the Nina Rycroft online classesThe Art of Bunnies in Books. (add 60 more rabbits)
A total of 82 rabbits in the last month.

Oh there was also copying 21 rabbit faces from picture books. I spent a morning looking at the shapes of difference rabbit character's faces.
Grand total of 103 rabbit drawings.

Plus the viewing of rabbit photos on Pixabay and rabbit videos from YouTube.

Cute Baby Wild Rabbits Discover Spring
Cute Wild Baby Rabbits want a Feed / Wildlife in My Backyard

Christmas Bunny

Week 1 PET
Character Design Weekly Challenge

Leanne's copies of Nina's Rabbit and Easter Celebration Illustrations

Leanne's Toy Rabbit Illustrations