Leanne Barrett: 2018

Friday 17 August 2018

CBCA ACT Event for the CBCA 2018 Book of The Year Awards

Congratulations to all of the winners of the CBCA 2018 Book of The Year Awards.

The CBCA ACT Branch hosted a wonderful event at the National Library of Australia.

The audience was entertained by two schools. St Bede's Primary School from Braidwood gave a performance that expressed this year's theme 'Find Your Treasure' so eloquently. They preformed  what they treasured from the traditional idea of pirate's treasure to animals, plants, friends and family.

The second school, Canberra Girls Grammar School, preformed the story The Very Noisy Baby by Alison Lester. This story was named as Honour Book for the  Early Childhood category.

After the exciting announcements everyone had the chance to chat to Canberra Authors and have their book signed.

Canberra Authors who were at the event were: Emma AllenPauline DeevesTracey HawkinsHarry LaingKerry MaloneTania McCartneyGina NewtonStephanie Owen Reeder Maura PierlotDevon SillettCate Whittle and Shelly Unwin

Photo Gallery of the Event:

Thursday 16 August 2018

Putting Yourself in the Picture

Reflecting upon last night's SCBWI ACT and Surrounds event of Putting Yourself in the Picture has me wondering. How do you put yourself in the picture?

Maya & Cat's award wining author and illustrator Caroline Margel spoke about her journey and experiences in life and creating stories. She showed us how she put herself out there, walked down all the valleys and reached her peaks. Caroline reminded me that we need to 'Enjoy all the little things and that they carry you though your career.' 

Over the past year I have been reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron  it talks about moments of SERENDIPITY and Caroline has taken these kinds of moments when they have presented themselves to her. She has literally walked though doors that have opened for her and seized chances to present her work to key figures in the book industry, leading to new career opportunities. So I'm wondering, have I seized my moments of serendipity?  Have you?

Are you part of the 'people game'? Caroline talked about how we learn by talking to people and participating in groups and events. It is through these connections with others within our industry where we can learn, experience light bulb moments and may even have a splendid chance to try something new. This is where I feel it is important to shun our inner critic's voice, grapple with our fears and insecurities and go for it. Our bookie friends will be on the sidelines and in our box cheering us along.

Sunday 12 August 2018

National Library of Australia Open Day

There were crowds of people at the National Library of Australia today for their annual Open Day.

On the way into the library I bumped into the author of You can do it Joey, Kerry Malone who had gone to listen to Holly Bidwell tell and preform her amazing stories.

I met up with Tania McCartney and we were both delighted to be introduced to Ron Brooks, award winning author and illustrator. Ron had given two workshops earlier in the morning, coming to Canberra for a day trip all the way from his home in Huon Valley, Tasmania. Unfortunately I was not at the library early enough to participate in Ron's workshops. As an aspiring illustrator I'm sure I would have learnt a great deal from these workshops instead will have to study some of my favourite Ron Brooks illustrated books; John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat written by Jenny Wagner and two books written by Margaret Wild, Old Pig and Fox.

As part of the open day Tania McCartney read her new story The Gum Family Finds Home, illustrated by Christian Booth. This is the first time that Tania has read this story to children. They gathered around the storyteller's chair, sitting on sea of cushions, balloons in hand (the occasional one escaping - the balloons that is). The children were very engaged and one gorgeous little munchkin was ready to give Tania an answer for all of her questions. Yes he was from Tasmania (No but his mum was). Koalas needed gum trees to eat gum leaves from and not gum nuts.

Saturday 11 August 2018

Book Launch - Wyrd by Cate Whittle

As part of the Love Your Bookshop Day we flew on our brooms to Harry Hartog in Woden to celebrate Cate Whittle's new book Wyrd. I look forward to reading about Emma and Pip and the magical powers that Emma has unexpectedly gained when she is turned into a witch.

It was fabulous event at a wonderful bookshop, with many children in attendance plus the friendly faces of quite a number of Canberra's children's authors and illustrators and a few members from the CBCA ACT Branch.

                                                                           Leanne, Cate & Karen                              

Friday 3 August 2018

3D Character Head using Sculpey

Today with the help from illustrator Nina Rycroft and her Skillshare Class, How to Draw the Head from Every Angle - Part Two, I created my first 3D Sculpey character head.

This girl with ponytail is a little older than I was aiming for but it will still be useful in helping me draw faces. I will try to create a younger 3D character head sometime in the future.

Illustrations Revisited: Raining Cats and Dogs and Chickens

For a while now I have been wanting to do new versions of the Black & Illustrations that I showed last year's exhibition Story Time with SCBWI. So here they are; Raining Cats & Dogs II, Parachuting Hens II and Tightrope Hens II. I will be turning them into prints and cards shortly.

Tuesday 31 July 2018

May Gibbs Touring Display Launch

The May Gibbs Touring Display from the State Library of NSW is currently showing at the Queanbyean Library until  9 August 2018 when it then move to other libraries in NSW.

The display celebrates a 100 years since May Gibbs' gum-nut babies were published and became part of our Australian literature culture that is still shared with children today. The display features many of her popular characters, books and costumes.

At last night's the launch, librarian Lynette Sebbens read the first chapter of Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie, giving the audience a taste of the fear and curiosity that these two characters felt about the creatures know as 'humans'.

The special guest at the launch was author and illustrator, Tania McCartney who has written and illustrated a book about a little girl called Mamie (HarperCollins, November 2018) whose story echoes the childhood of May Gibbs.

Monday 30 July 2018

Inspirational Art at Handmade Canberra

I totted off to Handmade Canberra to be inspired. I was wanting to see what other artists were doing and also learn from and other stall holders about market stands.

It was delightful to feel the energy and joy from artists and designers that I talked to. To see how they created and what themes they created. I soaked in colours and lines and images. Looked at how themes can be the same but how people approach creating art about them differently.

The market helped me understand what styles draw in me and which styles just do not do it for me. It made me think about what I can envision my illustrations on and things I just would not be interested in.

These are some of the artists and images that called to my own creative spirit.

I met the shining personality of Amy Ranck from Outer Island whose ladybugs and mushrooms drew me in.

The animals of Red Parka created by Jennifer Cossins called to me, so I got some magnets. Her book A - Z of Endangered Animals was awarded a CBCA 2017 Honour Book for The Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.

Being an artist of black and white illustrations I had a fabulous chat with Paula Zetlein about her beautiful native plant illustrations and what materials and paper that she likes to use.

Friday 27 July 2018

Chickens and Block Printing

I have been thinking about turning parts of my Adventurous Chicken series into prints, using screen printing
or block printing. This medium of creating art has been an interest of mine since lino-cut printing in high school but it is something that I have not pursued.

I have been planning to create using this method for more than six months, in fact back in  December 2017 I bought a few pieces of rubber called Carve/Print Block.

During this thinking and planning time I knew that I would need to relearn and remember the techniques needed for this printing process. So while in a Brisbane bookshop I bought two books about printing. Now all I needed to do was reclaim or borrow the tools I gave to my sister-in-law when we moved into our apartment (I gave her my lino carving tools and small silk screen).

Thursday 26 July 2018

Romancing the Stars

CBCA ACT Branch hosted a wonderful night of Romancing the Stars - Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern, Craig Cormick, Jack Heath, Kerry Malone, Pauline Deeves and Maura Pierlot

What wonderful range of books that these authors have written: picture books, junior fiction, stories based on non-fiction, YA to adult books. 

They have all taken different journeys to publishing: traditional publishers, partnership publishing and indie. They are an inspiring group, for writers and readers of all ages.

Book Launches:
Jacqeline de Rose-Ahern  
Charlie’s Adventures in South Africa
Date: 25 August 2018, 11am – 12pm
Where: National Museum of Australia

Kerry Malone
Sophie Makes New Friends
Date: 27 October 2018
Where: Harry Hartog, Woden

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