Leanne Barrett: 2019

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Exhibition Tour with Stephanie Owen Reeder

There is always something new to discover at the National Library of Australia's (NLA) Story Time exhibition.

Today Stephanie Owen Reeder, author of Story Time Stars, guided members of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) though the exhibition. She picked a selection of exhibits that would give writers and illustrators insights into the process in creating books.

To being the tour Stephanie showed us the first Australian children's book, A Mother's Offering to her Children, written by Charlotte Waring Atkinson

Charlotte is the 4th-great grandmother of authors Kate Forsyth and Belinda Murrell. At a recent book talk Kate revealed that even family members cannot handle this book due to its fragility. However it can be viewed as an online version.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Exhibition: Story Time: Australian Children's Literature

Last night's opening exhibition crowd deemed the new National Library of Australia exhibition, Story Time: Australian Children's Literature, presented in association with the National Centre for Australian Children's Literature, a huge success. 

They were a buzz with excitement and even squealed with delight as each new story was discovered on the walls and in the display cases. 

I guarantee that book lovers of all ages will adore this new exhibition, as it takes you on a journey down memory lane. 

Remember your childhood favourites; Seven Little Australians, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie,  Mary Poppins and Blinky Bill.

Rediscover books from your children's childhood: Possum Magic, Koala Lou, Animalia, Max, The Hidden Forrest and The Arrival.

Or discover some newer childhood favourites: Where is the Green Sheep?, Dinosaurs Love Cheese and The 65-Story Treehouse.

Friday, 16 August 2019

CBCA 2019 Book of the Year Awards Winners

Today in Canberra we celebrated the 2019 CBCA Book of the Year Award at the National Library of Australia. 

What I love about this event is the opportunity to celebrate children's literature and to catch up with my tribe. 

Before the announcement of the winners, the audience was entertained by two talented group of students. 

Students from St Bede's Primary School, Braidwood, performed a voice and action montage showing how Reading is Our Secret Power. The students had the powers of strength, flexibility, speed but most importantly reading. With the secret power of reading they said, 'We can do anything with the power of reading.'  

The second performance was by students from Canberra Girls Grammar School, who retold the story of Noni The Pony Rescues a Joey by Alison Lester, using a great set of face masks.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

CBCA 13th National Conference

Each year there are a wide range of conferences and events that authors and illustrators have to choose from and 2019 is a bumper year of them. This year some of the big ones on Australian East Coast have included; SCBWI Sydney, Creative Kids Tales Writers' Festival Gymea NSW, KidLitVic Melbourne, CYA Brisbane (6-7 July) and CBCA Canberra.

It is sometimes a difficult decision to pick which ones to attend. Frankly, if the hip pocket was really deep, I would attend every single event on the calendar. However, as the CBCA one was going to be held in Canberra and just a 2 minute walk from my apartment in the city, it was a easy decision to attend.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Affirmation: Walk Mindfully. What do you notice today?

Today I selected my affirmation card #29: Walk mindfully. What do you notice today?

As an artist I know that it is important to partake in activities that can create inspiration. One of the things I like to do is to take a walk in a mindful manner. This kind of walk is not when I walk for exercise. Exercise walking is when I focus on strengthening my body. Mindful walking for me is a totally different activity.

When I walk mindfully I'm doing several things:

  • I am strengthening my mind.
  • I am letting my muse inspire my creativity.
  • I appreciate the beauty of the environment. 
  • I look at colour, shape, form, shadows and composition within nature.
  • I am building my own collection of reference photos.
  • I am experiencing joy and peacefulness.

By the end of a mindful walk my creative spirit is energised. 







Another post a bit like this one is Noticing the little things in life.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Daily Writing

Part of being a creative, is making sure that you give yourself the best chance for inspiration to flow in your life. To do this it is important to have a range of strategies in place. Some of the strategies can include:

  • Daily Writing.
  • Networking with other creatives.
  • Practising a daily challenge.
  • Doing things that you love.
  • Playing.
  • Making a mess.

I began my daily writing practise when I joined Jen Storer's Scribbles online creative writing course. I made a pledge on 27 November 2017 that I would write 3 pages every day. Jen says that it's important to write and write and write. Make a mess and just let your thoughts flow.


Another person that believes that daily writing is important is Julia Cameron, author of the book The Artist's Way. This book is a 12 week course in discovering and recovering your creative self. Julia talks about morning pages as a place where you write '...three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness...' Just write anything that comes into your head, it doesn't need to make sense, you are just clearing your mind to allow your creativity to flow. (P.S. Sometimes I only write two A4 pages a day.)

So how have I gone? 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Autumn Visits to The National Gallery of Australia

John Everett Millais, Spring (Apple blossoms), 1859
Autumn is my favourite time of the year. The morning air begins with a real freshness and the days are warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the changing colours of our many deciduous trees in Canberra. It's a season of change, and as April rushes towards May we suddenly realise that the year is skipping along and the NGA summer block buster is about to close.

This year we were delighted by the exhibition Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate, closing 28 April 2019. While I have always loved this era of art, especially the wallpaper of Morris and Co,  Kate Forsyth's story Beauty in Thorns made me fall in love with this art era even more.   

When Kate's book Beauty in Thorns was launched she came to the National Library of Australia and spoke about the Artists their Stunners and Love. In this talk Kate took us into the world of some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and their lovers. She showed us images of some of their artworks including John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1851-2. So I knew that the NGA Exhibition Love & Desire was a must on my list of things to see this year. 

While looking at some of the artworks I made sure that I spent some time looking at the details within them. How the artists painted lace, shadows, skin and the decorative details plus how they painted birds.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Creative Kids Tales Writers' Festival 2019

Georgie Opening the Festival
Invest was the theme and this year's CKT Writers' Festival was a great investment!

Georgie Donaghey organised another whopper festival, it included:
I didn't partake in any assessments on the day, instead I wanted to invest my time in listening to the presenters and socialising/connecting. This blog will look at the top tips that I will invest into my craft. 

Monday, 8 April 2019

Poetry, Pictures and Polishing with SCBWI ACT & Surrounds

I love to spend time with my creative friends catching up and learning from each other, this workshop provided both.

  • Had lunch with a few illustrators: Suzy Houghton, Amie Sabdin and Irene Tan
  • Chatted with friends I hadn't seen for awhile
  • Became reacquainted with Lisa Kalma
  • Learnt some great tips from the presenters
  • Had fun and lots of it
The day started on a low note as we said thank you one our favourite bookstore people, James Redden aka Jimmy. I first met James in early 2015 when I organised Harry Hartog to provide books to sell at a CBCA ACT Branch event. This turned into a wonderful relationship between James and CBCA ACT Branch and their members for many many years. James was a great supporter of our local authors, both published using mainstream publishing and self-published books. There are so many wonderful memories in H.H store with James as we celebrated many book birthdays and window launches. This support then later naturally extended to supporting SCBWI ACT and Surrounds. We will have a fondness in our heart for James, our champion and smiling friend. You are indeed, James the Great! And one day we hope that we can support you in your next endeavour, what ever that may be. 


The Workshops were presented by;
A full report of Poetry, Pictures and Polishing by Cate Whittle is available on the SCBWI Australia East & New Zealand Blog. My blog will highlight my 'ah ha' moments.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Day Six and Seven: Portfolio Project with Nina Rycroft

Day Six and Seven of Nina Rycroft's online course, Portfolio Project. 

Day Six, Session One, was with Wen Sylvestre looking at How to Find Your Own Art Voice & Style. This is a idea that many aspiring children's illustrators struggle with, how do you find you own style? 

Wen walked us through how she worked on finding her own style, where you are no longer copying someone else's style. You need to:
1. Look into yourself, and
2. Explore and capture your environment.

She asked us to answer many questions but the most central question was Who Am I? 
To find out more about this process see here.  

I took on the challenge to not just answer the questions in words but to push myself to draw the answers. 

What do you do in your spare time?

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

CBCA 2019 Shortlist Announced

The 2019 CBCA Children's Book of The Year Award Shortlist has been announced, see here.

Earlier in the week the Kids' Book Review Team made their predictions for this year shortlist and chose their Superpower. See here how the team went with their predictions - many of us were spot on.

I'm thrilled to see three of the books that I reviewed for Kids' Book Review in 2018 have made it onto the shortlist, see below.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

March Book Launches

On Saturday, 24 March 2019, I attended the book launch for Grandma's treasured shoes, created by Coral Vass and Christina Huynh and published by the National Library of Australia.

Coral has masterfully told a story about shoes while sensitivity revealing the story of a refugee family. Shoes can tell remarkable tales about someone's life; 

Dance in the dark shoes, 
worn and torn shoes, 
escaping shoes, 
school shoes,
and dancing dress shoes.
(shoes types from Grandma's treasured shoes

As Christina first picture book illustrations are heartfelt, as it intertwines her own family's story of coming to Australia from Vietnam. We were honoured that she shared treasured items that her family carried on their journey across the sea to Australia.  

Congratulations so Susan Hall and all of the NLA Publishing Team on the publication of another story that shares the past and present stories that shape the nation of Australia. 

Friday, 22 March 2019

Day Five with Nina Rycroft's Portfolio Project


Day Five of Nina Rycroft's online course, Portfolio Project

We began day five with Ben Whittacker- Cook 
(author of Florence Fox Goes to School) who showed us How to Write a Great Bio in 100 words. See my About Me page for my new short biography.

The second session today was with Amy Calautti 
or @amygorgeousness who talked about Illustration Challenges - Projects to Publication. One Instagram challenge that Amy takes part in is #drawthisinyourstyle She challenged us to take part by drawing one of her illustrations in our own style.

Amy reminded me to keep my SCBWI portfolio link updated, see here.

Finally, take a look at Amy's blog 
where she has more information about portfolio submissions and organising your to do list into manageable bites. 

Day Four with Nina Rycoft's Portfolio Project

Day Four of Nina Rycroft's online course, Portfolio Project

The first session was Creating a Sustainable Business with Michelle Worthington. She asked us focus on the Why? Sometimes I find it really hard to verbalise why I create.
  • Firstly I create for me because I just have to.
  • Secondly I create because I want to move others emotionally through the connection with art and story.
So I set myself a new challenge - How can I step up my creative business?

Session Two was with Nic Squirrell about Print on Demand for Artist & Illustrators. I have been using Nic's workshops on Skillshare since the second half of 2018. When I edit my paintings on the desktop computer, Nic's Skillshare workshop Print On Demand for Artists: Painting to Pattern to Product the Complete Process sits open on the left screen while I Photoshop on the right screen. She makes the editing process for a newbie like me so much easier, it is like she is sitting next to me, guiding me step by step.

New Goal POD: Add illustrations regularly to my Redbubble Shop (new designs like Baby Blue will be added shortly).

The final session of the day was a video with Aurore McLeod, Create a Portfolio that Sells. Aurore called us to action: to challenge ourselves and put our work out there. You just need to do the work.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Day Three: Portfolio Project with Nina Rycroft

Ridiculous Selfies and Passions that Spilt Over on Day Three of Nina Rycroft's Portfolio Project.

In session one Zoe Collins walked us through the idea of branding ourselves - how are we unique and what do we want to be known for? Mmmm food for thought.


Warning - Ooops imperfect spelling...

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Day Two: Portfolio Project with Nina Rycroft.

Day Two of Nina Rycroft's online course, Portfolio Project

It has taken me a day (today is actually Day Three) to mull over the CHALLENGE set by Susanne Gervay and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. They set an illustration challenge to take a child from a classroom and give them a character.

My mind went blank and I've worked in schools for many years. I was thinking all kinds of things to illustrate even an incident in the sand pit and then POCK! It hit me in the head like a yo-yo trick gone wrong. 



This is a work in progress and still needs colour but I like to let my ink dry for 24 hours before I paint over it.

Susanne & Marjorie: Illuminate Don't Decorate (Show Don't Tell)

The second session was a video of Katrina Avery about 'Fitting it all in - An IllustrationBiz Planning Tool'. I was a founding member of IllustrationBiz and I value Katrina's insights about the business of illustration. 

Towards the end of 2018 I began working on planning my day in blocks around my energy levels and daily commitments. This change was inspired by the YouTube video The Daily Block Schedule by Jordan Page (Thanks Jen Storer for sharing this in the Duck Pond). I found that Katrina's planning tool dovetails quite nicely in with Jordan's ideas. 

Katrina: Organise, Prioritise and Plan 
I also liked this thought from Katrina 'Is your disorganisation my emergency?'


Tuesday, 19 March 2019

March Suitcase Rummage (Art, Not Apart)

The first Suitcase Rummage of the year was part of the Art, Not Apart program and the art stalls were located in the West Courtyard on Phillip Law Street. 

We (hubby and I) found a lovely shaded spot for the day under the trees and I had lots of time to relax and fall into the flow of creativity.

At this stall a new range of cards were available and a few new original artworks were for sale, including: Baby Blue (the original artwork is going to a great grandchild), Hope (the Dove and Olive painting), Easter Wreath and Purple Egg. This market was also the first time two of my original A3 silhouette illustrations were available for sale: Raining Cats & Dogs I and Tightrope Hens I. 

Monday, 18 March 2019

Day One: Portfolio Project with Nina Rycroft.

Today I started to watch the latest online course by Nina Rycroft, Portfolio Project. She has brought together such an amazing and inspiring group of people. Day One was Karen Abend and Penelope Pratley. Words that come to mind are growth, development, play and observation.

My intention is to learn and be inspired to progress my illustrations into a portfolio that I can share with people in the industry.

Karen: Make it Doable.
It was wonderful to do a workshop with Karen again after last year's Sketchbook Revival which inspired my 100 Days of Circles sketching.

Penelope: Learn from your favourite illustrator's styles.
Again I am reminded that Richard Scarry was a childhood favourite and his books would help settle my mind and keep bad dreams at bay.

These days I love so many illustrators; Stephen Michael King, Julie Vivas, Anna Walker, Alison Lester, Anil Tortop, Tania McCartney, Katrin Dreiling and Russell Ayto to just name a few.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

New Cards for March 2019

At this Saturday's Suitcase Rummage during Art,Not Apart I will be releasing four new cards. 
My stall will be open between 1pm to 7pm, in the New Acton Precinct. I will probably be in the Suitcase Art section in the West Courtyard on Phillip Law Street. Map here.


Baby Blue and Easter Wreath
Hope and Purple Egg

All of these new cards are printed on 100% post-consumer recycled, uncoated paper. 

The first new illustrated card is Baby Blue. Baby Blue came to life during my daily drawing series, 100 Days of Circles. Baby Blue is snuggled in a blue starry night blanket inside a woven brown bassinet basket.  




This is a draft of Baby Blue -
I think that the version
with white stars and clothing,
and lighter hair is a better composition.


The second and forth cards were both designed with Easter in mind. 

Easter Wreath, is an echo of my Christmas Card (my first printed card in 2017). In this card I wanted to show the traditional theme of spring, the daffodils combined with Easter Eggs. 




While, Purple Egg, is a homage to my silhouette illustration style and a painting that I gave to my sister as her 2017 Christmas Present. I have taken her bunny and given him an egg to celebrate Easter.


Christmas Bunny 2017 (cropped)



The final new illustrated card is Hope. Hope came from the Sketch Book Skool - A Drawing A Day word list and was my second illustration for 2019. Hope always makes me think of Noah's Ark and hence the motif of a dove holding an olive branch. Additionally, olives are grown in the gardens near where I live, so it links back to some of my other New Acton Precinct inspired artworks: Red/Yellow Chair, Butterfly and Beehive, from my Garden Series 1




A sketch of a dove that developed into Hope.

I hope that you enjoy these new cards as much as I enjoyed creating them. 

Keep an eye out in April for some new illustrations that I am currently working on that will become a new series of illustrated cards.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

SCBWI Sydney Conference in Pictures

This is my wrap-up of the SCBWI Sydney Conference (25 February 2019) and the Masterclasses (26 February 2019) in photo form, with a few points that resonated with me from each session that I attended


It was privileged to be a Roving Report for the conference.

If I had to sum up the two days in one word it would be CONNECTIONS. 
Connections with people, connections with words and pictures, connections with your community and how to be connected with your audience.

Though out this blog there will be links added to connect you the blogs written for SCBWI by the Roving Reporters. At the end of the blog is a list of links for sessions that I did not attend. 

#SCBWISyd