My new book (is coming along...)


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Hi all! By that I mean Jen. Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I have been in hibernation, shut away in my studio working on the finals for my new book, 'Herman & Rosie' which comes out next year with Penguin (Australia). The text is pretty much down (but you can bet I'll be tweeking it until it goes to print) so I have been trying desperately not to get behind on my deadline (mid December - crap!) - I can hear it coming but can't see it yet, thankfully.


I thought it might be nice to show you a little bit of what I'm doing. The book is set in New York (hopefully that's going to be obvious) and centres around two lonely characters called Herman (a crocodile) and Rosie (a deer). I don't want to give too much away just yet but it's a dual narrative story about music, the city, connectedness and it has a horribly tragic ending. Actually I just made that last bit up. Wouldn't that be different! Anyway, in this scene above the two are watching the world whiz by. This is actually a cafe/restaurant I frequented in New York last November. It's a long way from finished (I have a bunch of animals to draw yet and some collage will replace line work) but it might give you an idea about how I work. This book is very much a mixed media book - specifically collage. I'm using all sorts of things; old papers, graph papers, photos and vintage engravings. Also a lot of crayon because I just love crayon. Especially my new Sennelier oil pastels. They are beautiful! I am having the most fun I have ever had with a book.

And here's a couple of finished illustrations - one from the start of the book and one much later.

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I'll keep you posted with some updates and illustration sneak peaks soon, but for now I had better keep going. See you soon.




'Wendy felt like a star'

It's been a while coming but finally I have had the time to organise some prints of my work from 'Wendy'. Recently I was contacted by the lovely 'Anns' - (Ann James & Ann Haddon) from Books Illustrated down in Melbourne and asked to consider some possible images. They are massive supporters of the Australian children's book industry, in particular illustrators (Ann James is a highly regarded book illustrator herself), and they specialise in exhibitions and sales of original book illustrations, limited edition prints and signed picture books - lots of good stuff. Apart from their enthusiasm, they are just so very nice!

So I ended up choosing the first image above (click to embiggen), and it was exhibited with other illustrators on the Books Illustrated site who were invited to speak at the Ipswich Children's Literature Festival. Mick Smith of Splitting Image printing has done a fantastic job assuring that the image is as close to the original as possible. They do all Penguin's scanning and really know what they're doing. All editions are Giclée prints (fade-resistant, archival inks) and all are signed. For further details go over here. This first print will soon be followed by some other images of varying size and pricing. I will put a more permanent link to the prints up soon.

Make sure you check out the work of some of the other illustrators' work available on Books Illustrated. They have some beautiful stuff there. Will no doubt be grabbing something for my own wall. Back soon!



Speaking tours that never end


Just got back to my studio. It's been a crazy four weeks of speaking at schools, libraries and festivals all over the country side. I really enjoy it but I do get a little tired of hearing my own voice. There are moments when I can hear the next line in my head as it moves, reel to reel like, between my ears.


The Ipswich Children's Literature Festival was a definite highlight. Jenny Stubbs did an incredible job coordinating the festival program and bringing twenty one authors and illustrators from around Australia together. Here's the official list:

Andy Griffiths, Aleesah Darlison, Angela Sunde, Anne Spudvilas, Brian Falkner, Chris Cheng, Christine Bongers, Clare McFadden, Deb Abela, Freya Blackwood, Gabrielle Wang, Greg Holfeld, James Moloney, John Heffernan, Kerry Brown, Leigh Hobbs, Lisa Hollier, Tracey Roper, Lucia Masciullo, Lynelle Westlake, Mark Wilson, Meredith Costain, Michael Bauer, Michael Salmon, Michelle Pike, Narelle Oliver, Oliver Phommavanh, Richard Newsome, Sally Rippin, Sarah Davis, Sheryl Gwyther, Sue Whiting, Susanne Gervay, Tanya Batt, Tristan Bancks

Woodlands of Marburg where the Ipswich Festival was held - there's ghosts in there! Pretty cool, hey.

It's a hell of an organisational feat. Bloody astounding actually. It's a really great opportunity for the kids attending to hear all about their favorite books and how they came to be, learn how to write good stories, draw and hopefully they go away feeling inspired (maybe exhausted but surely inspired). Plus it's a good chance to get together with your kind, drink a bunch of wine, set fire to the furniture and talk about how we all hate children. Kidding (we hardly ever set fire to anything). 


Me, author Sue Whiting and author/illustrator Sally Rippin before the wine and fire. © Susanne Gervay

Anyway, it is always great to hang out with a whole bunch of talented people. It is also nice to be back though and with voice amazingly intact. Time to get busy with paint. I'll post up some Herman and Rosie progress reports along the way. Ahhh... I missed my studio.




Back into the groove

Well, I'm back from our holiday break and feeling pretty damn relaxed. My mind is as uncluttered as it gets really. It was so great to be out of contact and out of range. I had no idea what was happening in the world and it felt good. Just sort of real. Like the old days when I was a kid. I even had the chance to read three great books. Nice to have that kind of time again.

So I'm ready. Ready to pick up a paintbrush and my pencil and get back into the swing of things. I don't normally take time off halfway through a book but maybe I should do so more often. Having just taken my first look at my roughs in 5 weeks, it's weird how much clearer I see it all. And having spoken to my editor (the lovely Katrina Lehman at Penguin), there were several glaring structural issues that I hadn't seen or realised, that now seem so annoyingly obvious. It's often hard to step back when you're in the thick of a book with a deadline cloud overhead and see your work with any real perspective. When I say perspective I mean with a fresh unbiased vision. In many ways, only when you are able to walk away totally from a project are you then able to see it with any proper perspective - almost like it's someone else's work. It would be nice if I could just push a button during the process and a new pair of eyes rolled into place - an unjaded, impartial, clear and shiny back-up pair. That would be really cool! I suppose that's why we have editors. And why we should listen to them. Crap. I'm getting all wordy. Sorry.

Anyway, I'm back and will see you soon. Hope you are all well.


A Herman & Rosie teaser

On the way home the city seemed darker and louder and busier than usual.
Herman didn't feel like playing his oboe that night.

I am working away madly on my new picture book, 'Herman and Rosie' at the moment, which is due for release through Penguin next year. We are about to go away for a northern holiday (chasing the sun) so am working around the clock trying to do as much as possible before we leave - why is it always like this? Will no doubt fall in a heap on the plane and catch some disease that no one's heard of since the fall of Rome. Anyway, I thought I might post up an illustration before I left just to keep you in the loop. I'm going to blog about the whole process as I go - if you would like me to! Especially when I have more time.

This is a scene in the book where Herman loses his job and has lost his way. It's probably the 'blueist' part of the story in many ways. It's definitely bleak. I guess that's fairly obvious. I kept the city out of it mostly -  just a New York lamp post and a mail box. I didn't think I needed much else. There are plenty of other city spreads along the way. My dark cloud kind of shocked me a little at first but I've grown used to it. Hopefully it isn't too scary. I had fun with my fonts and even got out my oft-neglected rubber stamps. There's something very satisfying about using a rubber stamp isn't there? Then again, maybe that's just my 'home-craft' geek talking. Get out your crochet hooks we have oven mitts to make!

Looking forward to immersing myself in it all when I get back but for now I must find the sun. See you when I get back.