A bit about me

Hi I’m Judy Watson. I’m a Melbourne based illustrator and artist, working from my home studio.

In April 2015 my latest picture book Thunderstorm Dancing written by Katrina Germein was launched. The book took nearly three years to illustrate and is rendered in ink and watercolour on litho paper with digital overlays added on the computer. You can see lots of snippets about the making of Thunderstorm Dancing on my blog. The illustrations have since won a Highly Commended Award in the 2015 Illustrators Australia Awards, and the book has been made a CBCA Notable Book for 2016.

For activities for little ones that tie into thunderstorms go here. I’ve started adding activities here on my blog too.

thunderstorm-dancing-cover Notable

Thunderstorm Dancing by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Judy Watson. Published by Allen & Unwin in April 2015

My first picture book, Goodnight Mice! (written by Frances Watts) won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (Children’s Fiction) in 2012. An illustration from the book was included in the Hello From Australia Exhibition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and has, I believe, been travelling the world with that exhibition ever since, thanks to the efforts of Ann James and Ann Haddon, children’s book illustration curators at Books Illustrated.


19 print 15cm wide image area

Frances and I had previously worked together on the Extraordinary Ernie & Marvellous Maud series. Extraordinary Ernie and Marvellous Maud was named a Notable Book in the Younger Readers category of the 2009 CBCA Book of the Year Awards, but more importantly still, has inspired children to dress up as sheep in capes!



Ernie and Maud page 50

It’s not easy being a superhero but it can be rewarding.

April 2015 was an exciting time for me as I went to Italy for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair where one of the illustrations from Thunderstorm Dancing was on show in the Hello From Australia exhibition. While I was away, my husband bought us a new house, and we moved not long after my return to Australia. This took over my world until the end of the year, and I now have a very comfortable studio space to work in.

I’m now working on illustrations for another of Frances Watts’ books Leonard Doesn’t Dance. This picture book will be all aflutter with feathers and (tripping) feet as it is about birds and dancing. You can watch Leonard come to life on my blog.

brushy green bird

A media experiment for Leonard Doesn’t Dance. This book will be rendered in ink and wash, then coloured and collaged on the computer. I’m really looking forward to using a brush rather than a dip pen for a change. A brush will bring on a whole new degree of swishy freedom. And I’m excited about the possibilities with colour. 

When work for Leonard is complete, I’m looking forward to working on another picture book for Allen & Unwin, this time written by Sofie Laguna, one of Australia’s writing stars. Sofie won the Australia’s top fiction prize, the $60,000 Miles Franklin Literary Award, for the novel, The Eye Of The Sheep in 2015. Our picture book will be titled When You’re Older.

After this I’ll be doing my first book for Walker Books Australia. It will be part of the fabulous Nature Storybooks series, written by Lesley Gibbes and titled The Cicada Hunters.

Somewhere in between these projects or alongside them, I’ll be working on my own writing, including a picture book called ‘Trudy and Dodds’, along with a few other ideas.

billy cart scene COL without model

Initial work on this picture book is generously supported by a grant from the Australia Council for the Arts

dressing dog judywatsonart lores

Another of my own projects under way will feature ‘Blob Dog’. You can see lots of my blobs on the blog too!

I’ve illustrated around 20 children’s books, many of them chapter books for young readers, including some Aussie Nibbles and Aussie Bites for Penguin Books. I illustrated new covers for the ten books in Emily Rodda’s Fairy Realm series – a task that I really enjoyed, because I love book covers.

charm bracelet coloured pencil rough

The pencil rough for the cameo. Coloured roughly in Photoshop.

Charm Bracelet Judy Watson final art

The final art. Inked and coloured in PhotoShop. It’s so hard to keep the freshness of a pencil sketch when you get to inking stage. Here you can see that I revised the main character’s face because she was described as having a rounded face with a pointed chin. The scenery fades away into the corners because the end image was to be cameo shaped.

the-charm-bracelet judywatson lores

The final book cover with branding and design.

I love the work of other illustrators and artists (past and present) and my house is packed with books I’ve collected. My two sons enjoy them almost as much as I do. Some of my all time favourite illustrators are William Steig, Edward Ardizzone, Sempé, Jean de Brunhoff, Quentin Blake, Tomi Ungerer, Armin Greder, Alexis Deacon and Tove Jansson.

If you’d like to read the occasional post about my current illustrating adventures, subscribe to my blog and come along for the ride.



15 thoughts on “A bit about me

    1. Judy Watson Post author

      Thanks GE :-) much obliged. My response to the questions will have to wait a little however, as I am up to my neck with picture book deadlines. If this causes a problem, you can pick somebody else if you like. Otherwise I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Cheers, Judy


    1. Judy Watson Post author

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy Ernie & Maud. I ordered a copy of Hildafolk on your recommendation last night. I love a good graphic novel. Have you read ‘Jane, the Fox & Me’ by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault?


  1. lisajaynemurray

    Hi Judy…Saying a little hello from just up the road in Beaumaris and also a big thank you for sharing your creative process online. I hope you know how very helpful and encouraging it is to us wannabee’s who are tentatively dipping our toes in the scary ocean of professional illustration. Thanks Muchly LjM


    1. Judy Watson Post author

      Hi Lisa Jayne. Sorry I’ve taken a while to get back to you. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Not sure why you should say wannabe when you are so successful already! I will have to catch up with you in person so you can teach me a thing or two. You are indeed not far away at all in Beaumaris. After I get back from Italy in April we should meet for a cup of tea.


  2. Pingback: Thunderstorm Dancing | Katrina Germein

  3. Elaine Rogers

    Hello- are you selling prints of your greyhound illustration “diamonds”? I have a few greyhounds and saw this illustration of yours recently. Many thanks- Ellen


  4. Judy Watson Post author

    Hi Elaine, Thanks for your enquiry.

    Are you referring to the illustration from Thunderstorm Dancing that has been going around on social media? It has the little girl with her arm around the whippet/greyhound (it turned out in-between size!) She is wearing red bathers. The dog is in a red bandana. If so, I can get high resolution archival quality digital prints made to order.

    The version on the internet has been cropped down just to the dog and girl, but the original includes the sunset and the beach and horizon. Please feel free to email me to discuss what you have in mind. Cheers, Judy

    My email address is judydotthumbprintatgmaildotcom. You just need to replace the dots and ats with .s and @s. :-)



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