Category Archives: chickens

Brain Doodles (for want of a better name)

After my last post, I went away for the weekend. I had a great time, and made lots of things that may or may not be finished at a later date. Mostly I had a lot of fun with papier mâché and wire. I’ll put pictures up here when I have a chance to photograph them.

Then I came home to a house full of sickies and then I got sick and then I jiggered my back. So here I am at last back in the saddle (chair) and getting up every few minutes to make sure I don’t jigger it again. But it’s all looking good. I’ve picked up the pencil again. And the rain has been falling, and the birds are swooping around outside like mad and some of them tapping on the windows and jousting with their reflections, because it’s spring. And those reflections might steal their girlfriends.

Getting back in the (drawing or painting) saddle for me is always a bit tricky, (and I know it is for a lot of other people as well). I have to make it as fun and easy as possible, because if I try to do something excellent, it will all end in disappointment. But in truth, I’ve been drawing and looking at drawings for so many years, that the warm-up period doesn’t take long any more. There’s generally a little swirl, a dark, bold line, a smudgy bit or a light feathery touch that I really like in each drawing, even if the overall image is not a total success. And I love art enough that those little lines or smudges are enough to make my day.

Last night I picked up a pencil and started doing brain doodles. Doodles of animals from inside my head; animals who bear not a whole lot of anatomical resemblance to live animals.

In another variation on doodling in old books (fun and not scary) or making art from blobs (marvellously fun and not the least scary) I used second-hand computer paper from Scott’s work with those cute little rectangular grab-holes along the edges. Some of them had messages or notes scribbled on them already. How completely friendly and un-scary can you get?

And then I started with drawing chickens, went on to horses, then dogs and finally a couple of arty-farty-non-picture-bookish Leonards.

brain doodle chicken

brain doodle horse

brain doodle horses

brain doodle dark horse single

brain doodle horse single pale moving

I'm putting this one in sideways because I like the message about back for lunch!

This brain doodle horse is appearing on his side because I like the back-for-lunch message!

brain doodle dog with soft mouth

This brain doodle dog is not meant to be unhappy or cringing. It was more about the shapes and curves. It started with its head up, and then I wanted the bowed head because it’s a curling up figure. And the dog reminds me of our old Hungarian Vizsla with the soft mouth, that would curl in a spongy smile when she was pleased to see us.

brain doodle dog sleeping

This brain doodle dog has a large head. Or a small body. It doesn’t matter.

brain doodle Leonard with word tail

A brain doodle Leonard with plant species notes under his tail feathers.

brain doodle Leonard swishy movement

A brain doodle Leonard with swishy bits.

Happy doodling, all.

Department of Education and Training early learning wall friezes

To prove I’m still here, I’m popping up some single illustrations done for the Department of Education and Training this year. The brief read thus:

The purpose of the four wall friezes is to encourage families to engage in learning activities with their child everyday. On each frieze there will be eight panels – a cover and a panel for each day of the week, with a different illustration of a family member(s) and a child/children engaged in a learning activity related to the theme. For example:

    • Music: dancing/singing, etc.
    • Science: cooking/exploring nature, etc.
    • Maths/numeracy: counting/measuring/block building/puzzles, etc.
    • Imaginative play: dress ups/cubby houses/pretend play/creative play spaces, etc.

The DET are happy for me to post fragments of the artwork I did for them, and you will hopefully come across the full design somewhere; perhaps in your local library.

Not surprisingly there was a dog or a chicken in each illustration… Oh actually, I couldn’t find a hygienic way to get a dog or a chicken onto the kitchen bench for the Maths illustration. Rats.

(…There were no rats in the kitchen either.)

kids play music JudyWatsonArt

A fragment: Music

Tommy from Thunderstorm Dancing enjoyed a new incarnation here. So did some of the other characters.

little spaniel from Imaginative play JudyWatsonArt

A (small) fragment: Imaginative play.

There’s that spaniel again. She keeps popping up.

my boys do cooking Maths JudyWatsonArt

A fragment: maths

My 12 year old got morphed into a 15 year old for this illustration. That was fun. I morphed him back again later. I’m not ready for a 15 year old.

Geeky little girl enjoys science with chicken friend

A fragment: science

Geeky girl gardener enjoys some science play. I like a geeky girl and I like her taste in chickens.

Illustrated Envelopes

Betty Birthday lores

Betty’s birthday letter

Pa Ray birthday letter

Ray’s birthday letter

Hugo bugs and chickens

Hugo’s letter, just because he loved this envelope so much. What could I do?

I’ve always loved illustrated envelopes and illustrated packages. For an earlier mention go here. But now I am lucky enough to own a book full of them, thanks to my friend Geri Barr who gave me one just because I like them…

Or was it because she has a secret agenda? Perhaps she buys them for all of her illustrator friends and is right now amassing a HUGE and VALUABLE (requires all caps) collection of illustrated envelopes addressed to her. Aha! That’s it!

I wonder if it’s too late to copy her… Geri, you devil.

If you don’t have lots of illustrator friends who are willing to be duped, you can buy a copy of the book, and I’ve just now found another one that I will have to buy! Oh my goodness!  Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer

Some interesting things I was able to confirm while I experimented with illustrating standard (yes, cheap) envelopes:

• Wet media make your standard (cheap) envelopes buckle in an alarming way (but pencils and felt tips are great and very portable)

• Home made envelopes would be really, really special and you could make them from thick watercolour paper and use whatever media your heart desires.

• Illustrated envelopes look okay when they are drawn (and coloured – optional) but look so much better, after the address goes on. Unfortunately I can’t publish them on-line with the lettering intact because that would be rude to recipients. But you can take my word for it. If you want to.

• Choice of stamp can be crucial to success. If you live with a stamp collector, you’re set. If you don’t, you have to go to the post office and ask the people behind the counter to show you their REAL stamps which are hidden in a drawer. They will look a bit annoyed. Be prepared.

• All this is just dandy until you realise that you can’t send an empty envelope. After all the time you spent laboriously illustrating an envelope for your friend, you now have to write a letter! Or send them a cheque if you have more money than time. But do this quickly, cheques will be extinct even before  REAL stamps.

Enjoy envelope decorating, and letter writing if you can find some time, because it is very satisfying, and ever so much fun to receive one.

 

PAPERWORK

You’ve heard it said that creative types are not much good at paperwork? I’d like to say that doesn’t apply to me. Unfortunately I can’t. (I’m no good at vacuuming, or baked goods either.)

My passport expired over 10 years ago, which means I have to apply for a new one and supply lots of bits of PAPERWORK proving that I am who I am. And some of the ones I have to provide (like my birth certificate) were not to be found earlier today, which meant that I had to apply for a new one. Guess what? You have to provide lots of OTHER PAPERWORK to prove who you are to get a replacement birth certificate!

I found myself thinking how it would be if your house burnt down and you couldn’t prove who you were because your PAPERWORK was burnt to a crisp, and your computer… That would be the perfect time for my family to disown me, wouldn’t it? If they pretended they didn’t know me, I wouldn’t be able to prove they were pretending.

But you can all stop worrying. Mum and Dad (who haven’t disowned me yet) found my birth certificate and it turns out I really am their child.

Here are some photos; the only ones I can find, because Scott has put all the photos in the roof.

Mal in uniform with Jess

Here’s Dad, and Grandma, when Dad was a fine young lad in the Navy during WW2.

IMGP4011

Here’s me in Canberra, at the museum a few years back. This is completely random and proves nothing. I could be lying.

And last of all, here are some chicken sketches, because the boys and I are taming Hazel’s friend Princess Leia and it takes lots of after school chicken cuddling. She is a Bantam Australian Langshan and not a naturally tame person. Probably an artistic type.

Taming Leia dont catch me lo-res

Princess Leia sees us coming… Just DON’T!!

Princess Leia finding this whole thing rather alarming

Princess Leia finding this whole BEING HELD thing rather alarming

Oh, but wait... Arthur has found her weakness. It's a chin tickle!

Oh, but wait… Arthur has found her weakness. It’s a chin tickle!

Hazel finds it all very amusing

Hazel finds it all very amusing

And up on the left you see a little exploration into clothes/feathers territory. For Leonard Doesn’t Dance. It was really, really nice to sit down with the boys in the chicken run and draw birds at the end of the day. My brain was all rumpled from all that paperwork.

Now it’s only Leia who’s rumpled.

 

 

 

 

 

Enter Hazel

photo 3

Hazel listens to Scott imitating cheeping noises. A pretty good impression we thought… and so apparently did Hazel.

Here’s Scott at the kids’ homework bench with Hazel, 13 week old Bantam Salmon Faverolles. Hazel belongs to 10 year old Hugo and is his compensation for my decision to re-home the Pteranodon Twins, Rose and Lily. He loved them, despite their lack of domesticity. But I think Hazel is going to be a success. She spent a lot of time sitting on Hugo’s lap today enjoying a back massage from one of his hands and choice treats from the other. She is taking to domesticity admirably.

She’s not big enough to go in with the other girls yet and she is rather lonely. We’ll have to get a little friend for her soon.

I will have to start sketching her shortly, and see what she can contribute to Leonard Doesn’t Dance. She has the same cheek fluff (muffling) as the Araucanas and the little Belgian D’Uccle. I find that I like this look very much. Yes, I’ve been through a Schnauzer fancying phase at one time… and also a Border Terrier phase.

"Border Terrier Jekku" by Flickr user Petteri Sulonen - Flickr here. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Border_Terrier_Jekku.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Border_Terrier_Jekku.jpg

No. I don’t own this dog. It’s from Wikipedia. What a cutie. “Border Terrier Jekku” by Flickr user Petteri Sulonen – Flickr here. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Not unlike my Border Terrier of years ago, she has a distinctive habit of craning her neck.

Not unlike my Border Terrier of years ago, she has a distinctive habit of craning her neck.

And look, even Scott is sporting muffling at the moment!

School starts again tomorrow. I’m sure everything will swiftly become far more sensible.

 

Leonard Doesn’t Dance and Trudy loves Dodds.

I’m excited to have two new projects to work on over the summer. One is another picture book with Frances Watts called Leonard Doesn’t Dance. The other is the beginnings of my own picture book with the working title Trudy and Dodds.

I’ll be posting here about both of them as I go along. Leonard will be about birds… something I shouldn’t have too much trouble loving! I’ve posted a couple of very early ideas about Leonard already. And you can follow the images alone if you want on my Pinterest page here. The more wordy stuff will be on my blog. (…rambling, rambling…)

Leonard Doesn't Dance

Trudy and Dodds was a concept I had just come up with at the time I was offered Thunderstorm Dancing and to my surprise, I received a grant from the Australia Council to get the project started. But I found I could only focus on the one big (Thunder) project, and so Trudy and Dodds was put on hold. Now is the time to revisit it, and I’m really excited to be booked into a masterclass in mid February with editing maestros Jane Godwin (Penguin) and Erica Wagner (Allen & Unwin) along with book design maestro Sandra Nobes. I’ll be taking my dummy book and manuscript along to that masterclass as a part of my grant project to get some feedback and help.

So, in the meantime, on with birds and…. dog-monster-thingees. Probably.

Pecking Order

I’m feeling rather exhausted this evening. So I drew our chickens to give myself a lift. I started the beginnings of a pecking order diagram. I’m quite fascinated by how this might be done, because the order is not linear in any clear sense. Below is the Official Order. But there are weird aberrations in the middle where certain chickens are scared of other chickens. And there’s one vicious triangle… Hmmm.

Those two devilish looking youngsters at the bottom will grow larger than all the rest. I have therefore introduced them to the flock as babies so that their elders can keep them in their place before they grow unwieldy in size. (According to what I have read, pecking orders rarely change once established… unless the circumstances are unusual and special and particularly particular…)

But according to what I have read, pecking orders follow a simple linear hierarchy.

In my experience this is not the case.

chicken pecking order colour flat

On a secondary note, I’m sure you will be pleased to know that I have now had all my chickens expertly colour analysed by an image consultant. So they will never, NEVER be seen looking anything but their best when they go out to parties. I can vouch for this without a doubt.

Vita, surprisingly, is a summer. But we did not establish which kind of summer. This is because, as Annabel pointed out, the rules of colour may be different for chickens! Well that’s awkward! Now we’ll have to write a book about it!

Hilda is a deep winter, Poppy is a warm autumn, Stella is a deep autumn, Storm is a soft summer and so is Nora. The Terrible Pteranodon Twins are cool winters. Their legs are green and so will be their eggs one day.

The writing/drawing process July 2014

At the start of the school holidays, I was invited by artist Rosalie Street to participate in a blog tour… which means answering some questions (below) and getting some other people to do the same next.

Here is Rosalie’s interview response. A visit to her blog to enjoy her lush canvases and delightful merchandise is well worth your while.

gold leaf by Rosalie Street

Gold Leaf – by Rosalie Street

The blog tour topic is The Writing/ Drawing Process. Since as yet, I have found little time to work on my writing projects and instead have been madly drawing, I’ll answer the questions in the context of my artwork.

The first bit (the questions)

1. What am I working on ?

Thunderstorm Dancing, a picture book by Katrina Germein

At the moment I am in the late stages of final art for a picture book by Katrina Germein to be published by Allen & Unwin. The book is called Thunderstorm Dancing and it has been over two years since I first starting mulling over the project.

As soon as I read the manuscript, I thought it would be both a great text and a very difficult text to illustrate. It has indeed proven difficult for me, but I also realise that I suffered from the internal pressure that comes from winning an award; this will be the first of my work to be published since that award and my inner self told me very sternly that it will have to be good. But I now move towards the completion of the book and I’m looking forward to seeing it in print.

An unused sketch for 'Thunderstorm Dancing'

An unused sketch for ‘Thunderstorm Dancing’

There have been many sketches made for this book. A decision on medium was elusive for a while. But it came along in the end, and I’ve really enjoyed the layering and scratching in PhotoShop combined with the earthy texture of the real paint and pencil on Litho paper.

A small fragment of one final illustration from Thunderstorm Dancing

A small fragment of one final illustration from Thunderstorm Dancing

Altered book art

Last year, while struggling to progress with the picture book, I almost accidentally began sketching in old books as a form of relaxation. I say almost accidentally, because I have admired altered book art and found poetry for quite some time, and had always intended to try it. But starting was not a deliberate step into something new. It was a gentle bit of play, while watching my children in their swimming lessons.

drybrush sketches in the bombing zone of the local swimming pool. Ink on vintage book page.

drybrush sketches in the bombing zone of the local swimming pool. Ink on vintage book page.

I began sketching them and other children. And I really loved the effect of the drawn image on the printed page. It also helped me with Thunderstorm Dancing, because I had decided early on that the family in the story would be at a beach house, and the main characters all in swimming cosies.

Altered book art continues to be one of my favourite activities, and I intend to do much more of it, and to explore new ways of using it in art projects.

52 Week Illustration Challenge

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge, dreamed up by Tania McCartney, was something I joined early this year. It requires participants to produce artwork to a given theme that changes each Wednesday, and then post them on the 52 Week Illustration Challenge FaceBook page.

Week 14: simplicity. This was a really enjoyable experiment with ink and watercolour

52 Week Illustration Challenge: Week 14: simplicity.
This was a really enjoyable experiment with ink and watercolour

One of the things I loved about it was that the community of people involved were from varied backgrounds and were supportive and kind to one another. Since early this year the group has grown to over 2000 members, many being expert practising artists and the standard of work has I think, sadly frightened many of the less skilled artists away, but the mood of generosity remains. And it is surprisingly good to have a theme to work to each week… often themes that I find very unappealing until they lead me off into some fun experimentation.

I have deliberately kept this challenge as a low-profile task for myself. I never spend long on anything I do for The Challenge and never worry too much if the work is imperfect or not my best. This, along with blogging imperfect work, has been a really healthy learning experience, and a great way to keep producing lots of other work and exploring as an artist, as well as doing my book project.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Puppet Challenge

This is an on-line exhibition organised and curated by Clive Hick-Jenkins along with Peter Slight. I’ve not done so well with this one. In contrast to the other challenge, I have allowed this to become larger than life and daunting. I also failed to come to a decision over subject and medium, although my lightbulb moment came today in the shower (they often do happen there) when I may be too late to make it. So I’m not sure if that counts as something I’m working on or not…

Appropriately perplexed looking sketch of Greyfur the kangaroo who was my original subject matter for the puppet challenge

Appropriately perplexed looking sketch of Greyfur the kangaroo who was my original subject matter for the puppet challenge

Graphic design work

Periodically I take up graphic design work if it is not too time consuming. I enjoy this work very much, but too often lately I have had to decline offers of work due to the unfinished book and lack of time. Some of my favourite work is with the Australian Children’s Laureate support team who produce various publications and branding items every now and then. In this context I enjoy using other artists’ work and modifying it to use as part of a design. Ann James drew the magpie who became the Australian Children’s Laureate logo and I have used him in lots of ways.

The Australian Children's Laureate logo in one of its formats

The Australian Children’s Laureate logo in one of its formats

School children from around Australia made artwork that I used in silhouette for the pitch for Boori Monty Pryor’s Storykeepers documentary.

storykeeprs sample page storykeeprs sample page2 storykeeprs sample page3

Family life

This project of course doesn’t belong down the bottom here. It’s a very big part of my life – too big to summarise here. So I’ll simply say that I keep myself busy with two much loved youngsters Arthur and Hugo, husband Scott, the dog Dexter and chickens Hilda, Emily, Poppy, Storm, Stella and Vita.

Vita - Queen of the Backyard

Vita – Queen of the Backyard

My own writing projects

This gets a wee mention at the bottom. In fact there are several projects I’m very keen to get on to, that are waiting in line for me to find a bit of space and time. I look forward to launching into them.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre/ style?

Watch this space

3. Why do I draw/ paint what I do ?

Watch this space too

4. How does my drawing process work ?

Hmmmm…

I have taken waaaay too long answering the first question, so I’m going to split this up and post my answer to the other questions later. Cheerio for now!

Weather fragments

weather fragment 2 weather fragment

What a rocky road this picture book has been for me. It looks like it is coming together at last though. Here are some weather fragments to make you feel lucky to be indoors, out of the rain.

selfie lores

Another for the 52-week Illustration Challenge.

Theme for this week, ‘selfie’. I am looking a bit Holly Hobbyish here with a large, collage head of differential calculus hair. It would have looked better with darker hair, but I didn’t want to lose the lovely calculus curves under a heavy load of ink. So I’ve left it lightly tinted.

I liked the way the little numbers and mathematical figures here and there remind me of insects or seeds that the chickens are constantly seeking.

The smooth paper of a vintage book reacts completely differently from the way proper watercolour paper should react to paint. But there’s something rather nice about it. It  sucks up the ink in a thirsty way, remaining very smooth and composed all the while.

Scott discovered the word ‘groke’ the other day. We all like it in this house and think it deserves constant and affectionate use. It reminds us of Tove Jansson‘s Groke and it means this: to ‘stare at someone in the hope that they’ll give you some food’. (The Groke in Jansson’s  Moominpappa at Sea visits Moomintroll every night to beg him to show her his lantern flame, because she is a lonely creature craving warmth and light but unable to get either. So it’s a poignant form of groking after all.)

With six pampered chickens and a dog, we get plenty of groking around here. Speaking of which, better go and lock the girls up.