Category Archives: family

Bookplates on Exhibition

The Australian Bookplate Award is running its exhibition until the 19 December at Library at The Dock, 107 Victoria Harbour Promenade, Docklands. I haven’t been down to see yet, but it looks as though at least one of our family bookplates will be part of the exhibition, judging from this lovely newspaper article. Click the link below to visit the article.

Under the covers: bookplates offer a window into ‘untold histories’

Robert Littlewood with some of the bookplates included in the exhibition.

Robert Littlewood with some of the bookplates included in the exhibition. Photo: Joe Armao

A Geoffrey Ricardo design.

A Geoffrey Ricardo design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Dianne Fogwell design.

A Dianne Fogwell design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Megan Fisher design.

A Megan Fisher design. Photo: Joe Armao

A Judy Watson design.

A Judy Watson design.  Photo: Joe Armao

A Larissa Macfarlane design.

A Larissa Macfarlane design. Photo: Joe Armao

My husband Scott thinks that bookplates bear a remarkable similarity to wine labels in many respects. I hadn’t thought of that (surprisingly) but had compared them with stamps. I can imagine opening a bottle of Amelia Beecroft Pinot Grigio though, it’s true.

I’m surprised that this biennial award doesn’t attract more entries. It’s a rather fascinating art form and so wonderfully relevant to book illustrators. It seems an especially appealing project for schools to participate in as well. But as I discovered The Australian Bookplate Design Award only this year, perhaps others too will fall in love with bookplates in the near future.

Bookplates – just for fun

A few weeks ago I noticed on an artists’ noticeboard that there was an Australian Bookplate Design Award coming up. Not being sure what a bookplate actually was, I read with interest. I quickly concluded that it was just my cup of tea. Books, cups of tea and small, quirky collectible artworks go together perfectly. If you’re interested, try searching the internet or Pinterest with the search terms ‘artist bookplate’ or ‘ex libris’. There are some amazing ones out there, and they are so wonderfully varied in style.

Best of all, there were several categories for entry into the competition, including one for primary school students. We have two of those in the house.

Arthur (12) drew his bookplate about ten minutes after I flagged the idea, without any preliminary work apart from a little research into the meaning of his name and his sun sign. In keeping with the traditional model of a bookplate (the coat of arms of the book owner), he came up with a kind of avatar for himself; a heraldic creature with roots in the notion of courage, and I suspect some DNA from Chewbacca of Star Wars fame. See below.

Arthur's heraldic beast bookplate

Arthur’s heraldic beast bookplate

Hugo (10) decided at the last minute to join in, and only because he was home from school with a cold at the time and looking for a quiet activity. His process was admirably logical, beginning with a warm up, and ending with a bookplate. See below. 

hugo bookplate working 1

Stage One: loosening up, exploring ideas 

hugo bookplate working 2

Stage Two: brainstorming birds and books

Hugo working drawings Bookplate award 3

Stage Three: I love this. From top to bottom, working out the composition and the gag.

Bookplate Hugo Watson

Stage 4: The final bookplate.

I made my two entries in a rush on the final day as well, thereby cleverly avoiding thinking out what my perfect bookplate design would be… ahem. I’ll show you my bookplates in the next post.

We sent them off to be digitally printed and trimmed, then raced them to the post office the next day for last minute delivery into the competition. This involved the boys signing each of their bookplates with very sharp pencils in very small writing at the post office; a fun and exciting process in itself!

Finally, on the weekend, we tested out our bookplates on real books! Which was SUPER fun, even though some were a bit crooked, and as you will see below, some interesting questions came up about the hierarchy of ownership. For instance if your big cousin wrote her name in the book in 2002 with silver pen on the right hand side, do you trump that with your own hand designed bookplate pasted into the left hand side in 2015?

And does that depend on how big your cousin is?

IMG_6630 IMG_6633

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.

 

Holiday doodles at Sorrento

Caps for Sale judywatsonart lores

This little guy was in the Sorrento shopping strip last week. Waiting for his Dad, he was inspecting the hats on the hat stand on the pavement. I was sitting in the car waiting for my husband and boys to return and was able to sketch him. He didn’t stay there for more than half a minute, but luckily the hats did.

 

Strong faced woman judywatsonart lores

 

This Strong-faced Woman was seated overlooking the sea in the park at Sorrento. My kids were running around on the playground and I was sitting on a picnic table in the rain, drawing. It was boiling hot and kids were playing in the park in their bathers, dripping wet, shiny. This woman barely moved a muscle, even when the rain got so heavy that I had to stop because the page was getting very wet.

Dogs from the past

Looking at Liz King-Sangster‘s blog the other day, I so enjoyed her lovely paintings of her everyday surroundings. And it reminded me of a time when I used to paint with oils several evenings each week. That was long ago, when I was living in Brixton, London in a shared house, and working in the Aldwych Theatre box office.

During the evenings in the shared flat, comprising two floors above a lawyer’s office (and without a fire escape), wine flowed, cheese was consumed, friends chatted while I painted. Sometimes friends posed for my paintings. Many of those paintings ended up in the skip in the back yard of the rented property, before I caught a plane home to Australia. Some paintings came home by ship, and some went to the people who had posed for portraits.

That habit of painting continued after my return to Australia for a little while. Then work and circumstances called a halt. At the moment, while I am indulged enough by my family to have the largest bedroom of the house as my studio, (we sleep in the smallest bedroom) and there is space enough for computer equipment, drawing board and shelves, there is not room enough to paint at an easel, or even on the floor.

Looking at these two oil sketches of our dog Giddy the Hungarian Vizsla, painted not long after my return to Australia, I notice that it is nearly 20 years since I painted in oils! My goodness, I miss it, despite the fun I have with other media. I remember too, that these were painted after seeing some mid 1990s paintings of dogs done by David Hockney. No, don’t go and compare mine with his! Don’t!

Oh, damn.

You will.

Well, anyway, I loved it that he chose such a domestic subject as a dachshund and honoured it in oils. And I enjoyed capturing our beloved dog in oils in the same way that I had painted my friends in London. Note that the sleeping version is more ‘finished’ and see if you can work out why… Never work with children or animals they used to say in the theatre, but in my experience, they are some of the most rewarding to work with.

Red Giddy

Red Giddy

Blue Giddy

Blue Giddy

These two sketches are painted on wooden trays purloined from the science room of the old Banyule High School which was awaiting demolition at the time that I worked for Greening Australia in a renovated wing. The lip of the trays forms the frame of the paintings; a cheap alternative to proper framing. It’s time I took them to be framed properly. They remind me of the dog and the time.

And it’s also time I found a way to paint again.