The Writing/ Drawing Process



This week I was invited by Jess Racklyeft to take part in a blog tour/ interview.

You can view Jess’s interview here. I just love her work and it was a compliment to be invited.

The blog tour topic is The Writing/ Drawing Process. Here is a little bit about my process ! 


1. What am I working on ? 

I have just been given access for 8 weeks to a suitable space to oil paint in. So I am about to set up a temporary oil painting studio where I can  produce some large scale landscapes. This will take up the majority of my time over the next couple of months. I might have a commission to paint a giant sheep for a friends foyer too.

Creating illustrations for my Birdrock Design label is an ongoing constant project, always bubbling away in the background, I have started on some Christmas designs for the end of year.

Recently I finished an illustration job for Cengage Learning, I always leave room open for freelance work or book commissions, that’s how I make my living!. When a big job comes along all my other projects get put on hold.

For fun I have been participating in the 52 Week Illustration challenge.

Aside from that, I am a busy Mum with my three young daughters and I have just taken on a new role as a Girl Guide Leader. The training and organising to take on this Leadership role has consumed me over the past few weeks. I am now known as 'Rosella' !.

Oh, and I am learning the guitar !, it really hurts your fingers.


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

I have a painterly and emotive style.

I like paying attention to detail without it becoming laborious, and I really enjoy using Photoshop. I prefer my art not to look like it's a digital artwork though, so I try to keep to my natural hand drawn, painterly style. I use Photoshop to touch up my artwork, resize, add textures, and adjust colour levels. 

My favourite illustrations are always the ones where I have had the opportunity to take my time, be in the creative zone, and have some freedom.


3. Why do I draw/ paint what I do ? 

I like to draw things of beauty and imagination, I feel empowered to be able to draw things that no camera can capture and no eyes can see, and hopefully no body else has imagined.

When I'm oil painting landscapes for example, I  enjoy taking the essence and key features that strike me most or resonate with me. I ignore the visual elements I don't need or which don't compliment the art work. I'm able to compose an artwork exactly the way that feels right for me.

My Birdrock Designs business is still in it's early stages, so I am constantly on the look out for ideas that I can incorporate into a suitable illustrations, designs and personalised prints to sell through my shop. It's great to come up with an illustration or design that's suitable to be used on a range of products, or can be adjusted for more than one purpose.


4. How does my drawing process work ? 

I always have a lot of projects on the go. Some are long term, I've got a picture book I've been working on for ten years !, and some get whipped up immediately. I tend to flit from one project to another depending on what I have a spark for that day. If I have a commissioned job with a deadline, all my personal projects get put on hold until the job at hand is done.

Ideas often come when I least expect them, I try to store them in sketch books, on my camera, and on my Pinterest site. It doesn't take much to spark off an idea.

When illustrating I start my rough with pencil on paper, I'll often put the rough sketch in Photoshop and play around with the composition and sizes until until I'm happy with it. Sometimes the finished artwork is completely hand painted, but often it is finished off in Photoshop.

As a busy working Mum my time is precious. I'm always looking for the fasted way to achieve the best results. I'm no longer interested in a romantic labour intensive, hand produced style. Most of the time my finished artwork is emailed to the editor as a digital file, so I have no qualms about using Photoshop to take shortcuts.

I create my illustrations knowing they will be printed and published. Whereas when I'm oil painting I am conscious the paintings will be viewed in real life and displayed on a wall.


Sharing the Love ! 

The best bit about this interview is sharing three of my favourite creative bloggers with you, who will hopefully find time to also complete the blog tour and share the love..

Here are my three favourites (not in any particular order of favouritism):

1. Judy Watson

by Judy Watson.

by Judy Watson.

Judy is an Australian award winning illustrator, writer and graphic designer, she runs a clever creative blog called Endpapers. Her style is loose, fun and energetic. She is terrific at capturing the character and quirkiness of animals. Viewing her blog is just as special as flipping through one of her sketchbooks.

2. Gennine


Gennine creates her art from a beautiful architecturally designed home in Mexico (designed by her talented husband). Everything Gennine crafts has a natural, delicate beauty about it. She is prolific and consistent with the artwork she produces, from stamps, watercolours, ceramics sewing, woodwork and prints. Gennine's blog is full of stunning photographs of  her workspace, environment and art. Images of birds, flowers, insects and nature fill her world. Here home is a creative, orderly haven full of detailed artworks and treasures, it is always a pleasure to visit her world via her blog.

3. Emily Winfield Martin

by Emily Winfield Martin

by Emily Winfield Martin

To visit the The Black Apple blog is to take a step back in time to the early 1950's in a fairytale book. Emily has such an admirable sense of style and obviously has a love for all things beautiful, hip, old worldly, and creative; not to mention cute and fluffy. She has created a fabulous and inspiring world to visit. All her children's illustrations are delightful, sweet and clever. I am a big fan of the books she has published too.  


p.s This blog post is not quite finished, I will be adding more images soon. 




A New Nesting Place

Welcome !, to my new website, my new blogging platform (same blog under a new roof with a new address). And most importantly, our new pet chooks !. The latest addition to our family.

My husband has a mate with a chicken farm,  we mentioned to him we were considering getting our own free range hens and he said "I can give you some hens that are almost ready to lay" and he invited us to his farm to choose some.

Well I couldn't believe my eyes, we opened the shed door to the most surreal sight, 

chickens galore

14,000 chooks to choose from !. All staring at us making gentle "boork boork" clucking sounds. We came to get only three, but walked away with four.

Here are the four lucky ladies who get to live with us :

pet chickens framed

They are settling in nicely, we have built them a big walk in pen with straw bales and they are enjoying our garden and the company of our children, dogs and rabbits. 

Our bunny meets the chooks for the first time.

Happy Chooks ! Aren't they beautiful !, I just love their fancy feathers and shape.

You might like to know there is currently Free Shipping on my Society 6 Store when you use this promotion link. valid until May 11th.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you !.

Bunny illustrations have been hopping out of my studio, they are such cute animals to draw with loads of personality. My daughters have two pet rabbits who make great life models.

I recently joined the 52 Week Challenge for illustrators of all stages. Each week you get given a topic to illustrate, a lot my recent works have been for the challenge. I started twelve weeks in so I am still catching up, it’s just what I needed to give myself a push. I’m also updating my website so it’s also a good way to produce new works to show case.

Here are some of my recent illustrations, sticking to the Easter bunny theme.

Bunny Pattern yellow

Bunny Pattern yellow

Illustration for text by Tania McCartney

Illustration for text by Tania McCartney

Taylor and Sparkles, our pet rabbits

Taylor and Sparkles, our pet rabbits

Simplicity bunny
Mr Pamplemousse

Mr Pamplemousse

This is Mr Pamplemousse. He came to stay with us for six weeks while his owner went abroad to care for her grandson. He was such a polite and tidy gentleman. He is now featured on my Society6 store. You can even buy him on shower curtains and mugs. They currently have free Shipping too.

Taking Flight

Today my 'Flying Rabbit' took flight for the first time ! Meaning I sold my first 'Flying Rabbit' illustration from my Etsy store.

Thank you to my buyer (you know who you are). I'm thrilled that my art will take part in the life of a new born child. He can gaze at it in his room, grow with it, dream of flying a plane, wonder what it's like to be in the clouds, and imagine himself feeling as confident as the rabbit character.

And thank you for supporting independent artists, every sale ignites the spark to keep going and produce more.

It takes a lot of effort to get a business up and running. There's so much unpaid ground work and start up costs before you even begin to tread water.

Anyway, enough of that, check out my rabbit !..

A flawless print (I'm in love my Epson printer xo)

A close up. He looks pleased with himself doesn't he.

Packaged up and ready to go. He's signed and dated on the back.

Details in the back of the packaging.

And this is the example which can be seen on my Etsy shop. He looks smart in a frame.

The Ribbon Gymnast

A new piece of artwork that has inspired me to do produce art prints combined with hand painting. This is an illustration I did as a gift for a friends 13th Birthday present.

She loves gymnastics, the day I met her she was doing cartwheels through the house and standing in the kitchen with her foot over her head, which left an impression.

I gave her the original hand painted artwork as the gift, but before I hand painted in her name I photographed the artwork so I could adapt it in Photoshop and personalise it with an any name requested. I am now selling the Ribbon Gymnast as prints in my etsy shop. The name on the prints is hand drawn using my Wacom tablet and digital pen.

I also painted a different background in pink, and Photoshopped the gymnast onto it, so there is a choice of colours.

After the artwork is printed, I hand paint the gymnasts leotard with sparkles. It's a subtle detail but really looks special when the light catches it on the right angle.

(the copyright does not appear on the finished artwork).

Ribbon Gymnast Personalised Print copy
Ribbon Gymnast Personalised Print copy
Ribbon Gymnist Personised Print pink copy
Ribbon Gymnist Personised Print pink copy
Ribbon Gymnast glitter close up
Ribbon Gymnast glitter close up

My new Studio

Hello, I've kept quiet during our grey Melbourne winter, but I have been keeping busy. Birdrock Designs is growing slowly but carefully, it has taken a lot of turns and changes over the past year but I am feeling very comfortable with where I am heading with it now.

Personalised prints and signed limited editions will be sold through my Etsy store and my other (non personalised) illustrations are available at Society 6

I was getting frustrated trying to work from home in an open plan shared space with three children, but we have fixed that issue now.

Last week I persuaded my family to swap rooms and rearrange the house, so that I could have a private studio with natural light and door (to shut out toddlers who raid my art trolley).

We had a plan that eventually this would become my studio once we had completed stage two of our renovations and added a second storey, but I decided I couldn't wait that long.

It was a big move (much like moving house), but well worth the effort.

I will leave you with some photo's of my new studio space. I still have more decorating and tidying up to do, but it is fully operational and I'm loving having a private space.

These are bronze figurines my mother made (Elizabeth McKague), I love them dancing in the sunlight.

It's so good to have a studio space with natural sunlight and warmth, it makes me happy.

One can never have enough paint brushes !

This is the view from my drawing table, I have large windows overlooking the entire back garden, which is great for when the kids are playing outside. I can work and still keep an eye on them.

I have been working on this illustration, I painted it for my cousin as a wedding gift.


Some of my cloud paintings, and another of my Mum's bronzes, it's a pregnant lady washing her hair.

And the painting of the river gums on a hot summers day is by my friend John Power.

This little bird visits me daily. That's all for now.

A weekend away with wind and waves

We went back to visit Kilcunda on the weekend, it's been almost a year since we first stayed there and we enjoyed it so much we have decided to try and make it a regular winter weekend away. It's so good to be cosy in a cliff top unit and watch waves come crashing in. It was windy and cold and wet, but we loved it.

I managed to take some nice photo's, this first one is the view from our unit when the tide was out in the morning. You have to love a double rainbow greeting you in the morning, and it kept moving in closer and closer towards our unit.

I really enjoyed watching the waves roll in and trying to catch that moment when they broke on the rocks making a huge splash.

The constant sea spray created a beautiful soft mist which is lovely to photograph.

Fresh white foam against deep dark blues, I'm loving this..

Oh, how perfect for Birdrock Designs, a feather on a rock !.. I  just had a brainwave for producing a stamp for my packaging with a feather on a rock image, so simple.

And here it is. It looks like a fossil. I made this using a large eraser and a scalpel, my first hand carved stamp !.

And this is a beach inspired print. I was going to use it as the background for my blog, but it's a bit too busy, it just didn't quite work.

Farewell Kilcunda, thank you for your inspiration, and for blowing icy fresh air through my mind. A change of scenery is always refreshing. From one beach to another.

Childs Play

The creative and inventive mind of a child is a wonderful thing.
I love spying on my girls playing. It always amazes me what games they come up with, and I often draw inspiration from their quirky ideas.
I especially love those stretchy lizards dressed in Polly Pocket clothing and gum nuts. I think I need to draw some dressed up lizards !.

Fig and Ginger Citrus Jam Recipe

I made jam this week and the aroma that filled our house as it was cooking was amazing.

I visited my Aunty over Easter and she had the most enormous fig tree in her back garden, there were ripe and juicy figs dropping to the ground.

They were too ripe to just eat but perfect for jam.

I've been enjoying it on toast with ricotta cheese. It is beautiful, it looks like liquid amber and tastes divine.

Fig and Ginger Citrus Jam Recipe

Makes approx 4 cups of jam


3 cups of quartered and skinned fresh figs (about 12 large figs)

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of water

1 orange, quartered, peeled and cut into thin pieces.

lemon zest from one lemon

1 lemon, quartered, peeled and cut into thin pieces

1 cinnamon stick

3 tablespoons of chopped crystallised ginger

Directions:* Grate the lemon for it's zest before you chop it up.

* Combine all the ingredients together in a slow cooker and stir.

* Cover and cook on LOW for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

* Remove the lid, remove the cinnamon stick, and change the cooking temperature to HIGH. Continue cooking on HIGH with the lid off for 2 - 3 hours until the jam reaches a desired consistency.

* Ladle the jam into clean jam jars. Let stand until cool.

* Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.