Well, it's been a long time since I've picked up a pencil to draw - years in fact, as I have been so very busy tapping away on my computer for the last three or four years. I have had a beautiful manuscript in my bottom drawer for a long time, written by my dear friend Whitney Stewart, regularly postponed by me or our publisher, until finally I knew it could be postponed no more. So, feeling apprehensive about not having illustrated for so long, I booked myself a week at Varuna, The Writers' House, to see if in the stillness of the Blue Mountains I could find that quiet drawing mind again.
As this is a picture book on meditation for children, I decided that each morning I would pick a meditation exercise to try out before I sat down to work. I struggle to find a still mind, like most of us do I imagine, and easily fall into the trap of wanting to fill empty space with words, spoken or written, any moment I am not busy. So, the combination of meditating in the morning and then illustrating all day in this quiet yellow house was like a balm to my restless, scratchy mind.
I began by working in pencil to find the mood of the illustration, then when I was happy with my sketch I would place it on a lightbox under a sheet of watercolour paper to trace it in ink. To my delight, the characters revealed themselves easily: an elephant to represent our heavy bumbling mind, and a monkey to represent our mind at its most skittish. I chose a limited palette to colour them with because I will add the backgrounds later with the designer once we have worked out how the words will fit across the page.
This is just a sneak peek of some of my favourite drawings. Later, after I have been working with the designer, I will post some full-colour pages-in-progress. Until then, 'Om' to you for your day.