December Calendar: The River Bank

The December calendar is here!

Clearly I haven’t quite got Kij Johnson’s The River Bank out of my system (and if you are looking for gifts for this time of the year, it is an excellent one – the Washington Post agrees, and included it on its list of “50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2017“!). I’ve started a series of posts about the process of illustrating it – they begin here: The River Bank Process – First Response.

While The River Bank doesn’t make it into winter, The Wind in the Willows of course does, and the image of the mice singing carols outside Mole End is one of my enduring memories of that book. So I ran with that.

I think Toad in his moments of mellower, generous pomposity would have the best tree, and insist on (recognisably) playing Father Christmas.

Beryl skating was one of the first sketches I made for this idea (also, if this were a climate in which sweaters were warranted, I would want hers).

Went a bit stocking mad here.

Now, all these pictures take a lot of time! They have been sponsored all year by my wonderful patrons at – they get the calendar early and $3+ patrons also get occasional downloadable stationery (there will be print-at-home cards using some of the images from this calendar). If you enjoy the pictures, and would like to keep seeing the calendar happen, and want to be a patron of the arts, see sneak-peeks, etc, you can join in here at Patreon (a few more supporters and we might yet be able to restart the Dalek Game!). Or if you use the calendar and would like to fling a few occasional dollars in the direction of the artist, this is my PayPal link:

And at last! Here is the December calendar, to print at home – precoloured, or to colour yourself.


Christmas mice


Some tiny cut-paper mice I put together as printable gift tags for my Patreon supporters as thank-you gift for helping make art like this happen (the full set is for $3+ patrons, and one is available for all patrons).



Krampus Krackers from Tiny Owl Workshop

The eternally delightful Tiny Owl Workshop‘s latest project has been the Krampus Krackers, available at select bookstore cafes in Australia and the UK.

In Australia, these lovely, letterpressed crackers are illustrated by Terry Whidbourne (the logo) and Creative Emporium, contain stories of the Krampus, accompanied by further illustrations, one of which is mine.


It is a pencil drawing with digital colour.

Krampus pencils

You can see a larger version of the image by clicking on it to go through to its Flickr page, but here are some extreme close-ups.


Krampus Crackers sneak peek and call for submissions


This is a sneak-peek of some details of my illustration for Tiny Owl Workshop‘s Christmas Krampus Crackers project, now open to flash fiction (max 500 word) submissions from Australian and UK authors. Submissions close on 5 September 2014.

Merry Christmas!

2010 Christmas Card

Here is this year’s Christmas card. I have not yet decided if it is more Grinch (after his heart grew but before he got used to it), Midwich Cuckoo, or Wicked Witch of the West. Lesson learned: don’t select colours on too little sleep. It did look good when all the cards were printed and set out on the table.

The design is one I made notecards from a few years ago (you can see those here). It was a lino cut. I scanned in the piece of carved lino, then edited it in photoshop, rounded the corners and shifted the colours out of alignment (I like that look). I printed it on fairly heavy textured drawing paper and rounded the corners with a clipper.

It is rainy, grey, humid but cool Christmas weather here. The lawns grow crazily, bush turkey chicks are roaming the gardens, my sister trapped an enormous huntsman spider under the bathroom rubbish bin and my neighbour saw a black snake on the footpath last night. The neighbours on the other side had their Christmas party last night. I took a mango, prawn and danish fetta salad (just that, on a glass plate, drizzled with sweet chilli sauce) which was both quick and very quickly eaten (neighbour across the way sat down with a spoon and finished it off).

Below is the advent calendar, all coloured. It is very cheerful and bright on the wall above the sideboard and the Christmas cards.

Advent Calendar

Merry Christmas, all, and God bless us, every one!

A Very Quick Advent Calendar (or Illustration Friday: Savour)


Highbrow art this week!

This weekend I decided a quick scribble of an advent calendar was better than none at all. While talking to my mother on Sunday night I drew this with a permanent marker on A3 sketch paper. The hardest part was keeping track of how many items I had drawn while talking at the same time.

It is now on the wall above the sideboard and is to be coloured in day by day with coloured pencils and gold pens. I made one for my mother as well, but her fox is more devious and one of the birds is hanging upside-down.

In other news: my sister and I have had our last tennis lesson for the year, I went to a Jane Austen Society of Australia meeting, I spent 23.5 of the 48 hours of the weekend out and about (visiting my dad in respite care, visiting sick friends, running airport duty), there is no food in the house and I am keeping a low profile from now on (hah!) to do Things. Also, NaNoWriMo is almost over and I have 64,000+ words and no end in sight.

Edit: Below is a cleaned-up file of the advent calendar for printing – happy December!

Sketchbook update – Christmas

Since I’ve been working on specific projects, the current sketchbook hasn’t been filling as fast as usual. It is, however, still in use and I am uploading pictures every now and then. Here are the latest uploads:

I don’t know what the tree at top left is, but it was fantastical (the whole of the Old Museum, where the Finders Keepers markets were held, is enchanting). At top right are the Black Hawk helicopters which were on maneuvres past my office window for several weeks.

Page 02

Top left is a game of Triad in progress (as in, the ball game from Battlestar Galactica). The musicians are friends of my parents (he built the bookcases in my room at my parents’ house and now go to the church my parents were going to when my dad could still get out – they are also folk musicians). Bottom right begins the queue to see Santa at Indooroopilly:

Page 03

And the queue continues over the page, together with a reappearance by the gift tags:

Page 04

Teapots at the Tea Centre, a shepherd, wise man and angel, my Christmas… branch, and my mother reading “A Visit from Saint Nick” to my nephews, with commentary and morals (there is a larger version here if you can’t read it).

Page 05

We had a traditional Christmas morning: stockings were opened and cross-examined, then we had hot cinnamon rolls, fresh-brewed coffee and orange juice, had showers, did dishes (we like delayed anticipation) and then settled in for opening of presents. Then my mother made blueberry pie (top left) and we lay around groaning until Christmas lunch at 5pm. That weekend I went up to Toowoomba and watched Sherlock Holmes with friends.

Page 06

The showing we were going to watch was sold out, so we bought tickets for the next, then went to a coffee shop and drew in each others’ notebooks – Lisa’s is at top right above, Anna’s at top left below, and Aimee’s on the right.

Page 07

Thank You and Christmas Cards

This year for Christmas cards I had a stationer in the city cut and score some nice white ‘felt’ card for me: not hugely expensive and much neater than doing it myself! I printed them on my home printer. The image was the marker sketch on the right below, made Christmas 2008.

Page 28

I am in the process of doing thankyou cards, but have already done a limited edition of two for Aimee and Lisa who gave me, among other things, a pipe – to my delight and the puzzlement of my relatives.

The pipe was given to me for reference/interest. I do not smoke anything, but before I was born my father used to smoke cigarettes and my mother told him he had to stop, so he started smoking a pipe. I remember the pipe and the tobacco tins, and how he would sit on the step and clean and pack and light the pipe, and I remember watching the beautiful coils of smoke rising. He always spent more time preparing the pipe than actually smoking it. He stopped years ago now, but I miss it.


The picture is a marker drawing, from a reference shot taken in the bathroom mirror on New Year’s Day, with colour and effects added in Photoshop.

Bird gift tags

Spent the afternoon with friends, watching the Muppet Christmas Carol, which *I* think is the truest movie version of the book. Also, creme brulee! It was raining, but on the way home I stopped at the nursery to find a tree which could do double service as a Christmas tree, but didn’t buy anything, and then I walked down to the wilderness by the creek at the end of our street but couldn’t find anything suitable (and the grass was long and wet and tangled around my feet, and I was wearing sandals). So I came home, hung a branch over the entryway and put some baubles over it, then settled down to make gift tags and listen to the Go-Betweens and War Child: Heroes.

Blue bird tag

These are pen drawings of birds from my box of decorations (which is why the second one has an alligator clip instead of legs) perched on part of my garden (above) and a branch of fake berries (below), then coloured on the computer.

Pink bird tag

I’ve made up a sheet of variations – two of these print to an A4 sheet of sticker paper (although you could print them to card with a ribbon).

Gift tags

There is a larger version here. Please feel free to use them (Merry Christmas!) for personal use (but please don’t repost the image – you can link to this post or the Flickr page).

I should probably go stop my sister’s dog from barking at possums.

Christmas, from a distant vantage point


I posted the Christmas cards in good time. Below are several other Christmas projects so far left unreported.

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