Now panic and freak out

Screenshot: "Possible? Just because I'm rolling around panicking about my presentation (part of my process).
Email postponing something else I will panic about later.

I am giving a presentation tomorrow, and am therefore being overwrought about it.

Gif of woman in blue dress flinging herself dramatically onto sofa.
Me, but imagine I have known about this presentation for 13 months

So much time management advice declares The One True And Efficient Way to do things. It’s all very appealing in a sort of model home way, but it rarely plays well with my actual life and brain (no storage space, for one thing). And even when I’m at my most organised, I will still find something to stress about.

Chris Fleming gif, in-character as a woman carrying a vacuum cleaner and saying "Get rid of the couches. We can't let people know we SIT!"
From Chris Fleming’s Company is Coming

Yes it should be more energy-efficient to never have to panic, but it turns out performative alarm is part of my process. And fighting against that inclination is exhausting.

What has worked best for me: scheduling panicking time. That way I get to both hyperventilate AND check “be dramatic” off my list.

Painting of an amateur opossum actress clutching its chest dramatically.
Halfway through (me) writing this post, Angela Slatter sent me this. The art is “Amateur Opossum Actress” by Rebecca Kriz/TruBluArt, and prints of the painting are available on INPRNT.

Edit: It was, of course, fine.

This is not a deck of cards (tropes and process)

You might have already seen my post for on the process of illustrating Flyaway (Illustrating Flyaway: Kathleen Jennings on Creating Art and Prose Together), but there wasn’t room for all the possible sketches I had for it.

Here’s another, from early in my development of the project. At this point, I was thinking through all my favourite (and least favourite, and most obvious, and subtlest, and possible) tropes and common elements of Australian Gothic writing (and also influenced by Ninepin Press’ The Family Arcana).


Sometimes I’ll make a list of favourites from a current type of story, and then mix and match at random until the right feeling or setting or plot for a picture (or something I’m writing) emerges. Sometimes I draw up cards and turn it into a game.

Sometimes, just thinking about the possibility of that, and the sort of things I might play with is enough — the drawing of a game. This is not the first time I’ve taken this shortcut: Behold, direct from… a really really long time ago (please interpret accordingly!), An Encyclopaedia of Improbable Games.

But you can see much more about the art behind Flyaway on Tor.

Drawing/writing activities and a parlour game (also good in cafes, if you have cafes):

  • (Adapted from a combination of workshop activities by Kelly Link, Kim Wilkins, and Anne Gracie): Think of something you are (or want to be — or should be!) working on.
    – What type of story does it belong to? (Suburban gothic? High fantasy? Secret-baby romance?)
    – Make a list of your favourite elements in that sort of story, and another list of your least favourite (try and get at least ten of each).
    – This is useful as a diagnostic (are you writing about anything you actually enjoy as a reader? are you only drawing the least appealing parts of this scene?), for strengthening an image or story (clearly it needs a floating cat, and do you have at least the emotional equivalent of a race-to-the-airport-scene? are there small spirits living in the pot plants, or did you forget to leave out the ominous wall decorations?), and for combining to come up with new ideas.
  • When with friends, tear up paper into cards — seven or so for each person. Pick a genre (or even just a favourite story world — we’ve done this with fairy tales, but also with Doctor Who).
    – Everyone sketches their favourite elements onto their cards (one element per card). Shuffle all the cards together.
    – Go around the table and tell the story (a fairy tale, and episode of Doctor Who), taking turns to play a card and incorporate that into the story.
    – Or each person picks three and draws (or writes/tells) a scene suggested by that combination.
    – (If you want a card game along these lines, I really like Atlas Game’s Once Upon a Time).

The Bayeux Tapestry Is Not A Collage


Photo pinched from Peter’s blog

Peter M. Ball has been streamlining book production processes and is bringing some chapbooks into the world as part of the process (if you like following processes, see the Brain Jar newsletter).

I’m in the middle of a lot of big projects lately, and occasionally stalling, so I am currently fascinated by how people can get quickly from an Idea to a Thing, especially when they can reduce it to the minimum number of steps.


I was making some notes on this (I’ll post more about these journals in due course!), thinking about the difference between collage as a metaphor for the process of ideas, and the actual practice of collage, which is a lot more immediate but less universal as an analogy.

Conclusion (apparently): The Bayeux tapestry is not a collage.

I meant to do a collage, because I found some clippings in an old notebook, but I was disgruntled and headachey and didn’t have a glue stick and the a/c was too breezy but I didn’t want to move. So I just took all the bits I was going to use and drew them into a collage.

Illustration Friday: Village


Illustration Friday: Village - work in progress

For this week’s Illustration Friday topic, “Village”, I was working out some composition ideas for other projects (and working around the edges of an offcut), and playing with some long-term desires to draw small houses. 
Illustration Friday: Village

The primary influences, however, are the movie Dark City and E. Nesbit’s “The Town in the Library (in the Town in the Library)”, and watching British murder mysteries while constructing bookcases. Oddly, until after I mocked up the poster below, Shyamalan’s movie did not even occur to me – which is a shame, because I quite liked it, and it had beautiful colours.

Illustration Friday: Village poster

A Victorian Wedding Invitation

Last year my cousin Jess asked me to draw her save-the-date and wedding invitation, featuring some of their livestock. I was delighted to, and obliged with several pages of pencil sketches and chickens:

Invitation roughs

The save-the-date was drawn in pen-and-ink and had a very simple colour-scheme!

Save the Date

I don’t do typography, but I hand lettered these (I do enjoy hand lettering!).

For the invitation, Jess and Dave knew they wanted the dancing couple from the early sketches, but with a pink and purple colour scheme. I sent two variations, with my favourite at the top (some details removed).

Colours for invitation

There was a slight difference of opinion between the interested parties (more precision was indeed required, as the groom valued colouring between the lines and blue jeans), so when my cousins visited in January, we sat down and finalised the invitation below (some details removed):

Wedding invitation

It may also make appearances on other wedding accessories, but those are yet to appear…

Edit 6 April 2013: The linework from the invitation was printed on the stubby coolers for the wedding.

Portrait of Rita

Earlier this year, Rita de Heer asked me to draw a portrait of her, based on reference photographs, which she could use in a range of sizes and formats. After discussing the details, she sent through the photos and I prepared a number of very quick digital thumbnails sketches.

Portrait of Rita - in progress

Rita liked the black and white, but wanted images to reflect her land care activities. I did a pencil sketch and drew the portrait (above right) with a dip pen and ink. Unfortunately, the flowers at the left were easily confused with a noxious weed, so I picked a grevillea flower in the station carpark, drew that and then replaced it digitally. I also moved the butterflies around and added the black background. This let me rearrange the elements to suit a range of sizes, and the butterflies and frog (I am very fond of the frog) were suitable as thumbnail images.

Here is the final portrait at its full dimensions:

Portrait of Rita

I enjoyed this project, and it was an opportunity to try out several approaches I’ve been wanting to use. The scattering of flowers and butterflies is loosely inspired by a vase my mother has, and the linework with black background is a style I admire for portraiture.