Tell us what sort of a child you were. Did art play a big part in your growing up?
I was a creative child who loved crafting, painting and living in my own little muddle. My Mum was forever picking up after me (which, of course, annoyed me dreadfully because I truly did know where things were — well, most of the time). My report from Prep in ‘Creative Activities’ says, “She loves to cut, draw, and paste and generally ‘create’ things. Penny also does some lovely paintings”. Nothing has really changed since.
|Week 44 2017: Delicious|
Why do you make art now?
Because it is what I should have always been doing; sometimes it takes a while to grow into who you were as a child.
|Week 7 2017: Botanical|
Have you formally trained as an artist or illustrator? Describe your art background/journey:
I have always drawn and painted. Art classes were always my favourite throughout primary school, and I remember those lessons very clearly. I have always enjoyed creative work and making little gifts for others.
I studied Art in high school and attended University of Tasmania, Tasmanian College of the Arts, where I learnt about photography, graphic design, and cinema. I also studied painting but soon discovered this course was more about self discovery than formally being taught the skills and techniques I desired. We were given a lot of open-ended projects with no set parameters when I hoped to be taught a more traditional curriculum focusing on how to use different mediums and their application.
I then went on to study teaching. After teaching Art (yr6 – 12) for a few years, I left professional life to start a family. As a stay at home Mum my husband encouraged me to follow the path closest to my heart. It took me a few years to conquer all the doubting voices still crowding in my head and heart, but here I am. I have found an incredibly supportive network through the 52 Week Challenge, and as a result, I have illustrated my debut picture book, written by Penny Harrison, to be published by EK Books in February 2018. I have also returned to teaching a few students and small art groups during the week for children aged from 4 – 14 years.
|Week 9 2017: Baking|
Do you have a favourite medium or subject matter?
I adore watercolour, ink, and coloured pencil. But I also love painting with acrylic on canvas.
|Week 45 2016: Zebra|
Describe your artistic process, from ‘no idea’ to ‘finished artwork’:
I’m not generally one who agonises over composition or colour; I tend to start with what ever pops into my head. It’s a magical process that I don’t understand, and yet it all comes together in the end. I always do a very rough construction drawing, which is then refined. I then redraw my outlines, either with watercolour pencil or fineliner, ready to add colour. I always get such a buzz when I first sketch an image and I know it will work.
|Week 11 2016: Mother|
How do you fit your creative work in with a busy family life? Do you have a routine?
I wish I had more of a routine — sigh. I have had to learn to be organised or else I will bounce from one thing to the next. I am the queen of self-distraction. If I’m working on lots of creative projects, my house looks very neglected and I often forget to grocery shop (thankfully none of the people I live with seem to be bothered by this fact, and they all do get fed and their clothes are washed). At the end of a project I will be driven, by some wild instinct of nature, to clean like a crazed thing before the next creative wave hits.
|Week 50 2016:Festival|
Where is your favourite place to create and illustrate?
My studio — it’s a little haven of bliss.
What impact has the Challenge had on your creative journey?
Only the biggest impact imaginable! It has helped me focus, refine, and discover who I am as an illustrator and, more importantly, helped me to find a group of the most wonderful supportive friends whom I greatly respect and hold close to my heart.
|Penelope's first Challenge illustration, Week 1 2016: Fancy Dress|
Do you have illustrators or artists who give you inspiration?
I adore so many picture book illustrators, past and present — too many to list, really. Suffice to say, if I walk into a bookshop, often I am looking for books by illustrators I love (regardless of the author), and our book shelves are overflowing.
What are you currently working on and what will we see next from you?
I am currently working on a number of commissioned portraits and logo designs while refining my illustration portfolio. I am also refining several story ideas, which I plan to storyboard and submit to publishers.
|Week 41 2016: Island|
Do you have a dream creative project you'd love to be able to do?
My dream creative project would be to have a story that I have written and illustrated published, and then another, and another, and another. . .
|Week 52 2016: Reflection|
Tell us something that we don’t know about you:
Well, most of you know I love chocolate freckles ... and it’s logical to have an immense dislike of cockroaches. Oh, I know — I never received my pen licence at school, and I've just been made a member of the Kids Book Review team, so now I have a reason to spend even more time with my nose in a book.
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