Lost & Found

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I usually outline everything in an illustration in ink before adding colour, but because I needed to create a fading background and wanted to capture the loose nature of the sky and stars, this one required colouring on the go.

You might be a bit surprised to hear that I never quite know what an illustration will look like in the end. I tend to have a very rough idea of how I would like something to look but it inevitably takes on a life of it own. I am quite pleased with how this illustration turned out and hope my friend, who inspired this one, enjoys it as well.

Full Deck

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Here is the first test print of the deck of chicken-themed cards I’ve been working on for the past couple of months. There are 11 suits (as I accidentally created one suit too many), with 8 cards per suit. The cards are for a chicken version of the card game ‘Arboretum’. In keeping with the theme, I’ve named this version ‘The Chookery’.

The next step is to send them to my vet friends to check that I have all the different breeds and countries of origin correctly named before sending them to the printers.

Birds of a Feather

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To quote Agnes from the animated film, Despicable Me, “It’s so fluffy!” captures my thoughts of the Silkie Blue Bantam, a chicken breed originating from China. I’m about halfway done colouring my collection of chickens for the deck of cards. Slow but steady progress.

In Memory

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My most vivid memory of my grandpa was when he helped my little brother bring home a rainbow trout from the nearby lake as part of a school fishing trip. I can still see it swimming circles in the bucket and then in the bathtub before my grandma steamed it for dinner. Perhaps it’s fitting that I continue to associate fish, a symbol of luck, strength, and abundance, with my grandpa. He was a man of great calm, but also joy and vitality. My family and I miss him greatly.

Counting Chickens

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It’s been a while since I last made a post. I admit to struggling a little bit in the past ten months to keep writing and illustrating since taking on a full-time learning designer position. Time and energy become a lot more elusive. Luckily, I work with an amazing team of people and have the flexibility to move my hours around so I can keep doing this on the side. Things are moving at a much slower pace but progress is being made.

These are the starting ink drawings for a set of playing cards I’m creating for some veterinary friends who have done research work on avian influenza in chickens. It’s been great discovering the wide range of chicken breeds out there. I’ve started colouring in the chickens but still need to figure out the font, background colours for each suit, and a graphic for the back of the cards. I’ll keep you posted as the full deck develops.

May Birthdays

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Here are a couple of new designs for the May birthdays in my life. A pop of colour to help start the celebrations.


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A few weeks back, I learnt that a mandala is a circular drawing used in practices like mediation. I was encouraged to create one in response to a challenge I face.

Here is my mandala called ‘Acceptance’. It’s supposed to depict a snowflake bleeding out into a collection of eucalyptus leaves and golden sand. My challenge? Embracing the here and now.

Summer in the City

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It’s going to be another balmy 37ºC in Melbourne today. The hot weather can be a bit of challenge when I’m working on a hand illustration. I have to weigh things down so the fan doesn’t blow everything away. I layer paper towels under my hands on the illustration as I go so that my sweat doesn’t deform the paper. I also find that the light shining through the windows can be painfully bright during the day. Keeping the blinds down and drawing in the semi-darkness is not a great option. My solution? Putting on my pair of red indoor sunnies (Australian for sunglasses). Now I’m ready to draw.

Thermals vs Snow Pants

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I read a Canadian opinion piece a few weeks back debating the merits of wearing thermals versus snow pants in the city. The main argument seemed to be that snow pants aren’t as professional as thermals, which can be hidden under more formal wear. I don’t know, I think you can still look pretty dapper in snow pants. The added advantage is that, once you’re indoors in a heated environment, snow pants are much easier to take off.

For everyone braving cold winter weather in the Northern hemisphere, here is ‘Thermals vs Snow Pants’. I’ll let you decide.

Happy Lunar New Year

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To ring in the Year of the Pig, here is a little sketch I did using a set of five flower pencils (i.e., pencils with cross-sections featuring a bellflower, evergreen, dandelion, red plum, and cherry blossom) I received as a gift last month. Thank you Hubert and Cecilia!

For me, this will also be the Year of the Beaver as I work to complete my next picture book over the next months.

Wishing everyone good health, happiness, and fortune for the year ahead!

Simone in Sydney

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Woah indeed! A big shout out to Mathieu Lafabrie, whose French translation of ‘Simone in Australia’ (Simone en Australie) is now available on shelves in the Language Book Centre of Abbey’s Bookshop in Sydney.

Mathieu and his wife, Alexandra, are also the travel and wildlife authors/photographers of Petit Parc autour du monde and the upcoming The Giraffe and The Grizzly. Follow their work to get inspired and informed!

Happy Holidays!

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Every year, I try to create a new design and send it out as Christmas cards to family and friends. Unfortunately, this season has been a little too hectic for that, but I’ve managed to complete my design today, just in time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hurrah!

Here is ‘Holiday Indulgence’, featuring a kangaroo enjoying an Australian wreath. May you all indulge in the things you love most this holiday season.

From Holidays Past

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I was honoured to be asked, for a third year in a row, to create a holiday design for Echidna Giving. It is a wonderful organisation that focuses on bringing quality education to girls living in lower-income countries.

I’ve sent off the latest design but thought I’d share my design from last year. This one was created while I was visiting friends in Edmonton. Thank goodness I was staying with a creative spirit who had everything I needed on hand. Thanks again Athena!

Hope everyone is gearing up for a fantastic holiday season!

Arts and Crafts

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I know Canadian Thanksgiving has passed but I was in the mood for a bit of arts and crafts and had a flashback to elementary school. I don’t know if this is still a popular Thanksgiving activity in art class but I remember making paper turkeys using our hand prints.

Here is my updated version using a sheet of paper, a pair of scissors, coloured pencils, white glue, and two traces of my left hand. I had to get creative with the feather patterns since I didn’t have any construction paper.

The first hand trace formed the base of the turkey - the head, body and large tail feathers.
The second hand trace was cut into six pieces. The five finger pieces formed the second layer of tail feathers and the palm became the wing.
An extra thumb trace created the fleshy wattle on the neck.
A corner of the sheet of the paper became the beak.

Now I have a turkey for next Thanksgiving. Gobble, gobble, gobble!

A Moose in a Canoe

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It’s been awhile since my last post as I’ve starting doing some instructional and multimedia design work. Finding the time (and energy) to work on my next picture book has been a bit harder but I will find a balance soon. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, you might remember this moose from a music poster I did some time ago. I quite like this moose so decided to give him centre stage in his own print. As the title says, here is a moose in a canoe.

Now Downtown


I'm thrilled to announce that my Simone books are now at Hill of Content Bookshop, located in the Melbourne city centre. They have a beautiful range of books that aren't just for kids.

On the topic of children's picture books, I recently read a story/article that looked at the top 100 selling picture books in Australia. Titled Bear Finds A Voice, I thought this was an interesting read highlighting gender balance in these top sellers.

While I Was Away

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While I was away overseas for the last month, I completely unplugged - no phone, email, or online news - and it was absolute bliss! Now that I've returned and am getting back into the swing of things, I discovered that the story I am working on was shortlisted and highly commended in the Illustrations: Illustrated Picture Books category at this year's Children's and Young Adult Writers and Illustrators (CYA) Conference. Here's the main character from that work-in-progress dancing a celebratory jig. A very belated thank you to everyone at CYA!

A Different Landscape

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I've been doing a lot of writing this past month as I've started the preliminary manuscript for a space themed story. It's time to switch back into illustration mode though so I'm warming up with some sketches of landscapes that will feature in a different book that's set in the Rockies. The colours aren't quite right but experimentation is all part of the illustration design process.

Simone en Australie

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The French translation of Simone in Australia is finally here! Simone en Australie was only made possible by the wonderful Mathieu Lafabrie. As a thank you for his beautiful translation, I will donate all profits from this book to support Australian wildlife conservation on his behalf. We are still in the process of choosing an organisation/program to donate to and will announce where the profits will go later this year.

Simone en Australie was my first foray into print-on-demand (POD), meaning she is now available online through sites like Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Booko, etc. Simone in Australia and Simone in France have followed suit. Larger print versions of Christophe's Crumbs and Les Miettes de Christophe through POD are coming soon.

Australian Wildlife

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I've spent the last few months uploading my books onto print-on-demand (POD). I've previously  done offset printing (i.e., printing locally and self-distributing) but with the upcoming release of Simone en Australie, I decided to try POD to make the book more accessible to French readers across and outside of Australia. I have mixed feelings about POD but will share my thoughts about it in my next post.

Until then, in anticipation for Simone en Australie, I've created a new set of Australian wildlife postcards featuring a mix of familiar and lesser known creatures that include the koala, Tasmanian devil, wombat, cassowary, playtpus, thorny devil, pygmy rock-wallaby, and lyrebird.

You can check out the whole set here.