What makes you feel the most wild and alive?
Being completely alone in the Australian bush. An early-morning ocean swim in winter. Hunting for pine mushrooms on a brisk autumn day. Keeping secateurs on hand in the car for when roadside blooms are spied. That first sip of very good champagne. Catching a flight unescorted. Sticking my nose very deeply into a garden rose. Speaking my truth simply. Lilac season. A homegrown tomato. A heartfelt hug from someone utterly beloved.
What do you love most about your new work, Petal?
I have loved observing people interact with Petal. It was a personal body of work for me and I made it in isolation, pre-COVID-19. I drew for months without seeing many people, offering my take on the world of flowers. The book is out now and has a life of its own. I have loved watching my aunt and mum interact with the book. They pick it up, flick through and, in their own words, discover something new in it each time. The joy I see the artwork bringing them, and others, is very heartening.
Your colour palette for Petal is incredible. How did you pick those pinks and purples and blues and what were you influenced by?
Colour selection for me is a very unconscious process. I tend not to think about it very much or even experiment; instead I go off my first gut reaction. I certainly have a colour palette that I always lean towards, mostly pinks and quite a bit of purple. When I submitted the artwork to the publisher and designer, Daniel Knew, the majority of the backgrounds were pink. With a very deft touch, Daniel added a bit more variety into the palette and I am so very pleased with the result. Daniel is such a talent; I was positive my work was in the best hands.
Please talk us through your artistic practice.
Rather unromantically, my whole process from start to finish is completely digital. I draw on my iPad using a great program called Procreate. When I have the luxury of drawing directly from flowers, I do prefer it, but I also have a very extensive stash of personal photos I’ve taken over the years and draw from those.
Like us, you’ve been deep in isolation for the past few months. Have you used the COVID-19 lockdown to draw and create?
I really haven’t. I spent the first few months promoting Petal and trying to adjust to the new normal. I have given myself grace to just do what I feel like and that, apparently, hasn’t been drawing. I’ve found great comfort in some personal projects, though. I’ve been quilting and sewing little things and cooking and resting and checking in on friends. I, like most of us I’m sure, have needed a minute to process the heaviness that has surrounded us.
What is something you learnt about yourself through isolation?
As an artist I generally spend a lot of time on my own. To get through big projects like Petal, I truly need to focus and channel my creativity. This period has been a familiar experience to me in a whole host of ways but also so utterly foreign in so many others. It has certainly made me realise I am more adaptable as a person than I thought I was.
This period has also reiterated something, every strongly, that has always rung true in my life: humans are of the earth. We need nature to heal and ground. We also need community. It has made me realise how important the community I have built for myself is, here in Australia and in New York.
What has been your favourite project to date?
How could I possibly not say Petal?!
What would be your dream illustrative job?
I don’t know that I have one dream job to strive for any longer, although I did start my career like that — with list after list of goal jobs to constantly reach for. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly still have those lists, but for me, now, the thought of a life strung together, day by day, with little tasks and constant drawing, is more appealing than any lofty one dream job. The privilege of quietly building a career as an illustrator that is long-lasting keeps my hands and heart busy. Now that is a dream.
What’s next for you, career-wise?
I think I shall draw some more flowers.
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