An Artist's Journeys in Nature

Archive for June, 2013

Promoting The Tree

mill-treeHave just had 2 amazing days in my nearest big city (Whangarei) giving presentations about the Taketakerau Book Illustrations and what it’s like to illustrate a book, in the run-up to the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.

I did 6 presentations over the space of 2 days, to all ages, from  primers (and their moms!) through school children and teens to adults interested in writing and illustrating books for children.

After some years of living like a hermit, I’ve been calling upon a few of my old teaching and presentation skills.  Great how soon it all comes back.  The hermit style of living can be essential for producing creative work in volume, to a deadline – but it’s really something to get back to interactive living in the real world again.

We had wonderful turnouts for all except a book signing – something I was really looking forward to because it was set up in a make-believe forest in a shop window in town.  I just love this kind of thing and was so excited when organizer Sue Scott, the Children’s Coordinator for Whangarei Libraries, told me what was going to happen with the book signing, a few weeks ago.  When I saw the window, I was not disappointed – and I especially loved those clouds and the golden carpet of fallen leaves lining the pathways!

It’s a pity with the reflections on the window that you can’t see more – there were NZ native plants massed at the back, too.  The whole effect was magical.

Unfortunately as you may have noticed, a few days ago Christchurch had its biggest dump of snow and nasty weather in 20 years, and this front reached us on Thursday morning, with plummeting temperatures, strong winds and cold rain.

Window Dressed for NZ Post Childrens Book Awards Festival and Book Signing

Window Dressed for NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Festival and Book Signing

So only the hardiest of souls were out on the streets of Whangarei on Thursday lunchtime, and they were scurrying as fast as they could to get to wherever they were going.

I DID however get to meet Annemarie Florian, author of “Kiwi: The Real Story” (whom I expect to meet again at the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards ceremony in Christchurch next Monday) and Maureen Sudlow, author of recently published “Fearless Fred and the Dragon”.  She and her husband Ron are from Dargaville and we have vowed to keep in touch.

This is just what this kind of event is about.  My thanks again to Sue, who is a wonderful organizer, minder and chauffeur!  I am so very glad I’ve got to know her.


The Millennium Tree

mill-tree“Taketakerau The Millennium Tree” is a book I illustrated in 2011. It was published in 2012 and is now on its 3rd print run, having sold approximately 3000 copies.

It has won 3 recognitions, including an Ashton Wylie Award, and it’s currently listed in 4 finalists in the Non-Fiction category of the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards. The author is Marnie Anstis of Opotiki.

I am gearing up for 2 days’ presentations in Whangarei next week at the Whangarei Public Library and at some schools  – Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th June.  There will also be a book signing at The Strand, Cameron Street, Whangarei at noon on the Thursday.

Then on the Sunday I fly to Christchurch for the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards ceremony on 24th June at Addington Raceway.


I painted 36 illustrations for the book.  They are all gallery-style artworks, size 15″ x 20″, and if you’d like to see more, you will find them at

The book tells the story of a 2000 year old puriri tree at Opotiki, starting from its germination in the primeval forest, and following through its life as a home for the many birds in the forest, the arrival of Maori settlers, the arrival of men from Europe, and major developments in New Zealand and world history.  The two streams of history are arranged with a timeline so that the unfolding of world events parallels the unfolding of events in New Zealand.


I was honored by a special award from the NZ Children’s Art House Foundation, as the Artist who in 2012 did most for children.  It was a wonderful tribute, because children had a major part to play in selecting the winner of this award.

All through the work on the book, my main underlying concern was to make the illustrations a treasure house for children to explore,  What a great validation of 12 months’ solid work.

This gets exciting!