Sunday, November 4, 2012

Open Spaces Retreat for Picture Book Creators

Whenever I meet a new group of picture book creators, it always strikes me how much talent we have in Australia.

A recent four-day retreat at Sydney’s Hughenden Boutique Hotel, set up by Laurine Croasdale and the ASA, brought me in contact with old friends and new; a group mainly comprising of artists and illustrators, a smaller number of illustrator/writers and those, like me, who are writers (but love to play with art materials!!)

We collaborated and discussed our work, projects, shared ideas in technology, pored over stunning books which Ann James from Books Illustrated had brought along, played with a variety of art materials offered by Micador and enjoyed a book launch. 

Highlights included a talk by Tohby Riddle about his new, amazing book, Unforgotten; a visit to Brett Whitely’s studio: a workshop with Bruce Whatley on Creating with the Non-Dominant hand; a stroll along the coastline from Bronte to Bondi, enjoying the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition, a picnic at Kiribilli in a beautiful garden/park created by Wendy Whitely, Brett Whitely’s ex-wife. While there, we shared creativity exercises.

We also visited the Dr Seuss Gallery and were also fortunate that, on two occasions, artist/illustrator Lisa Stewart played the violin for us.

Now I need a retreat to think about everything we experienced!

Ann James showing background of a mud picture for our forthcoming picture book, I'm a Dirty Dinosaur, due out April, 2013

Me, enjoying the coastal walk and sculptures. A silvery day.
Bruce Whatley posing for the group.
My attempt with my dominant hand.

My second attempt with non-dominant hand. (much freer and livelier, I think!)

'The nook' - one of the lovely rooms in the hotel.
Me, outside Brett Whitely's studio.
Absorbed in playing with art materials
One of my favourite sculptures in the Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition.
Called The Arrival.

Liz directing a creativity exercise in the park overlooking the harbour.
Ann James and Laurine Croasdale listening to violin playing.


  1. Love your two drawings done with different hands. Did you find it was slower with your non-dominant hand? (It's slower for me if I write with my non-dominant hand.)

    I wonder if poetry or stories written with the non-dominant hand would have a different style to them? I might have to give it a go!
    ~ Rebecca

  2. I found it more 'interesting' drawing with my non-dominant hand; but writing with your non-dominant hand is definitely slower. Like you, I was curious about whether your 'mind-state' or creativity for writing changed when you used a different hand. I did try it briefly, but think i needed to do it longer and more often to see if there's any noticeable effect.

  3. What a wonderful time you had. Something enriching at every turn. You draw very well, Janeen. Have you had much experience with drawing? I am good at stick figures!

  4. Thanks Kaye. Totally enriching, as you say. And, due to encouragement received, the bones of a potential picture book from have since been fleshed out - very rewarding. As for the drawing, no, I haven't done anything really at all. It was enjoyable though!