Introducing Janet Turner

Jan is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today at Bookseedstudio with the optional theme: Sing!  Does it work that I am singing Janet Turner’s praises? (I’m pretty sure you all know I’d also like to be signing in the rain…💦🙃) Janet Turner is the illustrator of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’, published by the State Library of Queensland. I thought it would be fun to get to know a bit more about Janet, and her work.

Welcome to the blog, Janet. It’s been fabulous sharing the creation and launch of our picture book – your first book! I remember the arrival of my first book. It involved screaming. Lots of it. Can you give us a sneak peek into Janet Turner’s new book moment?

Well, mine is on record, so a little more reserved!! I first saw the finished book while doing an interview. (You can see the interview here.) It was so wonderful to see it full size and in print rather than through an iPad screen! My favourite part was sharing with my loved ones. I didn’t tell my partner Brandon that I’d dedicated the book to him, so it was very special seeing his reaction to that and the book as he’d seen the whole process.

You’ve worked on some other exciting projects prior to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. Can you tell us about some of them?

I sure have worked on some amazing projects! My favourite would have been while I was still studying at uni having the opportunity to create the visual identity for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village. This included designing the logo and additional icons that were used for signage, information materials and merchandise across the village! The design took inspiration from the natural beauty of the Gold Coast (and Queensland). Thongs on the beach, a pandanus for rainforest, an Akubra hat for the outback, snorkel and flippers for the reef, a surfboard for the ocean and a sunset.

What was your medium/process illustrating this book?

I create my work digitally using an iPad. The process began by sketching out our main characters (including my favourite – the excitable pup). Once we settled on those, I worked to create small thumbnail sketches to map out the story, then turned them into final sketches. The fun bit came next… adding all the colour and really bringing the story to life!! A lot of inspiration came from my own childhood, growing up on the farm, and some gorgeous photographs from Kat’s farm! Kat and I both had Jack Russells in our lives, Jonty and Buddy, so the pup in the book was a tribute to them.

Have you spent much time on a Queensland farm? Can you share your favourite farming memory?

I haven’t spent much time on a Queensland farm, but I did grow up on a farm just outside of Inverell, inland northern NSW. I have so many fond memories of the farm, most of them spending time with dad feeding stock, fixing leaky dams or hunkering down in the wool while he sheared the sheep. I did love raising poddy lambs though, so that’s probably one of my favourites, especially when they remember you once they are back in the paddock.

What is your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?

Depends on the day… When it’s a cold rainy day, there’s nothing better than curling up in a blanket with a hot chocolate. I’ll most likely be illustrating away! If it’s a summer storm, I love nothing more than watching nature’s light show! I have a particularly good spot to watch them back on the farm on the veranda.

What is your favourite spread in the book – and why is it special to you? 

Argh, they are all so wonderful. I do love the family, dripping wet and muddy, coming home after a long day of fun on the farm. There’s just something special about seeing the family together like that. Honorary mention in the dam spread. There’s so much fun and it always makes me chuckle.

What is one thing you remember from Janet Turner’s first five years?

I’ve always been creative (even at a young age) and there was this one time I may have gone just a little bit overboard. I would have been 3 or 4 and found myself some blue paint. Not only did this paint end up all over me but also our front verandah. Needless to say, my parents weren’t too impressed! I sure had fun though.

Where can we find you online?
You can check out my Instagram @justjanet_creative or visit my website janetturnerdesign.myportfolio.com

Thank-you so much for sharing, Janet – and especially for those adorable photos! It was a lot of fun working on this book with you, and I look forward to seeing what you create next! (I’ve heard that blue verandah’s are making a come back! 😹)

If readers are looking for activities to go with ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’, don’t forget to check out the Rainy Day Stuff on my blog, where you’ll find finger puppet templates, a colouring page of the adorable Jack Russell dog Janet mentioned, and much, much more!

Let’s get Catty – and a Competition!

Today, I’m going to be a little bit… catty. I’m hosting a cat book on my katswhiskers blog, so we’re running to a theme… and running a competition! (Today’s competition is a little bit different to the other competition that’s running throughout the blog tour at http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au.)

But firstly, welcome Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie – and congratulations on your dreamy new picture book, ‘A Year with Marmalade’.

Thanks very much!

Thank you, Kat!

To start the ball rolling… In keeping with the blog, can you each tell me one thing that you think is… the kat’s whiskers? (Or mayhaps it’s the cat’s whiskers.)

Perhaps my new baby daughter, Ava!

Oooh. Lovely! Congratulations, Heath. I’m sure Ava is the kat’s whiskers!

My family and dog. Although I’m not sure if the dog will like being referred to as the kat’s whiskers! 

Haha! Now that could be a little bit catty, Alison. 😉

Where did you find Marmalade, Alison?  Is he the type of pet you would want to keep forever?

When I was little I had a very special green-eyed cat called Charlotte. I feel as if a cat based on her was just waiting to pop into my mind. I was brainstorming book ideas with my publisher, and we wanted a sort of self-contained character, which is a very cat-like characteristic.  I definitely wouldn’t want to give Marmalade away. I spent half my childhood unsuccessfully trying to convince my parents to let me have another pet.

Alison, is Marmalade one of those cats who willfully does his own thing? Or does he have a soft and smoochy side?

Marmalade is a mixture of snuggles and snarls. He is very independent, but wants to be included and loved. Much like most of us!

Not being an artist myself, I’m always fascinated by the Illustrator’s process. Heath, there’s a lot of whitespace in this gentle, breezy book – almost a touch of whimsy. What influenced your decision in terms of colour and whitespace – and characters?

I felt a simpler approach would suit this particular story – something gentle and not too over-thought or designed. Hence the approach of letting the line do most of the talking and leaving colour to make a single statement in each image.

What I find particularly interesting, is that the children (Ella & Maddy) are line drawings – not colour. Yet Marmalade, who would seem to be of equal importance to Ella, is colour. As is background. What is the artistic reasoning behind this, Heath?

Given a big and striking part of the different seasons, from a visual point of view atleast, is the many distinct colours that emerge each year – colour was always going to be the best way to highlight the changing seasons (and then a little extra here and there where an image might not have a direct seasonal element to focus on!)

As for Marmalade’s colour – for a long while, Marmalade wasn’t in colour but ultimately it was decided Marmalade, being the key player here, might need to stand out that bit more – and fair enough too!

The seasons! When you say it, it is of course, very logical. (I feel a bit of a scatterkat for asking!)

Alison What five individual words best describe Marmalade?

  1. Watchful
  2. Awkward
  3. Fun-loving
  4. Loyal
  5. Purrfect

It’s the ‘awkward’ makes Marmalade so real and loveable, Alison.

HeathI’m hoping you have that cat-like quality of landing on your feet, because I’m going to throw you a challenge… I’m pretty good at drawing the katswhiskers (to the right -> ) but that’s my limit. I’m hoping you can extend my repertoire a bit, and skill me up on some other cat moves.

To help you out, I’ve listed some catty emotions I thought you might cat-ture!

  • ’fraidy cat
  • ecscatic cat
  • purrrrfect cat
  • catastrophic cat
  • caterwauling cat
  • cat-ching cat – on the prowl

They’re gorgeous, Heath!! So much personality on the page.

Now it’s over to you, Alison! What can YOU do with Heath’s examples? (Yes – I am asking you to draw a cat pic for us. :P)

I’m no scaredy cat, Kat. But remember, I never claimed to be a artist!

A very catatonic cat, Alison. And clever word play. Well done, you!

COMPETITION TIME!

READERS:  This is your chance to get catty!

1.  Draw your best cat picture. You can have a bit of fun with it like we did.
2.  Email it to; contactkat @ optusnet . com . au (no spaces) by 8pm this Friday, 17th August, and
3.  YOU are in with a chance to win your own, signed, original Heath McKenzie cat picture!

Please keep cat files less than 300kb. 

Your pictures will be posted to the katswhiskers blog on Sunday, 19th August, when we will also announce the winner, as decided by Heath and Alison.

So – pick up a pencil, pen or piece of charcoal and get drawing!

Want to read more about ‘A Year with Marmalade’? Follow the blog tour;

A Year with Marmalade Blog Tour

7th Aug Dee White;  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com
9th Aug Karen Tyrrell;  http://www.karentyrrell.com
11th Aug Tania McCartney;  http://www.kids-bookreview.com
13th Aug  Pass It On;  http://jackiehoskingpio.wordpress.com/school-magazine
14th Aug  Kathryn Apel;  https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog
17th Aug  Dale Harcombe;  http://orangedale.livejournal.com
20th Aug  Peter Taylor;  http://writing-for-children.blogspot.com.au
22nd Aug  Susan Stephenson;  http://www.thebookchook.com
23rd Aug  Robyn Opie Parnell;  http://robynopie.blogspot.com.au
27th Aug Sally Odgers;  http://spinningpearls.blogspot.com.au
29th  Aug  Angela Sunde;  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au
31st Aug Chris Bell;  http://christinemareebell.wordpress.com

Looking forward to seeing your cats! >^,^<