We had a bit of a rough roll through central-western NSW recently. Something was wrong with the car, and a queue of different mechanics each failed to diagnosis and fix it. So there was a lot of swearing and sadness in the front seats, fraught phone calls, and tense road-side waits.
One such road-side wait was halfway between the drought-racked towns of Gunnedah and Quirindi, a road lined by cotton fields, with their rows of ghastly, seemingly-dead brown bushes, spilling forth unbelievably white, fluffy crowns. And in the golden afternoon light, as we tried to make it from one town to the other beneath a gently merciless blue sky, the fields were creamy, blushing, soft. The perfect palette rolled orderly and straight out into the night.
So when I started to draw the rain pony, I thought about that light, those colours. I thought a little bit about the sad, tense frustration of those little everyday-life setbacks, held against the backdrop of harrowing, desperate drought. And I thought about the big and small things that ebb around us and distract us and remind us. And the hopefulness of making a wish, of trying to will something to be, to draw up a spell or a summoning or an acknowledgement of what is at the very heart of the thing.
I hope the rain pony brings you some magic.
I don't need to tell you why horses are magical. It's about the same as dogs, really. What's not to love about sweet, curious animal friends that try their little hearts out to impress humans, who, by-and-large, are just pretty bad at everything?
At the end of last year I compiled a little stop-motion flip-through of a sketchbook I infrequently visited throughout 2017. It really got me thinking about how much time goes into filling a little book that takes only moments to browse through. And it also made me realise that after my first year of full-time freelancing, that time – which the book required so much of – has become very rare and precious.
So, with all the renewed vigour of any good human in January, I'm trying to spend at least a half-hour each morning working on personal projects or in sketchbooks, just warming up, recording ideas, and drawing for the hell of it. That is, until I decide that that half-hour is better spent exercising, playing the banjo or drinking coffee in quiet contemplation...
Since I've moved back to the farm, I've become increasingly aware of the moon. Maybe it's the big windows – in Melbourne, our house had small windows and a large fence, so I didn't often look out into the open night when I woke up at 3am wondering why I'd had such weird dreams or couldn't sleep. On the farm, I sit up in bed and look directly out onto the open front yard, that in turn overlooks the little valley we reside in. If it's a full moon, I can see gum tree and picnic table shadows falling across the lawn like an eerie ghost daytime.
Maybe it's all the wandering around I do – I've tried to reallocate time that was once spent commuting to a steady job, into time spent exercising outside or just rambling around the farm. The clement weather of my new location helps too. Often enough, I'll look up and see the moon day-setting over the mountains, make a note of it's phase and think about whether I've been feeling a consistent kind of way.
And maybe it's the summer heat, spent by the freshwater creek, wondering at the huge ebb and flow of the king tides, even this far up the river, drawn by January's supermoon. Wondering at how something as far away as the moon can make the river run backward, up over the rocks it usually cascades white and wild over, back into the elevation of the hills and mountains it's running from, until all the usual geography of the creek is almost unrecognisable.
So, with all that on my mind, I decided to make a wall poster tracking the major moon events throughout the year. I then wanted to share it with you, which turned out to be a little more difficult than expected, considering the dates and perspectives that differ across the timezones and hemispheres... So, after a lot of research and editing, I've released three variants on the 'Follow the Moon' lunar calendar: Aus/NZ, US/Canada and UK/Spain/France.
Hopefully the moon serves you well this year, or you at least know who to blame when you can't sleep.
At the start of each year, I like to sit down and draw something while thinking about the whole new year thing. Away from my usual rambling and deliberately obtuse sketchbook pages or from the externally directed commercial work I do, I take the first opportunity of the new year to draw something with intention and hope, and further, the wish that it might be an omen or harbinger of good things to come.
So this year, after all that 2017 wrought, I thought about compassion and insight and listening and learning and understanding. About all the suffering and hard truths and struggling and sorrow that might blossom into something magnificent and powerful this year. Maybe it's naively optimistic, but my hope is that we can be honest and compassionate through times of necessary change and difficult evolution, gentle in our rage and discontent, soft in our strength.
I hope it's all for the best.
Collections of clay-stained quartz and cicada wings, crying restless orioles and wandering lost dashboard spiders and the neighbours' horse walking pretty through the early mist, all overseen by an ever-watchful silent full moon, setting late in the west.
Take it easy, but take it.
There's new little iron-on patches in the shop!
While designing these, I thought about all the old patches sewn onto beat leather, shredded denim or sharp military jackets over the years; to confer achievement or rank or aspiration or allegiance.
Patches have always symbolised belonging, from those deeply entrenched in serving society, to those who elect to live outside of it in whatever kind of outlaw-band incarnation that might be, from punks to biker gangs. It's all recognition and alignment, from the love of sounds and scenes that patched jackets through the 70s and 80s, to the simple achievement of a girl scout or pony club grade, all the way through to ascending rank in the military, or serving in a Soviet space program, or the outsider allegiance of a motorcycle club.
So I wanted each of my new patches to recognise something we all share: bravery, love, and luck. Whether you're congratulating yourself on possessing or achieving it, or simply aspiring to it and welcoming it into your world, they're three little elements we could all always use a little more of.
Or hey, maybe you just want to have a jacket that's starting to look a bit like a torn sketchbook page, like mine... Either way, they're available here.
Australiana-flavoured greeting cards are the newest addition to the Pony Gold online shop!
I'd been thinking about this little series of illustrations – the Laughing Bird, Waratah Queen and Mothlight Lovers – for a long time before I finally had time to commit the thoughts to paper. So it makes me very happy to see them all side-by-side now; each a tribute to a different aspect of Australian bushland majesty.
One of my friends recently pointed out that I very rarely share the work I do for a living; instead, I only share the personal projects and sketchbook pages that I occasionally work on. When my blog and social media go quiet, you can be sure I'm flat out working on commercial jobs. And I do often forget to share the work when it's finally released, because production averages about a year... by which time I'm on to some new shiny idea and the old one seems very far away and long ago.
So, I'm going to make a more concerted effort to share a bit of what I do for work -- because I'm truly proud of and excited about the work I create for clients.
These tees are available through Auguste, which is one of my favourite Australian brands. My nieces have the Butterfly Girl and Unicorn tees, and they look so adorable in the 70s ringer style!
I've been scrambling madly over the past few weeks to try and complete some personal projects between commercial work... Things that have been rattling around in my brain for the better part of a year are finally getting crossed off the list and moved into production.
There's some sneaky peeks throughout this post (think Australiana prints and Georgia O'Keefe-inspired bandanas...), but plenty of new things arriving in the next shop update... Soon!
For Inktober, I'm trying to keep up with quick ink drawings-a-day. The above were working to the prompts of: underwater, poison, crooked, sword, screech, gigantic, run, divided, swift, shy and long.
It's a nice challenge to try and work out how to make an effective illustration in the shortest possible time.
Bits and pieces of the surfeit of moving parts that make up the whole.
I've just joined the talented crew of illustrators and artists on the Lake Coloring app. A lot of people have asked me about producing colouring books or pages, and this is my first little foray into that area (albeit digital).
I've personally never been too interested in colouring for fun or to relax – mostly because it's part of what I do for work! – but I really adore the way Lake works, and all the visuals involved... it's a very well executed app. Plus I get to share in the worlds of so many other illustrators, which is new and different!
There's not actually a whole lot of sketchbook in this post -- mostly torn-out sheets that were scanned and digitised for commercial work and jobs... So this is really a sneak-peek at what I'm working on when my sketchbook and social media goes quiet.
It's also an absolute celebration and worship of springtime sun in summer country. Sure beats the hell out of an extended Melbourne winter!
Also appearing on the fringes of this post is Rusty Rose bandana, available here, Ironlak markers and pens, and a little sneak into my upcoming release on Lake Coloring app, which is an incredible digital colouring app with artwork from a whole bunch of artists and illustrators from around the world!