Studio update – early August 2017

Well, hello there! I’ve decided it’s time to restart this blog again after a long silence. Friends have been asking what I’m up to lately, creatively-speaking, so I’d really like to write a decent blog post every couple of weeks that will act like a newsletter of sorts.

Lombard Street illo for the 52-week Challenge.

I haven’t had much time to participate in the 52-week Illustration Challenge recently, and the last artwork I created was this illustration of Lombard Street for Week 26: San Francisco. That was over five weeks ago, so I have some catching up to do! In my role on the challenge’s admin team, it was my week to pick my favourite artworks for the theme, and you can check those out here on the 52-week Illustration Challenge blog. I enjoy working in this style, and will be creating some more cityscapes as part of a range that I’ll make available as giclee art prints for sale, as soon as I decide which online marketplace to use. Here are a couple more I created recently (really must finish that Flatiron Building one!):

Flinders Street Station and the Flatiron Building.

At the end of June I said farewell to my design business, Crackers Art, which I have run for nearly two decades. In the last five years it was focused on selling digital party printable files for children’s birthday parties. I had a lot of fun styling parties and creating tools for my customers to DIY their own kids’ celebrations. But that business no longer challenged me creatively, and I started to resent the time it swallowed up when I wanted to be working on my other creative projects. It’s sad to say goodbye to something that’s been in my life for so long, but I really feel it’s time to focus on the next part of my career – writing and illustrating.

Farewell, Crackers Art! You were lots of fun.

Speaking of writing, I’ve just completed the line edits on my debut young adult novel which will be released in early 2018 with Walker Books Australia (release date not confirmed as yet). This means I’m yet another step closer to having this book all polished up and ready to hit the printing presses! I’ve recently updated my writing website – Sarah Epstein Books – and can’t wait until I have a book cover design to share with everyone. This is organised by the publisher with their professional cover designer, and I’ll hopefully see some cover concepts soon. Eek! Exciting.

Home page from sarahepsteinbooks.com.

I’ve also recently started an online course about writing for children, created by Australian children’s book author, Jen Storer (you can find details on Jen’s website here). In recent years, my ideas for junior fiction and picture books have been shoved aside in my pursuit of having a YA novel published. So while I’m working away on my next YA manuscript, I’m also enjoying a little flurry of ideas while I make my way through Jen’s course. And so far participating in this course is doing exactly what I’d hoped it would – it’s like I’ve been given permission to get silly and messy and indulge in all those ideas I’d put on the backburner. I’m hoping some of the ideas I’m scribbling away on in my little notebook will make it onto bookshelves one day.

My Scribbles notebook created especially for Jen’s online course.

I’ve also discovered Jen’s wonderful online support group called The Duck Pond for writers and illustrators of kidlit. (Hello, Duckies!) You can find out more about Girl & Duck on Jen’s website here. If you’re a writer, illustrator, artist, designer or crafty person, I highly recommend seeking out like-minded souls in private Facebook groups or online forums so you have people to ask for advice, share your successes with, and commiserate and/or celebrate what it’s like living the creative life. It’s extremely challenging at times, and hanging out with other creatives who completely ‘get it’ is invaluable.

Quack, quack!

On the crafty side of things, I’ve just completed this owl headpiece for my youngest son to wear in his school concert coming up later this month. I used a very simple craft project I found online here, and matched the colours to some feathery costume things we picked up at Ikea that I’ll attach to his t-shirt to create owl wings. I had to learn how to do a blanket stitch around the edge of the headpiece, and thankfully found a very easy tutorial on YouTube. Gotta love the internet, right?

In the next couple of weeks I hope to:
1. Start playing around with some character drawings for an illustrated middle grade book idea I’m developing.
2. Complete at least one of the 52-week Illustration Challenge themes.
3. Learn how to use my new Wacom tablet which arrived today! Can’t believe I’ve survived without one for so long considering how much digital colouring I do.
4. Complete another colouring page illustration for a set I’ve been developing for far too long (really need to make them available as digital downloads very soon).
5. Get lots of new words down on at least one of the manuscripts I have in progress.

So, that’s a wrap for this week’s update. I’ll check in again soon and we’ll see how I actually went with this To Do list. 🙂