Building a portfolio

I made a decision at the beginning of the year to focus more on my illustration than my writing this year. It suddenly made sense that this is what I should be doing because it was art that was my first love when I was young. I am rekindling that passion. So far it has been a great journey with lots of hard work but satisfying results. I’m not an expert yet but I am better than I was at the start of the year and that is what practice is all about.

I was a roving reporter for this year’s Biannual SCBWI Conference and I had the opportunity to browse all the amazing portfolios submitted for editors and agents. You can read about it here: Roving Reporter and here: Illustrator Showcase 2019

I took away some really useful tips and information about what makes a great portfolio and have been working hard to create my own in time for this year’s CYA Conference.

I have also participated in the following to help me improve my skills:

Now I am ready for the school holidays which start in a week. I will give myself a break before looking for a new project to participate in – I work well to deadlines. They motivate me and keep me practising my skills.

I showed a mini book I created for the Curtis Brown Course on a previous post : New Year – New Projects

Here is some of the work I have created towards building a dummy picture book. During this project I had to consider the fold of the book also known as the gutter, flow of writing from left to right and where the text would fit within the illustrations amongst many other things to consider.


Rough double page spread in pencil


Double page spread in colour using Procreate on Ipad Pro


It’s not perfect and my 13 year old daughter was quite happy to highlight the inconsistences in my illustrations. I’ll take any feedback I can get no matter how brutal 🙂 Feedback will help me get to be the best illustrator I can be. A picture book dummy is a great way to learn how to create a children’s book. Next I will work on the front cover as I noticed there were mock front covers in some of the illustrator portfolios at SCBWI so this is another skill I want to learn.

You can see more of my work on my instagram page: RamonaofJersey

Well that’s it for now – I have to go and prepare my art lessons for the rest of this week!

New Year – New Projects

It’s a brand new year and a perfect time to feel refreshed and get stuck into some new projects. I have participated in #doodleadayjan and started an online writing and illustrating picture books course which I am throughly enjoying. I need prompts to make me work and this has been great for getting me to try new skills with my drawing.

#doodleadayjan was a good way to warm up my skills and not forget them before starting the course.

Here is a selection of my hand drawn illustrations from the drawing challenge:

And here is a selection of my digital illustrations:

I’m so glad I participated as I felt there were a few styles that could possibly be developed.


For the online course I have so far had to draw a little self-portrait, so here I am dressed up in my art teacher’s outfits. I always to dress to theme according to the artist I am teaching. Can you recognise the famous artwork on my skirt?: 

And we had to complete a mini book which was so much fun and not something I had done before. so chuffed to be learning new skills. Here is a sneaky peek at pages 3 and 4.


I am still writing but this year I am focusing on my illustration skills which has so far been lots of fun already!





It has been a while since I have participated in a drawing challenge. 52 Week Drawing Challenge founded by Tania McCartney ended and I got a part-time job as an art teacher in a local primary school. My time has become limited for my own creativity but I felt a longing to get back into it. Inktober was perfect!

I’m not going to beat myself up about the fact I didn’t complete the challenge because that is pointless and on the plus side I did more drawings than I would have done not even attempting the challenge. So here are the first 10 days:


A Fun Day Out Illustration Competition

The results have come in for the New England Illustration Prize. Well done to the winners and everyone who entered!

My illustration for the theme ‘A Fun Day Out,’ didn’t get selected but I am okay with that.

Being a writer means you get used to rejections. I come away feeling that I am glad I entered because you have to be in it to win it, and if you don’t enter your chances are zero.

Rejections seem to spur me on to do better next time and that’s the great thing about competitions. Plus, I come away with an illustration I might not have even bothered attempting if I hadn’t chosen to enter.

Here it is:

I had just been teaching painted paper lessons to my year one students. It was fun to do and the artworks looked fabulous. I wanted to try this at home. Yes, I know another style! If you have read my posts before one of my biggest obstacles as an illustrator is that I don’t know what medium I like to work with best or what style my best art is so I keep trying out new stuff. Hopefully one day it will all click into place. It’s a bit eclectic like my dress sense and my house. 🙂

I don’t know why I chose sharks except I suppose I wanted to choose an animal that you wouldn’t normally think of as having a fun family day out. I didn’t want it to be predictable.

The sea and sand textures  were created by putting blobs of paint onto paper and scraping a plastic ruler across the page. I accidentally got blue on the sand but I liked the fact that it looked like the sea reflecting on the bottom of the seabed so I left it.

I look forward to the next competition to see what I come up with.



So much has gone on in the past month I do not know how I managed to fit it all in on top of a brand new job. So this post will be a bit of a photo fest to try and include everything.

First their was KIDLITVIC2017. If you haven’t attended this yearly festival yet than it is a ‘must’ for next year. I flew down to Melbourne excited to mingle with authors, illustrators, editors and agents.

Our writers group ‘Picture This’ being framed!

The best thing about writers festivals and conferences is meeting up with like-minded people who become your friends for life.

Then I went and unexpectedly got myself a job as a part-time Visual Arts teacher in a local primary school. I have hit the floor running familiarising myself with the Australian curriculum, remembering 300+ children’s names, meeting new staff and painting everyday.

The white board showing all the different activities going on for each stage.

This has meant that my creativity has all gone on this job and left me no time for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge of which I have participated in since day one for the last 3-4 years. At least I am still being creative just in a different forum. Next term we are focusing on clay modelling!

Year 1/2 children exploring mono-printing

Then I was flying up to Brisbane for the CYA Conference. This was another jam-packed day.

Jacqueline Harvey says, ‘Editors are the bomb!’


Tina Clarke introduces the amazingly talented Shaun Tan  via Skype to a room for of illustrators in awe.


Nadine Bates talks about the place for interactive books and her new venture Kindergo.


I make new friends.

Illustrator Sandy Flett.


And catch up with old ones.

The wonderful Sheryl Gwyther and myself.

This post would go on forever if I was to write about all the valuable snippets of information that was shared during these events. But I hate long wordy posts, so I shan’t write one. I do insist you try and attend an event like this though, as they are huge sources of information about the writing world. The editor consultations are gold dust and are the best thing you can do to make your manuscript get closer to your publishing dream.

See you at the next one!

SCBWIAuNZ Sketch & Scribble at Luna Park

Today I participated in SCBWI’s Sketch & Scribble event held at Luna Park. It was so much fun. Lots of chatter, catching up with fellow writers and illustrators amongst beautiful views. What more could you ask for? Well maybe Luna Park being open for starters! Yes, it was closed but that just added to the humour of the day. We are creatives. We can work around this hiccup. And we did, taking a lovely stroll through Wendy Whitely’s Secret Garden. So if Luna Park had been open we all would have been none the wiser about this secret treasure behind the park.

Children’s author Katrina McKelvey prompted us to ‘look up’ and use our five senses.

Here are some of the sketches I managed to fit in between all the chatting:

Parts of some of the very colourful rides.


The city skyline behind the park.


I particularly liked the seagull on the right with his little head cocked to the side as if he was curious to know what we were all doing.


As SCBWIAuNZ’s new member co-ordinator I also had the opportunity to meet some new members for the first time. This is the bonus for belonging to an organisation like SCBWI. You get to meet, connect and network with like minded people. Writing and illustrating can be a lonely career so these occasions and events are a great way to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.

Maybe I will see you at the next one!


Jan – March 52 Week Illustrations

It is already the 4th April. I have decided not to worry about deadlines for the illustrations this year but rather focus on participating, developing my drawing skills and exploring new styles and techniques. I have also decided not to worry about completing each theme. This year I am going to complete the ones that resonate with me. So here they are…

Week 2: Feathered Animals

I used the Sketch App. I love woodcuts and decided to play around to see if I could get a similar effect. So I used black shape option to create simple black bird shapes and then went over the top in white. I liked how they looked but was curious to see how adding a little colour would look. See next image.

In black & white:

© Ramona Davey 2017
© Ramona Davey 2017

In colour:

Week 2 colour

Week 5: Peacock

As you can see I enjoyed playing around with this technique. I like the speed in which I can create. I love the fact it is digital so I can undo any think I don’t like or think doesn’t work.

© Ramona Davey 2017
© Ramona Davey 2017


Week 8: Pastel

Creating backgrounds is one of my weaknesses, something I need to work on but I enjoyed creating this subtle underwater scene.

© Ramona Davey 2017
© Ramona Davey 2017

Week 9: Baking

I was time poor this week and that is the beauty of digital art apps. They can be quick to use. My daughter has been doing a lot of baking recently due to all the black bananas we have in the fridge!

Week 9- Baking
© Ramona Davey 2017

Week 11: Perspective

As much as I love the speed and ability to correct and press the undo button with digital art I also love collage. I focused on using simple shapes so the illustration had a more stylised feel to it. The end result was pleasing.

Version 2

Week 12: Happy Place

Collage and digital mix

The library is my happy place!


© Ramona Davey 2017
© Ramona Davey 2017


I was thrilled to see it was one of the weekly picks for the 52 Week Challenge blog here: Leonie’s picks – Week 12 – Happy Place



December – 52 Week Illustrations

I feel this year my motto might very well be: ‘Better Late Than Never.’ I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. I have always been a punctual person, like half an hour early kind of punctual, but this year I have already missed the dates for 3/4 of the themes for this January’s 52 Week Illustration Challenge. Should I give up? I ask myself this every year. See last years blog post: #illo52weeks – January’s Ilustrations And each December I am always super glad I didn’t give up as I find myself looking over 52 different styles of illustrations, some rubbish, some good and some I am really pleased with.

As I was away for a month at Xmas I didn’t quite get around to posting December’s illustrations. So here they are:

Week 49: Gift


Week 49- Gift


Week 50: Festive

Copic markers

Week 50- Festive


Week 51: Celebrate


Week 51- Celebrate


Week 52: Reflection


Week 52- Reflection

So this year, I may not meet the deadline each week but I have decided not to stress too much about it. Aslong as I complete the themes, that is okay by me. If the  Xmas holidays or something like your eldest starting high school is taking priority (as it is this week) that’s fine. I’m going with the flow rather than battling upstream. Late is better than never and on that note, Happy New Year everyone!

PS: let’s totally forget the fact that I turned up a week early for my writers group meeting yesterday! It’s going to be that kind of year. 🙂

November – 52 week Illustration Challenge

Week 44: Spain – acrylic paints

I really enjoyed painting this illustration of my flamenco dancing flamingoes. I based it on a similar one from last year’s challenge of some foxtrotting foxes here: Week 36 –  2015



Week 45: Zebra – acrylic paints

Then I came up with the idea of a zip-lining zebra! I discovered a sketch book of canvas paper. I love the effect it has and how nice it is to paint on.



Week 46: Treehouse – copic markers

During this week a friend of mine was travelling around Australia and shared a photo of a tree – circa 1858 Johann Herbig and his wife Anna lived in the base of a very large gum tree to save money while they built a house. They had two children while living in the tree but altogether they had 16 children. Can you spot them?



Week 47: Buildings – gelli print and digital



Week 48: Clock – polystyrene print

I was late with this illustration. I couldn’t for the life of me think what to do and then I saw this blog post at Mrs Knight’s Smart Artists and it reminded me of how much I love to print using polystyrene tiles. These are not easy to get hold of in Australia. You can see more of my work printing on polystyrene tiles here: Week 9: Texture 2015


Well that is it for another month and we have only one month left to go till the end of the year. This week the theme was ‘Gift,’ which I have thankfully completed on time but you will have to wait until the very last day of this year to see it. And here are the secret santa gifts me and my writer group buddies give to each other at this year’s Xmas dinner:


And here we are. My invaluable group of writerly friends that critique my writing to make it a stronger story for the future reader:


It was a great night full of love and laughter. Have a Christmas/holiday.

Bye for now!