When I was young, I thought I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I used to love drawing and painting, and spent long hours illustrating my own story books. Here is a page from one I wrote when I was about twelve. It was called Princesses and Pirates, and was about two girls who played imaginary games:

After high school I went to an art college to study illustration. In the first year we all had to do a “Foundation” course, where we learned the basics about drawing, 2-D design, 3-D design and colour. One of my assignments was to create a poster illustrating my timetable, so I can show you exactly what I studied in my first year:

As you can see, I was very interested in Art History. I loved (and still love) looking at art, and I think you can learn so much from artists through the ages. One of the subjects you can see at the top of my timetable is Art of the Native Peoples. The raven rattle I chose to illustrate that subject was made by the Haida tribe of western Canada. I loved the bold outlines and strong colours used by that particular tribe. You can learn more about Haida art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization website here.

In 3-D design we used a special material called “foam-core” board to make three-dimensional structures and sculptures. If you look closely you can see I cut out a 3 and a D from foam-core and stuck them on my poster.

Another important subject at art college was Colour. I thought I knew about the primary colours but I was completely wrong! It took me quite a while to accept that primary red was actually magenta (a deep pink colour) and primary blue was more like turquoise. It was only when I started mixing colours that I realised how much yellow there is in fire-engine red.

These are what I thought were primary colours.

The colours in the circles are true primary colours.

In Colour class we had to fill an enormous scrap book with strips of painted paper to show the many hues between each primary colour. It took ages painting from pure yellow through to red, then red to blue, then blue to yellow again, but it was a great way to understand exactly how every colour is made. We also had to paint a grey scale, going from white to black with every shade in between.

After art college I spent about six months working as a children’s book illustrator. I have one book published with my illustrations which was all about Christmas around the world. Here is one of my black-and-white illustrations from the book:

It was a very valuable experience, but I soon realised I was much happier writing the words than drawing the pictures. When I grew up I became a writer, and I love imagining how my stories will look without having to do it myself! I still draw and paint for my own pleasure, and sometimes I do drawings for friends.

I have recently discovered drawing with coloured pencils on coloured paper (which is not so hard as using paint!) I used to love watercolours but now I’m a bit nervous that I’ll ruin a nice drawing, so pencils are my way of cheating a bit.

Here is a peacock I gave some friends as a wedding present:

And this is a portrait I did for a friend of her grandmother (from a photograph taken in the 1920s):

My friend's Granny looked very pretty in the 1920s.

This is the photo I used for her portrait.

The last picture I want to show you is one that hangs on a wall in my office. This is a funny picture of my great-grandmother Hepzibah Moran (far right) and her three sisters in Canada, and like the portrait above I used a photo taken in the 1920s. I think this one must have been taken at Easter time because the ladies are still all bundled up against the cold, but they are wearing corsages on their coats! They are also standing on a beach, which is quite mysterious…

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