About Me

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Hello and welcome to behind the scenes. Here you will find my latest news and events, my work in progress, including pictures and videos of my illustration process, plus free kids activities and more.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cat and Fox

Catori stalks like a fox.

I've always been fascinated by the Native American animal totems or spirit animals. After spending some time in America and Canada last year, I was inspired to illustrate these two characters, Catori (spirit) and Fox (her spirit animal).

Catori sleeps like a fox.

Both of these illustrations are now available to purchase from amalou.redbubble.com on a range of products: framed prints, fine art prints, greeting cards and more. I couldn't decide if I preferred my illustration on the cream paper background or the white background, so I made it available on both. See what I've done there? I've passed the decision on to the customer.
The conundrum is now yours.

Custom Framed Art Prints with your choice of frame and matte colour.

Greeting Cards 100 x 150 or 125 x 190 (mm) or Postcards 100 x 150 (mm)

Gallery Quality Fine Art Prints

Hardcover Journal, Spiral Notebooks, Pillows, Mugs, Tote Bags and More

Monday, May 21, 2018

International Awareness for ME / CFS & Fibromyalgia

This month, I decided to illustrate an animated gif for May 12th International Awareness Day.

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A little history...

"May 12th was chosen as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was believed to have suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME/CFS." ~ quoted from www.may12.org

Why it's personal...

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and her ugly sister Fibromyalgia (FM) have impacted my life over the last 5 years in a profound way. The last day I remember feeling 'normal' was August 11, 2013.

That was the day I manned a face painting stall and painted hundreds of little faces at my children's school fete. That day was so frantic, I didn't have time for a short lunch break, or even a toilet break.

Unbeknown to me, I was also coming down with the flu that day. The flu that never really left.

ME/CFS has robbed my ability to function as a 'whole' person. And it has peeled away a little more of me every year since. This year, I've had to put my dream career of illustrating children's books on pause.

I'm usually a very private person and only share my artwork to the world. It's taken me some time to work up the courage to draw myself struggling along with an invisible illness and to share my personal story.

I created this illustration to give others an idea of what it feels like to me, to have ME/CFS.

On better days, I only have the wet cement to wade through, on worse days, I have that stubborn elephant to contend with. Sometimes, that bothersome elephant likes to sit right on top of me. Fortunately, I don't have too many days in a row like that, where I'm completely bedridden.

I consider myself lucky to be in the moderate spectrum of this neurological disease (meaning, I currently function anywhere between 30% - 60% of my former-self).

Why am I lucky? During this journey, I've discovered there's a darker, more severe end of the spectrum. And to be honest, it terrifies me.

The patients in the severe spectrum have given me the strength to speak out, because they can't. They lost that ability long ago. They've lost the ability to walk, talk, feed themselves. They've been 'fully' missing from life for years. Some, missing for decades. Hidden away, in a quiet, darkened room: no light, no conversation, no music, no books, no movies, no social media to distract themselves from their suffering. Any stimuli causes them more pain and will exasperate all symptoms.

Life is hell for those at the severe end, and for their families. They watch on helplessly, as their loved one's life is stripped away, leaving just a shell of what was once a happy, healthy, and energetic person with a promising future.

There's currently no approved medical treatment for ME/CFS. Researches are coming close, but they need funding and they need the support from our government and our medical system.

Despite clinical studies revealing that people with ME/CFS are 'measurably more disabled' than people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), ME/CFS receives a great deal less funding and disability support from the Australian government.

Even though ME/CFS is estimated to occur at a higher prevalence than MS (0.42% verses .09%), ME/CFS receives less attention in medical training.

"The name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was given to this condition because people didn't understand what it was," said Professor Don Staines, co-director of Griffith University's National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED). Professor Don Staines and his team have found it's a malfunction in the body at a cellular level.

Professor Staines said, "There's a defect in the receptor meaning they no longer function the way they should. What the receptors should do is to be able to transfer calcium from outside the cell to the inside.

The discovery of abnormal calcium immune system affects people with ME/CFS in three main areas of the body where ME/CFS-related pain usually occurs – the brain and spinal cord, the pancreas and the stomach.

Calcium Ions are absolutely critical for cellular function, in every single cell and every single tissue, in the body."  ~ quoted from the Huffington Post and Today Tonight Adelaide's Story.

"Although it's known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," Professor Don Staines said, "fatigue is an unfortunate word because it trivialises the severity of the condition. The formal name of the illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, is far more accurate because, in medical terms, it relates specifically to brain and spinal cord inflammation with associated muscle pain."

ME/CFS is a far cry from 'chronic fatigue' - so can we start calling it by its correct name?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (or ME)

It's a tricky word to get your mouth around. It's a bit like that word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which takes a little practise to say it right.

So let me break it down for you:

MYA                     muscles

ALGIC                 painful

ENCEPHALO     brain

MYEL                  nerve

ITIS                      inflammation

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If you would like to know more about ME/CFS, please visit the following websites:

Watch the documentary 'Unrest' available on iTunes and Netflix. And 'After Unrest' a free Australian documentary.

Watch a short story of Dr Ron Davis' race to save his son Whitney from dying from this disease.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Doe and Fawn in the Lupines

Final illustration

Last year, I had the best AirBnB experience staying in a charming cottage 'The Tides' at Glen Haven. The cottage overlooks Big Indian Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. I wrote about it in more detail in my Travelling Illustrator post.

Late one afternoon, a wild doe and her fawn stopped for a rest in the front garden of the cottage. It was magical to me, as I'm from Australia, so I'm only used to seeing wallabies and kookaburras. I raced around madly looking for my camera, which of course, I didn't take overseas with me, so I hastily grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures.

They trotted off in a hurry, so this is all I managed to snap for my illustration reference. As you can see in the illustration above,  I had to improvise a little with my drawing of the fidgety fawn. I also tilted the doe's head a little for a cute nuzzle with her fawn. This did not happen at all! The mother was trying to have a rest while the fawn was bouncing all over her, and within minutes, the mother had enough and trotted off. I completely sympathised with her, having three kids of my own.

Gees... let the poor mum deer have her rest!

Illustration Reference

I left behind a sketch study of the deer for the owner of the cottage and I promised the host that I would illustrate a better one (pictured top) and send an art print in the post. After six months of working on this between children's book projects, the illustration's finally completed, printed and packaged in a postal tube, ready to post to Canada this afternoon.

My illustration 'Doe and Fawn in the Lupines' is also available as fine art prints, greeting cards and various other products pictured below, at my RedBubble Shop.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas Tingles

It's December! Now's a perfectly acceptable time to sprinkle some more of That Christmas Feeling around the webisphere. 

My daughter's found her reindeer antlers and we're about to pull out the Christmas Tree.

Illustration Video

As promised, here's a time-lapse video of my illustration process from That Christmas Feeling picture book, written by Lili Wilkinson.

For those who are interested in the more technical aspects of my illustration process, I have a longer version of this video including descriptive captions, explaining my technique here.

Christmas Holiday Art Activities

For those who live in Brisbane and are looking for a Christmas activity to do with your kids, I'll be at Riverbend Books (193 Oxford Street, Bulimba) this Saturday, 9th of December at 10.30am. You'll just need to book your FREE tickets here: https://riverbendbooks.com.au/events/kids-event-that-christmas-feeling

I've recently added some activities themed around That Christmas Feeling picture book to my Kids Activities page. Be sure to print out some of these to keep your kids busy over the holidays. Well, busy enough for you to enjoy a quiet cuppa at least.


• Colouring page • Santa List Colouring Page
• How to Draw a Christmas Tree • How to Draw a Christmas Puppy


That Christmas Feeling Book Reviews

Today's @dailytelegraph Funday #LoveOzKidLit review: 
"The realistic watercolour illustrations cleverly create an “every family, every Christmas” setting and the story encourages young children to think about what makes Christmas special. “That Christmas Feeling” celebrates the importance of family. Even without the traditional food, tree, carols and home, when Dottie is surrounded by her family, “It feels exactly like Christmas.” 

That Christmas Feeling
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Illustrated by Amanda Francey

A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

Hardback $19.99 (available from 1st October 2017)