Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Alisha Dyer!

This week, it’s a thrill to welcome illustrator, writer and graphic designer, Alisha Dyer, to the blog to talk about her inspirations for her stunning artwork. We were immediately drawn to Alisha’s ‘Redbank Gorge‘ for the Our Australian HeART anthology, for its breathtaking beauty in shimmering oil and watercolour pinks and purples, casting glowing sparkles over the page with hidden treasures to explore. Utterly captivating!

Thank you, Alisha! 🙂

About the Illustrator

Alisha Dyer is a lifelong creative with passion for art, travel, wildlife, sustainability and inclusivity. Her fine art mediums include oil paint, ink and more recently watercolour.

She writes poetry, travel articles, reviews and has a background in graphic design.

Alisha’s love for art stems from a creative family tree and a passion for colour and storytelling.

She proudly acknowledges her family history which includes Aboriginal ancestors (Kokatha) alongside European immigrants. Originally from WA, she has lived on Peramangk country in the beautiful Adelaide Hills since 2020.

Alisha’s poster art and event map design for the Hahndorf Winter Lantern Festival were widely distributed online and in print across the Adelaide Hills in 2021.

Please visit Alisha Dyer at her etsy shop: etsy.com/au/shop/AlishaMarieDyer and on Instagram and Facebook.

Our Australian HeART can be purchased via the Just Write For Kids Australia website.

Donations can be made directly to our fundraising page at The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Alisha, thank you for joining me to chat about your amazing work!

Thank you for having me, Romi!

How did you come to be an artist?

Art has always been prominent in my life, coming from a creative family. We are artists of many forms, going back at least five generations. My mother is incredibly talented and curious, always learning new skills. She has always encouraged art, science and spending time in nature.

Art and design have always been my favourite subjects, and I studied both as well as graphic design, in my late teens and early twenties.

We moved around a bit growing up in WA, and I spent three years travelling solo around Australia in a van, so I have experienced many beautiful and different landscapes and lifestyles. I have been working as a professional artist in the Adelaide Hills for four years, where there is a vibrant art scene and so many birds! I never considered myself a bird watcher but I may end up one.

What does art and illustrating children’s books mean to you?

Children’s picture books are my favourite genre to read. I still buy them all the time, just for my own collection. Being a visual person, I am obsessed with the illustrations that accompany stories. I enjoy all types of stories, but the books I most want to illustrate myself would have to be themed around nature and how we can protect animals and ecosystems.

Tell us a bit about your published works.

As an author, I have been published in the 2021 Blue Fringe Art Festival collective (poetry), and online in the form of travel blogs and arts event reviews.

As an illustrator, my art has featured locally on poster and t-shirt designs for the Hills Winter Lantern Festival, and Australia-wide in the wonderful anthology Our Australian HeART.  Thank you JWFK Australia!

What does your illustration process look like?

My ideas live in my mind for a long time before I actually draw them. I like to plan and work methodically. Having a competition deadline or a community project are really good for me, because it pressures me to start and finish in a decent time frame! When working in oil-paints, I like to paint on large canvases and spend up to 50 hours on the work. I use reference images and draw a grid on the canvas to place everything correctly. Watching mini tutorials on YouTube in my lunch breaks really helped me to stay inspired. In recent years I have been painting small works in gouache and watercolour, using ink and pencil for details. These can be completed in just a few hours, or a week if I need drying time for layers. The shimmery paints show up best on black paper, and I have been having fun figuring out how to add the white tints. Lumocolour pencils are a wonderful art tool for this.

What drew you to enter the Just Write For Kids’ Picture It! Anthology Competition?

The competition was so exciting to read about – an opportunity to be a published illustrator! I knew that I had set foot in some really stunning parts of Australia on my solo travels, and wanted to share the magic of those memories.

Your entry, Redbank Gorge, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

It means the world and all the magic in it. 🙂 That email saying that Redbank Gorge had been selected as a contribution to the anthology made me tear up a little, and I have been so proud of myself throughout the process from start to now. I even submitted the art a month before the deadline, (which never happens), because I was so excited to enter.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

Central Australia is my favourite part of our country. The red earth and bright skies and vastness of the land is so beautiful. The night I camped at Redbank Gorge, there was only one other camper there. I had the entire gorge and creek to myself as dusk fell. I walked quietly and spotted the elusive rock wallabies. I swam in the cold spring water and took photos of every type of rock I could see. As the sun was setting, the gorge lit up pink and red. It’s the kind of moment where you can’t stop smiling but you don’t want to sing or make noise because the place feels too sacred to disturb.

In what other ways do you spread the joy of art to children?

Working with the lantern festival has been a wonderful experience the last four years. I have visited schools to assist in lantern making workshops, and spent weekends in town halls building giant lanterns with children and families. We build the structures from locally grown willow, before papering, decorating, installing candles and then lighting them for a parade that is marched through  the festival.

I have also run some machine sewing classes for beginners at the library, and I hope to do some poetry classes in future.

This year I completed a certificate in Disability, which along with further study, will be used to work in Diversional Therapy. My career goals are to spread the joy of art to children in as many ways as I can, be it through children’s books, art classes or therapy. I have a wealth of ideas and high hopes for the future, and at least four book projects that I want to bring into the world someday.

Thanks so much, Alisha! It’s been an honour! 😊

It’s an honour for me, too. I had fun answering your questions. Thank you for everything. 🙂

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #redbankgorge #centralaustralia #picturebooks #justkidslit

Our Australian HeART by Just Write For Kids Australia and Friends is published by Daisy Lane Publishing.

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