Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Jacqui Hewlett!

We’re delighted to welcome talented artist, author and pattern designer, Jacqui Hewlett, to our blog, to share her fascinating, wondrous and whimsical work with us. Jacqui’s playful ‘Wandering Geckos – Patterns in Nature’ piece is the first burst of movement and colour upon entering Our Australian HeART. Its inspiring words and curious geckos invite readers to explore, enquire and appreciate the beauty of nature around them. What a gift!

Thank you, Jacqui! 🙂

About the Illustrator

Jacqui Hewlett is a pattern designer, author and illustrator who creates unique and intricate illustrations using Adobe Illustrator. Her designs are playful and whimsical, bold and striking.

Jacqui’s first short story and illustration was published in an Anthology of Christmas Tales in 2018. She has another contribution in Michelle Worthington’s anthology, Tales from the Bark Side (2023), and a written and illustrated piece in the Just Write For Kids’ anthology, Our Australian HeART (2023).

Please visit Jacqui Hewlett at her website: www.ponytaildesigns.com.au 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.

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

Thank you so much Romi and JWFK for your amazing support!

How did you come to be an artist?

I have always loved to draw and made hand drawn cards to give to family and friends throughout the years, but never took myself seriously as an ‘Artist’. During my 50’s I came across a Surface Pattern Design course using Adobe Illustrator, where I learnt the mastery of turning my drawings into patterns. At the same time I was volunteering at a Miniature Pony Farm that offered birthday party rides for young kids. Sadly the farm lost one of their ponies, he was the owner’s favourite. He was always smiling, hence his name ‘Smiley’. I took it upon myself to commemorate his life by drawing him and had his image screen printed onto T-shirts for all the staff to wear and that’s where the idea came about. I created my own brand and website ‘Pony Tail Designs’. As a horsey girl myself from the age of 10, I was in my element, working with horses and watching the kids little faces and souls light up when on horseback and I was able to bring my artwork into the space too.

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

My late mother was a published author of children’s books, and after her passing, I discovered a set of incomplete stories on her laptop. I decided to ghostwrite the remainder of the set (yet to be published) using her style of rhyme and storytelling. I had so much fun, that I continue to write similar stories, two of which have been published. I am currently working on illustrating my own stories and hope the joy of making artwork is captured on each page turn.

Tell us a bit about your published works.

My first short story and illustration was published in an ‘Anthology of Christmas Tales‘ (2018), inspired by the Greengrocers shop of which my family owned when I was a young child in England. I also have another contribution in Michelle Worthington’s last anthology, ‘Tales from the Bark Side’ (2023). My wallpaper design reached the semi-final of the Resene competition, such a thrill, and many of my fabric designs have been sold on Spoonflower.

What does your illustration process look like?

I love to get ideas as a reference, I have to draw by hand with my trusty eraser nearby (if only I mastered how to use my drawing tablet). Once I’m happy with the drawing, I will then outline it and scan it into Adobe Illustrator where it is vectorised. I start adding colour then get carried away with turning every image into a pattern! It’s so addictive. I then print my final art piece and send it off to a customer.

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

I had entered the Just Write For Kids new logo competition back in 2018, and had so much fun! I was already familiar with anthologies and saw this opportunity to embrace who I actually want to be – a Thriving Artist! (still working on the thriving part!), and so put myself out there for all to see.

Your entry, Wandering Geckos – Patterns in Nature, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

I was both shocked and delighted that my entry was chosen, and buzzing with excitement that my artwork is out there for all to enjoy. Being included in this JWFK competition along with so many talented artists has started the wheels of recognition to my art journey, something I will be forever grateful for.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

Well, I am a nature lover at heart. I was walking my Spoodle on our morning crossing through the park, and as always, in search for inspiration. I came across a curled up eucalyptus leaf and was fascinated at how it would look in a pattern. Once you make a pattern you start to see patterns in everything. I’ve always been fond of the cute little geckos we see so often here in Australia. After some research, I discovered geckos represent a symbol of protection for the First Nations peoples of our country. So, these ideas came together and with some thoughtful colour schemes in mind I played around with the idea. The bright orange just popped out at me and that was the beginning of my now Wandering Gecko artwork.

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

Well, most of my neighbours have a picture of their pet on t-shirts, tea-towels, pillow covers. The local kids have their own unique Halloween t-shirts and I have gifted many of my artworks as nursery prints to friends. I look forward to continuing to bring joy to children’s illustration and storytelling in the future.

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

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #wanderinggeckos #patternsinnature #picturebooks #justkidslit

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

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