Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Michèle Dodd!

Michèle Dodd is a talented traditional watercolour and pencil artist, writer and editor, who takes inspiration from her natural surroundings and turns realism into magic. Her breathtaking ‘Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos’ artwork in Our Australian HeART absolutely sweeps its audience off their feet, soaring across the page with such elegance, detail and utter charm. Bright, glittering and loud, this piece couldn’t be more perfect!

Thank you, Michèle! 🙂

About the Illustrator

Michèle Dodd is a writer, editor and illustrator, living in a leafy suburb in Melbourne.

As a child, Michèle thought everyone could draw. It took a long time before she realised that she actually had a talent!

Her style is traditional watercolour and pencil created in a semi realistic whimsical style.

Please visit Michèle Dodd at her socials 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.

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

How did you come to be an artist?

Thanks for interviewing me Romi. I can’t say I came to be an artist as I’ve always been one! I could draw at 4 as you can see from the attachment. It’s one thing I’ve always been able to do well, and I pursued a career when my veterinary surgeon boss said, ‘What are you doing here?’ after I painted the clinic full of lifelike animal murals!

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

Tell us a bit about your published works.

My first illustrated books commissioned were small readers but they were definitely a good way to understand the process of illustrating children’s books. When I was a full-time graphic designer at an advertising agency, I was lucky to be given all the in-house illustration as that was my specialty. I worked on point of sales, bed linen designs, packaging – consisting mostly confectionary items (Bounty bars, Mars products, etc)

Then when I became a freelance illustrator after the birth of my son, I scored the biggest and most sought after illustration job at the time which was to do the Australian promotional poster for The Lion King! I couldn’t believe I beat all the top agencies vying for it. My poor baby had to go into child care but I loved every minute hand colouring those amazing animals. It was very secretive as the movie hadn’t been released but I knew every detail of those characters well before they were famous!

I have worked for several publishers on counting and activity books for children and I wrote and illustrated Cats, Bats and Witches Hats published by Brolly Books.

What does your illustration process look like?

This is a video of me illustrating the black cockies after I have initially done the watercolour wash. I use watercolour and pencil for my illustrating. Previously, I worked with an airbrush and pencils. I haven’t gone digital as yet. I still love the feel of beautiful paper and creating gorgeous wash effects with the watercolour. I feel I might have to follow the trend sooner or later but I’m managing to hold off for now.

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

I have entered the ‘Pitch It’ writing competition before and was long listed then short listed for a novel pitch. That was an incredible feeling and really helped me believe in my writing. Then ‘Picture It’ was advertised so I thought, ‘Well, I’m actually an illustrator so I’m definitely giving this a shot!’

Your entry, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, was selected as one of our pieces for the anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

I was so thrilled to be chosen as I had put my illustration career on the back burner, but when I read the criteria it felt so perfect and I immediately visualised Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flying across the page. I had already selected yellow as my main colour scheme.

Why were you inspired to create this piece?

Coming from a country area we get black cockies flying over at least once every couple of months and sometimes weekly depending on the season. I love the sound of them and the incredible beauty of their slow motion flight. It’s actually been a dream of mine to sketch them flying across a page so when the comp appeared I was ready to start. And now I’m up to my 6th illustration of birds flying across a double spread as inspired by the black cockies. It will be a stand-alone children’s picture book.

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

I’m always ready to read a book (and put on the silly voices) to any child. I love making costumes or decorating Easter eggs with children. Even spending time colouring-in sketches I have drawn or assisting the children with colour choices or even their own drawings. It’s what I do best after all!

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

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #yellowtailedblackcockatoos #australianbirds #picturebooks #justkidslit

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

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