23 December, 2013

Christmas Greetings!

It's that time of year again and as usual we are very busy in this household.

I wish everyone a Happy Christmas and enjoyable holidays.

I'm looking forward to a great New Year and a new grandchild to add to the fun.

Back in 2014.

11 October, 2013

This Little Piggy Went Dancing

 My new book has just been published and it's swarming with little pigs!

Teaming up with the fabulous Margaret Wild who wrote the words, I have let myself loose by creating an abundance of active piglets!

To get into a piggy mood, I'll be adding some fun activity pages in the coming week.

This book is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now.

29 August, 2013

Mulga Bill's Bicycle...Part 5

Mulga Bill's Bicycle 2013
I have been doing some research into the background of 'Banjo' Paterson's poem, Mulga Bill's Bicycle.

My father, the writer D'Arcy Niland, grew up in a household where books were a rarity.  When he had a family of his own, he would often frequent the local second-hand bookshops and bring home boxes of books to add to our home library.

The titles varied from the weird to classic, to fiction and non-fiction.  Books of poetry stood next to titles like Monsters of the Deep. It was a treasure trove to our family growing up.
There was always a book on hand to suit the mood.

It also encouraged a love of history, science, natural history, humour, poetry and songs.

So it was one of these books plucked from a shelf that inspired our illustrated version of Mulga Bill's Bicycle.

That book was Rio Grande's Last Race and other Verses by A B Paterson. The edition I have is a very old copy, dated 1924.

In the last few years historical research has become easier online, as many libraries and institutions are digitising their records, books and newspapers.  When researching the background of the poem Mulga Bill's Bicycle, I found a small newspaper item from The Sydney Morning Herald, 17th July 1896.

As the first illustrator of this poem was Norman Hardy, I did a little research on this artist as well.
This item is from The Sydney Mail, 8th January, 1898.

This Norman Hardy painting below now resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

I haven't uncovered the illustrations he drew for Mulga Bill's Bicycle as yet. 
That research will be for another time.

13 August, 2013

The Art of Margaret Early

I have two treasured children's books, retold and illustrated by Australian artist, Margaret Early.

The titles are Robin Hood and The Sleeping Beauty.  Margaret does exquisite work.  Each painting is a gem. Her other books in this series include William Tell and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

All these beautiful books were published by Walter McVitty Books in Australia.  The production is excellent.

Unfortunately, I do believe these books are now out of print so I'll be hanging on to my copies to enjoy with the grandchildren.

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

Robin Hood

The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

21 May, 2013

Mulga Bill's Bicycle...Part 4

Here are some more activities to celebrate my long-living Mulga Bill's Bicycle picture book.
Please click on each image to print out the size you require.

One maze is a little more challenging than the other.

Have fun!

07 May, 2013

Annie's Chair

Annie's Chair is the title one of my children's books which I wrote and illustrated.  First published in 2005 by Penguin Group Australia, it has been incredibly successful with editions published in Korea, China, USA and Canada.

I have received some lovely letters and emails from kids about this book.

You can read more about Annie's Chair here.

I based the dog in the story on my own beautiful dog.  He's been a great companion and enjoys life every day.  He still thinks he's a puppy even though his increasing white whiskers betray that notion.

I have created an activity for the kids based on an illustration from my book.
Click on the image to print out in the size you want, and colour in bright colours.

30 April, 2013

Mulga Bill's Bicycle...Part 3

I have been looking through my old sketchbooks and came across this drawing.  It's a study for one of the illustrations my sister and I completed for our picture book Mulga Bill's Bicycle.

In those days I did a lot of sketching with a nib pen and ink or ink wash. The result is a freer expression and a way to capture the essence of a situation or character without a lot of detail.

Preliminary sketch 1972 - Mulga Bill's Bicycle -Deborah Niland
Using this sketch as a base, the following illustration was finished using a fine pen and watercolour.

Published illustration 1973 - Mulga Bill's Bicycle - Kilmeny and Deborah Niland

19 April, 2013

Hu Yong Yi

Good Morning China is a lovely children's book published by Roaring Brook Press in New York.  Hu Yong Yi is the artist who has done beautiful work with the illustrations. 

Each illustration or painting shows children having fun in the park, all busy with their different activities.  It's a very gentle book and I love looking at these serene pictures.

Hu Yong Yi has a website where you can see more of her lyrical paintings.

29 March, 2013

Mulga Bill's Bicycle...Part 2

In celebration of my sister's and my picture-book version of Mulga Bill's Bicycle's 40th birthday, I'm posting a free activity to download and colour.

The activity below has been adapted from a poster we designed, and had been used to promote the children's book of Mulga Bill's Bicycle, first published in Australia in 1973.

Wouldn't it be fun for kids to design their own hapless Mulga Bill?  Let your imaginations run riot!

More information and activities here in the coming months.

10 March, 2013

Mulga Bill's Bicycle...Part 1

Mulga Bill's Bicycle 1973.  Illustrations Kilmeny and Deborah Niland

This year, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary (yes 40th! ) of the first publication of my picture book, Mulga Bill's Bicycle.

The amazing thing is that this book has been in continuous print since 1973.  I believe it is quite rare to have a picture book still in print after all these years.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle is the name of a poem written in 1896 by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson.

This picture-book version of  Banjo Paterson's poem was illustrated by my sister Kilmeny and me and first published by William Collins (Australia) Ltd in 1973.

To celebrate this book's long life, I thought I would post, at intervals, various snippets and original sketches which relate to the finished illustrations.  I would also like to make up some activity sheets for kids to download and print.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle 2007.  Illustrations Kilmeny and Deborah Niland

18 February, 2013

Some Black and White Illustrations

I've been looking through a lot of my older work of late, scanning and sorting. 

The works below are from a title published way back last century, in 1974.
The title of the book is Tell Me A Tale, stories retold and copyrighted by Jean Chapman and illustrations copyrighted by Deborah and Kilmeny Niland.

It's weird looking at your ownl work again after such a long time.  It was gratifying to see that the originals are so much finer and delicate as compared with the printed version.  As an illustrator you tend to forget that the printed work can be quite dissimilar to the original art.

Printing methods today are so much better which means good quality is more easily achievable in book production.