Thursday, 23 February 2012

time for rabbit-tea

Hullo poppets!

If you haven't already perused my 'exhibitions' page, chances are you missed this little series. I drew these last year to submit to the Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. Of course, competition is stiff, so like 2,000 other hopeful illustrators, mine didn't make it this year. After so many rejections, the Capricorn in me has reared it's sadistic little head and I have kept my promise to myself that I will enter every year until I can get in there- even if I'm old and grey!

Anyways, enough of that, here's the little story to accompany 'Time for Rabbit-Tea':

For better or worse, I work best after 4pm. It’s funny; after so many years working jobs that forced me into the habits of an early bird, my brain still refuses to work before midday. Early-morning starts coinciding with a shortage of coffee are so much the worse for everyone in the house!

 If I’m working on a very detailed painting, a large body of work or thinking a lot about the pace and flow of a storyboard, I find myself getting very tired after a few hours. Napping in the afternoon is the only way I can switch my brain off.

 Of course, it’s not really natural to sleep like this. Humans have something like a 90-minute sleep cycle, which goes through the motions of R.E.M., then a deeper sleep and then that sort of shallower window when you can resurface and feel refreshed; your body’s natural time to wake and use the stored energy in a useful way. Alarms interrupt all of this and can leave you feeling, well, alarmed. When I finally acknowledge the snooze button I’ve already punched in a variety of inelegant ways particular to drunks and the sleep-deprived, it is dark outside. You wonder, for a moment, whether it’s morning or night and it dawns on you that it doesn’t matter anyway since sleeping most of the day has not helped tick things off that growing to-do list.

 ‘Time for Rabbit-Tea’ is about a mischievous rabbit and the mad things that happen inside your brain when time becomes fluid.  

Have an awesome day wherever your heart may roam.
♥ Mel

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

little sisters

Hullo lovely readers, hope your Wednesday has started with a bang, and if not, here's a little something to bring a sparkle to your step!

Meet Gabrielle and Rosalina; at present in black and white and soon in colour. Their names are a reference both to Coco Chanel's beginnings as a dancer at a cavalry club, and one of the Dolly Sisters, most famously described in Angela Carter's 'Wise Children'.

Stay posted for the painting petals!

♥ Mel

Monday, 13 February 2012

sharing the love with a grumpy star studio etsy sale!

Happy Monday to you all!

Writing and making art are almost my two favourite things in the world, made better only by my lovely readership that shares the adventure with me. Tomorrow, of course, the world officially celebrates everything warm and fuzzy, and I thought I'd have my own little celebration in the Grumpy Star Studio Etsy Shop to say thank-you to you all!

Just enter 'mygrumpyvalentine' into the box marked 'Apply Shop Coupon Code' and you'll get a very lovely 20% any purchase shop-wide. If you're stuck for choosing, don't worry, the sale stretches on til Friday 17th February, just to share the love round that bit longer ♥

Hope you have a wonderful day with everyone that's special to you tomorrow, and all nice things from me as always

Friday, 10 February 2012

the goose girl

Greetings poppets!

Say hullo to this little treasure I've shared with you before on the blog and in  my debut exhibition 'Strange Creatures, Sweet Allsorts' last December, and the latest addition to my Etsy Shop!

'The Goose Girl' was a very special drawing for me. She was one of the first drawings I did upon my return home to Darwin in late 2010 after eighteen months of living in London. I was feeling, most understandably, hot and tired and very much like a fish out of water. Coming back to Darwin wasn't really a decision we had control over, given that our visas were due to expire in early 2011 and things were already getting very cold in London- in fact, we left on the first day of snow and just in time to fly out!

I had a wonderful job at an all-girls school in the South-West, beautiful friends, a great flat and the company of my best friend Dave, who I never tired of sharing every second with, exploring our beautiful adopted city. I forgot I was Australian sometimes, and so did the girls I taught: an English accent is one of the nicest in the world and quite naturally, my nasal drawl became much nicer for the exposure to rounded vowels and semi-posh Cockney. Weekends were spent eating in Soho or with our friends Samu and Doug, who loved cooking and 'Come Dine with Me' just as much as we did. Brick Lane on a Sunday provided me with every reason known to woman to burn my savings on trinkets, or, if the weather was bad, Westfield. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on Japanese silk wool and knitted myself the maddest rainbow scarf to cheer myself up on bad-weather days. I felt like a proper Londoner.  

I was so used to feeling like a brave little snail in a strange land, being an Australian in a huge foreign city, that I didn't really know how to feel. Returning back to Darwin after so long away made me think, as I did when I arrived in London, what it means to feel 'at home'.

I'm more than happy here in Darwin, don't misunderstand, but I still feel like part of me is there, in London. I'll probably never be so lucky to live there again, though I hope sometimes soon to go back and visit.

I know now, wherever I might be in the world, 'home' is really what you keep in your heart, the bricks and mortar of memories, and maybe, the secrets in the eyes of a Greylag Goose.

♥ Mel

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Hullo poppets!

I've kept you in suspense for long enough, so finally, I'd like you to meet 'Amy':

As I mentioned a few weeks back in my post 'in progress this week', 'Amy' was a commissioned imagined-portrait piece for a lovely Darwin lady who just happens to be a vet. She has told me all sorts of stories in our discussion of this piece, about her 'dog whispering' days, taming a particularly aggressive German Shepherd and generally letting naughty puppies everywhere know who dishes out the dog biscuits.

But of all dogs, the Whisperer explained her particular affinity with chihuahuas. Hers especially have such distinct personalities; their particular genetic make-up makes them animated in a way that is both comic and human.

Of course, you'll know from recent posts I'm well aware of these ideas of the domesticated food-chain, and that I am not at the top of it in our house. No, I sit just below Willow who is determined to proclaim herself 'Top Cat' and merely tolerates me because I feed her and have proved myself such a faithful servant. This past week just gone, a well-timed swipe on Daisy's rear ankle earned our baby a day at the vets and us a $340 bill to pay!

When we're not banging our heads on hard surfaces bemoaning the fact that our biggest fur-kid can't accept our littlest, it is fascinating to watch the breadth of emotions that cross our kittens' faces as they go about their days. And I guess this is why we have pets, and most commonly cats and dogs: both are capable of the uglier human emotions like jealousy and anger, but so too are they capable of giving with their whole hearts when you most need it.

'Amy' is a lighthearted little portrait of the potential in harmonious relationships between pets and their humans. Because, at the end of the day, wouldn't it be wonderful to do away with cars and buses and just ride your faithful pooch to work? Amy did discover these benefits, quite by accident, when she found some ChiChi grow at the back of a cupboard. It did what it said on the box, and the rest is history!

Limited Edition, Fine Art reproduction prints of 'Amy' are now available in my Etsy Shop for everybody who wants to share in the fun.  

Have an awesome day wherever you are!
Mel x

Thursday, 2 February 2012

the grand opening of the grumpy star studio etsy shop!

After many nights abusing my coffee-machine and then having snatches of sleep as Daisy proceeds to jump on my head and chew on my hair, I declare that the Grumpy Star Studio Etsy Shop is open for business! Here's a few snippets until the SEO functions kick in properly:

And, as a thank-you to all of my wonderful friends, patrons, likers and admirers in Darwin and abroad, each and every one of you will pay the same price to call one of the treasures featured on my Etsy Shop your own. That's right, no matter where you are in the world, your shipping bill is 100% FREE!

The phrase 'thank-you' is too often forgotten. Being a sincere artist and a good person are very much one and the same to me and I will spend my whole life striving to be the best of both. Being gracious costs absolutely nothing and makes both the giver and reciver the happier for it. So once again, thank-you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has supported me in every small or big way to make the past year such a wonderful reality. I love you all ♥

And so, without further ado, click on that 'shop' button on your right to let the celebrations begin!

Mel x
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