Following my dream

I was lucky. I grew up in a family that loved books. I guess that's where my interest and passion began.

I loved to draw. I loved going to the art supply shop and buying a Spirax pad of cartridge paper, or a 4B pencil, or some new Derwent coloured pencils. And I loved reading the names on the tubes of paint hanging in their racks - Cadmium Red, Viridian, Gamboge. They were magical names, spells, promises.

I discovered the joy of creating my own worlds, and stories, and characters. But for a long time, they lived mostly in my mind. There were snippets, of course. Scribbles and ideas scattered here and there on scraps of paper. They lay in the bottom drawer of my desk, or under the bed, or tucked away in brown paper art folders at the back of my wardrobe. They lay quiet and waited. Their day would come. They waited for the day when they might grow arms and legs, and stand up, and start to breathe.

Over thirty years ago, I took the first step of faith that any artist takes. I've been drawing and painting ever since.

For inspiration, I drew largely on our great, wide land, Australia Downunder. I drew on the Australian setting, creating a family of characters - koalas, kangaroos, cockatoos to name but a few. I put them in typical Australian landscapes - the beach, the bush, the shearing shed.

My work is a celebration of God's good earth, of the love and cheer that truly make the world go round. And I've been encouraged by the response of people all over the world. I'm inspired to keep going.

It's a delight travelling to schools across Victoria presenting cartoon workshops and encouraging kids to draw. I never get tired of meeting school students and drawing cartoons with them. It's fun to discover how simple drawing can be.

I've been privileged to work with Thana Koutsis and Gerda de Clerq, to create "What About Me? The Autism Survival Guide for Kids". I hope that in some small way, this book will help boys and girls growing up with a brother or sister who has autism.

I still love reading the labels on the paint tubes. They have their own special magic. And when I create a new picture, the part I enjoy the most is squeezing the watercolour paint onto the pallette, wetting my brush, and letting the colours flow.