What the fork? A canteen sign inspired by Luna Park!

Canteen sign
A little sign pointing the way to the school canteen

Our little school canteen needed a new sign, but there wasn’t much room, so I bought a plank of wood to attach to the wall.

Shortly beforehand, while I was pondering what style to use, I happened to visit Luna Park in Sydney, where I found the perfect inspiration in the form of a gorgeous retro toilet sign…

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… so when I got home I took a photo of my hand holding a fork…

Hand holding fork

The fork had some lovely reflections, but luckily the glove would hide my bitten nails.

… which gave me the perfect model to draw the fingers and hand position.

I think the fork ‘prodding’ the lettering gives an added bit of fun and movement for the children to enjoy.

Sail away on a story…

Tall Ship Mural

Pirate Ship Library Display

What’s not to like about a pirate ship? It embodies the spirit of adventure and brings to mind history, stories, excitement, action, romance and heroism. All the things that spark the imagination and encourage young readers to dive into a new book.

As I was painting this gorgeous vessel, I kept imagining the faces of the kids as they walked into the library to see it for the first time. I wasn’t disappointed – the gasps of delight were wonderful to hear.

Instead of asking the students to create their own artwork, or colour in a small picture as I usually do, this time I asked them to write a short imaginative line or two, as though dipping into the middle of an exciting novel. Thus, our lovely library ship is sailing on a wonderful sea of words. Kids come close to the artwork to read all the terrific ideas making up their ocean. Here are some of their efforts…

Words on the waves

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More words on the waves

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… and just a few more wonderful wavy words.

Pirate Ship Close-Up

Pirate Ship Close-Up

Wide view of our latest library display

Wide view of our latest library display

Hop into our library for some artistic inspiration!


Mother frog and baby tadpoles (or are they bookworms?)

A frog in the library? What else! As you can see, she’s a mother-of-thousands, and all her little tadpoles have a lot to learn. They’re reading up a storm, even before they get out of their eggs.

Our wonderful librarian read a book about the life cycle of frogs, then asked all the students to consider what type of book their tadpole would be reading. The kids came up with some great ideas that they incorporated into their artworks. Here are just a few…

How to Swim Underwater

Shakespeare (Tadpole Edition)

How to Make Green Friends

Froggy Potter and the Chamberpot of Tadpoles

How to Train Your Tadpole

How to Jump and Croak

This display gradually grew and developed over 8 weeks. Initially I painted just a large green frog, then I added some reeds, a large lilypad, then some more lilypads with a waterlily, then a dragonfly. Meanwhile, the kids were adding tadpoles… and more tadpoles… and more tadpoles! Take a closer look below.

Floating lily pads and water lily bloom

Water lily and lily pads

Dragonfly painting


Happy frog on a pond

Green frog painting on a large lily pad






A creepy-crawly artwork inspired by a poem

Recently for our school art show I was asked to supervise the Year 5 combined artwork. Every child in the year (48 kids from several classes) would participate, and the artwork would be auctioned off to the highest bidder (presumably a parent).

I decided that individually decorated matchboxes would be nice, and over several days I tossed around ideas. However, it wasn’t until I remembered A.A. Milne’s poem “Forgiven” that I was truly inspired. Here’s the finished product:

Alexander Beetle

Nanny let my beetle out…

To introduce the concept, I began by reading the poem to all the kids. I gave a quick demonstration of how to draw a beetle, pointing out the parts of a beetle’s body structure, and I handed out a range of examples. The kids quickly got started on their draft drawings, then began sketching their chosen beetle onto a matchbox. (I had earlier painted the front surface of each box with undercoat.) They finished them off with a fine black permanent marker and coloured textas. Just look at what beautiful work these students did!

Beetle 1

Stunning beetle drawn by a 10-year-old

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Alexander Beetle 026

I had already bought a black frame from an op-shop for $5, so all I had to do to finish off was paint the backboard with black chalkboard paint, write a few quotes from the poem around the edges, and add an “escaped” plastic beetle. Each matchbox and the beetle is just stuck on with PVA glue.

Sporty kids love reading too

Sports poster
By featuring a particular genre of book in a display, and making available a selection of those books, I’ve found that we can generate quite a bit of enthusiasm amongst the kids in their borrowing habits.

One day the librarian and I decided to make a display of sporting books. I painted these cute little characters individually, then ranged them around a picture of a book with a sporting quote printed inside. I stuck some sponge behind the book graphic which gave a nice 3-D effect.

The kids loved the cute characters and the sporting books flew off the shelves for several weeks — particularly the non-fiction titles, which was a nice change. We raffled off the poster afterwards, and it was quite a popular competition.