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Hello and welcome to behind the scenes. Here you will find my latest news and events, my work in progress, including pictures and videos of my illustration process, plus free kids activities, life ramblings of an illustrator and more... Amanda Francey

Sunday, November 18, 2018

That Christmas Feeling Children's Book Exhibition

That Christmas Feeling has spread some festive fizz over the walls of The Literacy Centre, Fremantle, this term. If you're over that way, make sure you drop in and see their Term 4, children's book exhibition.

click above four images for larger view

The exhibition showcases my illustration process from beginning to end, including explanation notes on how I illustrated That Christmas Feeling, written by Lili Wilkinson.

If you're unable to make it to the exhibition, not to worry, as much of my illustration process was covered in Kellie Byrnes' Illustrator Interview with me.


That Christmas Feeling
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Allen & Unwin 2017

A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing
the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

BUY NOW from Allen & Unwin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Children's Chapter Book 'Trouble for Toby' Launch Party

Janet Reid's Launch Party celebrating the release of Trouble for Toby was a great success! Thanks to the friendly staff at The Artist Cafe and Gallery for all of your support on the day.

Thanks to Joanne Sandhu and Kirsten Button for 
bringing your cameras and capturing the day.

From the author...

“Launches are amazing events. Each one is different, but they all have one thing in common – families supporting family, friends supporting friends, and writers supporting writers. The Trouble for Toby launch was not different with a great mix of all these.

I was glad I chose the caf̩ option Рhaving the venue prepared and event catered meant it was one less thing for me to worry about and allowed me to enjoy the afternoon.

A long-time writing friend, Duncan Richardson, launched the book and spoke about the importance of books like Trouble for Toby, and characters who use their imagination. Then my friend, Margie Riley, to help me with the reading. That worked well and made me less nervous.

It was difficult to chat with friends for more than a minute or two - I guess that's the nature of launches - but the atmosphere was buzzing from the moment the first guests arrived. It was a great way to launch Toby  in to the world of children's books.”

Janet Reid

Unfortunately,  I wasn't well enough to attend the launch and help with the children's activities as planned. However, I would like to thank my good friend, writer/illustrator Justine Lawson for saving the day.

Here's what Justine had to say...

“I had fabulous fun at the Trouble for Toby book launch, helping with the kids making pirate faces and doing word puzzles and colouring. I loved seeing the variety of pirate faces they made from the same basic elements, and the particular relish with which the kids drew the pirates' rotten or missing teeth.

The girls and boys were excited about being at the launch of a new book, talking about their friends called "Toby" and wondering if the illustrator was inspired by their own school uniforms for the book characters.”

Justine Lawson

Well, we can't leave children wondering...

"I was inspired by the Australian state school uniforms in general, which haven't changed a great deal since I was at school. I attended two different primary schools, and the second, I wore blue checkers, much like the uniforms Jenna and Ivy are wearing on the front cover illustration. So I guess, subconsciously, I was inspired by my own school uniform."

If you missed out on the launch and the children's activities, my illustrated colouring / word search activity is available to download by clicking the image below. And there are more activities on my Fun Stuff page to keep the children amused over the school holidays. Hopefully, it will give the adult folk enough time to sneak in a quiet cuppa. And maybe some cake.

Trouble For Toby activity page
This artwork is for personal use only and is not permitted to be used for resale or commercial purposes

Trouble For Toby
Written by Janet Reid
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Wombat Books 2018

Toby has one mission at school: To stay out of trouble!
Only then will his parents let him have a pet.
But that's just it, Toby has trouble staying out of trouble.

BUY NOW from Wombat Books

Sunday, June 17, 2018

That Christmas Feeling Picture Book CBCA Notable 2018

I was thrilled to bits when I realised That Christmas Feeling, written by Lili Wilkinson and illustrated by me, was listed among the CBCA's Book of the Year: Early Childhood notables this year. It's such an honour to be grouped with so many amazingly talented authors and illustrators.

To see the full list, here are the CBCA notables for 2018.


That Christmas Feeling
Written by Lili Wilkinson
Illustrated by Amanda Francey
Allen & Unwin 2017

A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing
the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

BUY NOW from Allen & Unwin

To add to this excitement, Lili's and my book was mentioned in the Quest North-West News (Wednesday March 28 2018),
for That Christmas Feeling making the 2018 notables.

And it was such an honour to be mentioned alongside Michael Bauer's and Chrissie Krebs' for making the CBCA shortlist with Rodney Loses It

A huge congratulations to both of you!
You can purchase Rodney Loses It from booktopia

Click cover image (left) to visit North-West News
Then click calendar icon top left corner.
Then look for this cover:
(Wed March 28 2018 - Page 8)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New Children's Chapter Book - Trouble For Toby

Trouble For Toby, written by Janet Reid and illustrated by me. This is the first chapter book I've illustrated and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. Janet's story is brilliant and funny.

The book was released on the first of this month and published with Wombat Books.

We even made the front page of the North-West News!

Well, a tiny picture of Janet and I made the front cover. The rest of the story is on page 13.

Trouble For Toby is now available to purchase from booktopia

Click cover image (left) to visit North-West News
Then click calendar icon top left corner.
Then look for this cover:
(Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - Page 13)

If you're in Brisbane this Saturday, please join Janet Reid in celebrating the release at Trouble For Toby's launch party! Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend as I've been unwell for some time and need to rest. However, Janet has a fun launch party planned, with cake and a children's activity that I've illustrated.

If you're unable to make it to the launch this Saturday, Trouble For Toby is available to purchase below. I've uploaded a children's activity with all the other Fun Stuff on my blog for kids. You can view some of my illustrations from this book, from my portfolio.

Trouble For Toby
Written by Janet Reid
Illustrated by Amanda Francey

Toby has one mission at school: To stay out of trouble!
Only then will his parents let him have a pet.
But that's just it, Toby has trouble staying out of trouble.

BUY NOW from Wombat Books

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cat and Fox

Catori stalks like a fox.

I've always been fascinated by the Native American animal totems or spirit animals. After spending some time in America and Canada last year, I was inspired to illustrate these two characters, Catori (spirit) and Fox (her spirit animal).

Catori sleeps like a fox.

Both of these illustrations are now available to purchase from amalou.redbubble.com on a range of products: framed prints, fine art prints, greeting cards and more. I couldn't decide if I preferred my illustration on the cream paper background or the white background, so I made it available on both. See what I've done there? I've passed the decision on to the customer.
The conundrum is now yours.

Custom Framed Art Prints with your choice of frame and matte colour.

Greeting Cards 100 x 150 or 125 x 190 (mm) or Postcards 100 x 150 (mm)

Gallery Quality Fine Art Prints

Hardcover Journal, Spiral Notebooks, Pillows, Mugs, Tote Bags and More

Monday, May 21, 2018

International Awareness for ME / CFS & Fibromyalgia

This month, I decided to illustrate an animated gif for May 12th International Awareness Day.

 ðŸ’™ ðŸ’œ ðŸ’™

A little history...

"May 12th was chosen as it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was believed to have suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or ME/CFS." ~ quoted from www.may12.org

Why it's personal...

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) and her ugly sister Fibromyalgia (FM) have impacted my life over the last 5 years in a profound way. The last day I remember feeling 'normal' was August 11, 2013.

That was the day I manned a face painting stall and painted hundreds of little faces at my children's school fete. That day was so frantic, I didn't have time for a short lunch break, or even a toilet break.

Unbeknown to me, I was also coming down with the flu that day. The flu that never really left.

During my mission to find out why my body was broken, I had visited multiple specialists and was diagnosed and treated for multiple autoimmune diseases. However, the one most debilitating symptom remained, Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM), and finally the diagnosis of ME/CFS was added, and was shortly followed by the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

PEM is that bone crushing fatigue that turns your blood to led and makes your glands swell up and your head pound and spin, and your muscles burn (like you've just sprinted up 6 flights of stairs), but all you've done is wash your hair!

ME/CFS and that dreaded PEM, have robbed my ability to function as a 'whole' person since August 12, 2013. And it has peeled away a little more of me every year since. This year, I've had to put my dream career of illustrating children's books on pause.

I'm usually a very private person and only share my artwork to the world. It's taken me some time to work up the courage to draw myself struggling along with an invisible illness and to share my personal story.

I created this illustration to give others an idea of what it feels like to me, to have ME/CFS.

On better days, I only have the wet cement to wade through, on worse days, I have that stubborn elephant to contend with. Sometimes, that bothersome elephant likes to sit right on top of me. Fortunately, I don't have too many days in a row like that, where I'm completely bedridden.

I consider myself lucky to be in the moderate spectrum of this neurological disease (meaning, I currently function anywhere between 30% - 60% of my former-self).

Why am I lucky? During this journey, I've discovered there's a darker, more severe end of the spectrum. And to be honest, it terrifies me.

The patients in the severe spectrum have given me the strength to speak out, because they can't. They lost that ability long ago. They've lost the ability to walk, talk, feed themselves. They've been 'fully' missing from life for years. Some, missing for decades. Hidden away, in a quiet, darkened room: no light, no conversation, no music, no books, no movies, no social media to distract themselves from their suffering. Any stimuli causes them more pain and will exacerbate all symptoms.

Life is hell for those at the severe end, and for their families. They watch on helplessly, as their loved one's life is stripped away, leaving just a shell of what was once a happy, healthy, and energetic person with a promising future.

There's currently no approved medical treatment for ME/CFS. Researches are coming close, but they need funding and they need the support from our government and our medical system.

Despite clinical studies revealing that people with ME/CFS are 'measurably more disabled' than people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), ME/CFS receives a great deal less funding and disability support from the Australian government.

Even though ME/CFS is estimated to occur at a higher prevalence than MS (0.42% verses .09%), ME/CFS receives less attention in medical training.

"The name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was given to this condition because people didn't understand what it was," said Professor Don Staines, co-director of Griffith University's National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED). Professor Don Staines and his team have found it's a malfunction in the body at a cellular level.

Professor Staines said, "There's a defect in the receptor meaning they no longer function the way they should. What the receptors should do is to be able to transfer calcium from outside the cell to the inside.

The discovery of abnormal calcium immune system affects people with ME/CFS in three main areas of the body where ME/CFS-related pain usually occurs – the brain and spinal cord, the pancreas and the stomach.

Calcium Ions are absolutely critical for cellular function, in every single cell and every single tissue, in the body."  ~ quoted from the Huffington Post and Today Tonight Adelaide's Story.

"Although it's known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," Professor Don Staines said, "fatigue is an unfortunate word because it trivialises the severity of the condition. The formal name of the illness, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, is far more accurate because, in medical terms, it relates specifically to brain and spinal cord inflammation with associated muscle pain."

ME/CFS is a far cry from 'chronic fatigue' - so can we start calling it by its correct name?

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (or ME)

It's a tricky word to get your mouth around. It's a bit like that word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which takes a little practise to say it right.

So let me break it down for you:

MYA                     muscles

ALGIC                 painful

ENCEPHALO     brain

MYEL                  nerve

ITIS                      inflammation

 ðŸ’™ 💜 💙

If you would like to know more about ME/CFS, please visit the following websites:

Watch the documentary 'Unrest' available on iTunes and Netflix. And 'After Unrest' a free Australian documentary.

Watch a short story of Dr Ron Davis' race to save his son Whitney from dying from this disease.

I have created a Pinterest Board exhibiting ART and WORDS by artists around the world, as they express the bone-crushing exhaustion, pain and hardship that is endured from existing with this disease... ME/CFS 'Through the Eyes of Artists'

Monday, February 5, 2018

Doe and Fawn in the Lupines

Final illustration

Last year, I had the best AirBnB experience staying in a charming cottage 'The Tides' at Glen Haven. The cottage overlooks Big Indian Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. I wrote about it in more detail in my Travelling Illustrator post.

Late one afternoon, a wild doe and her fawn stopped for a rest in the front garden of the cottage. It was magical to me, as I'm from Australia, so I'm only used to seeing wallabies and kookaburras. I raced around madly looking for my camera, which of course, I didn't take overseas with me, so I hastily grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures.

They trotted off in a hurry, so this is all I managed to snap for my illustration reference. As you can see in the illustration above,  I had to improvise a little with my drawing of the fidgety fawn. I also tilted the doe's head a little for a cute nuzzle with her fawn. This did not happen at all! The mother was trying to have a rest while the fawn was bouncing all over her, and within minutes, the mother had enough and trotted off. I completely sympathised with her, having three kids of my own.

Gees... let the poor mum deer have her rest!

Illustration Reference

I left behind a sketch study of the deer for the owner of the cottage and I promised the host that I would illustrate a better one (pictured top) and send an art print in the post. After six months of working on this between children's book projects, the illustration's finally completed, printed and packaged in a postal tube, ready to post to Canada this afternoon.

My illustration 'Doe and Fawn in the Lupines' is also available as fine art prints, greeting cards and various other products pictured below, at my RedBubble Shop.