Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Banjo & Ruby Red Get Packed

Today was one of those rare days, filled with desperation, pride and a teensy bit of sadness, when I have to get my finished book to the courier before 4.30 pm. Of course, I'm not completely finished - there is always one page that needs a bit more work and a cover to do. But the rest went off today!

This is a nice moment:

This is a nicer moment:

Here is a sneak peek at some of the paintings for the new book, written by Libby Gleeson, called Banjo & Ruby Red.


  1. Good Luck!
    I love your color pallet so much!. how do you decide what colors you will use for the pallet?
    It looks like pastels on brown paper, there is a glow on the is magical! is it watercolors and pencil?
    thanks for sharing

    1. Hello Rita!

      Lovely to hear from you again! Yes, the colour palette is an odd one - I didn't really choose it, it just developed this way. I think there were a few colours I had in mind and the rest just got there by trial and error. I used oil paint this time, on watercolour paper. It was lots of fun! The brown you see in the photos is just the gum tape used to tape the paper to watercolour boards.

      I was hoping to create the illustrations from lino prints and stencils, but it was too hard from me. I'll put up a post some time with the tests I did.

      Thanks for your comment!


    2. Thanks Freya
      this is very interesting use of oils. I know just the classic way to use oils. it is so exciting to discover such method.
      can't wait to see more of your posts.

  2. Freya, I looooove your work! Always have. Good luck with the new book.

  3. Hi Freya, Your new illos are (as always) absolutely stunning. I am also super jealous of your storage is exactly what I need!
    Best wishes

  4. Dear Freya, Thank you for developing the story through your beautiful paintings for Banjo and Ruby Red.
    Kim de Belle

    1. Hi there Kim!

      Thank you for your message. I'm just about to respond to 2D's thoughts and questions. Thrilled to hear from you all.


  5. 2D would like to share their thoughts on your illustrations.
    James said: Were the 3 strip pieces your idea or someone elses? What breed of dog is Banjo?
    Taj: The paint that you use is it dye or water colours?
    Mikaela:Did you think of how to draw the characters of Ruby and Banjo by yourself?
    Alicia: I really like your paintings because they look realistic but also a bit cartoonish.
    Isaac: We love the dog and chicken cuddling up in the kennel. It was cute!
    Peter: Do you like working with Libby Gleeson?
    Max: I like how you draw the pictures because it looks like it is really happening.
    Chelsea: We could tell Banjo was sad when he found Ruby because his ears were down and his eyes were a bit drippy with tears.
    Amelia: The pictures look life like because when Banjo was told to do something he looked like he was listening and jumped up to do it.
    Ariel: Banjo and Ruby looked like they were popping to life.
    Charlotte: Why did you draw words on the picture when they were already in the writing?
    Whitney: I like how you do all the splodgy colours and how do you do that?
    Thank you for reading our questions and comments. We loooooooooved reading Banjo and Ruby Red.

    1. Kim,

      There are a few typos in my comments, sorry! It was such a small window to type in and I didn't check it well. Apologies!


  6. Hello there 2D!

    It is very lovely to hear from you all, and especially great to read all your comments and questions.

    James: The three strips when Ruby Red is getting back on her feet was my idea. It often takes a bit of thought to work out exactly how to show something happening in an illustration. I tried several other ways of showing Ruby Red recovering and this was the way I decided would work the best. Banjo is sort of a mix between a border collie and a kelpie I guess, but also a bit like my own dog, a whippet, because I often drew her to get the positions right. I wanted to illustrate a black and white dog to contrast with the red chicken.

    Taj: I actually painted these illustrations using oil paints on water colour paper. A bit weird really, but it was great fun and I love how bright the colours and how I could treat the paint.

    Mikaela: Yes, I did decide what Banjo and Ruby Red would look like. I have a lovely red chicken that my daughter (who is in year 2 as well) named Socca. So Ruby Red was inspired by our chicken Socca, and Banjo is a bit like my parents' dog (a border collie) and also a bit like a kelpie or my own dog which is a whippet.

    Alicia: Thank you Alicia! You know, I think I feel the same way. I like my drawings to have some realism in them, but I also like them to have some character and a bit of my own personality, which is just like being cartoonish. This is a great comment!

    Isaac: Yes, this is one of my final pictures as well! Libby, the author, had suggested as slightly different idea for the final page, but it didn't feel quite right to me. So I created my own visual ending for the story where Ruby Red perches on Banjo to go to sleep. And Banjo is happy to be slept on!

    Peter: I do like working with Libby Gleeson! I have six books published that have been done with Libby and there are two more that haven't come out yet. Banjo and Ruby Red and another book called Amy & Louis are probably my absolute favourite books! Have you read Amy & Louis?

    Max: Thank you Max! Like my comment to Alicia, I try to draw things so that they look real but also have something unique about them. This is my style of drawing. I'm glad you like it!

    Chelsea: Isn't that image so sad! I do really love drawing dogs and this image is one of my favourites because it shows just how caring Banjo is. And so much can be shown in the positioning of the dog, like you said, with the ears down and the eyes looking just like that. I spent a fair bit of time getting the eyes right.

    Amelia: Isn't Banjo wonderful, the way one minute he is dozing and the next he jumps up and starts working and barking!

    Ariel: Libby's story is full of life and vitality and I wanted my drawings to be the same. I'm so glad you feel like they are popping to life because this is exactly what I was hoping for! Thank you!

    Charlotte: When I first read the story and read those words, I immediately saw them in my head as being also drawn. They are words called onomatopoeia, so they sound like what they mean, and this made me think I'd also like to see them.

    Whitney: I'm glad you like the way the illustrations are painted. And splodgy is the perfect way to describe how I used the paint. I used oil paint and it is a thick paint, that you spread and splodge on unlike watercolour that sort of runs on the page.

    I am so glad you loooove Banjo & Ruby Red!! I love it too. And I am very honoured that you wrote to me to tell me what you thought of it. Your questions and comments show just how much you have thought about the pictures. And this makes me very proud indeed! Thank you! Have a great week 2D!

    best wishes,

  7. 1/2H would like to tell you their thoughts about your pictures in the book Banjo and Ruby Red.
    Isabella: Why did you write some of the squack words darker than others?
    Finlay: Could you make the background colours brighter?
    Eva: Did you use pencils or water paints?
    Evie: When you were drawing Banjo did you use your finger to smudge the picture?
    Kai: When you draw the action shots: could you have drawn the first pictures of Banjo lighter?
    James: Did you blend the colours for the background? I like how Ruby is the only red chicken.
    Sarah: Why did you do lots of pictures of Ruby Red and Banjo for the actions shots?
    Oliver: Why didn't you draw a little more nature around the farm?
    Kyle: Were these the only animals on the farm. Why did you only have chooks and dogs?
    Flynn:Why did you trace the words SQAURK more than once?
    Harry: I liked all the colours in the pictures!
    Ariana: I like how you drew the pictures as they had great colours.
    Charlotte: I like the pale sky and all the different colours that you used.

  8. Thank you Freya for all the wonderful answers to 2D's questions. I am their Librarian and raced down to their classroom to read your comments to them in the afternoon session. (I'm not sure who was more excited the class or me!) They were overjoyed and totally blown away that you had taken the time to write individual comments. They felt very special! Thank you again, Kim de Belle

  9. 2 Green’s Questions for Freya Blackwood about Banjo and Ruby Red

    Dear Freya
    We have loved reading Banjo and Ruby Red and has been discussing all your choices as an illustrator. Our Year 2 Class asked some questions.
    Arabella Why did you choose to draw the same picture three or four times?
    Charlie Why is Banjo black and white?
    Daisy Why did you keep repeating Banjo walking?
    Edie Why did you draw the bucket to mark where Ruby Red was?
    Elliott Why did you draw Banjo jumping really high?
    Esther Why did you do four versions of Banjo in one picture?
    Frances Why did you not show us the mum in the picture when she said, ‘Go Banjo Go’?
    Isabella Why did you draw no sun and you just drew light?
    Isabelle Why did you put lots of big chickens in the front and Ruby Red on top of the kennel in the background?
    Luci How did you get the pictures to look so real?
    Lucinda At the start, why didn’t you put Ruby Red in it?
    Molly Why didn’t you put the mum or the dad or the horses and cows in the pictures?
    Rose Why did you draw a swing in the background?
    Sienna Why did you put Banjo on his knees when Ruby Red was sick?
    Sophie Where did you draw this story?

    Alexander Why us the woodheap picture getting closer and closer?
    Atticus Why did you choose to do three motions in the one picture?
    Benjamin Why did you draw the woodheap close and the farm small?
    Henry Why did you draw the squarks and barks squiggly?
    Jayden On the front cover, why did you put Banjo and Ruby Red close to their names?
    Kai Why did you draw Banjo laying down with Ruby Red?
    Kieran Why did you choose for it to be day most of the time?
    Lincoln Why did you choose to draw the word ‘bark’ so many times?
    Patrick Why did you draw Ruby Red flat when she was sick and much bigger when she was well?
    Preston Why did you do shadows on some pictures and not on all of them?
    Samuel Why did you draw an axe in the woodheap when no one was using it?