Julia Wakefield

The home page of Julia Wakefield, an independent artist that specialises in illustration and printmaking. Online gallery, recent news and purchase links.

Join the Flying Wombat Club

Written on January 27, 2020 at 11:36 pm, by Julia

It’s been a while since I posted in this blog, and there are so many things I could have talked about, but now I have an urgent reason to start blogging again.

The recent bush fires – and there are sure to be more to come, tragically – have set the Internet ablaze – sorry, I have to use that term, as news does indeed spread like wildfire. Everyone is talking about climate change, and about the government’s ineptitude and infuriating lack of urgency over preparing for what promised to be an unprecedented bush fire season. Above all, the mass cremation of millions of native animals by these fires has been an impossible fact to ignore. Coupled with that is our growing realisation that we have been quietly exterminating animals everywhere at a horrific rate in the last fifty years, and the massacres are accelerating.

Dismay at the plight of our animals is beginning to eclipse our feelings for the human bush fire victims. Thanks to new technologies and greater public awareness, there were far fewer human fatalities this time than there have been in the past, considering the phenomenal size and fury of these fires. But the animals didn’t stand a chance. And some of the species affected, already endangered, may now be rendered extinct.

I am angered by our government’s lack of climate action, but I am also in a state of despair over my former ignorance of the terrifying depth of the wildlife crisis that we are facing. I, like the climate deniers, was unable to contemplate the statistics until reports started pouring in that I could no longer ignore. Since Captain Cook set foot on this land on that ill-fated date 250 years ago, Australia has lost at least 100 plant and animal species. But this article, written before this summer’s bush fires, speculates that that figure could be multiplied tenfold.

There are many reasons for the disappearance of wild animals all over the world, but the main one is human greed for land. We not only live on it, we destroy the forests for timber, for agriculture and for multiple other industries. We never consider that we share the planet with other species that depend on an intricately connected environment for their existence, and have as much right as we have to live in it. We are constantly breaking the connections, even before we understand how they work.

I’ve said enough: and I’m determined not to depress you as well as myself with a constant litany of our lamentable shortcomings. I’m going to do something about this, and I need your help. There are voluntary organisations all over Australia that are working their socks off trying to save the species that are on the brink. And I hope I have found a way to help them. They need cash, of which I don’t have a great deal. But I do have my hands, my imagination and some tools. So here is my idea.

Flying Wombats

These little fellas are cut from my scroll saw, painted with water colours and sprinkled with glitter, then sealed with a water based compostable varnish. (I debated about the ethics of glitter: it is hideous stuff when it gets into the ocean, as it’s a micro plastic. But I’m sealing it under the varnish so unless you insist on dropping your badge in the washing machine multiple times, the glitter should stay put until we find a way to deal with micro plastics. And it’s optional.) The little ones are badges. The big one is one of three that are designed to hang on the wall, flying ducks style. And I will send you one for free, on one condition: that you donate to an Australian charity that is dedicated to saving our wildlife. I have one in mind: FAME is devoted to saving our endangered species. But there are many other deserving NFPs that are working round the clock to rescue animals from drought and bush fires, so Google them. If you’d like a badge, I’d like you to donate a minimum of $20, and send me a copy of your receipt, with your address. You can tell me what colour wombat you’d like. And then I’ll send you one, along with official membership of the flying Wombat Club. To start with, I’m doing an edition of 30 wombat badges. Then I may do other animals. In fact, I’m working on a glossy black cockatoo wood engraving at the moment. Watch this space. Oh, and if you want a trio of wombats for your wall, please send me a receipt for a $90 (or more) donation. More photos to follow, so you can choose your personal wombat(s).

Stay safe in this nightmare of a summer. And don’t tread on the cockroaches – just usher them gently outside.

Life drawings online

Written on April 10, 2019 at 1:09 pm, by Julia

I have been slowly adding my life drawings to this website. They can be bought here as originals.  I will also be adding more life drawings to my Etsy shop, available as giclees (digital prints) only.

Taking to the Southern Skies

Written on June 20, 2018 at 12:50 pm, by Julia


I’m currently exhibiting in the upstairs gallery at Urban Cow along with Camilo Esparza, Alan Ramachandran and Amanda Hassett.  The theme was ‘Under Southern Skies’ so I have found myself metaphorically taking to the skies with my interpretation.  Birds are a part of my daily life: in my morning walks by the creek and by the sea I both see and hear them.  A Nankeen Night Heron was roosting in a tree on my front drive for 3 months before I looked up and spotted it, and now, four months after its departure, a relative (offspring?) has moved in to take its place.  When I drive through the city, birds fly over the traffic jams and roost on the high rise buildings; when I travel interstate and to other countries I see the same birds or their relatives and I realise that many of them travel far farther than I do every year, entirely under their own muscle power and just with the help of prevailing winds.



I’m also realising that rather than having one favourite medium, I love to combine media in order to convey a particular idea or feeling, and the birds are leading me into new territory.  Clouds are best conveyed with watercolour, but I’m also finding ways of working with clouds in digital media; the birds in flight are often watercolours or monotypes, but sometimes they morph into silhouettes or patterns, which are best conveyed with handmade stencils or layers in Photoshop.  The works in the current exhibition mark the beginning of this new direction, and I plan to spend the next few months following the birds wherever they lead me.

Iron Man

If you are interested in learning more about how I arrived at some of the images in ‘Under Southern Skies’, I’m giving a talk and a demo on the last day of the show – June 30, at Urban Cow, from 1-3pm.  No need to book – just turn up!

Less is More

Written on April 19, 2018 at 10:10 pm, by Julia

my old dog dawdles the slower we walk the more I see

my old dog dawdles
the slower we walk
the more I see

I was introduced to the world of Haiku by the Bindii Japanese genre poetry group, about 10 years ago. After trying all manner of other poetry forms including good old free verse, I found the haiku was becoming a more and more satisfying way of distilling my everyday experiences. Between 2009 and 2011 I wrote little else besides haiku; then I discovered that most of my haiku were not really haiku at all, even though I was trying to conform to the 5-7-5 syllable rule. They were short poems – and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the elusive haiku is a little bit more than just a short poem.

By October 2017, a year after my dog Portia died, I had begun to understand the haiku form to the point where one of my haiku was featured on the Australian Haiku society’s website, and reviewed by Lynette Arden, a respected poet and founding member of Bindii. I was asked to provide a picture to go with the selected haiku, so the post became a memorial to my dog in poetry and image. When a haiku is combined with an image the result is called a haiga, and the best of haiga are not simply illustrated poems:  they create a tension between the two art forms, whereby each is commenting on the other and leading the mind to create more associations.  William Blake endeavoured to create a similar dialogue in his illustrations to Milton’s Paradise Lost, and also in his own ‘illuminated’ poetry.

I’m not sure that my picture of Portia creates a successful haiga when juxtaposed with the poem, but it’s a start.  I have been inspired by another Bindii member, Belinda Broughton, who has refined her personal take on haiga to a particularly fine degree. I intend to produce more haiga this year, and will post some of the more satisfying results on this blog.

Canada still on my mind!

Written on June 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm, by Julia

bear for page 3

I just had to enter this piece into SCBWI’s Draw This! May challenge, which was on the theme of ‘Feast’.  It’s for page 2 of the book that I’m working on, which is all about Canada.  Each illustration evokes memories of our trip to Revelstoke last year. Still looking for a publisher….

Kites galore

Written on December 20, 2016 at 2:03 pm, by Julia


Boy and Kite, detail

I’ve just joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and they ran a postcard contest for December. I didn’t win, but they’ve uploaded all the entries on their website, and I’d love it if you could give me some comments on mine, hopefully nice ones! Most of the other images feature girls, curiously, but my picture is of a very specific little boy – my Canadian grandson will probably be wanting to do this very thing as soon as he’s walking (and he very nearly is, or certainly thinks so)!  The bird in the image is of course a kite – a swallow tailed kite, to be precise, not likely to be found north of California.

This is the link to my image.  The whole gallery can be accessed here

Art on Artfinder

Written on December 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm, by Julia

At last I’ve found a shopfront that promotes handmade prints and has an international perspective. I am beginning to upload my animal prints to this site, and will soon be adding some original life drawings. You can find my new shop here


Back in Adelaide, but my head’s still full of mountains

Written on October 20, 2016 at 4:54 pm, by Julia


It’s very unsettling spending a month on the other side of the world in the most idyllic environment imaginable. When you get home, you can’t quite believe that your real world is real any more. If you followed my ‘sketchaday’ blog, you’ll know what I’m talking about – and if you’ve been to similar mountain country you’re probably trying to work out how to get back there and live there permanently,  which is exactly what my son did.

So the only way to keep those mountains fresh in my head and to stop myself from becoming morosely mountainsick (never once did I feel homesick while I was over there!), is to draw them.  There is also a major motivation: my talented other half came up with a story that needs to be told, with pictures. This is my first attempt at visualising the pictures in my head, using pastels on grey paper.  There will be more to come, but the story is under wraps for the moment.

Having a productive holiday – so far

Written on July 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm, by Julia

View of Mt Revelstoke from the back of my son's house

View of Mt Revelstoke from the back of my son’s house

I am spending some time on the other side of the world for a few weeks, visiting family in Canada. Just before I left I showed some of my students the Urban Sketchers website and facebook page. So they asked me if I was going to do some sketches while I was on my trip. I decided to fulfil my teenage ambition at last and compile a daily illustrated journal of my travels. What I didn’t know about all those years ago was that one day I’d be able to publish my journal for free on the internet with the potential for millions viewing it! I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of doing it before – well maybe I’ve never had the opportunity to say in one place during a trip and use the internet every day.

So welcome to my new blog – #sketchaday, Adelaide to Revelstoke. The journey begins with some travel surprises, but now we are a bit more in control of events!

The latest post is here.

Illustrations for a poetry collection just in time for Mother’s Day!

Written on May 2, 2016 at 2:17 pm, by Julia

guilty dogwatermarked resized2

My good friend Vivien Wade has just bought out her second collection of poetry, ‘Chocolates and Chuckles’. She has filled the book with hilarious (many of them true) tales about struggling with chocolate addiction, the tribulations of maintaining a happy marriage, and minor domestic problems such as getting stuck in the loo! There are also some cheerfully twisted  variations on well-known nursery rhymes. I was delighted to be asked to add some embellishments to her work. This is one of my favourite poems of hers, which I really enjoyed illustrating:

A Secret
I had a little secret,
I didn’t want to share.
But told my little doggie,
’Cos I knew he didn’t care.
I’d hidden some chocolate bars,
Where no one else would see,
And when I went to find them,
My dog had eaten all three!

You can find more of the illustrations on my Illustration page, and you can buy the book here