Down Under, Week 1

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Map Making, Personal Geographies, Workshops and Classes | 7 comments

A week ago I left my home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and flew to Australia. It was a long and amazingly comfortable journey, despite the fact that it lasted 24 hours. Kass Hall, my internet friend for years, and author of the bestselling book Zentangle Untangled, picked me up at the airport on Wednesday, two days after I left. One day just goes missing when you fly in this direction.

Kass is precisely what I had expected; frank, funny, talented and full of spunk. We went to the museum in Melbourne the second day and saw lots of school groups learning about art. Check out the kid on the bottom. He is in misery. Tortured by art.


Here is serious Kass in front of a seriously white painting.IMG_0234

The Aussies are fond of trophies, and trophies made of ostrich eggs are even better. IMG_0213

This exhibit features taxidermy of baby animals. There are drawing stations around the room, so you can sketch them. This lady is sketching a baby lamb on a plate.IMG_0233

The aboriginal people have their own iconography which often involves small dots and patterns.


This gigantic metal installation spans the freeway. I love this.IMG_0236

On Friday Jayne Stacey picked me up and drove me five hours to South Australia to teach in Naracoorte. Jayne and her husband Richard live on a large property in the country, surrounded by animals. Many of them just hated my American accent and hid. There kangaroos came round fairly often.


The sunsets from their porch reminded me of the romantic scenes in the Thorn Birds, a series that we all swooned over in the 80s that involved the fiery love between a priest and a young woman.

One of the critters that lives on Jayne’s property is an echidna, named for the “Mother of Monsters” in Greek mythology. This mammal lays eggs, feeds the babies milk. They are generally very slow, but not in this case. The one I saw really hated my accent and ran.


I discovered the joys of sparkling Merlot. Jayne introduced me to this fine elixir, and I am desperately hoping I can find it in the States.


One morning a swamp wallaby showed up at the trough for a drink. They are shy, wring their hands like old people  and are darker than kangaroos. They also use their tales differently, but I am not sure what that means.


This is the stellar group of ladies that showed up to make maps. We also shared some interesting pizza, one with  pumpkin and prosciutto, another with beets, horseradish and arugula. Yum!IMG_0270

I was interested to see what Aussie artists would do differently in this class than my U.S. students. The biggest difference was in the heart maps, which became very elaborate and full of stories, like this one. IMG_0271

Here are some of the rest of the maps they did, bravely, cheerfully and thoughtfully. It was a pleasure to be in this group. Enjoy!

Created with flickr slideshow.


  1. I loved all the artwork. I’m inspired to go work on some of my own. Thanks for taking the time to post it, I looked at ALL the photos.

  2. It looks like you are having a blast! What a funny creature that echidna is. I’ve never heard of it. LOVE aboriginal artwork. OOO! have fun, Jill 🙂

  3. so cool to have window into an art class so very far away, and yet so close by….
    thanks for sharing, what cities & towns are you seeing during your month adventure….

  4. Beautiful art and interesting wildlife!

  5. I may not ever stop laughing at the photo of that boy crying. I didn’t notice it at the gallery but clearly someone just told him his pett died or something equally tragic. It could not have been the ART!!!

    Then again, maybbe they’d showed him the John Brack paintings. They make me want to throw a tantrum too!!!

  6. I can’t wait for you to get to New Zealand! Well I can, I have to, but I’m not known for my patience with time.

  7. Happy to have you in OZ…God’s own country.

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