Interview with Shaney Hyde, Illustrator of Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Shaney Hyde is the talented Australian artist behind the charming illustrations in Arabella and the Magic Pencil. She brought Arabella and her magical world to whimsical life. Shaney agreed to give us a behind-the-scenes look at how she created the illustrations and what lead her to illustrate.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in a lovely coastal town on the Mornington Peninsula. I have three gorgeous boys, Liam, Josh and Ben. They are my inspiration and often my best critiques. My working place is in a section of our family room which I wish I could say has a sea view but I only have to walk up the road to see one! When I was a little girl, I was always drawing and creating things, reusing odds and ends from around the house and garden to make imaginative small worlds. 

I always knew I wanted to work with children and have been an Early Childhood Educator since forever. I share my love of nature & the outdoors, literacy and art with the young children that I teach. I continue to learn from them each day with their curious minds and fresh outlook on life. Since emerging into book illustration, I feel so lucky to share my process with the children and realise that illustrators and artists are privileged to share different emotions with them through beautiful books. Illustrating children’s books has been a long held dream so I’m thrilled to have illustrated such a magical story for my first one!

2) How did you create the illustrations for the book?

The illustrations in Arabella and Magic Pencil are hand painted with watercolours and grey lead pencil. Stephanie’s imaginative and elaborate story line allowed me to play with different ideas to visually express the story line with added layers; like a story within a story. For example, I came up with the little crowned bird character to illustrate Arabella’s one wish that she receives each year by Royal decree. I named him ‘wish’ in my mind and he appears in each page as Arabella’s companion as if to provide a mutual level of friendship and emotional support. I fell in love with Arabella early on and even made a cloth doll version of her as part of my creative process. She sat on my desk as I developed the illustrations for the book. I love how Stephanie has invented a confident character that independently solves her own problems using her creativity driven by her underlying feelings of sibling love.

3) Who are your favourite artists or illustrators and the inspirations for your artwork?

My favourite artists are the masters, Klimt, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas. Modern day; Mirka Mora and of course, my mum. She is a painter and pastelist and my greatest mentor. Her words of wisdom to me are; to work hard, keep sketching, imagining, creating, keep learning my craft and to stay true to myself with no pressure to perform

Illustrators: I love so many… (a wide range; accomplished and emerging ) Freya Blackwood, Alison Lester, Anna Walker, Maurice Sendak, Helene Maggison, Beatrix Potter, Lynley Dodd, Caterina Metti, Oliver Jeffers, Jon Klassen., Tull Suwannakit, Catherine Rayner, my list could go on… 

My inspirations are from nature, cute animals, and seeing the joy in the little things each day. I create illustrations in a whimsical style to make people smile.

4) What is next for you and where can we see more of your work?

Currently, the original paintings I created for Arabella and the Magic Pencil are being displayed in an exhibition at Antipodes Bookshop in Sorrento, Victoria in Australia. To promote the book, I’m doing primary school visits, story and activity times in the school holidays at local Bookshop’s. It was fun creating paper dolls of Arabella and Avery which are available for download on the EK books website. My illustrations are also published on greeting cards for boutique gift shops. (my current range is ‘Yoga for Wombats ’ & ‘ Echidna and bird series). My dream is to keep illustrating picture books whilst teaching wonderful young children, hopefully, inspiring them to read, draw and create. 

See more of Shaney’s artwork on her website:

Her portfolio can be found on the ASA Style File website:

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