James Foley

Illustrator, author, speaker, facilitator

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Meet the Cast of ‘My Dead Bunny’ (part 2)


My new book is about a zombie rabbit. It’s written by Sigi Cohen and it’s called My Dead Bunny.

Earlier this week I showed some reference sketches for the secondary characters: Mum, Dad and the sister.

Today I’m focusing on the three main (human) characters: the unnamed narrator (who I named Sigi after the author), and his friends Billy and Stan.

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Meet the Cast of ‘My Dead Bunny’ (part 1)

My new book is about a zombie rabbit. It’s written by Sigi Cohen and it’s called My Dead Bunny.

This week and next, I’m writing three posts to introduce you to the cast of the book.

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3 books to inspire creative courage


Fear gets in the way of making art. So how do we manage that fear?

Here are three seriously good books that were recommended to me when I first started out in writing and illustration. Each one is a fantastic resource to help you face your creative fears.

Put them on your Christmas wish list early!


The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

by Julia Cameron

It describes itself as ‘a self-help book for recovering creatives’. The book helped me get out of a really big funk about 6 years ago and the activities in it changed my life. It was recommended to me before I started out in picture books; I’ve since recommended it to a lot of friends and everyone has noticed an effect.

If you read this, be prepared to be challenged and changed.


Art and Fear: Observation on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

by David Bayles and Ted Orland

art and fear

Both authors are working artists writing from experience about the process of making art, and the inevitable place of fear within that process. It’s a series of short essays, each peppered with dry humour and nuggets of wisdom. Check out this quote:

“Fears about artmaking fall into two categories: fears about yourself, and fears about your reception by others. In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.”

If you read this, be prepared for your artistic practice to get a serious reality check.


Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers

by Susan Shaughnessy

walking on alligators

Shaughnessy has collected quotes from authors about creativity and writing. Each quote is followed by an elaboration and reflection, then a goal for the day’s writing. The book opens with this quote about the courage to do the work and see where it goes:

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.” -Erica Jong

Another from page 9, on the terror of facing the blank page:

“In the sense that there was nothing before it, all writing is writing against the void.” – Mark Strand

The quotes are all fantastic, but Shaughnessy’s goals for your day’s writing are what really make this book. Each begins with “Today, [I will do something].” For example:

“Today, I will have the courage to go wherever my writing wants to take me. I will not judge as I write. I will write, and write as honestly as I can.”

If you read this, be prepared to follow through and do the work.


So those are my three top books for inspiring creative courage. Do you have any other books you’d recommend?


Zombie animals terrify at Telling Tales


Last weekend I visited Balingup for their annual Telling Tales Children’s Storytelling Festival.

Balingup is a beautiful town in the South-West Region surrounded by farms, bushland and pine forest. When the sun is out the scenery is stunning – it’s all green hills and winding valleys. But on cold winter mornings a mist descends upon the town, which creates an incredibly spooky atmosphere. It’s the perfect setting for a scary story …

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6 books to help you make better picture books

Roland Harveys drawing book

Learning to be a better writer and/or illustrator can be a tricky process. There are courses you can do, but a lot of the work ends up being self-directed, just you and your notebook or sketchbook, putting in the hours.

I’ve pulled together this list of books that have helped me along the way.

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An upcycled kindergarten

Header-IMG_4882 I’ve been working on a great community project since April; I was hired by Yanchep Community Centre to redesign their playgroup outdoor area. It needed to be suitable for the 2-4 year olds from the weekly playgroups, and it needed to include a water play area and a music play area. it also needed to use as many upcycled materials as possible. Here’s what we did.

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The Rottnest Island Retreat, & other SCBWI news

Thompson Bay, Rottnest IslandEvery year since 2009, members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) have gathered on Rottnest Island in June for a winter retreat. We spend four days writing, drawing, working on stories and learning from guest speakers. It’s my favourite time of the year.

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Attack of the Zombie Animals

moo-brains-20150515-headerSubscribers of my email newsletter The James Foley-O will know that I have a new book coming out in October. It’s about a pet rabbit that dies and comes back from the dead as a zombie; it’s called My Dead Bunny. It’s written by Sigi Cohen and published by Walker Books Australia. I’m busting to show you the cover! I’ll reveal more in the next couple of months. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of other zombie animals …

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