Jill Noble, author and illustrator of Ella Farmoodle, spoke to Reading Time reviewer, Shelley Stephens about her newly released book, published by Berbay Publishing.
Australia has become fast lovers of oodles and poodles. Why do you think that is?
Poodles are good tempered clever dogs with a happy personality, very compatible with children. The poodle has become the ‘mothership’ from which countless ‘oodle’ ambassadors populate the homes of happy ‘oodle’ owners. With a beautiful coat of wool, non-shedding unlike regular dog hair an obvious design advantage, it was inevitable other breeds would add a bit of Poodle magic to their genetic repertoire. I also believe Aussies are seeing poodles as a fantastic and versatile breed way beyond the “show dog” cliché.
How did you come up with the storyline for Ella Farmoodle?
The story is inspired by my friendship with a black standard poodle, Ella. As well the cast of many animals who occupy the fence lines on my 10 acre home in the Macedon Ranges. Many aspects of the story “ just telling as it is” Ella is very much the author, told via her big personality to her humble scribe. Neither Ella or I have let “fact” get in the way of telling a good tale.
Ella is a protector, not in an aggressive way. More like an overseer. She is a “mum dog” keeping an eye on EVERYTHING. Communicating with the animals who walk the boundaries, touching noses through fences. Being playful and cheeky. Running alongside the fence, racing with the horses. Herding the six sheep she “owns” from the top to the bottom paddock. She went to herding school, and was the only poodle in the class, outnumbered by the traditional border collies and kelpies. She held her own and showed much potential despite the sheep dog sceptics.
During a usual day together, Ella and I would share a breakfast of pancakes before stepping out to begin the activities around the farm: checking the fence lines, running up and down the property. Ella is always aware of her surroundings and anything that moves, always alert and ready, letting me know if a car or person is within a kilometre or two. Finally at sunset every day the unmistakable barking begins to keep the local fox from crossing the paddock into the farm.
Ella’s is a big personality with a gentle heart. Apart from the obvious love and fun times had with Ella, other feelings enter the story, via the gratitude and respect I have towards all animals. I’m constantly impressed by their strength and resilience. Their lives serve us in so many ways, of which I am grateful.
What art techniques did you use to create the picture book?
I decided to paint the book with the same approach as my other paintings. I favour large works on stretched canvas. The twenty-one paintings are all on canvases in acrylic paint. I build sensitive layers of texture using foam rollers. I prefer a simplified image, visually and spatially edited for best composition and placement, resulting in an aesthetically restful space to enjoy.
What do you love most about farm life?
Being constantly reminded by the visually interesting arrangements nature provides every day.
As an artist, how do you get inspired to produce a piece of artwork?
Inspiration comes from the absorption of being able to fill your eyes with a repertoire of moments which given time, space and work will find a life in painting. I love a project to give focus and momentum to this process.
Thanks Jill Noble and good luck with your book!
See Shelley’s review here.