May 29 - June 4, 2016: Issue 265

Isabelle Wise

Our June 2016 Artist of the Month is Avalon Beach's Isabelle Wise. Belle took part in the Wombat Books Illustration Challenge held last year after an author visit to Maria Regina Catholic Primary School at Avalon.

The Wombat Books Illustration Challenge was established in order to provide aspiring young illustrators with the opportunity to be published in a professionally produced children's book and gain an introduction into the world of illustrating. Aleesah Darlison (author of the now released, ‘Zoo Ball’) visited Maria Regina Catholic Primary School, early in 2014 and obviously had a big impact on Isabelle.

Isabelle with 'Annie' when she commenced her work for "Zoo Ball"

Isabelle was very industrious and meticulous in her participation in this challenge and her work has provided her with the opportunity to see her illustrations feature in “Zoo Ball”, a children’s book written by Aleesah.

The judging panel was made up of educators as well as the publishing team. Much support through the judging process was given through social media (Facebook) and her encouraging single stream primary school in Avalon through a voting process. The illustrations with the most votes from the public were considered as finalists and submitted to the judging panel for selection. 

Two of her illustrations were chosen to be included!!! Isabelle’s illustration for page 19 was accepted and her pelican image is on the back cover. Isabelle’s prizes included a $100 book voucher from Wombat Books plus 2 copies of ‘Zoo Ball.’ 


Isabelle Wise - 'Pelican' for "Zoo Ball"

Isabelle contributed to the Zoo Ball Blog and answered a few queries put by Pittwater Online News.

Now studying at Mater Maria Catholic College, Warriewood, this wonderful and talented teenager provides us all with an inspirational look into what’s great about the next generation of our local young adults. 

Isabelle – from Zoo Ball Blog

What are your interests? 

I love to draw or paint whatever comes to mind on any given day; using chalk, charcoal pencils, watercolour pencils and acrylic paints. Listening to pop music and singing are a very big part of my day. I also enjoy playing soccer and tennis. Being part of a team keeps me fit and I get to spend more time with my friends.

Tell us a bit about your illustration? 

I researched each animal included in the page spread and on the back cover to make sure I captured their true expression and personality. Secondly, I figured out where the ball needed to be placed on the page and designed the characters around it. Finally, I carefully drew the animals in the foreground and left the background till last, placing them in their zoo environment and making the ball look as though it was bouncing from animal to animal each in their separate enclosures. I really loved designing the pelican on the back cover because the ball was scooped up in its bill throughout the story. I thought this would be super challenging to illustrate, but I was really happy with the outcome. 

Why did you enter? 

I entered the ‘Zoo Ball’ challenge following Aleesah Darlison’s visit to our primary school at the beginning of 2014. She was really passionate about her writing and I am really passionate about my drawing. I thought immediately that this was the challenge for me! I entered 5 illustrations which took me three months to complete, and then kept my fingers crossed. I wished and thought how cool it would be to see one of my drawings in print for my family and I to enjoy forever.

Isabelle Wise: June 2016 'Artist of the Month'‏ - A few extras from Pittwater Online News:

What’s the best thing about holding Zoo Ball, now published, in your hands?

When Zoo Ball first arrived in the mail, I was so excited to see all the colourful pictures and artistic talents inside. Twenty school aged children were chosen from across Australia to be illustrators for the first time and I was one of them!  I had ordered an extra two copies, in addition to the two that came with my competition prize, so that I could sign away for family members and my school. Some of my family members are really artistic and have creative minds and they had really encouraged me to use my artistic inspiration all the way through the competition. 

Are you continuing to draw, and if so, what are you currently drawing?

Yes I am continuing to draw these days. At the moment, I am drawing a variety of sketches and using complementary colours.  I mostly like to draw mandalas, whether they are small and detailed or large with more colour and symmetrical pattern. In my mandalas, I use nature as my inspiration such as vines, leaves and tree branches to add more interest.

I have also drawn a soft white chalk drawing of a ballerina recently. The chalk allowed me to be more fluent with my lines.

For some of my recent drawings, I have preferred to keep my art simple but effective, black and white. Sometimes I find that not adding colour makes the details in my artworks have more emphasis. Shading is where I add depth. I think that leaving my drawings black and white allows the drawings to speak for themselves in the way that they were intended.

Zoo Ball is for 5 to 7 year olds – have you read it to anyone of this age, and did they like it?

I was actually asked by my former primary school to present the book ‘Zoo Ball’ at one of their Friday assemblies recently. I had prepared a speech and told the whole school all about the challenge and my drawings.  I was then asked to read the book to the children, showing each wonderfully illustrated page as I went.  The story is humorous and colourful and everyone listened very quietly. The teachers and parents mentioned that I had really inspired the children to follow their passions and to give everything a go. Always be “up for the challenge”, was the motto that I used on the day.

Why do you like doing Illustrations?

I like illustrating because it makes me feel relaxed and free to draw whatever comes to my mind. Drawing free hand, I use many different tools for my art; from charcoal pencils to chalk to watercolour pencils. I may need my own studio soon!

Is making works of art something you will continue to do?

I really like doing visual arts as a subject in high school because it makes me think about nature and the environment. I like to draw outdoors in the calm breeze and free sketch what is in front of me. I like to draw flowers, trees, oceans and tides, the horizon and close ups of the earth. I don’t think I will ever lose my enthusiasm for wanting to put down on paper what I find beautiful in the world.

Just for fun – describe your “Perfect Day in Pittwater’ from dawn to dusk:

My perfect day would be a walk to Avalon beach with my sketch book, to sit on the warm sand at dawn. I would then get out my shades of pencils and start to sketch the horizon, the tides and the sun at its lowest. I would then add watercolour to the background and foreground. Inspiration would then be taken from another part of nature like the rock pools and I would draw some detailed rocks and shells. I would try to find some creatures as well such as crabs and starfish along the way.

Since I like photography too, I would take some photos from all angles of the tide, the rock pool creatures and the sand. Finally, I would walk up to the beach park and take some close up shots of the grass, trees and small animals and make sketches of these too. I would make a mind map of my photos onto one page, overlapping my drawings and using some correct perspective.

For the middle of my mind map, I would call it ‘My Perfect Day in Pittwater’.

Any wise words? 

I would like to say that if you find something that you really love, go ahead and do it. You never know when opportunities like this might come your way. Take them with both hands, be brave, and do your best!


Flower artwork

Zoo Ball

ISBN: 9781925139433 - Release: 15 April 2016 - Price: $19.99

Written by: Aleesah Darlison

Illustrated by: Australian Children

When Ned takes his bouncing ball to the Zoo, it causes a ruckus among the animals as they all have their turn playing with the bouncy ball. Follow Ned's ball as it bounces from tiger to toucan and tapir too – as well as many other favourite animals at the zoo.

Buy direct from here

Aleesah Darlison is a multi-published, award-winning Australian author. She has written over twenty picture books and novels for boys and girls of all ages. Her story themes promote the concepts of courage, understanding, anti-bullying, love, self-belief, friendship and teamwork. 

Aleesah's books include Spider Iggy, Zoo Ball, Little Meerkat, Puggle’s Problem, Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Eve Pownall Award, 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist), Little Good Wolf, Our Class Tiger (2015 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist), Ash Rover, the Totally Twins Series and the Unicorn Riders Series. When Aleesah isn’t creating entertaining and enchanting stories for children, she’s usually looking after her four energetic children or taking her frisky dog, Floyd, for long walks on the beach.

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 Presentation of "Zoo Ball" to Maria Regina Primary School - May 2016 - Isabelle with Alexis Conn: librarian

Copyright Isabelle Wise, 2016.