Pens, paper & paints for the Reef!

This year has started with me ‘drawing out’ the final stages of my kids picture book about our Great Barrier Reef! I have spent almost everyday this year in my art studio finalising the illustrations for my first picture book, which has been both a challenging and incredible experience as I have never undertaken such a complex, time-consuming and brain-draining activity in all of my life (…and I have a 7-year old Great Dane!). Writing and illustrating a kids picture book is no walk in the park, or in my case, no quick dip in the ocean. I am loving the experience though and sea-ing what I can achieve with my pens, paper and paints for the Reef! All this creativity is done from my little art studio, which happens to be our laundry so is only a small space (1.5m x 1.8m) for a 6-foot tall creative such as myself. But I get a few visits from my creative companions as I create, and as you can see Mr Fergus doesn’t mind the view from the art studio!

My picture book by Dr Suzie Starfish uses the art of marine science to illustrate the challenges facing our Great Barrier Reef during this the International Year of the Reef #IYOR2018. The story is told through the eyes of a feisty fish named Anthia, which you can ‘sea’ being outlined in the photos. Anthia takes us through her beautiful and colourful underwater home on the Great Barrier Reef and through her eyes we ‘sea’ what happens to the Reef when we are not looking! Along with the colourful underwater gardens there are many other underwater wonders to meet on the Reef, colourful characters I will soon share with you. This story is also about solutions and messages of hope and encourages kids and readers to always have a BIG splash of ocean optimism. I will be sharing the progress of my story here over the next few months and you can ‘sea’ more detail over at the The Great Barrier Reef and by following the books hashtag #haveGBRhope.

You can dive in and follow my creative journey and ocean storytelling as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in engaging me in school visits or science-art and storytelling activities.

Best fishes, Suzie   ><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º> .·´¯`·.¸

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Picturing my Goals for 2018!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! My year has started swimmingly as I was able to ‘sea’ in the New Year by being in my happy place, which is anywhere on, in or near the ocean. I got a big dose of Vitamin Sea from the wonderful waters of Moreton Bay, my Bay backyard. I then spent some time  listing my creative goals for 2018 and quickly found myself editing them into my BIG PICTURE goals which include to:

  • Live my life in colour
  • Think outside the lines
  • Follow my heART

My BIG goal for 2018, which is also a lifetime goal of mine, is to be a published author/illustrator. AND I have some exciting news to share – my publisher recently provided me with very positive feedback on my “Roughs” drawings for my kids picture book which means I am one step closer to reaching my dream! The process for illustrating a picture book is: Storyboard (done) – Roughs (done!) – Finals (now doing!!). So I am now in creative ‘lock down’ in my art studio in Brisbane to paint the 32+ pages of my kids picture book on the challenges facing the Great Barrier Reef.

My book illustrates the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef with messages of hope and ocean optimism #haveGBRhope. AND the release of my story in 2018 also aligns to the International Year of the Reef!! So I will be celebrating #IYOR2018 by sharing my visual Reef stories throughout the year. You can ‘sea’ more about my Reef story and the illustration process and progress via The Great Barrier Reef.

I am very much looking forward to another creative year of illustrations, infographics and idea shaping! I can’t wait to publish my first picture book, keep visiting schools and centres as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish, create new creative collaborations and help to “Picture your ideas“! You can also follow my creative journey as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and at @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes for a GREAT 2018!!

Picturing your ideas in 2017!

What a year it has been “Picturing your ideas” in 2017!! With so much colour and creativity and ideas, illustrations and infographics! As this year draws to an end I just wanted to share some of my highlights as a small creative business owner who in two short years has turned something I love into something I live! I am so very grateful for the all the opportunities that have come my way, the support of the special people in my lives and the courage and belief I have to follow my heART.

I have SOOOO many highlights from my visual work this year which has included graphically recording events, workshops, conferences and stakeholder meetings across Australia on important issues and topics from marine and coastal management to health, lived experience, nursing, integrated care and superbugs through to education and teaching, science and technology, research commercialisation, wine development and indigenous cultural heritage. One of my favourite feedbacks from this year has been, “Sue, you make the complex simple and the simple compelling“. FAB!! It’s wonderful to get the opportunity to work with so many new people and teams and I’m always very honoured to be invited back to ‘draw out’ the ideas of my amazing existing clients. I have also had a number of my illustrations and infographics appear in ocean text books this year, which is always great to ‘sea’! You can see how I “Picture your ideas” at my Graphic Recording.

One of my absolute highlights though is visiting schools across Australia as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish. I have so much fun bringing our Living Oceans into classrooms using the art of marine science and storytelling to engage with students (…and their teachers!). I use a creative education approach to teach students how to learn, live and love our oceans through interactive activities such as Shark Art, Drawing out how we tag along with the biggest shark in the sea through to learning how to Sketchnote your Science (using visual thinking). I have the #bestjobever and you can ‘tag’ along with my Creative Education.

I am also ending 2017 on a HIGH NOTE as I have just submitted my ‘Roughs’ illustrations to my Publisher for my debut kids picture book about the challenges facing our Great Barrier Reef! Illustrating 32+ pages of a kids picture book has been a GREAT BIG challenge for me, but I have loved every minute of it! So I am SUPER excited to start painting the pages for my picture book in the new year! Stay tuned here for the 2018 book launch, follow the #haveGBRhope on your social media and you can also keep updated with the progress of The Great Barrier Reef.

Best fishes to you and your families over Christmas and the New Year and I look forward to sharing my stories with you in 2018! You can also follow my creative journey via Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram. ><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸><((((º> .·´¯`·.¸><((((º>.¸.·´¯`·.¸.><((((º>

Our GREAT Barrier Reef!

I have just returned from a GREAT trip to our Great Barrier Reef with my Dad and Coral Expeditions! The cruise departed Cairns and headed North where we stopped and explored Cooktown, Lizard Island, Ribbon Reef # 9, Ribbon Reef #3 and Escape Reef! What a fantastic crew, scrumptious food and breath taking seascapes! It was great to meet so many new “Friends of the Reef” on our cruise too, from six countries! This is a GREAT way to ‘sea’ our Great Barrier Reef (GBR) where you certainly see the beauty in nature everyday.

There was SO much to see and do on this trip with some GREAT illustration inspiration for me on the Reef as I progress to the final stages of illustrating my kids picture book about the Great Barrier Reef. I got to see my first octopus on this trip which was very exciting and I was absolutely amazed at the colour, life and noise of the outer barrier reef. Remembering that “colours are the smiles of nature”, so the GBR was beaming!

It was also GREAT to see how the crew and passengers were ‘on board’ with my kids picture book about the Reef, as everyone was keen to have their photos taken with the hashtag (and key message) of my book #haveGBRhope. Being with these global citizens of the Great Barrier Reef reminded me how much sea-ing the Reef and learning about the Reef leads to loving it! SO GREAT!!

A special thanks to my Dad (and Coral Expeditions) for a GREAT trip to the Reef!!

You can keep updated on the progress of my kids picture book about The Great Barrier Reef and dive in with me and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

The Art of Visual Storytelling

I am delighted to share my latest creative collaboration which is with an Indigenous business, Markwell and Associates, to illustrate a series of visuals to accompany the ‘Safeguarding Indigenous Heritage and Knowledge’ project for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). My role as a creative and visual communicator is to ‘draw out’ the key messages of projects to suit the content, audience and delivery mechanisms. In this case I was asked to incorporate both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elements into the drawings which will be  shared with a diverse audience including GBRMPA staff, GBR Traditional Owner groups and other Reef stakeholders (in person, online and in documentation). And I’ve had such a wonderful response to my visuals from both my clients and Reef Traditional Owners including the appreciation of my creative energy in the process! You can see more of my visual storytelling with Indigenous Communities.

I use my background as a marine scientist, experience in public policy and my creative skills as an artist to help people to communicate their stories visually — through hand-drawn infographics and illustrations. The creative process is an iterative one so it takes some time to create visual products that are tailored to both the project and the audience. My process starts with reviewing the project information and interpreting the key messages, discussing my visual ideas with client(s) followed by sharing ‘mock ups’ of how I picture the project’s visual needs. Everybody has a story and I love to help people and organisations to “picture their ideas” through storytelling. In this digital age of technology, data and visual ‘noise’ I find that people are looking for a unique and different way to share their stories — and through the art of visual storytelling I can provide that point of difference as “When you see it, you get it!

You can ‘sea’ more of my creative collaborations via Infographics & Illustrations. You can also dive in with me and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Make a Splash these school holidays!

I am SOOOOO excited that my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish is joining Mermaid Michelle (International Award winning author http://www.michelleworthington.com) for more creative fun “Under the Sea” these September school holidays! Our workshops turn the tide on plastic pollution in our oceans through interactive, creative sci-art storytelling with the important message of “Don’t trash where they splash!”. I talk about the problems of plastic pollution in the sea and show kids how to reuse and recycle everyday plastics to create one-of-a-kind art! Mermaid Michelle then takes children (and adults!) through the wonderful world of creating picture books using their own words and pictures. This ocean commotion allows children to play, think and create and imagine what they can do to “be the change they want to ‘sea’ in the world“. Dressing up is always lots of fun too! Workshop details and booking information are below and on my website at: https://drsuepillans.com/education/workshops/

Our two workshops are being held in Brisbane during the September School Holidays:

  1. Monday 25th September 2017 from 10:00am – 11:30am at Books@Stones at Stones Corner, event information and bookings here:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/dr-suzie-starfish-and-mermaid-michelle-creative-stem-class-for-kids-tickets-36018030900?aff=erelexpmlt

2. Wednesday 27th September 2017 from 9:30am – 10:30am at Redlands IndigiScapes Centre, Capalaba, event information and bookings here:

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/under-the-sea-school-holiday-workshop-tickets-36017932606?aff=erelexpmlt

You can dive in with me as Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram. Please don’t hesitate to contact me (sue.pillans@internode.on.net) if you would like us to visit your school or group or would like to attend one of our”Under the Sea” Workshops.

The Art of Storytelling

The past few months have seen me busy ‘drawing out’ the discussions, ideas and presentations of people, teams and organisations focusing on a wide range of issues from: enhancing the welfare of our Returned and Services League (RSL), leadership of Queensland nursing and midwifery through to wine strategies, research commercialisation and Far North Queensland education. You can now SEE how I capture these important group discussions in a time-lapse video which was taken of me graphic recording at the UniQuest Research Commercialisation Workshop — which shows how I visually capture two days of workshop discussions and presentations in just 97 secondshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUzu9Ew-O2A&t=12s

The art of my visual storytelling is all about listening + interpreting + synthesising information which I then translate into words and pictures = YOUR Story. This visual approach is a powerful way of engaging with people as I am considered an independent in the room and only draw what I hear which allows teams, groups, clients and stakeholders with the unique opportunity to be heard. By capturing discussions I am also able to show people the ‘Big Picture’ and take people on a journey vs the standard Powerpoint approach. The visuals that I create are also an important communication tool which can be used throughout and post-workshops, conferences and meetings as a point of reflection, a visual representation to share with others and a reminder of the key messages and outcomes from the day.

You can see more of my visual storytelling and client stories via my Graphic Recording and please don’t hesitate to contact me at sue.pillans@internode.on.net if you would like me to help you or your organisation to “Picture your ideas“! You can also follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sketchnote your Science!

As a scientist, artist and graphic recorder I use my skills and experience to provide Creative Education for kids, students, teachers and educators. I literally ‘draw upon’ my research, professional experiences and the Australian Curriculum to create visual stories and STEM-related learning activities — where I enthusiastically put the “A” into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTs and Mathematics)! This year I introduced a new visual learning technique into my school visits, “Sketchnote your Science“, which I deliver as my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish.

I use Sketchnote your Science in Schools to help students and teachers to visualise SCIENCE. Sketchnotes are visual notes created from a mixture of hand-drawn words and pictures which can include visual elements of typography, shapes and lines. Drawing is thinking so this technique helps to make learning and science visual. Because…“When you draw you remember more!” AND what a great reaction I have had from high school science students and teachers! The photos show how you can put fun into science and learning with just a pen and paper!

Here is some great feedback received from one of the teachers I visited, “Dr Starfish tailored a session for us on the tagging and life cycle of The Green Turtle using ‘Sketchnote’ a visual learning tool of drawing pictures, labels and links, to better retain and recall our scientific content”. Teachers in Western Australia have now started using this technique after my school visits with amazing student science sketchnote results, which you can see via the link below!

The beauty of this visual learning technique is that it can also be used in any group/team situation to help visualise ideas and understanding. Let me know if I can help your classroom, school or group to “picture your ideas“. You can ‘sea’ more of my visual learning technique for schools and groups via Sketchnote your Science and follow my creative journey via @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Drawn to Conserve our Ocean

I’m delighted to be able to show you the latest infographic I created for CSIRO which now appears in the new book by Elsevier, Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean. Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People emphasises strategies to better connect the practice of marine conservation with the needs and priorities of a growing global human population. I created this infographic to help illustrate Chapter 20 ‘The Future of Modeling to Support Conservation Decisions in the Anthropocene Ocean’. Anthropocene relates to the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

As you know the health and future of our oceans is close to my heART so I was thrilled when I was asked to ‘draw out’ a chapter focusing on conservation decisions for our oceans! It is so important that we work together using all the information, technology and know how we have so we can find better ways for people and nature to co-exist for our Blue Planets future. Thank you to Dr Eva Plaganyi-Lloyd, one of the co-authors of Chapter 20, for giving me this great opportunity to use the art of marine science to picture this important topic. And as I love to live my life in colour this infographic came to life using my favourite markers by Copic.

You can ‘sea’ more of my Infographics & Illustrations and follow my creative journey via my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Sea our Storytelling for Kids!

What an ocean commotion we made at our “Under the Sea” workshop for kids (of all ages) these school holidays! Mermaid Michelle (aka. Michelle Worthington International award-winning children’s author ) and my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish used the art of marine science storytelling to talk about plastic pollution in our oceans. Marine debris and litter is one of the challenges our oceans and sea creatures are facing as people ‘trash where they splash’! We talked about how long it takes for plastics to break down. Did you know it takes 10 – 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose?!! So what can we do about it? The kids all knew how, by calling out “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (…and Refuse)!” To put our recycling to work we created some amazing looking jellyfish art by re-using plastic bags!

Mermaid Michelle then took the group through the process of creating your own picture book story using jellyfish as the main character. Michelle took us through the steps of writing stories with messages of hope. We even got to hear some of the stories from jellyfish flying through space, jellyfish singing too loud and jellyfish in search of their love hearts! There were some great ideas for some best-selling kids picture books in the room which made us laugh and cry! WOW!

Mermaid Michelle and I had a FIN-tastic day with the group and we can’t wait to dive in and make a splash with children of all ages next school holidays! A special thank you to our helpers from the Share your Story Tribe. You can find out more about our upcoming creative STEM workshops via my Workshops (September school holiday workshop details coming soon!) and at Dr Suzie Starfish on Facebook and @suepillans on Twitter and Instagram.

Best fishes and mermaid kisses from Mermaid Michelle and Dr Suzie Starfish!

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