An amiable monster relaxes at home on a cold, wet day, listening to music, reading, and absent-mindedly pouring tea onto the floor, while his dog sleeps at his feet.
Armidale resident Kristin Devine's picture was awarded first prize in this year's New England Writers' Centre Illustration Prize, competing against artists from around the nation. The theme: 'A Cosy Day In'.
Winning the prize, Kristin said, was encouraging. "I'm very new to illustrating," she said. "I've always done art works and whatnot, but it's only in the last year or so I've done much illustrating."
Her reward is a $350 contract with local publisher Christmas Press for illustrations in their 2020 Christmas anthology.
"It's great to have opportunity of that kind of work, but to have it published is really, really good," Kristin said.
Kristin has been interested in illustrating since childhood. "I used to pick out picture books based on pictures rather than stories, so it was a natural progression into illustration," she said.
She has entered standalone artworks in competitions, and sold some - but at the moment, she said, art is a sideline.
She moved to Armidale last year from Inverell. "I had family here, and I was already studying, so that was a big draw card, but also because Armidale does have a bigger arts and cultural scene as it were."
She graduated from UNE earlier this year, with a degree in local family and applied history, and is volunteering at the UNE & Regional Archives one day a week, while focusing on the illustrating.
She's writing a children's book about a boy confronting a monster. Like the one in the illustration? "No, very different," she replied; "the monster in that book is not cuddly at all!"
Monsters, Kristin believes, have a different relevance to each generation. "If you look back to ancient Greek stories, often someone confronts a monster of some kind. And each new generation has their problems to confront; every individual does; and I think in that sense, a text like that can be read and interpreted and enjoyed by different people on different levels."
In her illustration, she wanted to juxtapose the big hulk of the monster against its personality. He's a classical music enthusiast; he has LPs of composers from Albéniz to Vivaldi, and his dog is named Bach. He also has house plants that he nurtures, and likes the finer things in life, Kristin said.
"That comes from my own personality and my own likes. I'm very much into gardening, and I wanted to give this big monster a more gentle side."
Kristin wanted to give a sense of context around the illustration; with an illustration, she explained, artists tell a story. "So I wanted to show where the day had begun, with the rainy day and the dog having been outside, to finally getting to sit down - and then there's a knock at the door."
In ten years' time, Kristin would love to have at least the book she's working on published. "Just being able to support myself through illustration and writing would be amazing!"
The Illustration Prize is "a great tribute to her talent", NEWC president Sophie Masson said.
Entries came in from all over Australia, and were judged anonymously, just on the image itself.
The three judges - Anouska Jones from Exisle Publishing, author Natalie Jane Prior, and illustrator David Allan - had no idea who the artists were.
Julia Wakefield received the second prize of $250, sponsored by Little Pink Dog Books, another local publisher.
Belinda Muir was awarded third prize of $150, sponsored by Granny Fi's Toy Cupboard.
Paul Heppell received the admin prize of a professional portfolio assessment, sponsored by the Writers' Centre.