The Sound of Picture Books Inspiration


For me creativity is creativity. I’ve never made much of a distinction between painting and writing music, and from my earliest memories I have always created music in my imagination. It seemed natural that I would eventually be a composer as well as an author and artist. To help people understand my creative process, and give them an insight into the way words, images, and music can be combined to create a far greater and richer sensory experience, I devised The Sound of Picture Books.

The Sound of Picture Books is a collaboration between me as an illustrator and composer, WASO (the West Australian Symphony Orchestra), The Literature Centre and Yamaha Music. It is a series of unique multi-modal workshops that bring the published books I have either collaborated on, or written and illustrated myself, to life through a journey of sound and imagery.


The Sound of Picture Books provide students of all ages, and adults with an innovative learning experience that leaves them excited about the boundless possibilities of music, art and literature. Each performance ranges from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours and is tailored to the specific audiences’ needs, so the same show can be adapted for young children, family groups, older children or for adults.

Below are two videos that provide a brief overview. The first is from a performance of “Tree” in 2014 with WASO, the Literature Centre and Yamaha. The second is a snippet from the “Parachute” DVD. Both books were written by Danny Parker and he was instrumental in helping create the original format of the workshops.

In many of the performances I am fortunate to work with the author, to provide further insights into the creative processes involved in creating picture books.

The Inspiration

In 2007 I composed music to accompany my book Requiem for a Beast, which was the beginning of something special for me. I was surprised to find that people assumed that I wrote the music after writing and illustrating the book, but in fact it was the other way around. The pictures and layout for the book all came directly out of the musical score. For me, music and images are integral aspects of the same thing.

Often my drawings and paintings begin from musical compositions in my head and I turn these into artworks, other times a drawing inspires notes and arrangements for a specific piece of music. I’ve been told that this is rather unusual, but it is something I have been doing all my life.

The Process

In 2013 I began by composing music for some of my children’s books, in the first instance Tree by Danny Parker.  With the help of some fantastic musicians from Hale School in Perth I produced a DVD which combined images from the book along with the text narrated by Danny to the music. The final product has two tracks, one with Danny’s narration, and one with only the music and images, enabling the listener to perform their own narration. I have since created scores and produced DVDs for more of my books.

The process has been very rewarding and now the DVD’s are available for purchase from the shop on my website or through The Literature Centre in Fremantle, WA. I’m currently planning scores for more of my books.

The current DVD’s I have produced, and that are available through my website are to accompany the following books: Afloat in VeniceTeacup, Tree, Home & Away and Parachute.

I have also composed and performed music for the following:

Performance Schedule (upcoming & previous)