This is the design story of one of Jean’s paintings for our “The Wizards and the Whale” children’s book. Jean has always been inspired by the Asian designed cranes, especially those found in Japanese woodblock prints and paintings, in Korean folk art, and the cranes in many Chinese screens. Here is a decorative Japanese crane…

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The twelve-year Asian Zodiac Cycle begins with the Year of the Rat. For those of you born in this year (see dates below), the Rat is considered a quick-witted perfectionist, at the forefront leading the way, while overcoming problematic challenges. The Rat is highly organized and has a very active mind and a very busy life.…

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The bookshelf has always held an important role in artwork. In medieval paintings books symbolized knowledge and an openness towards the pursuit of learning. A library filled with bookshelves represented wisdom. (Here’s ‘St Jerome in his Study’ by Antonello da Messina, 1475, National Gallery of London.) St. Jerome in his Study by Antonello da Messina…

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The second animal in the twelve-year Chinese zodiac cycle is the Ox. Those born in the Year of the Ox (see dates at the end), are known for being the hard workers of the animal horoscope. They are believed to get things done as they are reliable, trustworthy and responsible. They are tenacious and persistent and…

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Jean is inspired by many things from travels, nature, childhood, art and even friendships. Occasionally, people’s personalities and big-hearted spirit work their way into our stories and influence the animals’ characters. In “Elliot and the Perfect Wave”, we had a special friend woven into the narrative.   Meet Gretchen the Sheep, mentor, helper and optimistic…

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Painting inspiration – “Bird Market in Hangzhou” by the Chinese painter, Zeng Mi. His birdcages portray a great sense of joy and remind us of the beautiful bird markets in Hong Kong, where we used to live. Here is Jean’s version of hanging birdcages. Yes, that’s a giraffe – Jean can’t exactly explain what inspired her to paint…

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Year of the Horse pop-up by Jean Tori

Jean’s Year of the Horse pop-up page is in this year’s M Diary (M-Restaurant Group – M on the Bund in Shanghai) and we love it!! Michelle Garnaut has done it again with her absolutely stunning diary. To order a copy, or find out where the bookshops are in China and Hong Kong go to:…

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One art form influences others. I admit that I saw these glass ducks in Venice after I had already painted “Those Ducks Again”, but I like how there are multiple creative outlets that include our everyday inspirations. Ducks are very inspirational.

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After living in Asia for so long, when I paint clothes on my animals they are usually wearing Chinese, Japanese or Korean robes, kimonos, dresses and jackets. I found a great catalogue about Korean national costumes – hanbok– and it helps give an idea where I was coming from when I painted this rat. I don’t…

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This is the finished painting of Elliot the Pig and the lighthouses on the beach for one of the children’s book. I will tell you about Elliot’s journey later on, but for now, the technical journey of this painting was as follows: After I made the paper and let it dry for a few days,…

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