RE: A Letter of Complaint from an Illustrator, to her Genes.

Dear Cardiovascular Genes,

I am writing to express my extreme displeasure at your recent work performance.

You see due to your very VERY poor work performance, I have experienced an extremely unpleasant (and can I say, unexpectedly dramatic) issue with my lower anterior descending coronary artery – otherwise known as my “LAD”. Or, as the medical profession has nicknamed it (somewhat tactlessly can I  just say), the ‘Widowmaker Artery.’

I would be pleased, therefore, if you could read my story below, to ensure that this situation does not occur again in ANY OTHER ARTERY IN MY BODY.

So, here is my story, dear Cardiovascular Genes.

(I shall from herein call you CGs to keep things simple for you…)

(OH, and you may want to make yourself a cup of tea, or coffee…or poison …and find a chair to sit in as you read, as its not entirely a NICE story.)

Ok, let me begin…

About 4 weeks ago,  my gorgeous 12 year old daughter was chewing on her Vegemite toast whilst propping her cute  chin on her hand like she always does over our breakfast bench every morning. (Yes, dear CGs, I am the mother of 3 offspring, having also given birth to 2 equally gorgeous sons.) 

“Mum,” my gorgeous daughter asked me. “Could you have died?”

“Well, yeah. I could have sweetie,” I had to reply. 

My daughter and I enjoying time together at the Caloundra Markets. I am drinking a fruit smoothie. She is eating a deep fried curly potato on a stick. We shall be working on her diet…

You see, CGs,  I love my daughter ( and of course my sons) SO MUCH. She is smart (note: – you may want to take a page out of  the book of your much kinder Genetic siblings- “IQ Genes”- at this point CGs)  She is smart, as she so already knew the truth, because she unfortunately had watched me go into hospital for heart surgery as  a rather quiet and shaken person  one day and a day later, seen me come out of hospital a rather battered and bruised  person. NOT, what you want for your children. And something you may want to consider as you yourselves reproduce….

ANYWAY, Crapola Genes,(yes, that is what I shall  rename you henceforth), I knew that my smart 12 year old girl was just verbally processing the trauma we had  ALL been through as a family in the 2 weeks prior.

And this is my point.

This all occurred due to your wanton and careless disregard for me – your customer and, indeed your HOME.

I don’t know if it’s possible for you, but humour me anyway now and  imagine how I felt when I had found out 2 weeks prior, that I  was inches from death due to a 90% BLOCKAGE AND BLOOD CLOT IN MY LAD!! My body was a time bomb – ready to pop off this earth. And I had no idea.

( At this point, I do have to commend you on your Ninja- like stealth CGs.)

( In fact, you may want to consider another career as members of the MI5, as sneakiness is obviously where your talents lie) 

CGs, You are like Futoshi the NINJA, from the book Juno Jones Word Ninja.

But I digress…

Back to my story ….

2 weeks before this breakfast conversation with my daughter, I was sitting in my art studio, mobile phone in my right hand, listening to Dr Hadi, my cardiologist ’s voice echoing down the phone line.

Sandra – I have your results.” 

I was, at this point, completely and  totally oblivious to your machinations CGs. I was, instead, happy and snuggly and warm and gazing out the double glazed windows of my art studio   (which were , by the way doing THEIR job well, of keeping the heat inside the house and the cold outside the house. Take note of the good work ethic…) I’d just returned from my CT heart scan downtown.  A migraine that I’d been struggling with for a few days had finally cleared. And so, there I was sitting, with my feelings of lightness and excitement  and anticipation about a big yummy day ahead of art and illustration and not worried at all about any CT scan.

You see, I’ve always been a super-dooper-active-healthy girl, dear CGs. 

As a kid I hated cake and chocolate. Don’t believe me? Ask my mum,  because IT’s TRUE

In high school I would buy a tuna and salad bread roll instead of a sausage roll. 


I kid you not.

I LOVED walking for miles and miles with the soul mate man of my life-  Nige,  and I jogged regularly up and down the hills of our 5 acres with my Domino the Wonder Dog.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a real fish and swum laps of the pool for fun ( I know – weird … Apparently when I was a toddler, I freaked out mum and dad by running excitedly into a deep pool, jumping in and sinking to the bottom, only to promptly bob right back up again to the surface, floating and laughing like a little pink cork.)

And in 1984, I came 1st in the Newcastle Highschool Year 7 Paddle Tennis Competition.

Anyway, I digress…

My point IS…


But, my reverie of happiness bubble popped like a kiddies birthday balloon when I heard the following words from Dr Hadi.

“ You have a significantly blocked coronary artery,”

“ How soon can you get to a hospital for an angiogram and possible stent?” 

I finally spoke.

“Oh, oh , are you kidding?”

(It sounds rude now, but that’s actually what I said in my state of shock.)

“ No – I’m not Sandra. I’m going to try to get you into Lingard Private Hospital Newcastle with Dr Andrew Boyle as soon as I can. In the meantime, if you have any pain, ring 000 , start taking aspirin and don’t do any bungy jumping or marathons .”

(I have to confess, CGs, that at this point, I actually giggled nervously. I loved that he was being “doctor” funny. That’s SO my way of dealing with trauma. So, as some consolation, CGs, you did manage to bring some semblance of weird black frivolity in this whole horrible matter.)

But, as I hung up the phone, I lost my bundle.

How could this happen??!!

To me – a 47 year old children’s book illustrator and occupational therapist,  mother of 3, and wife to my soul mate of 32 years!!!

I’ll tell you how it happened!


I shall tell you your history, your background, just in case you didn’t already know Crapola Genes.  Honestly, when you hear this, you will hopefully realise that  you really should have known better than to keep propagating in other unwitting people. 

So…listen carefully.

In 1976, my paternal grandfather – Jock Stewart, aged just 66, died in his sleep of a massive heart attack. After 40 plus years of service in the Australian Police Force, having served our country not only as a policeman but also as a trainer of possibly thousands of NSW policeman – he passed away. And he, and my Grandma Stella Stewart had just started their retirement trip around Australia in a caravan. So very sad. My dad and his brothers followed in his footsteps with heart disease and have also had to have surgery to keep themselves alive.

Here is a picture I drew a while back of Grandfather Jock and Grandma Stella. Don’t they look happy? And since this tragedy occurred, my Dad and his 2 brothers have since found they also have heart disease and have all had to have surgery before the age of 65. Such an extremely poor long term performance and dreadful lack of Future Proofing on your part, can I just say.

But, wait there’s more…

…let me tell you about my mother’s side of the family.

My mum’s Aunt Greta died of a heart attack at the ripe old age of .. wait for it…32!!! Great Aunt Greta was a mum of 3 children – just like me!  Tragic!!! But did you care? NO! Nearly all of Aunt Greta’s siblings as well as my mum and  my 2 maternal uncles have  been diagnosed with heart disease  and have had to have heart disease related surgery.

But despite you and your lack of adherence for best practice exhibited in spectacularly awful fashion through your wanton disregard for my LAD artery, I am actually THANKFUL.

Yes, you heard me, I am THANKFUL.

Me and my Border Collie, Domino the Wonder Dog, looking thankful.

Have you drunk that poison yet, CGs? I hope not, because I want you to hear what I’m about to say…

Despite your pathetic attempt at taking me off this mortal coil, CGs, God, for some reason, has spared me from death – for now.

And I  am thankful that for whatever reason, I believe God has given me this second chance on life. He doesn’t always do that. He doesn’t always spare us humans from suffering and pain and death. 

That is why the death rate for the human race is 100%.  And why my mum has Parkinson’s Disease, and my grandfather and great aunt died way WAY too young.

So, although this I am writing in order to impart to you my extreme dissatisfaction, I actually want you to know, that I realise..

 .. that it’s not your fault that you are so hopeless at your job.

You can’t help the way you are made.

Our world, sadly, is not perfect.

And, can I just tell you, that I’m not giving up on your boss – your Maker – AKA – GOD.

God has given me so many things I love – like my soulmate Nige and my 3 children and my drawing and my chance to work as an Occupational Therapist. But that’s not why I’m not giving up on Him.

I’m not giving up on him because, as despite all the anxious times that you have caused me, CGs,  I have felt  God/ Jesus’ love. He really is my Father. And as my Father, he has been SO close by! I have had this crazy deep desire to read all about him and what he was like as he walked the earth – about how people just wanted to be around him and how crowds and crowds followed him everywhere.  And how He was kind and compassionate and healed people and spoke words of truth and words of love.

 And I kind of  realised, that even though you are “Crapola”  dear  CGs.  I knew my spiritual heart was with Him. In the middle of the night, as I lay in hospital attached like a robot to an ECG machine and and IV pole and a blood pressure monitor,  I was a  NOT a picture of tranquility. But even so, CGs, I had hope in my real heart- my spiritual heart. No matter what the outcome- life , or death. 

So, as I finish off.

I want you to know.

That I forgive you, Crapola Genes.

You’re imperfect… just like the rest of the world.

But I can deal with that.


( You might want to revisit the Mandatory Training Manual for Genes, page 1 section 35 on “ Keeping Your Human Being Alive” .)

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Much appreciated.

Sandy Flett

Illustrator, Writer, OT, Artist, Mum of 3, Wife, Blocked Artery and Crapola Genes Survivor.

Mother’s Day and Stuff I Learnt from My Mum

This is my Mum. I love my mum.

So for this Mother’s Day I want to share my list of ….

“Why My Mum is Awesome and Things I Should Have Learnt from Her but Still Have a Ways to Go.”

1. Be Happy with Your Hair. My Mum has had the same hairstyle since she was 15 . She is now 74. That’s 59 years of being content with her hair. Not a bad record. And something that most women struggle with – ie “hair discontent.” I have not yet learnt this lesson.

2. Be Regal on the Inside. Because of her short vaguely curly hairstyle that she has had for 59 years, my mum sometimes looks a bit like The Queen- especially when the hairdresser over enthusiastically poofs her hair. Mum thinks this is amusing but yet, she happily depoofs her hair when she next has a shower. You see, my mum doesn’t need to look like a queen, because she is already regal on the inside and that, my friends, is more important. Not regal in a “I’m better than you “way, but regal in that she carries herself with dignity and deep kindness towards all other people.

3. Handwash your Woollens in “SoftlyWool Wash and DON’T HANG THEM ON THE WASHING LINE WITH PEGS!! Don’t , just don’t…( they will go all wobbly if you do.)

4. If you Get Parkinson’s Disease Don’t Whinge All The Time But Turn it Into Another Learning Experience Even if Your Body Freezes  A Lot and You Can’t Taste Anything You Eat and You Are in A Lot of Pain Pretty much Every Day.

5. Notice the Children who Can’t speak English or who Have Disability and Get Picked on by Other Kids and Other Teachers Who Should Know Better and Nurture Them even Though You already Way too Busy with Your own Stuff . In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, my mum was a school teacher. She was unique in her love for children of all backgrounds. I love that about her. I hope I have inherited a little bit of that from her.

6. Always Bake Scones using Cream and NOT BUTTER and DEFINITELY NO EGGS. Eggs and butter in scones are WRONG !WRONG!WRONG!But Mum’s scones are so RIGHT!RIGHT!RIGHT! without them and they taste so gooooood!!

7. Love God and read the Bible . A lot.

8. If it’s Cold – Wear a things close to your skin like a Singlet and a Spencer and TUCK THEM IN  TO YOUR UNDIES. It totally works. Big tick right there Mum.

9. Better Still- wear tights UNDER your slacks/jeans and OVER your undies and EVERYTHING into them as well. You will look like you’ve put on 10kgs, you will be WARM.

10. Love your Mum- Even if She isn’t Perfect. This is a portrait of my Mum’s Mum and Dad – Tom and Bertha Jean, – on their Wedding Day in the 1930s.

Nan Bertha Jean was tricky, but a product of a tricky childhood and as you can see, terrified on her wedding day, poor love.

So, this, my friends, is my list.

Mum, you are the queen of my heart.

Happy Mother’s Day.

And I hope others will learn from you like I still am.

Especially the undies bit.

Having a personal creative space day and blue sausage dogs .

I needed a break today from some book and other  illustration commissions and just wanted to go with ” creative flow ”



And so I drew a sausage dog .

A blue sausage dog .

Actually ,  a blue sausage dog with stripes and zig zags .

Actually , a  blue sausage dog with stripes and zig zags who wears a casual grin as she is comfortable in her own skin as she likes what she likes and doesn’t need to dress in the boring conservative manner of most sausage dogs .

ACTUALLY , a blue sausage dog with stripes and zig zags who therefore HATES  having to wear uniforms , DETESTS being organised by other sausage dogs , CANNOT STAND instruction manuals ,but, who loves SILLINESS  and  being CREATIVE and showing SELF EXPRESSION through art and music and clothing attire and who despite her love of being around OTHER  sausage dogs , feels feels most at ease when in her own arty space MAKING A HECK OF A BIG CREATIVE MESS .

ummm ….

This  drawing may have some deeper meaning .



love to you all


PS – A MESSAGE FOR A CERTAIN MISS MADDIE – I haven’t forgotten your request for a drawing instruction video of how to draw a sausage dog – watch this space over the next week or so ….

xo Sandy

Illustrations and my cheesy fudgy squishy brain.


Its been a journey of building the confidence to take on the job – my first full book illustration commission  . My own scaredy cat brain had stopped me from drawing for almost 20 years ! Yes! It’s true ! I stopped drawing for 20 years ! But that’s another story that I’ll share in another blog one day . It’s a good one for anyone like me , in their mid 40s … heading towards 50… who thought  they were all dried up , on the decline and didn’t  have much to offer the creative world .

Its been a learning journey , as I’ve drawn the pictures,  to  keep persisting and pushing through , even when my drawing brain seemed to turn into a cheesy fudgy squishy   brain .

It’s been a journey of my own scaredy cat brain , as I felt anxiety and possibly even fear at times , when I’ve worried that the author , psychology professor Dr Allison Waters , wouldn’t like my work .


But , I persisted ! I worked through the  scaredy cat cheesy fudgy squishy brain days and I’m SOooo close to being finished and ready to take on some more projects .. like a possible job with a big children’s book  publishing firm here in Australia illustrating a series of chapter books  …. ( woohoo!) . It’s not definite yet , but I need give my cheesy, fudgy squishy scaredy cat brain the flick ( “give it the flick” is “throw it away” in Aussie slang) and GIVE IT A GO !


Love to all !




Creativity and Jesus


I just read this verse from the bible , ten minutes ago .

It’s talking about a guy in the bible called Paul who has an AMAZING story of being a murderous angry Jesus hating man , and completing turning his life to becoming a Jesus adoring dude . And this verse is from  about a section of his life when he  was being begged to stay in a certain town to keep on sharing his knowledge of Jesus, (which he probably would have loved to have done) , but instead , set sail for another place , Ephesus , saying as he left “I will come back if it is God’s will “.

His life was run by Jesus …..

I’m an artist , and I love Jesus too . I gave  my heart to Him when I was 10 – and I swear , that since I was that arty creative little girl , to now , being an arty 45 year old woman , Jesus has run  my life .When I have  let him .

“When I have let Him”  …..I haven’t always allowed Jesus to direct the way I live .

I have been anxious , like the little girl scared of the moon at night , worrying about which way my life will go .

My daughter Tara, used to be scared of the moon  … a water colour illustration I did a few weeks ago for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge .

It’s so easy in our comfortable middle income Australian life , to try to run things our way . To try to control our anxiety ourselves . To try to run our lives by ourselves .

As an illustrator/artist, I have become used to creating my works – a gift I know comes from God . God has given me an amazing opportunity  in the last few months , to illustrate a book to help children with anxiety , written by an Associate Professor in Child Psychology at Griffith a University , here in Brisbane , Dr Allison Waters     . It’s called “Jessie and the Scaredy Cat Brain ” . God has also led me to paint portraits for people , portraits of people who have passed away , of pets they love . I know in my heart these opportunities come from Him – because they do something that blesses people and moves them to feelings of love and peace .

A page from “Jessie and the Scaredy Cat Brain ” . Jessie is with Happy Cat looking at a situation with her teacher that can make her worried . I’ve put this one in my portfolio .
FullSizeRender 2
Me and the lovely Zhulina with a portrait I painted of her father , an Afghani General who did in a plane crash when she was very young . Zhilina gave this portrait to her mother who now lives in Italy . Zhulina cried when she saw it .

However  ,  this gift of creativity gift that can also lead to a tendency to feel you can create and control your own way in life .

If I ran my life MY way , I would become an illustrator for children’s book that will be published and sold in shops and read by children across the land !

BUT , I also need to prioritise  God , first up , top of my list !

He is my good , kind , peaceful loving Heavenly Father . He wants the best for me . He wants me to share his love with other people .

With you in fact .

And so I have this morning – before I start a big start on my artwork for “Jessie ” today … which will likely be at least 8-10 hours of work , I’ve tried to put Jesus first .


I’ve read Gods word , the Bible , and found the little verse I shared above , that has just jumped out at me from the page . And now , I feel compelled to share this blog post with you before I start work .

Finally , as the next big event in my life looms near ( only 3 days to go !) – the CYA conference , a conference for authors and illustrators of children and young adults and illustrators  . I have paid $100 a pop to meet with editors of BIG publishing companies -Penguin , Affirm , Black Dog Books and Hatchette , to get feedback and hopefully be contracted by one of them as an illustrator

But , God , I promise to you that I will trust that I will be lead by you .

“If it is Gods will “

That’s my Theme .

Love to all

xxxooo Sandy

The feverish updating of an illustration portfolio



I’m so excited !!!! I’m like a kid at Christmas time who still believes in Santa!!

This artwork is going in my portfolio for the Children and Young Adults author and illustrators conference . I’ve been burning the midnight candle/iPad working industriously and feverishly to get my portfolio ready for this BIG event .

More info to come later…

But watch this space as I share my portfolio entries with you all .

Men , hair and the 52 Week Illustration Challenge.

I like to draw.

Correction- I LOOOOOOOOOVE to draw and paint and illustrate and create and , well, you get the picture .

I’m addicted .

Its a fact .

And because I love to draw, I started drawing for the Facebook  52 Week   Illustration Challenge  . And , the  theme for this week was to illustrate something about “texture.”

So what the heck , (I hear you say dear reader ) does all of this have to do with the Men …and Hair?

Let me explain .

 I like blokes  (  dictionary definition – Aussie for “men”)  . And I do believe that many of the male  species or “blokes”  in the world get a ” bum rap ” these days . ( bum rap : dictionary definition- Aussie for unjust accusation, verdict, or punishment for bad behaviour)

And it is true , some men deserve to be  justly accused of said “bad behaviour “.


Most  of you blokes don’t deserve this “bum rap ” . And that’s not nice . In fact , it sucks ( let’s not mince words here)

So in today’s blog post , I celebrate the blokes of the world .

Let me explain , again .

5 days ago , I sat bemused , perplexed and uncertain, contemplating ” How on earth am I going to draw for the 52 Week Illustration Challenge something on the theme of “texture ” ?? I turned my head and gazed around my household, whereupon my eyes rested on the noggins ( dictionary definition : Aussie for “heads” ) of the 3 gorgeous men in my life – my 17 year old son with full thick locks cut in the current trend of a brush held upside down , my 19 year old son with the makings of a small beard and clean shaven jaw , and  my gorgeous , long suffering hardworking 47 year old childhood sweetheart husband who is … well , let’s not go into details , but let’s just say , his hair has changed somewhat since we met in 1986… ( as has my waistline …)

And as I gazed at the 3 delightful blokes and pondered the theme of “texture”,  my brain went ” BINGO !'”

I’ll let my illustration explain the rest …

Much love to all my readers

God bless,