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Amidst the chaos of family life in Sydney, Kirby creates original artworks and stationery, inspired by the native flora of her birthplace in Australia’s Blue Mountains

16 August 2019

Designer Spotlight: Kb Handmade Art

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Nature-loving engineer, turned artist, Kirby: ‘More than the product, I’m learning that I help create moments and inspiration for others to see a little more beautifully’

Hi, I am Kirby Atwood, and I create simple, beautiful, Australia-flora inspired art. More than the product, I’m learning that I help create moments and inspiration for others to see a little more beautifully. I often post under the hashtag #naturesdelights on my Instagram (@Kb.Handmade.Art) to encourage people to see the beauty in nature around them that is there for the noticing if you take the time to see (even in the city!).

A range of framed acrylic and ink artworks depicting native Australian plants, by Kb Handmade Art

I live in the Inner West of Sydney with my family, but my roots are in the Blue Mountains where I grew up. It wasn’t until I moved to the city that I realised how much I missed the bush! It was something I had always taken for granted.

Amidst the chaos of family life in Sydney, Kirby creates original artworks and stationery, inspired by the native flora of her birthplace in Australia’s Blue Mountains

I am a solo artist, but often have three little helpers in the form of my children (all young boys at home!) This makes for limited time and space for my creative endeavours sometimes, but I find having this outlet so helpful as a mum, and I make do with what I can. Art has helped me to express myself and build confidence, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. My wonderful husband also deserves a mention as my photo editing guru, social media consultant, IT support, and cheerleader.

‘Noisy’ the stick-insect on a sprig of gumleaves that make up part of his home in Kirby’s home

We have a stick insect named by one of my boys as Noisy (quite ironic) and I love his home in our home – an awesome excuse to have eucalyptus leaves in the house!

Parcels gift-wrapped in brown paper and sting, with hand-painted / illustrated gum-leaf Christmas cards by Kb Handmade Art: ‘I started with a Christmas range and have steadily been making more items available’

I have been selling on MadeIt since October last year. I started with a Christmas card range and have been steadily making more items available.

Work in progress by Kb Handmade Art; acrylic washes in neutral tones with ink details depicting the eyes of the Banksia seeds scattered on the same table

As a solo-artist, I’m more and more realising the importance of collaboration between fellow creators! Madeit is a wonderful platform to be involved with – I love that it’s Australian, I love that it’s a place where I can share my passion with others, and it’s a place where I am known, in a sense, and has given me opportunities (like this Designer Spotlight!) that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

A brown paper package with hand-drawn gum-nuts and gum leaves in one corner; ‘I also find it a joy to add little had drawn touches to my packaging’

I sell prints of my art, however I am striving to always have at least one original art item in stock (currently my bookmarks) to keep true to my name. I also find it a joy to add little hand drawn touches to my packaging to convey that sense of handmade and loving creation.

Sustainable packaging used by Kb Handmade Art; biodegradable cellophane sleeves and hand-stamped brown paper bags

I am keen to promote sustainability and seek to do that by sourcing locally and sustainably when I can. I use cellophane as my protective sleeve over the cards instead of plastic, recycled paper envelopes, and carbon neutral frames to display my prints.

Kirby at work on an art piece; ‘I am surrounded by wood grains, dried leaves and natural light… and Lego, unfolded washing, and children

In my workspace, I am surrounded by wood grains, dried leaves and natural light…and Lego, unfolded washing, and children. I have made the most of our small city townhouse by using our dining room table and some nooks and crannies in some cupboards for my artwork supplies.

Kirby at her dining room table, working on acrylic washes that will form the coloured backgrounds for future ink-illustrations

I often take over the table in the evening to lay out my painting, and if I get a few minutes in the day, I use my ‘standing desk’ for my drawings (which is the top of our sideboard cabinet – out of reach of little hands!).

Kirby practising drawing at her dining room table; ‘My art and my workspace are evidence that often the most wonderful things are hidden amongst the daily chaos’

I occasionally take my drawing out of doors too. I have taught myself to savour the slow moments, and the small beautiful things. My art and my workspace are evidence that often the most wonderful things are hidden amongst the daily chaos.

Kirby at work in the outdoors, drawing more native plant life in her Sydney garden

I am inspired by the natural beauty around me, especially Australian native plants. I have long been fascinated by the colours that occur together organically and how, no matter how strange the combination, it just seems to work. I try and capture this in my technique using acrylic washes – the contrasting pigments dry in organic ways, and that is what I use as the basis for my drawings over the top.



I love leaves – we have some beautiful gum trees in the park near our house and we’ll often collect leaves as a family (as my boys know I love them!). I am mesmerised by their tones and the imperfections that make them so wonderful and unique. They remind me to roll with life’s surprises, because the most beautiful things in nature are its irregularities.

A Kb Handmade Art original gum leaf painting; ‘The most beautiful things in nature are its irregularities’

Moving to the city has helped me value the place of my upbringing so much more than ever before. I took the leafy outlook and tree covered valleys of the Blue Mountains for granted, and so my art has formed out of a longing to appreciate what I missed. I’ve even found that through my art making, I notice more of the natural beauty around me.

A smiling Kirby in front of a backdrop of her birthplace and source of inspiration, The Blue Mountains

I am so grateful to live close to a park which has a heap of gum trees in it. I’m constantly drawn to these trees and their beauty. I enjoy spotting Australian native plants on verges and yards and parks and unexpected places.

A pile of vintage books scattered with Kirby’s nature-inspired art bookmarks; ‘I wasn’t convinced of the value of art, and didn’t feel encouraged to pursue it’

I have always enjoyed art and been creative, and in my primary school ‘what will I be when I grow up?’ painting, I was going to be an artist! As I got older, though, I wasn’t convinced of the value of art, and didn’t feel encouraged to pursue it. I ended up studying civil engineering at university and working for a few years.

A stack of Kirby’s hand-drawn cards featuring native plants

Through that time at university, I became a Christian, and getting to know Jesus helped me understand that creating and art and beautiful things have immense value because God has made these things. I am a creator, made in the Creator’s image, and therefore creating has immense value! This has spurred me on to pursue making and sharing my art. I’ve also learnt that appreciating beauty in the world is a gift, and that makes it all the more precious.

Kirby packaging orders of her artworks and cards at her dining room table; ‘I find it so much more satisfying to see an outcome from a creative  endeavour than buying something mass produced’

I absolutely love the idea of handmaking things. I will always want to have a go at making something from scratch and very much dabble in all sorts of crafts. I find it so much more satisfying to see an outcome from a creative endeavour than buying something mass produced.

A hand-drawn gumnut greeting card with coloured acrylic wash by Kb Handmade Art

There’s time and effort and history in something that has been hand crafted, and it’s especially wonderful to gift someone with not just a product, but one with a story and meaning and evidence of fingerprints from a fellow human.



Visit Kb Handmade Art to find artworks and stationery inspired by Australian flora: KbHandmadeArt

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