Bush stories brought to life with cartoons

13th February 2018 9:56 AM
ARTIST: Kate Rutter, a Liverpool Plains farmer who draws funny cartoons in her spare time. ARTIST: Kate Rutter, a Liverpool Plains farmer who draws funny cartoons in her spare time. Contributed

AS little girl Kate Rutter loved nothing more than listening to her Pa, Rex Fisher, tell a yarn.

"We would be down the paddock crutching an old ewe and I would be applying the fly powder, I was around the age of eight, and he would be telling me all these stories,” she said.

"I would always be with him on the motorbike with his dogs. He was always telling me funny stories.”

Many of thosestories, albeit some which have been exaggerated, are now the basis for Kate's chucklesome cartoons.

The Liverpool Plains (northern New South Wales) farmer has always loved to draw, and is now slowly growing her brand, Kate Rutter Cartoons, into more than just a hobby. The mother-of-two, who is a draftsman by trade, chatted to the Rural Weekly to explain how she turns bush stories into art.

Not all Kate's cartoons are based on real events, but she said farm life creates plenty of fodder for funny scenarios.

At the moment Kate is running a mixed-enterprise farm with her husband Brady.

"We are in a little fertile area, we have corn in at the moment and we grow wheat, sorghum and cotton, we have just started with cotton,” she said. Their daughters Claudia (5) and Lianna (3) are also on the property, and Brady's parents live on the adjoining block. Family farming with a few generations in the mix was how Kate was raised.

"I grew up near Werris Creek (south of Tamworth), where we had a mixed farm,” she said.

"We had sheep and cattle and dry land crops, just your sorghum and wheat with a bit of lucerne.

"So I was surrounded by animals on that farm, but this one is purely cropping.”

Artwork by cartoonist Kate Rutter.
Artwork by cartoonist Kate Rutter. Kate Rutter Cartoons

Kate grew up on the farm with her parents and grandparents.

She has always been a creative person and she said art has always played a large role in her life.

"My mum said I picked up a pencil from a young age and would just disappear... I would go to another room and be drawing for hours,” she said.

"Cartoons just came naturally to me.”

For the most part, Kate's cartoons were a hobby and drawing them created a bit of an escape for her.

"I always thought people would think my cartoons were a bit silly,” she said.

"So this was something I wanted to keep private rather than have made public.”

However, after a nudge of encouragement from her husband, Kate entered one of her original toons into an art show.

"It sold straight away,” she said.

"So I started to think maybe there was a calling for something like this.”

That first art show was in 2012, and if you fast-forward to today, Kate has had her worked published across many platforms and has been commissioned by travelling performers, the Crack Up Sisters, to draw a large illustration that was blown up for their trailer.

"I had to learn some software pretty quickly to do that,” she said.

"I was like 'are you sure you want me to do it?' and they were like 'yes, Kate, you will be fine'.”

Nowadays Kate gets work and makes sales through word of mouth.

Artwork by cartoonist Kate Rutter.
Artwork by cartoonist Kate Rutter. Kate Rutter Cartoons

"Mostly people find me on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. At the moment sketching her cartoons is being fitted around her role on the farm, raising her girls and her job as a draftsman. "I draw plans, but I am trying to wind that back so I can focus on my art,” she said. At the time of printing, Kate had about 30 or 40 ideas sitting in the notes section of her smart phone ready to be drawn.

"A lot the ideas just comes into my head, I will be thinking about what would be said or what I could throw in there that would make it funny,” she said.

"My grandfather is where a lot of humour comes from.”

Her favourite cartoon comes from one of her Pa's stories she heard when she was a kid.

"Pa had this old dog called Jock,” she said. "So in one cartoon I have them loading sheep, but the truck is rolling away because the park brake wasn't left on. One of the guys is between the back of the create with his legs hooked over the ramp and sheep are existing over his back and it says 'do something Jock!'

"So Jock is at the front of the truck trying to stop it rolling down the hill.

"Obviously it didn't happen like that to Pa exactly, I created some of the things to make it funny.”