SPANNING the wall of a Bendigo bar's garden is a colourful, playful mural.
"I sort of wanted it to be a little bit weird," artist Fiona Smith said.
Inspired by the ancient city of Babylon, after which the venue on Pall Mall is named, the mural depicts well-dressed characters enjoying a night out.
Most are half-human, half animal, adding a surreal element to the scene.
"I worked on it for about two months. I could have worked on it for another two months," Smith said.
"I've never done anything that was so big and that was so public."
What Smith aspires to create is art fit to be held by the tiniest of hands, in the form of children's books.
A single mother, she used to read to her son every night when he was younger.
"I've always loved kid's books," Smith said.
"They can really inspire and create beautiful memories for children."
Smith has drafted and illustrated a couple of books, inspired by cool pets and the colour pink.
"I can do it. I know I can do it," she said.
Patrons of Lyttleton Terrace cafe Crooked Kitchen might be familiar with some of Smith's work - a number of paintings of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
They appeared on the cafe's walls and windows about the time the Bendigo Art Gallery exhibited a collection of Kahlo's photographs.
Smith, who works at the cafe, said she had always known she was going to do something with art.
"Mum's an artist as well," the 46-year-old said.
Her grandparents were all creative.
"Nan used to draw," Smith said.
"Because everyone in my family is creative, it has always been around me. I've always been around patterns and colour."
She trained in visual arts at La Trobe University in Bendigo and was part of the Bendigo Art Society.
Smith's talent was recognised with an award at the 2017 Castlemaine Rotary Art Show.
She has exhibited work locally and in art shows. But one of the most recent portfolios she produced was pitched at Scholastic Australia.
Smith said Bendigo was good at producing illustrators and children's book authors, with Aaron Blabey and Nick Bland among the city's talents.
"It's time a female had a bit of a go," she said.
She said trying to juggle it all and make the transition to becoming a full-time illustrator wasn't easy.
But Smith said she knew what made her happy - painting.
"Lots of people don't know what makes them happy," she said.
"I'm so happy I do".
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.