When North Lakes artist Michaela Hill created a piece depicting the late Steve Irwin with his newborn granddaughter Grace Warrior, she never dreamt it would become a world-wide sensation.
The stunning drawing captures the Crocodile Hunter – who died in 2006 – with his tiny granddaughter, who was born on March 25.
The video went viral, amassing more than 1.1 million views, 283,000 likes and almost 3500 comments.
Michaela, who had asked people to share the post in the hope it would reach Irwin’s daughter, Bindi and her husband Chandler Powell, says she was stunned by the response.
“People started messaging me asking if I could draw their passed loved ones,” she says.
Since the video was posted she has been contacted by people as far afield as America and the UK, commissioning her to create special portraits of babies and relatives who are no longer alive.
Ms Hill her family visited Australia Zoo this month to deliver the precious drawing.
While they were unable to meet Bindi, Zoo staff were touched by the gesture and promised that Bindi and Chandler would be in touch.
The mum of three was inspired to start drawing memorial portraits after a close friend lost her daughter.
The magical result was the child depicted as an angel.
“I realised I have an affinity for drawing passed loved ones,” she says.
While Michaela says some people found the portraits a little unusual, they are treasured by those whose loved ones are no longer with them and she is honoured to be invited to create special family mementos.
“One said it meant so much to her because she had never been able to see her dad with her grandchildren.”
Working from photographs, the portraits are drawn freehand and take countless hours to complete – the eyes in each take more than two hours alone.
Michaela, who only started her business in January, already has bookings for memorial portraits taking her through to October.
Her work focuses on realism portraiture, including pets as well as people.