Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Dyslexic Dinosaurs!

I had a lovely day yesterday, running workshops tied into Dyslexia Awareness Week. The Stafford Dyslexia Unit work with small groups of 9 - 11 year olds, seeing them one morning a week. They have got some extra funding to do a really exciting project - the children are going to write, illustrate and produce their very own picture book, called Digby the Dyslexic Dinosaur. Fantastic eh? The books will be properly bound and I have been promised a copy!

It was decided to kick things off with an illustration workshop: perfect timing, given that I have so recently finished work on Gnash Gnaw Dinosaur! and consider myself quite the dinosaur-drawing expert these days!

The sessions were in Shire Hall Library. Unfortunately I was nearly an hour late for the morning one, because of late trains. Everyone was very patient (thanks guys) and we coped OK. I was at least able to show them some of the sketches I'd done on my late train, passing the time. Children are always amazed to see such freshly drawn sketches.

I read Gnash Gnaw Dinosaur! using the publisher's proof (see A Mock-Up Of Gnash Gnaw Dinosaur!), rather exciting: first time! We started with draft drawings, deliberately rough, so we could create the basic dinosaur structure, building with simple shapes. Then I showed them how to use body language to make poses believable and how to create facial expressions with eye directions and various eyebrows, to add drama and life.

I was impressed that the children all drew with confidence and worked really well together, even two children for whom it was their very first time. They all caught on very quickly.

They drew more polished versions, adding their own, really interesting ideas. There was the predictable footballer dinosaur, but drawn with perfect poise. Some children stuck sheets together to create long chase sequences. One boy drew a tunnel of burrowing dinosaurs, another created a lava flow for his dinosaur to flee from, complete with burning trees. There was a tiny dinosaur, rolled into a ball like an armadillo, rolling downhill away from a big dinosaur using him as a football. One boy even created his own lift-up flap, inspired by Gnash Gnaw Dinosaur!.

And a special 'thank you' to Sue, the TA, who mucked in and created a spectacular 'executive' dinosaur, in tie and glasses!

I do hope the book goes well everyone - I'll swap you a copy of yours for one of my Gnash Gnaw Dinosaur! when it's available!

My journey home was much easier. This is the day's 'man on the train' sketch. I had only just started his hand when he moved it away. Fortunately people tend to adopt the same poses so, if you wait, they go back. I had to do the hand in about four goes. Very tricky, as hands in these sort of positions are a bit of a nightmare in the first place!


A Cuban In London said...

I loved your images. So imaginative and bold. Wow!

Greetings from London.

Eric Orchard said...

Beautiful stuff! Did you know there's a Digby here in Nova Scotia?

Lynne Chapman said...

Hi both! Isn't the net great? Talking to London and Nova Scotia in the same sentence.

Is Digby a place?

Love the Bera drawings Eric. I've never been much good in black and white. They are so bold and such great compositions!

Vita said...

I am mezmerized by your sketches!!!!!

Lynne Chapman said...

Thank you all for such lovely comments!!

andrea joseph's sketchblog said...

Love seeing these sketches, Lynne. They are really excellent. Also enjoyed your picture blog too.

Lynne Chapman said...

Nice to see you Andrea - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for making their day so special. I look forward to more of your fantastic workshops in the future.


Anonymous said...

Our thanks go to you Lynne for such a fun and inspiring day.

One girl went home ‘raving’ (to quote mum) about what she had done. One little lad (Y4) got home, announced he could draw dinosaurs and promptly set about making a picture book of them, his mum told us. He even went in search of his Jurassic Park book so he could copy the title. His new friend also did some drawings at home and tells us his big brother is helping him colour them in.

You clearly lit some sparks that day Lynne!

Jan (Stafford SpLD Centre)

Lynne Chapman said...

It's really special when I occasionally get such specific feedback.

Although children generally seem to have a good time on the day, I never really know how much their enthusiasm carries on later. So it's absolutely fantastic to hear stories about individual children like this. Thank you!

Cubist Comix said...


I found your blog through el Perro Verde blog and wow, what wonderful work! I really like these pencil sketches. They are tight but loose, the mark of a true illustrator. Please stop by my blog, I would love to add your blog to my blogroll if you would do the same for mine. Keep up the great work,

Matthew A said...

fingers in perspective suck