Saturday, 9 July 2011

Greenaway Award Shadowing Project - Designing a Prize

I got a frantic phone call recently, from my friend and fellow author Tom Barber (who wrote Open Wide!) and who also happens to be a
school librarian

'I was wondering,' he said. 'Could we commission you to do us an illustration to give as a prize? Oh and, really sorry about this, but we need it in a couple of days...'

It was all to do with the day I'd spent at Tom's school, Ellis Guilford, a while ago. I'd been invited to do a day of workshops based on the Kate Greenaway Award shortlist and give talks about children's book illustration.

The children I worked with were also visiting Ellis Guilford from various local primary schools. They took what they had learned back to their schools. They taught the other children about the award, who then read and voted on the books and created lots more amazing artwork, like this piece based on Big Bear Little Brother.

Tom wanted to present a prize for the best illustration, and suddenly thought of giving the winning school a piece by me. Unfortunately, I was out in another school the day he phoned, so could only set aside one evening to work on it. 

With only 2 or 3 hours to spend, it had to be black and white. I didn't have much time to mess about planning either, so thought I'd work with familiar characters. I got the idea to incorporate as many creatures as I could from my various books, jumping around an award certificate.

I got a big piece of paper and just went for it, creating this extremely rough sketch, which I then put on my light box, so I could semi-trace the characters, as I tidied it up for the actual piece, drawing more carefully in a compressed charcoal pencil, so it would be good and black. I had to keep stopping to spray in with fixative, as it was so easily smudged by my own hand.

Next morning, I had to get my trusty slave John to post it for me since, as luck would have it, I was out in yet another school that day too! Tom quickly had it framed and this is how it looked when he presented it to the winning school:


Well done to all the children for all their hard work. I will be going back to meet the winning school very soon, as another part of the prize is that they win a workshop with me. Looking forward to meeting you all!


Julie Clay Illustration said...

Hi Lynne, that is very good of you to quickly come up with a lovely prize. i love reading your blog, i would really like to do some Childrens book illustration, I've been doing greeting cards for 30years now, it's not what it used to be! I worked for Hallmark for 10years up to 2007. I keep approaching book publishers but not getting anywhere? My favourite thing to draw is cute characters. Any advice would be apprecaited, although your blog always gives advice. I just wondered if you what sketchbooks you use and if you've ever tried the 'Pink Pig' sketchbooks(white) they are excellent. And finally have you looked at the blog, seven impossible things before breakfast, you probably have! Well done with everything and thanks for blogging so well. Best wishes, Julie Clay.

Lynne Chapman said...

Hi Julie, and thank you! Thanks too for the blog recommnedation - I'll check it out.

Re your work: a lot of people struggle to move from greetings cards into children's books, because they appears to be similar fields, but are actually not at all.

You should be wary of 'card cute' and make sure you can draw a variety of characters in a variety of moods. You need to worry a great deal more about context - backgrounds that are not just window-dressing for the foreground, but add to the movement and understanding of the story and the way we interpret the characters.

You should also draw on what you have learned from cards, but probably not include a single piece of artwork that was originally done for a card in your ultimate folio.

Check out my article on how to build a portfolio for children's books (hit the 'hot tips' label and scroll through)

Hope that helps.

Good luck! L x