Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Inspiring Children's Writing Through Illustration

Last Monday, I had to set my alarm clock to wake me HORRIBLY early in the morning. It's so hard now it's dark! I had a 6.45 train to catch to Lincoln. 

I was visiting Y5 and Y6 at Leasingham St Andrews Primary, where I'd been asked to do illustration workshops that would inspire them and set them up ready for writing projects. 

I had the wonderful luxury of spending half a day at a time with the children. They were such bright kids too. Once I'd talked a bit about how books are written and illustrated, I set them off creating their own illustrations, revolving around a character they designed. We mimicked the way I'd shown them that I work: first doing quick sketches, then a rough, working towards a more finished drawing, adding more details and more ideas each time. 

I demonstrated how to draw a character bending over, looking at the ground, finding a small object (I'd made them choose an object earlier, before they knew why). We talked about what the story could be behind the encounter: whether the object was lost or deliberately placed there to be found, whether the character would take it with them, whether it was a lucky find, or perhaps very unlucky indeed...

We created a landscape around the character, presenting more narrative possibilities (where has the character come from? Where are they going?). We then used weather conditions to create mood and add tension.

I had great fun and really enjoyed adapting my usual workshop ideas, trying something a little different. I hope I get to read some of the stories! 

As always, I showed the children the sketchbook drawings I'd done on the way there (like the man at the top). On the way back, I did the boy above and got into a lovely conversation with the woman next to me, who turned out to be an illustration student, specialising in... yes, you guessed it - children's books! (what are the odds..?)


Erzulie said...

Dear Lynne,

I stumbled upon your blog by accident and ever since then, I bookmarked it because every time I see your drawings I have that feel-good sensation. I'm an artist as well and I published a book (in Arabic, my mother tongue). I did it all by hand and scanned the pictures. Although I am a copywriter by profession, my Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop skills are off. Thankfully I got help from a friend who helped me with "structuring" my work and cleaning up my eraser marks (literally!) since my book is black and white. That same friend told me that I should start coloring my work online, and although that seems practical (not the learning how to use Photoshop bit but more on the time saving/practical coloring side) I really enjoy drawing and coloring things all by hand. Maybe it gives me a sense of control or it just feels more real to me, I don't know. I suppose I'm used to traditional forms of art making as opposed to going digital which does not fit me well. I would really like your input on this because it seems like you color everything by hand. I'm thinking of publishing another book, this time in English. Although Arabic is my mother tongue (I'm from Kuwait), I'm more comfortable expressing myself in English due to my schooling. I'd really appreciate your thoughts and input on this. My email is erzulie1985@hotmail.com

Lynne Chapman said...

You do certainly need to use colour if your books are for younger children, but only work digitally if that is something you are comfortable with. If you are not very familiar with Photoshop, it would be a nightmare! Good luck x