Sunday, 14 June 2015

Character building at the Shoutsouth Festival 2015, sponsored by Derwent Pencils

Today was the last day of the Shoutsouth festival held at London Southbank University.
Over 3 amazing days over 15 of us children's book authors inspired over 100 children from schools all over South London to write and illustrate their own stories.  We all worked and played hard - the kids especially (so focused!), accompanying teachers and us Shoutsouth authors and illustrators and what wonderful stories and pictures came out of it!

In addition to an amazing team of writers, 
6 of us illustrator-authors participated in Shoutsouth this year:
Loretta Schauer, Amanda Lillywhite,  Deborah Allwright, Gillian McClure
Sally Kindberg and...me

On Thursday I was asked to give a  30 minute warm-up illustration session. Starting by drawing simple circles,  over 100 children ages 8 - 12, plus their teachers, and other authors drew two characters.

Here's what everyone managed to do...
... in less than 20 minutes!

Afterwards a teacher told me she hadn't realized she could draw a 'relationship' between characters until she did this exercise. It works for adults who aren't used to drawing, as well as for kids who draw all the time.  As I see it

1. If you can write O, U, Y and V, big and small, and draw dots, you can also draw simple animal or human characters.

2. With basic shapes, anyone can get two characters to 'connect' enough to spark a story.  Add dots to their eye sockets - to direct their focus - and you can get a story jump started.

3. Even the simplest drawings have a distinctive 'stamp' or handwriting to them.  Every single person in that room, young and old drew different characters.

4. Bottom line,  illustration is about communicating ideas and stories. It is not all just about skill or talent.

There's a handout based on this drawing exercise on my new site.

even experts like Sally Kindberg (author of the brilliant Draw It books published by Bloomsbury) had a go, alongside writers Mo O'Hara and Sara Grant

Shoutsouth deliberately mixes different ages of kids and different kinds of schools, into teams - each with their own group of 4 authors to work with.  We gave them...
inspiration (here is writer Sara Grant sparking our Leopard team off!),

tips and lots of individual attention to their writing and drawing...


and plenty of good materials to work with - the  purple pencil cases here were packs of 'Flip' double-ended colour pencils donated by the generous Derwent pencil company.

Here are just a few samples of our Leopard team's pictures.
 On the ShoutAbout magazine for kids I cant't wait to see the brilliant stories the kids wrote with the help of Leopard writers, Sara Grant, Jamie Buxton and Sam Hepburn

Oh and a big thanks to the Shoutsouth bookseller Pea Green Books
for inviting me to sign their 
tablecloth with my own Tiz and Ott 

next to my books and those of Sally Kindberg's (left)

As a children's book creator, after days bent over deadlines in the studio,
spending time with kids is a reality check. I feel energized, with a renewed sense of commitment to what I am about!

(Love these characters from one of the kids in our first day character session!)

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