I spent this morning at Hardley School, a secondary school near Southampton, talking to pupils in Year 7 about cartooning and children's book illustration.
The session was part of the Wessex Schools Literary Festival where authors and illustrators go into schools and share their work with the students. In my case it was with twenty-or-so talented artists in the library, and the enthusiasm and talent was apparent from the start.
We used the first part of the session getting the children confident in their drawing by teaching them how to cartoon with some simple rules and observations, including how a cartoon differs from other types of illustration and looking at different styles of cartooning, and then putting what they'd learnt into practice with some character design. All the children achieved some great results, absorbing what I'd said and incorporating it into their work. The really successful ones were the ones that didn't do the obvious, with a green troll creature, a worm-like beast with a head that reminded me of Les Dawson, and a superb evil scientist called Dr Chaos particularly standing out.
The second part of the session involved children's book illustration which I demonstrated by using my own books as examples, explaining how the pictures grow out from the story and what they must depict in order to be successful and engaging. I then made up a few lines of verse and invited the children to interpret it however they wished whilst bearing in mind what we'd just shared. The page designs they created were brilliant to watch as they appeared, with the students taking the idea in all sorts of different directions. My personal favourite is pictured and was the only not to take the last line "onto her head" to mean the head of another character.
Really enjoyed the whole morning and would have happily done it all again, so now really looking forward to next Monday where I'll be at another school taking part in the Literary Festival at Applemore College.