Monday, 11 August 2014

Talented Young Writers' Workshop

What a privilege it is to be part of the Canterbury Literacy Association and the amazing opportunities they provide for education in Canterbury.

As a committee member, I got to spend the day at the Talented Young Illustrators' Workshop at Ferrymead. This day is designed as an opportunity for schools to put forward students with special skills and a special interest in illustrating. The two students that attended from my school were very excited about the day - and it exceeded their expectations.

I felt the same way!

The day started with Gavin Bishop who taught us all about understanding just what goes into a picture book. It's like an iceburg - most of the work is behind the scenes. Picture books have restrictions that novels don't and it takes a lot of thought to overcome those.

It turns out that a picture book has 32 pages all because of money! 32 pages fit on piece of paper. End papers do not count as the 32 pages but are part of the binding of a hard cover book. Page 1 and 32 are the only 'single' pages in a book, and the rest are 'double-page spreads'.

Illustrations begin with a story board, where double pages are designed together to compliment each other. The storyboard plans everything - including covers and titles. Consideration has to be given most importantly to the words - you don't want them crowded out by the illustrations. The illustrations for Gavin's Book 'Rat's' took six months. A book can take over a year from go to whoa - sometimes several years.

Pictures are so important to these stories. They fill out the story and sometimes introduce a new sub-story that you may not even notice the first time you read it. Take for example the page of rats that reads, "They invaded her bath." How many words would you need to describe that picture? 

Not only do you need to read the words - but also read the pictures. 

The students finished this workshop with the challenge to create an opening image for the nursery rhyme 'Sing a Song of Sixpence.'

I also really enjoyed listening to David Elliot - especially about his time working as a Zoo gatekeeper and living at the zoo - using that as inspiration for his art. He started making plasticine animals and began drawing them the way he made them - start with blobs then pinch, squeeze, pinch - add bits on and take bits off until you have a finished product.

David talked about using quiet lines to start the basic shape of your drawing and getting louder as you add the detail on each layer.

Most importantly her talked about not being afraid to make mistakes. Just make mistakes and think 'how can I make my mistake better?' A drawing is about half what you want it to be and half what it tells you it wants to be.

He also talked that he also uses this technique for writing. Start with an outline and re-write and mould it.

Our last workshop was with Stuart Hale, who talked us through taking amazing photos with an iPad. Rule one - turn your grid-lines on. Rule two - follow the rule of thirds rule. We had great fun taking photos and hunting for the Alphabet in nature!

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