Friday, 25 November 2016

ShoutWest! Festival 2016

I was very excited to participate in the ShoutWest! creative writing festival for children, which took place at Brunel University in West London on the 14th and 15th of November. It was organized by CWISL, a very inspiring and supportive group of children's writers and illustrators from South London. Ninety children from six different schools and seventeen writers/illustrators have been invited for two days of story writing, character drawing, interactive acting, enchanting storytelling and an exciting award ceremony.

Captivating storytelling with the one and only Margaret Bateson-Hill
A splendid drama plenary by the passionate author and performer Mo O'Hara
Fantastic author-illustrator Bridget Marzo sketched from life in Illustration plenary
Playful faces made out of circles and letters in Bridget's engaging drawing session

The children were mixed up and split into teams, named by four big cats. My friendly team was called Panthers and I met all the members for the first time at the festival. We started off with a lively idea generation session run by a successful fiction author Sara Grant. We witnessed how interesting ideas can spark from a peculiar looking object or an unexpected combination of character, setting, object and genre from the marvellous idea creation grid (pictured below), which was quickly filled in on the spot with the help of children.

Idea creation grid in Sara's workshop sparked many exciting stories

The story writing continued in 'Spot the Plot' workshop with Jamie Buxton talking us through the story structure and different types of characters such as the hero, sidekick/hero's friend and enemy. 'Mad, Moody and Murky' workshop with Cate Sampson encouraged the kids to add liveliness and richness to their text. It was fantastic to hear some thrilling beginnings and even full short stories at the end.

Illustration can be a very useful tool in story-making, especially when it comes to creating believable and rich characters, as was demonstrated by four Big Little Tales members in character passport workshops. I am very grateful to the wonderful Anne-Marie Perks, who invited me to run this activity alongside her, Loretta Schauer and Patrick Miller, who inspired children to draw portraits from observation without looking at the paper and helped in the creation of some truly unique characters.

I shared a few dummy books with my own stories, a sketchbook for 'Alice', print-outs of various character sketches and some finished illustrations for fiction to hopefully inspire and shed some light on the creative process of a writer and illustrator. A group of around thirty people saw me draw the Queen of Hearts and Cheshire Cat using simple shapes. I heard some invaluable feedback on my art directly from kids and their teachers. I really enjoyed being part of this intense story-making with children and being surrounded by their fascinating imagination. There were many lessons to take away from this exciting experience and loads of inspiration and positive feelings. You can see some of the beautiful artwork created by the little Panthers and Leopards below.

Some Panthers started drawing right away while others watched closely what I had to show 
Me dressed as a Panther with a rather neutral expression (compared to the flipchart faces)
Character sketching while playing with different designs (love that cat!)
These pretty girls look like sisters but have very different personalities
Two cool-looking men and a light bulb that can time travel
The evil robots by twin boys are ready to jump off the page and attack!

Super impressive character passports by the little Leopards in Loretta's workshop

Just look at those vibrant marks, colours and pattern!
I've seen many striped cats but this one is truly special
Some lovely children's books by the talented CWISL authors

Friday, 22 April 2016

Bologna Illustrators Exhibition 2016

Bologna Illustrators Exhibition this year was rich in art techniques, narratives and cultures. While the majority of selected work was from Europe and East Asia, there were several illustrators from Middle East and South America, including the Fundación SM International Award winner, Juan Palomino from Mexico.

I tried to select photos with more than one illustration from the same artist to show the stories that were taking place between the pieces and also within the intricate details in each of them. This is true for both fiction and non-fiction illustrations, which were equally fascinating and full of narrative. If you would like to see more photos, please see the links at the end of this post. Thanks!

Tahereh Zahmatkesh (Iran, fiction)
Philip Giordano (Italy, fiction)
Juan Palomino (Mexico, fiction) - the winner
Sol Undurraga (Chile, non-fiction)
Iratxe López de Munáin (Spain, fiction)
Iratxe López de Munáin (Spain, fiction)
Ling Hsing Huang (Taiwan, fiction)
Oskar Laurin (Sweden, fiction)
Veronica Ruffato (Italy, fiction)
Veronica Ruffato (Italy, fiction)
Raquel Fernández (Spain, fiction)
Joohee Yoon (USA, fiction)
Paul Toussaint (France, fiction)
Hongcheng Yu (China, non-fiction)
Luca Di Battista (Italy, fiction)
Annalisa Bollini (Italy, fiction)
Junko Ogoshi (Japan, fiction)
Miyama Maya (Japan, fiction)
Cynthia Alonso (Argentina, fiction)
Adriana Isabel Juárez Puglisi (Spain, fiction)
Tomo Miura (Japan, fiction)
Page Tsou (Taiwan, non-fiction)
Page Tsou (Taiwan, non-fiction)

My sister Margarita visited the fair together with me and took many more photos of the Illustrators Exhibition for her blog. They can be found in this post.

I am also a member of Big Little Tales group blog and shared my thoughts about Bologna Children's Book Fair 2016 in this short review

Monday, 14 March 2016

SCBWI Illustrator Showcase - London

The SCBWI Illustrator Showcase in North London launched earlier this month and is on display at Pickled Pepper Books until the 4th of April. I am glad to be part of this beautiful touring exhibition. I was also invited to attend the launch party where I had an opportunity to network with fellow Scoobies and draw together with children. You can see some of their fantastic drawings in the last photo. The bookshop is small but lovely and you can also support a local charity Action for Kids by purchasing prints from the exhibition. Afterwards, the show will move to Seven Stories in Newcastle upon Tyne. If you would like to see the participating illustrations online please visit the official website.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

MA Children’s Book Illustration graduation show

Last weekend, I had a chance to see the awe-inspiring graduation exhibition of the new MA Children’s Book Illustration graduates. Here is just a small selection of the lovely art that was on display for six days at Candid Art Trusts gallery in Islington, London. 
It was a rather overwhelming experience to be surrounded by so many gorgeous books and fascinating characters, all asking for attention. The gallery quickly filled up with visitors. There was a nice balance between a very graphic and dynamic art like that of Helen Merrin or Katie Sheppard and a more lyrical and subtle approach to illustration by Miyako Koganesawa or Ssu-Yu Huang. 
Jane McGuiness, the winner of Sebastian Walker Prize, stood out with her delicately painted non-fiction work featuring animals. Helen Merrin from Norway displayed large format prints and books in vibrant colours and patterns and very stylish characters. In contrast, Mat Cross had a slightly dark and eerie feeling in his surreal stories as did Katie Sheppard’s intriguing adventures exploring social and ethical issues. The tales of Sowoon Kwak from South Korea dealt with fears in a playful and imaginative way. There were some examples of illustrated fiction too, such as Katyuli Lloyd's beautiful lithographs for Virginia Woolf's Flush.

To see all the exhibitors of this show, please visit the specially dedicated website. A smaller exhibition will be up at Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge from 25th of February to 5th of March. 
I feel very happy and proud to be part of this growing family of talented graduates from this amazing course. It's been an incredible and life-changing journey for me and many others who had this fantastic opportunity to develop their art and find their unique voice with the help of brilliant tutors and fellow students coming from various cultures and backgrounds.

Sindy Infante Saavedra, Jane-McGuinness and Rachel Benge
Saskia Hampton
Hellen Merrin
Mat Cross
Ssu-Yu Huang
Miyako Koganesawa
Anuska Allepuz
Katie Sheppard
Sowoon Kwak and Silje Nilsen
Camille Whitcher
Natalie Eldred, Lewis Chapman and Sarah Beth Falbe
Katyuli Lloyd, Sasha DeWit and Bryony Thomson