Monday, May 12, 2008

Word and woad

A creative weekend, but nothing to show for it!

I took my daughter to the Word Festival at Aberdeen University. They had special book-related events for children alongside the main adult literary lectures and readings. We went to an African drumming and storytelling session in the morning which was very… “multi culti” Theatre-in -Education. Far too long and worthy. I suspect they have been doing the same show for years and it had lost its energy. My daughter was visibly wilting by the interval.

But in the afternoon we went to an Illustration workshop with Natalie Russell. This was fantastic! She talked about how she became an illustrator of childrens’ books and showed us the design process from sketches through paintings to printing. Very interesting to see how the liveliness of her original drawings can be lost in the process of publishing the images - we could see it for ourselves in the transition from a coloured-pencil sketch to the “flat” printed page of the same picture. Of course, we had to do some drawing ourselves, which was great fun! She put up a powerpoint slide show of photographs of polar bears, and we had 5 minutes to draw ten bears! The images were changing constantly, so there was no question of treating it like a “still life” exercise – we had to sketch quickly to capture the shapes, and get an impression of polar bear-ness onto the paper. There were only about ten children there, which was a shame – it was really inspirational. At the end, we had to use our drawings to come up with our own bear character. Mine was an old granny bear with a headscarf, collecting eggs from a rather crazed-looking chicken! My daughter’s was a very cool-looking dude in a Hawaiian shirt with a cocktail in his paw!

Other than that, I was weeding the herb garden. My woad is four feet high and my hair is still full of pollen!

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