Friday, November 19, 2010

Creating a book with a child - tips to ensure the process is fun and creative for you both!

Lots of people have asked me about the best way to approach creating a book with a child. They tell me they imagine it is a great way to spend quality time together. It absolutely is a great way to spend quality time together, no doubt about that, but from my own experience it can also end up in tears of frustration if you take the wrong approach. So this post is about how to ensure the process of creating a book with a child is fun and creative for you both.

  • The time to start creating your book together is when you have time. A rainy day or a sick day are perfect. But the basic rule is any time where you don't need to be somewhere else or being doing something else soon will work well.

The week leading up to Halloween my 5 year old wanted to do lots of crafty Halloween projects.
On one of the days she was home ill. She was too ill to go to kinder but well enough to get creative and crafty and so we decided to use the quite time we had together to create a book.

  • Follow your child's inspiration and allow your child to choose the theme of the book.

My daughter was really excited about Halloween and was already aksing me to make 'Halloween' things with her so a Halloween themed book was a natural choice.

  • Don't push it! If you are in the mood for creating a book with your child but no matter how attractive you make the activity seem they are just not interested then just let it go and present the idea another day instead.
I have noticed that many children go through phases where they are inspired by particular things. My children have been through phases where all they want to do is play mummies and daddies, phases where all they want to do are puzzles, or bake cakes, or play with cars, or draw, or make cubby houses etc... So my advice is to let your child follow their passion and if their passion at the time does not include creating a book (not even a book about their current passion) then let it be. Trying to force things usually results in tears of frustration (at least at our house).

  • Keep your book ambitions age appropriate. Choose an illustrating method (i.e painting or cutting and pasting) that your child already enjoys and has expressed an interest in and then gently encourage them to develop their skills a little further. Doing this will ensure they don't lose interest half way through the creative process and will feel great satisfaction when the book is finished.
  • It is also important to keep the books length age appropriate. For example a four year old may quite possibly be totally content with a book that is only2- 3 pages long. A nine year old will probably create a book considerably longer than 2 pages and enjoy challenging 'new' illustration techniques.

When looking for illustration ideas for our Halloween book I visited a few crafty 'for kids' blogs. Many of the crafty ideas were great but too complex for my 5 year old. I knew if I chose something too complex she would just get frustrated and lose interest. So I chose an illustrating technique that although a bit of a challenge was still something she was able to learn and master.

  • Take a back seat. Let your child dictate the text and decide on the overall look and design of the book. You may find yourself inspired and full of ideas for the book but make sure you don't simply take over.

This is possibly the most difficult tip to follow. I know when I start on a book with one of my kids I find it very easy to get carried away with my own ideas. The problem is that if I don't keep myself in check my child realizes the project is more about me than her and she simply gets frustrated and loses interest. So if you do find yourself flowing with new creative ideas, by all means gently make suggestions to your child allow her own ideas to take centre stage. (You can make use of all your new ideas by creating your own book once the kids have gone to bed.)

  • Lead by example. Create your own books for your kids and share your work with them. Your kids are sure to get inspired and want to create a book too.

My children have seen me create many books for them and I am pretty sure that is why my daughter is so keen on creating her own books (with or without me).

Please let me know how you get on creating a book with a child and feel free to share your work and any of your own tips. Just send me an email at

If you would like to take a look at the Halloween book I refer to in this article simply scroll down and take a look at the blog post below.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Ghost Book- a Halloween special!

Today my 5 year old was home ill with a fever. She wanted to pass the time by doing something for Halloween. So we had a look on the internet for some crafty Halloween ideas and adapted a beautiful idea and turned it into a book (we found the original idea at a website called Journey into Unschooling )

Here is the result!

Once upon a time there was a ghost house. Lots of ghosts lived in the ghost house.

The ghosts decided to go out and scare everyone.

They said BOOO to us!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Children's book illustration ideas in abundance!

A simple way to tap into new, effective inspirational ideas.

Today I want to introduce you to an abundant resource of creative ideas. This resource will not only inspire you but also prove to be very useful.

This resource is BLOGS... but not just any blogs. The blogs I recommend are blogs written by creative parents and teachers who document artwork they create with children.

Art exercises designed for children are incredibly useful for amateur artists creating ilustrations for children. There are several reasons for this:

  • The exercises are designed to be simple (you don't need to be a trained artist to achieve great results).
  • The materials used are usually materials you are likely to already have in your home.
  • The exercises are designed for children's tastes so you get a good idea of the kind of pictures and themes children enjoy.
  • People working with children and art are fantastic at thinking 'outside of the box' which in turn is a wonderful way to inspire you to think 'outside of the box'.
  • Once you have read a few different creative blog posts for kids art you will very quickly find yourself synthesizing new creative solutions to your own illustration challenges.
  • The information they provide is free!

I was inspired to write this article after interviewing the artist Maggy Woodley for this month's 'Inviting Creativity' interview. Maggy is not only an artist in her own right but she enjoys exploring stories and art together with her 2 young children. She documents the many creative exercises they do together in her blog so that we too can replicate them.

There are many creative mummy blogs to visit but to keep things simple I recommend you start by visiting Maggy's blog . Then once you dive in you will find yourself introduced to other creative mummy bloggers and to the abundant world of creative blogs.

I encourage you to listen to this month's creative interview where you will have the chance to 'meet' Maggy. (This months interview I kept to only 30 minutes as I had the feeling 1 hour interviews were too long- let me know what you think).

To listen just click here! Red Ted Art creative interview

Below is photo of Maggy and her inspiration!



Monday, September 6, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Illustration warm up for everyone!

The two paintings below were created using an exercise that works as a great creative warm up or as just a bit of fun and relaxation. Today I am going to share this exercise with you (this exercise was one 'Tam Veilleux explained during our Inviting Creativity interview.)

The first painting above was created by me and the second was created by my 5 year old daughter. So you can see this exercise works whatever your age!

(I created the top painting one evening when the children were asleep. When my little girl woke up in the morning she quickly found it and wanted me to show her how to create a painting like that too. And so I did.)

The reason I suggest you use this a 'warm up' exercise as is because it is a gentle and fun way to play with colors and shapes without feeling any kind of 'presentation' pressure.

Before you get started you need a few simple tools: paper (preferably paper that doesn't wrinkle when you use watercolor paints on it), a pencil, a crayon or a color pen, watercolor paints (as cheap or expensive as you like) and a paint brush.

Step 1: Using a pencil draw whatever you see in front of you without looking at your paper or taking the pencil off the paper.

Step 2: Go over the pencil lines on your paper using a crayon or color pen.

Step 3: Paint whatever colors you choose onto the shapes on your paper.

Step 4: Enjoy your creation!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Intviting Creativity! A creative interview series with talented artists and authors.

Inviting Creativity!

I recently began conducting an interview series with wonderful artists and authors, designed to inspire you at home, provide practical tips and tools plus get your creative juices flowing!

Have you ever wondered how professional artists work?

Have you ever wondered how professional artists access their creativity?

In this, the first interview of the series the talented artist Pia Walker from shares:

Her sources of inspiration.

Her creative processes.

Why she thinks everyone can create great art!

How we can all invite creativity in!

How she unblocks her creative blocks.

The role children play in her creative processes.

and much more....

To listen to this inspired, creative interview simply
click here!

Have a great time!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A quick, fun, easy way everyone can create a book- in a back to front kind of a way.

I've discovered a really fun, stress free and fast way to write and illustrate a storybook. The secrets are creating it in a back to front kind of way and splashing watercolours haphazardly on a page.

Before I explain the 'back to front' book creation process here is a photo of a 'back to front' illustraion.

I'll explain...

I love water colours and decided to play around just putting them on the page, creating miscellaneous shapes and colours with no thought to creating a 'real' picture. This was really fun and quick to do. It took me less than 10 minutes to create 5 images. The hardest part of doing this was avoiding painting familiar concrete objects. This exercise is great antidote for someone like me who has a habit of wanting to 'get things right'.

My next step was to (a day or two later) ask myself 'what do I see?' when looking at the images and then to draw a sketch onto the picture outlining what I saw. I knew I wanted to make a children's picture book out of the images so when I looked at the second image I started to wonder a little bit about what kind of story could evolve and once again asked myself 'what do I see?'. I tried to keep a story idea very loose, but wanted something to guide me, and something my children could relate to and enjoy. So, I simply decided this story would be about a monster (both my children love monster stories) and then let whatever happen happen.

Looking at my interpretation of the images now, it is clear to me the pictures that came to mind are a reflection of what is in my life right now. The green circle in blue became a swimming ring in a lake, which makes sense to me as it is summer in Sweden and much of our time is spent swimming in lakes with swimming rings. Fish also feature in this story, which is not surprising considering we recently gave my daughter an aquarium with three fish for her 4th birthday. So, you are probably starting to get an impression of how this works. The great thing about this is that the images that naturally came to mind are everyday things my children can relate to and enjoy.

Once I'd finished sketching the things I imagined over the watercolour images, I scribbled down a story. As the pictures are kind of nonsensical I thought a silly kind of story would fit perfectly. I know the story and the images could do with some work to make a storybook with a clear totality etc... but for now I am very happy with the results.

If creating a book like this appeals to you why not have a go and share your work with us at Create A Book For A Child's free membership site?

Monday, June 21, 2010

“But I'm not a trained artist!” (How intuition can come to the rescue!)

I have come across quite a few people who would love to create an original book for a child but are afraid they won't be able to because they are not trained artists.

I understand this fear but I am very happy to say it is unfounded. There are a few reasons for this but today I am going to focus on one reason, our intuition. What we often do not realize is that we can draw upon our intuition to create beautiful books, and one doesn't need to have attended a single art class to do this.

So, how do intuition, creativity and creating books for children link up?

And what is intuition anyway?

I often tell my students to allow themselves to follow their intuition when creating their storybooks, to let go of the need to analyze everything and to 'go with the flow' (at least in the early stages of the book creation process). But what is intuition really? And in concrete terms how does it help us to create entertaining and beautiful books for children we love?

Recently I was surprised and delighted when a particular student of mine presented the class with her finished storybook. Each page was fun, original, colorful, clear and simple, yet I knew she had no formal art or design training. How did she do this? What was her creative process?

This student had used, without knowing it, colors to emote certain feelings in the reader, she had used invisible lines on the page to direct the eye and tell the story she wanted to tell. She had done so much 'right', almost as if she had spent time studying picture composition and how to effectively use colors. But when I asked her how she had come to the design of each page she said she had simply started and then just done what felt right (i.e. she had followed her intuition).

So, why had following her intuition (or her hunch, or her feelings) worked? What had happened? Well, the artist Pia Walker described to me what had happened. My student had drawn from her own 'internal library' of of images. This 'library' she had gathered (just as we all have) as a result of all she had seen and sees around her in everyday life, in books, magazines and in films. Without knowing it she had applied the principles of color and form that she found in her 'internal library' to her illustrations.

And so when I think of this wonderful student of mine and her beautiful book I now understand a little more clearly why following your intuition when creating your book can be so effective, and why you don't need to be a trained artist to create a beautiful book a child will love.

My recommendation to you is to allow yourself to trust your intuition when creating your book, and remember you can always analyze and revise once you have completed your first draft. But at least start by relaxing and allowing yourself to follow your intuition. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

NB: Edward De Bono, an expert on creativity describes intuition as “a gradual build-up of background patterns which often cannot be verbalized or even made conscious”.

If you would like to hear more about creativity and intuition the artist Pia Walker ( and I discuss intuition and creativity in the very first interview from Create A Book For A Child's brand new 'Inviting Creativity' series. To listen to the interview simply click here!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to clear a creative block!

Do you ever experience creative blocks? If so I have a great little tip from you.

Watch this short video to find out what it is! :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A children's storybook for Granny.

As I mentioned in my previous post, very sadly my 89 year old granny passed away about 10 days ago. She became ill very quickly. I was lucky enough to manage to catch an emergency flight to the England to see her. She died one hour after I arrived by her bedside. As you can imagine this week has been very sad.The reason I am telling you about Granny is it has inspired me to create a book celebrating her, a book I can share with my own children. I have written the the book from my perspective as a 6 year old as I want to capture all the impressions I had of Granny when I was a child.

It occurred to me, that I should also create books for Mum, Dad and my brother, as a way of letting them know how much they mean to me, a way of documenting our relationships and also a way of sharing these these thoughts and feelings with my own children.

I hope you become inspired to do the same.

Below is the text to my, yet to be illustrated, book.

My Granny Sounds Like the Queen.

My granny lives in England, she is very proper and sounds like the Queen.

My granny has spidery handwriting, when she visits I like to sit on her bed in the morning and try to copy it.

My granny drinks half a cup of coffee at 11am, she also drinks one finger of whiskey when the bar opens at 6.

My granny sings with a wobbly old fashioned voice, this makes my brother and I laugh.

My granny is scared of frogs, this also makes us laugh.

My granny wears peachy lipstick and creamy foundation, she smells like England.

My granny has a tennis court and likes to play tennis with her friends. She also likes to play bridge and go to writing classes.

My granny grew up in a big house with servants, she wore white dresses and rode ponies.

My granny has lots of friends who like to meet my brother and I when possible. We try to be well behaved, but sometimes we get the giggles.

My granny has 2 grandchildren, my brother Ben and I.

We know we mean the world to her, and she means the world to us.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Celebrate a grandparent- create a book for them!

Sadly on Sunday my beautiful grandmother passed away. I was lucky enough to be with her.

I realized I wanted to write and illustrate a storybook to celebrate her and our relationship. I speak about this in the short video below.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Intuition and creativity- a creative cafe tip!

Have you ever wondered about the connection between intuition and creativity?

Here I have a quick tip to help you tap into your intuition and release your creativity.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Simply write a book about what your child loves.

A simple way to write a storybook your small child is bound to cherish is to write a book about all the things they love.

For an example of what I mean, take a look at my own 'Sofia Loves... ' storybook below.


Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Creative cafe tip for families

The other day I made a quick video blast from a cafe I was in. I am so blown away by technology!

Anyway, this video blast is a quick tip to help you and your family pass the time while waiting for food in a cafe. A tip to keep you creative and having fun!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Beginning- why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do?

During my last course my students and I talked about the feelings that arose in the very beginning of the course. We also talked in general about the feelings that arise when one is about to embark on something new and especially on something creative and heartfelt. The discussion was really interesting and so I thought you may find it useful if I share a few of the thoughts that arose from the discussion.

To be quite honest, whenever I begin something new I almost always feel some degree of fear. Fear of failure, fear of making mistakes, fear of humiliation, fear of rejection, fear of being discovered for not being capable or not being very good.

What I understand is fear at its worst can paralyze and is capable of stopping us from taking those first steps toward creating something (possibly something quite beautiful). It is crazy really, all those things so many of us don't begin and hence don't experience, express and create, all due to fear- fear that I suspect is usually unfounded.

When I began drawing to entertain my baby daughter I had no fear, she was so little I knew she wasn't going to laugh at me. I wasn't afraid she would think my drawings were no good, I wasn't afraid of making mistakes. Without realizing it I gave myself permission to draw and experiment with my drawings simply for the joy of it. And then, much to my surprise, I discovered it wasn't only my daughter who liked my drawings, but I really liked my drawings too and I didn't care about what anyone else thought. What freedom!

I felt much more fear when it was time for me to share with the adult world my first book on the internet. But I did, and no one laughed or humiliated me. In fact, people just told me I had inspired them to create a book too.

Many of my students have told me that they too feel fear when they start my course. To create something original such as an illustrated book means sharing something of ourselves and this can leave us feeling vulnerable and scared. The beginning is usually the scariest part (by the way my students are amongst the most courageous women I have come across!). But my students tell me that once they actually start creating, the fear subsides and the joy of expressing themselves creatively takes over.

So, with this in mind I encourage you to simply begin your book. Write down a sentence, an idea, sketch a stick figure, play with some cheap watercolor paints. Simply begin and play! The rest just gets easier (and if you never begin you will never know).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joel and Daddy- my new storybook!

For a bit of fun I would like to share with you a new storybook I created for my son Joel and my husband.

I created this book using what I call the 'doodle illustration technique'. You simply draw 2 squiggles on a piece of paper and then create a picture out of these squiggles- hence the 'rough' style of this book. I made this book in the spirit of my philosophy “it is better to have fun and get it done than to worry about things being perfect and never get it done at all”.

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Monday, March 8, 2010

How to bind a book at home- the simple way!

I made a couple of short films demonstrating a very simple way to bind your children's book at home.

Anyone can do this and it requires no special equipment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Doodle illustration technique- the video!

I have created a video to demonstrate my 'doodle illustration technique'.

What is 'doodle illustration technique'? It is a simple fun way to create illustrations in a short time and without planning. It is a great way to kick start the creative illustrating process and to design first drafts of your illustrations.

As always, my art is fun art not 'great art'. And if I can do this I think you probably can too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Creating an animated film with a little one!

On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend a 'Make your own film' workshop at the World Culture Museum here in Gothenburg. The workshop was run by Gunilla Gränsbo who is a member of Create A Book For A Child.

Sofia (4.5) wanted to make a film with penguins in it (I think she was inspired by Pingu), and so she and I spent a little time making plastacine penguin figures and a little scene backdrop on a flat piece of card. When ready we then took still photos of our penguin characters (and a fish) on the card background. Using a Mac computer and some free film making program (I can't remember what it was called just now- but I will get back to you witht he name) we made this very simple film.

Find more videos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Find more videos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

So here we created a story through film and this story was not created for my child but with my child.

I can't wait to get started animating some of the stories I have created and to watching Sofia create more of her own films.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Childrens book illustrations exhibition!

A couple of weeks ago now we had our first Create A Book For A Child exhibition opening and it was a great success.

We held it in the beautiful location of Härlanda Kyrka here in Gothenburg. This location was perfect, it is a beautiful space with lots of space and light and candles.

6 of my students had 2 of their illustrations framed and displayed. We set up a table where people could come and read the entire books and speak to the authors.

The day was a lot of fun as you can see from the photos below.

Find more photos like this on Create A Book For A Child!

Drawing people.

Some of my students really want to get proportion right when they are drawing, they want to draw 'realistically'. Other students are happy to play and for their pictures to be technically imperfect but full of expression.

However you want your illustrations to look is ok. In my book there is no right or wrong, just do what makes you feel happiest when creating a personal book. If you look at professionally published children's books you will see many different styles are used by many different illustrators.

I love abstract and cartoon like images as much as 'realistic' images.

Anyway, one comment I hear over and over is "I can't draw people" or "I don't know how to draw people".

If you are one of these people I have found a couple of videos that instruct you on how to draw people and 'characters' (not always a person).

To watch these videos click on the following links:

How to measure proportion for drawing people

Tips on how to draw people