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!

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