Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 top tips for creating a book a child will love.

  1. Choose a topic both you and our child find entertaining.
  2. Keep the sentences short.
  3. Keep the plot simple.
  4. Have no more than 3 main characters.
  5. Use language your child understands.
  6. Make your child the main character in the story (or make sure the main character is a either a child or behaves and thinks like a child).
  7. Gather inspiration from storybooks in your home or at your local library.
  8. 'Google' art exercises for kids and try some of them out.
  9. Write and illustrate from your heart (and let go of worrying about what anyone else may think).
  10. Remember a child will not judge your work but will appreciate that you took the time to create something personal for them. They will proably cherish your book for many years to come.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Creativity through the ages...

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
Pablo Picasso

I teach people from a broad range of ages how to create personal, original picture books and have recently noticed a pattern emerging.

Very young children are happy to experiment with color and form, they experiment and play without worry about the outcome or what anyone else will think.

As children get older they tend to become more self conscious, they start to worry about getting things wrong. I suspect one input into this is that they are learning rules at kinder and at home, simple rules like 'wash your hands before you eat', etc... and this pattern of applying rules and a desire to please and belong spills over into when they are creating.

The group I have worked with so far who have found it most difficult to throw themselves into the creative process has been a group of 15 year olds. This I suppose should come as no surprise. There is probably no other time in life in which it feels more important to fit in, to belong to a group. So being asked to take risks, to express thoughts and feelings through art can make one feel very vulnerable.

Then there are the parents I have worked with. Many would like to be more creative, would like to experiment and experience the joy of expressing themselves through words and art but somehow feels like they have forgotten how to. My job when working with parents is to help them find their way back to that creative place they once held back in kindergarten.

And so what happens when we become grandparents and/or reach retirement age? What happens to our creativity then? I have noticed in this group of students that the desire to be creative and to tell one's story becomes much stronger. Even though many people may still feel that they need to battle some demons before allowing themselves access to their creative side, the strong desire to do just that almost always wins and an outburst of creativity is the result.

I know am making great generalizations about creativity and age groups. There are always variations and exceptions (absolutely), however to my eye there does seem to be a some kind of pattern emerging. This is a topic very close to my own heart, as I try to remind myself of what I teach and let go of my need to be right and accepted.