A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
There’s nothing more happy-making than seeing small folk utterly absorbed in making and doing, whether writing a story or painting a picture or cutting and sticking… their pride in their creations, the way they soak up praise like a thirsty plant soaks up water – beginning a whole life of having creativity in the veins.
But how to sow those seeds and help them grow?
I believe in facilitating and not steering. My Mum and Dad, both artistic, never exactly taught me anything. But they left appetizing materials lying around, showed evident joy in their own activities, and left me to it. It’s great to get involved too: you don’t have to be ‘good’ at it yourself – they will admire anything you do, just have a go!
I do a lot of arty crafty workshops with children in schools and at book festivals, and I’m especially keen on creative projects to enhance and extend their joy in stories.
We have made a LOT of felt bunnies.
These are some of the top tips that work for me…
Far better to buy a few high quality art materials than lots of duff stuff aimed at children. There is more delicious rich pigment in these three tubes of paint than in a whole box of cheap paints:
Don’t just stick to art shops for inspiration. I have a bit of a THING about haberdashery – nothing more inspiring than some soft fabric, shiny ribbon and gorgeous buttons!
And we’ve spent many a happy hour choosing bits and pieces in the ironmongery section – I can almost see the robot or space rocket possible out of this lot:
AND (a gasp of horror and intake of breath – don’t sue me!) at some point children do need to know how to use proper tools safely: sharp scissors, a glue gun, a craft knife. Plus one day you’ll have a really capable grown up who can put up a shelf and put down a carpet…
Children make up stories naturally, it’s all part of playing.
The more they are read to and talked with, the richer their language and the more imaginative their ideas. Try making up stories together – take turns in adding a bit as you plod along on your walk, or chat together at bedtime.
Lastly, I can’t take any credit for this story – I just glimpsed it on the wall in a school one day. But I do love it so much.
‘If I was a princess live in a castle with my prince and eat jelly and wear a purple flowery dress.’
All I can say is, so would I…
I was born in London, daughter of author illustrator Shirley Hughes and architect John Vulliamy. My first experience of making pictures was being allowed to use up my Mum’s paints at the end of the day, which was like scraping the icing out of the bowl after baking.
I studied Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, The Ruskin and The Royal Academy. After graduating I began illustrating in newspapers and magazines, and doing a weekly cartoon in The Guardian. I started writing and illustrating children’s books when I had a family of my own, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve made around 30 books, including The Bear with Sticky Paws, Lucky Wish Mouse and Martha and the Bunny Brothers.
I live in Twickenham with my husband, our two grown-up children and a gang of cheeky guinea pigs.