How does the interaction between pictures and words work to create something special in a picture book? Carolyn generously shared the process that she used as an author/illustrator when creating her latest book Maya and Cat.
Caroline loves individuality in a picture book and while it can be seen as a weakness by some editors, Caroline assured us that if your quirky story is something that you desperately want to do then it is important to keep on with it.
Caroline described writing a picture book as being like a two legged sack race between writing and illustrating. Each has their own mode of telling. Behind every image is an idea and emotion. Behind every word is an idea and emotion, a successful picture book the marriage of the two.
Painting of Caroline by Inda Ahmad Zabri
It was exciting to hear the story that was the genesis of Maya and Cat and to be shown examples of the multitude of rough charcoal sketches that Caroline used to help her coalesce and refine the story in her head into something that would work as a picture book. She demonstrated the flexibility and possibilities of a charcoal sketch when working out how to fit the theatre of your story into the standard 32 page format.
Once Caroline has the book mapped out visually then she often finds that the words just come by themselves. For her the visual literacy comes before the verbal story. Caroline urged us to read our stories out loud, to talk them through with trusted others so that we are aware of where the reader will pause and where they will build the theatre of the story.
Caroline loves to work with watercolour. She has an affinity for it and demonstrated to us how to use the two techniques wet on wet and wet on dry. She talked about the importance of colour theory and how to create a palette. Then it was time for us to play with watercolour while we experimented with the techniques that she had demonstrated. I found this part of the workshop relaxing and challenging as I attempted to paint something recognisable while using the techniques we had learnt. It was fun and Caroline kindly came around to everyone of us to share her feedback and ideas.
As a struggling picture book author I felt enormously encouraged when Caroline concluded the workshop with her assurances “You can teach yourself anything. Don’t doubt yourself. I got here from a standing start. Anyone can make their creative dreams come true through hard work and effort.”
Thank you Caroline for conducting an inspiring and informative workshop. I have learnt so much from you today.
Kate Shapcott is an Early Childhood Teacher who plays around with words and ideas and hopes one day to publish a picture book herself.
Photography: Maria Parenti-Baldey
Photography: Ian Morrison
Blog coordinator: Lucy McGinley