A few weeks ago, I held my first Story and Illustration Workshop for 4th and 5th graders at our public library. We started out with pencils, paper, and feelings—Which color means happiness? What shapes mean anger?—and then did a series of exercises on creating feelings by using the composition of images and words. As with any workshop, some kids were really engaged while others were way more enthusiastic about the snack, but I suspect that I learned more than anyone else in the room, and I look forward to doing it all again.
One of my favorite moments happened with a student who said he couldn’t draw the assignment, and I suggested that he try doing it left-handed instead. He looked at me like I was crazy and I explained that it might help him worry less about making it “good,” and 15 minutes later not only had he finished it but it was one of the best drawings in the class!
So much of the creative process is about managing fear, and getting comfortable with making lots of mistakes. I make terrible drawings all the time—that’s probably most of what I do—and sometimes even I need a reminder that the glossy words and images printed in books are just the final topcoat on days, weeks, or even years of hard work. A book doesn’t come into being by magic; it’s a thing that is built in layers by someone who refuses to give up.
Thank you to all of the students who participated, and thanks to their parents for signing them up! If you’re interested in hosting my Story & Illustration Workshop at your school or library, please email me through my contact form—I’d love to schedule an event with you!
“Elle had a blast at your library workshop. Thank you for being so giving of your time.” —Christa
“My daughter participated in your library workshop, and left utterly inspired! (She’s working ferociously on her own book now. Thank you!)” —Triona