Childrens Illustration – a Students Story

Maxine Lee has very kindly written a few paragraphs for us and sent us a piece of work for us to post on the college news blog. We have actually use Maxine piece in this years student of the year poster, hopefully Maxine will submit one of her pieces for the competition. We wish her the best of luck with her future work.

“I’ve always been interested in arts and crafts but didn’t really pursue it until I had my first son in 1999 – at that point I was dead set on multimedia and web design and did an HND in Multimedia Arts. By the end of that course I was more interested in the arts side and went on to do a BA in Digital Arts which included lots of animation and film work. As soon as Id completed my degree I went on to teach Graphics and Multimedia whilst working freelance as a designer, web designer and digital illustrator for editorial. Basically I was stretching myself too thin and with the arrival of my second son in 2007 I took a step back and realised I needed more focus.

After a long maternity break I went back to work part time but this time as an Art Technician as the lecturing Id been doing beforehand took up lots of my spare time with paperwork etc.. I also decided to concentrate on the one area that I truly love which is illustrating for children. My work up to this point had been almost completely digital as I have had no traditional art training past A Level where I had studied sculpture/fine art. Its been a steep learning curve but I’ve found acrylics suit my way of working best – thick, bright colours and simple characters. I still get frustrated at times but if I could give any advice it would be to plan your colour scheme before sitting down to paint, unless you have a white background, never paint onto a completely white piece of paper, make sure you know every inch of what you are about to paint and relax…I always listen to my favourite music whilst Im working.”

Botanical Illustration – A students story

Theresa Smith has just undertaken the Botanical Course one and is hoping now to move onto the second botanical course. Theresa has kindly written a piece for us below and its accompanied by some of her lovely work. The standard of her pieces are very high and I am really looking forward to seeing what Theresa produces on the next course.

“As is often the case, I enjoyed art as a child but didn’t continue with it seriously on leaving school.  I’ve worked as an architectural technician for twenty something years so have a great deal of technical drawing experience, but attempts to get back into artistic drawing and painting have been short lived.

Plants and wildlife were always favourite subjects in childhood drawings so a year ago I enrolled on the Botanical Illustration 1 Certificate course, hoping it would help me focus on getting going again and move forward with my artwork.

Once into the course I thoroughly enjoyed working through the exercises and easily found the motivation to work at them on regular basis. I’ve gained a great deal of satisfaction from completing the course and do feel my work has improved because of it, with many thanks going to my tutor, Lynette Conway, for her help and advice.

Lynette was tremendously encouraging throughout, so much to say that I am now making a start on Botanical Illustration 2 Certificate course.”

Pet Portrait Diploma Student

Anna Valente has just submitted her final set for her Pet Portrait Diploma and we are pleased to post her testimonial and story below along with one of her pieces of work. Her horse painting is full of movement and atmosphere and we look froward to hearing more from Anna and her paintings.

I dedicate this to my mum Anita and my dad Anthony Valente, and Melanie Phillips my art tutor. My name is Anna Maria Valente, my parents encouraged me to paint, mum was my teacher, stop she would say, too dark, and its quite nice, she smiled when it was really okay. My father took me to my classes to Irene Ann who was my first art teacher at the Barnton Art Studio when I was 18 and she use to let me use the framing machine. I now enjoy attending my local art club.

Melanie suggested the horse to be shown here, I did it with medium of Acrylic and watercolour and Gouache to highlight it. I have just started to paint animals I love doing birds and flowers, I love watercolours and i like doing pastels. I am proud of getting my Diploma of Painting and Drawing with Merit too,  thanks to Mrs Hill who was very patient with me. I  did all this when mum was in the nursing home, I had an exhibition there also.  I looked up to Prince Charles when I  was younger, and liked his art work, when I saw them.

So many thanks to all and my tutor Melanie and Mrs Hill and all of my friends that have helped to sell some of my paintings for cancer, and gave me the chance in my church with great support.  Kind Regards to all.  Anna Maria Valente.

Pet Portrait Student – Because of a Storm

Andrea is one of my students on my Pet Portrait Diploma course and As I opened up her work for assessment I saw a wonderful image, hand drawn on a double page of an old book. I was absolutely thrilled to see this inspiring drawing in front of me. I always trying to encourage my students to think for themselves, to think outside the box, go beyond the normal boundaries. Many artists just seem to blend in with each other because they produce the same work in the same style and I try to encourage everyone to be an individual. Andrea has done just this and its a great start to her course. Try to stand out in the sea of artists on the Internet and people will remember you.

I asked Andrea if we could have a back story to her drawing for our blog on how she created the image and I hope that you are not only inspired by her words below but also moved too.

Because of a Storm

I work as a graphic designer for more than 20 years. When I was a child, I used to draw all the time, because my father, despite of being a doctor, is a great artist. After 12, I don’t remember drawing any more. Last October I went to Rome to visit my aunt and, as I was going to spend more than a month, I searched a drawing class. After 5 lessons, the teacher encouraged me to start oil painting. As I’m asthmatic, I never thought I could ever use oil tints! But she showed me Artisan, from Winsor & Newton – the odourless tints, mixable with water. I remember that my hands were trembling as I painted the first picture with the teacher’s tints. I came back to Brazil – where I belong – and decided that I would give a chance to art. As I LOVE animals and nature, I found Melanie and her incredible pet portraits on web.

Two weeks ago, I went to visit my parents and couldn’t come back because of a terrible storm. As I had spare time, I decided to start the first set of Melanie’s graphite exercises there. I didn’t have proper paper at that moment, so I remembered that I had read this on Melanie’s proposition: “Make your drawing unique.” So, I asked my mother if she had some recipe book from my Grandma. I chose 2 pages (approx A5 size each): one with a biscuit recipe and other with the word “Tortas”, wich means “Pies”. Then, I choose 3 small kitchenware: glass jar – that my mother filled with milk – , a bowl with 3 eggs and a whisk. I put all of them on a table with a sheet of paper as background and started trying to create a shadow with a strong light source. I had lot of difficult to reproduce the scene – because I’m not used to draw – and was not sure if Melanie would accept it, as I used that odd paper…..It was delicious to draw while my parents were watching TV. It seemed old times…. I forgot for some hours That I have a husband and kids…..Suddenly I was a child again…..

My Grandmother died some years ago. She was a strong character lady that loved to cook and left her recipes, which are prepared now as a way of not forgetting her. Nowadays I can tell that I admire her. But when I was a teenager, we used to discuss sometimes. As she was born, her mother died and because of that, she was raised up from her grandparents. Life was not easy for her till she met my Grandfather. I think that this contributed for her difficult personality. She is always with me, as I carry her golden medal on a necklace all the time. Art. I don’t know where it will take me, but this road brought magic back to my life!  Andrea

Andreas Drawing above and her grandmothers book below.

Singer of Starlight – a students story & a guide to the painting

Sarah Bowie has been extremely successful in the time she has been completing the Children’s Illustration Diploma course. Sarah’s work is featured in our student gallery and one of her final pieces for the course is depicted below along with a guide of how Sarah created this unique piece of artwork. Sarah has very kindly written a piece for us below and we are thrilled that she has already completed a set of illustrations for a book. We wish Sarah all the best in her future career.

Like so many people I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school at 17.  Rather, perhaps I knew deep down what I wanted to do, but was overwhelmed with what I should be doing.  Even though I had spent my childhood drawing and writing stories, I ended up studying marketing, which is a subject I had absolutely no affinity with whatsoever.  Of course, the moment I graduated and began working in financial services I realised what a terrible mistake I had made.  It was a slow, long journey – attending life-drawing classes in the evening after a very stressful day in a busy bank.  I thought about going back to art college full-time, but not only was it very expensive, I just didn’t feel it was right for me.  After several years of experimenting with various painting and drawing techniques I realised what I wanted to do was children’s book illustration and ultimately writing too.  I knew that this is what I had been searching for all those years.  However I found it incredibly difficult to remain focused and put a portfolio together.  I’d get disheartened and give up on pieces before they were finished.  That’s where London Art College comes in.  I was idly surfing the web one day when I stumbled across this distance-learning course in children’s book illustration.  I signed up straight away!  The course was well structured and gave sample briefs similar to what one might get in real life.  Jan, the tutor, was always friendly and encouraging and really helped me to build confidence in my own ability.  At the completion of each brief I felt a great sense of achievement, and had something tangible to put in my portfolio.  Just before I finished the course I got a commission to illustrate a picture book for a small publishing company.  I’m busy working on that now, and I really feel that Jan and the London Art College were instrumental in helping me to focus and build confidence in my work.

Info Regarding ‘Singer of Starlight’

I really wanted to get a ‘worn’ feel to this picture, like an old print.  While I love working digitally, I love the textures you get from prints, paint and pencils that I just don’t think you can fully emulate digitally.  There was no plan as I approached this piece, just a lot of playing about.  Here’s what I did:

  • A pencil drawing (ie girl and granny) done the ‘old-fashioned’ way on paper and scanned into photoshop
  • A sheet of sepia watercolour on thick, spongy paper which I tore into with a compass needle and scalpel (to add texture)
  • A monoprint (simply black printing ink on an acetate that happened to have holes punched in it)
  • I scanned these in in layers beneath the line drawing, and played around with  rubbing out here and there so that some areas show more sepia and some more black ink.
  • I then over-painted with various photoshop brushes to fill in the characters and add in more black where needed.

Really this was just a lot of experimentation.  It’s handy knowing how to use photoshop and then being able to combine it with more traditional techniques.

Students Story – Childrens Illustration

Debi has just completed the Children’s illustration Diploma course and we are proud to showcase her work along with her story on this blog. I hope that you find it inspiring.

“…..After being diagnosed with restrictive health problems in 2005 i needed to find a focus in my life.
I was watching the wonderful Charles Evans programme one day and he really inspired me to pick up my paints again and have a go, I have no formal art training as such and reneged on a place at Art College in the 70’s in favour of getting a job….i needed to fund getting to my Punk rock gigs somehow!

I have worked as a Detail Painter in the past, painting fine china and plaques, after re-discovering the joy of painting again i decided that that was all the therapy i needed, i have always loved Illustration and would sit for hours from a young age trying to emulate the beautiful, highly detailed illustrations in my Faery story books. I wondered if there might be a Home Study course somewhere on this subject, fired up the computer and found this almost straight away!

I enrolled as soon as i could and with the gentle, encouraging and wonderfully humerous tuition of Jan I could feel my confidence returning, I am nearly at the end of the course now and it has taken me a little longer than some due to my health problems ( and the soiree’s into the Pet Portrait world! thanks Melanie and the members of Pet Portrait forum for their wonderful help when i needed to earn some money to fund art materials! )

My goal at the moment is to finish the course and strive to do the best work I can ( and get the trim marks and bleed right for once!!! not my strongest point! ) then embark on the follow up course and see where I end up, but for the moment im enjoying the journey immensely!…”
Debi aka Moonstone

Childrens Illustration Student Story…

Paul Rathborne has now completed the children’s illustration diploma course and we have showcased a few of his pieces below. He has very kindly written us a short paragraph about his work too. We wish Paul all the best with his children’s book.

Before beginning the Illustrating Children’s Books course, I didn’t have any formal training or qualifications in art or design. I needed a purpose and direction for my aimless doodles, and a genuine reason for getting marker pen stains on the sofa and paint spots on the conservatory floor to tell my girlfriend. My course tutor, Jan Nesbitt, has given me the confidence, guidance and focus to enable me to experiment with new mediums. Each assignment has offered new challenges and I have found this very rewarding. The skills developed on this course have inspired me to begin work on my own children’s book.