For a long time now, I have been teaching both children and adults, and I found in all those years that the one thing to get over, in drawing, is the lack of confidence.
Show somebody they can draw something, and the world is their oyster.
When I was teaching young children in after -school art, I soon realised that some children drew naturally, and some did not. I searched for books which showed them how to draw objects in a simple way. There weren’t any. Those who couldn’t draw had to content themselves with colouring- in or sticker books .
So I decided to do my own.
I demonstrated in a simple way that every object can be broken down into shapes . I used a bar under the step- by -step drawing to indicate to the young artist as to what they should do next. For example with a face, the clue would be a circle and then next two circles for eyes.
I was also particularly interested in showing that before one starts drawing, the pencil is held in a relaxed manner. I decided the first few pages should address this problem. Many children and adults press hard, too quickly, and this determines the end result far too early.
A drawing should evolve with many lines, so the artist can choose which of the many they have sketched is the one they want. After a while they may use one line, but not by “trying too hard” and making an indentation in the paper.
Also I have endeavoured to show the shape within the shape. (For instance the circle in the sun). Once the trick is learned it can be applied to any object . This shows the young artist how to approach drawing for rest of their drawing career.
I had a collection of sheets which I had used with children over the years, and pretty much had the whole book in rough form waiting to be produced. These were subjects they had been requesting ( e.g. a castle, a helicopter etc.)
Adults who could not draw for the younger generation , now could , and children who thought they couldn’t, now have the confidence to give it a go!
My first drawing experience that I remember, was when I was five, at school in Pretoria , South Africa. I realised I could not draw as well as my peers in the class. I remember being devastated, and asking my friend Patricia how do I do it? She tried to help, but she was only 5 !
I was in my second year at university before I felt I could draw as well as I could paint. This is because no one throughout my school career ever taught me the basics. I have come across many people whose confidence was undermined by negative experience in their early creativity, from teachers or peers. I see my challenge as overcoming the fear of a blank sheet of paper.
So I had the book, but only in rough form. I then needed a picture book editor and designer. Susan Reuben, the picture book editor, suggested I divide the book into sections, each section culminating in a finished coloured picture incorporating the previous section.
I find this invaluable as most children are never sure where to put the horizon line, or how to arrange the images.
I met Irene Malvezi, the graphic designer, while were exhibiting at “The Untitled Artists Fair” in Chelsea, London, and she was immediately captivated by my ideas for the book “Draw Water and Other Things”. She jumped at the chance to “do something worthwhile”. Since then she has retired from graphic design. Irene’s new challenge now, is a Masters Degree in Art Psychotherapy.
She magicked my rough drawings into a beautiful book. I am forever grateful to her.
I decided to publish on my own, after a short period with an American publisher.
I now have a publishing name, linked to my logo
www.patopress.com Pato means duck in Spanish and Portuguese. (Irene is from Brazil)
It is hard work doing it on my own, but it can be very rewarding.
I have done numerous workshops at Waterstones. The staff always remark how quiet they are!
My next how to draw book Draw Queens , Kings and
All Things Royal is on sale at the Royal Collection shop.
The ecological books Elly’s Adventure in the Animal Park and Elly’s Adventure Down by the Sea are written and illustrated by me.
Each time I have had the immensely invaluable advice from Susan Reuben.
I advise anyone setting out to publish, to make sure they get a good editor.
I also strongly advise membership of the Society of Authors. They have been so helpful to me on many occasions and they also have interesting and useful lectures and workshops.
My printers for the first three books were extremely helpful, but of course this is an expense. I am experimenting with Print on Demand (through Createspace). They have printed all my translated books. (9 translations of Elly’s Adventure in the Animal Park )
My latest POD book Elly’s Adventure Down by the Sea is with Ingrams. I am not having much sales success with it, and am still trying to work out why!