Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 26 Nov 2018

Alison Jay inspires young artists

I always enjoy the chance to spend time looking closely at the books of an illustrator with groups of Year Three children from Somers Park Primary School. This time I chose to take along a selection by Alison Jay ( INTERVIEW LINK) because I wanted to see how they might react to her very distinctive style that involves using oil paints and then applying a special varnish which she likes to crack to give an unusual aged appearance.  As expected they were very intrigued by this effect and described it as looking like ‘jigsaw pieces’ and ‘cracked eggshells’.

We read  Bee and Me ( LINK) and they helped me to tell the story showing great enthusiasm for how a book with no words can be interpreted very freely. We also looked at Looking for Yesterday ( LINK) and they particularly liked how she depicted time travel . Alison had kindly sent them a long personal message to encourage them to draw which I read aloud. The most important point was:

"Don't worry at all about your drawings not looking exactly as you want or think it should be; that is the beauty of art nothing is wrong, some of the best artists paint pictures that look a bit wrong. Above everything, my advice would be to enjoy making pictures, when you enjoy anything it always comes across to other people."

When they started drawing on their illustrated letters, I had to keep reminding them about this and that there were no ‘rules’ about how to draw. I think that if you look at the results below you will agree that they are all artists in the making but perhaps need more opportunities and encouragement. Rather unexpectedly, it was the bold image of a chicken on the front cover of Farm Families that captured the imagination of several of them and I treasure the memory of Sophie, Harry, Alex and Joseph as they closely scrutinised the cover and then talked about how they could make it look as good. I was very pleased that none of them were fazed and were confident enough to do their own striking versions.

The letters have been duly posted and all the children are greatly looking forward to hearing back from Alison Jay who I am sure will appreciate their artistic efforts.

Karen Argent

November 2018

(Click any image below to view them in a slideshow format)