Monday, March 26, 2012

Author and Illustrator for the Day, Part Two

In a previous blog post (January 2, 2012), I wrote about an upcoming “artist in residence” program I would be participating in at an elementary school. I'm happy to say I’ve just completed that residency with approximately 120 fourth graders.  It was wonderful getting a chance to know so many students by name, and by all accounts they really enjoyed creating their own books.  Prior to my arrival, I outlined a program and submitted it to the fourth grade teachers so they had a clear idea of what we would be doing.  The days broke down as follows:

Day 1: Introduction to the Art of Picture Book Illustration

What does an illustrator do?
How does an illustrator work?
How are illustrations for a book created?
How does the illustrator work with an author…or do they?

*manuscript acquisition
*thumbnail sketches
*final sketches and dummy book
*final art
*description of the printing and binding process
*printed book

Hands on:
-Explanation of the project student groups will create in the four days of workshops.
-Groups formed and “story prompt” cards will be created by students.
-Story cards mixed and randomly redistributed to groups.
-Students begin to brainstorm story ideas.

Day 2: The Writing Process

What makes a good story?
What elements should be included in a story?

*Memorable characters
*Beginning, middle, end
*Story Arc
*“Show,” don’t “tell”
*Pacing and page turns
*Writing to allow for interesting illustrations
*Satisfying endings

Hands on:
-Groups work on stories based on the story prompt cards they received.
-Text divided to fit on eight pages

Day 3: The Illustration Process

*different styles used in illustration
*different mediums used in illustration
*different color palates used in illustration
*giving the reader more than just depicting the written word

Hands on:
-distribution of thumbnail sketch sheets
-distribution of blank books (created using heavy weight construction paper folded and stapled )
-final sketches worked on if time permits or will be worked on at home that night. (Each student will be illustrating their own version of another group’s story).

Day 4: Presentation of Eight Page Books

Hands on:
*Students will be given a little time to complete illustrations for their stories and ask questions.
*One student from each group will read the story to the class and other students will present the art they created for the story.

Some questions to ask:

Are the illustrations successful for this manuscript?
Do they add something new and exciting to the story?
Do the characters come to life in the illustrations?
Do we get a good sense of place and time when looking at the illustrations?
Is the author (group) happy with the way their story has been illustrated? Is there a way the story could be edited to allow for more exciting illustration opportunities?
Was it fun to illustrate another group’s story?

For the most part we stuck to this schedule, but after the first day the teachers and I made one change.  The students were so excited about the stories they were working on and were already doing sketches of characters. I was told it was all they talked about for the rest of the day! Since they were already so invested in their work, we decided to forgo the idea of reassigning the stories to different groups to illustrate. I think this idea would work better if this was explained at the beginning of the project, or if the exercise was used in an older age group.

Next week all 120 books will be on display at the school so the entire student body can view the finished books. I was so proud of the work the children did, and so were they. If you think a book featuring a Nike sneaker, the zoo, and getting lost would be difficult to write, you just have to read Detective Nike and the Missing Panda!

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