September 22nd, 2019

picture books week at moniack mhor

I often run into writer-illustrator-performer James Mayhew at book festivals, along with his partner Antonio Reche Martinez, and we've always talked about meeting up for dinner or something, but until now it had never happened. So when the invitation came to spend A WHOLE WEEK with James, teaching a Picture Books course, I absolutely jumped at it! (And so did Toto, who booked himself onto the course!)

Here we are on our first day in the Inverness countryside, exploring the grounds of the Moniack Mhor creative writing centre and finding this adorable Hobbit House.

We also had a visiting guest speaker on Wednesday, writer-illustrator-lecturer Pam Smy, who came all the way up from Cambridge:

Pam let us see some of the amazing sketchbooks she drew in during the four years she spent working on her lavishly illustrated Thornhill novel:

James let us peek into his sketchbooks, too! Here's a bit of his experimental collage work:

To start us all off, we made books. Unsurprisingly, the best practice for making books isn't only drawing pictures and writing stories, it's... making books! I always say that the difference between a wannabe author and an author is that the wannabe starts making a lot of books, but the author finishes them. So we made sure we finished books right from the first day, even if they were short and scrappy and only took us fifteen minutes to make! Here's mine, and another by landscape architect Felicity Steers (that she gave me permission to post).

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