Artist of the Month April 2018 – Karin Littlewood
This month’s chosen artist is author and illustrator Karin Littlewood.
Author and illustrator Karin has enthralled children globally with her picture book creative workshops. Her beautiful books have secured her over 20 nominations and recognition’s, including 3 Kate Greenaway nominations.
What a Visit from Karin entails
Karin’s workshops are usually based on a specific book and are very hands on and interactive. A typical school visit can begin with either an introductory session with the class/classes she is working with or an assembly if you wish the whole school to be involved. They are informative and fun and really get everyone in the mood for being an illustrator.
Beginning by reading the story, she can also show the original artwork if time allows, including all the first initial scribbles and rough ideas so the children can all get to see how the book began. It breaks the ice and demystifies the process… with all this background knowledge you can guarantee that the next time a picture book is picked up it will be a totally different experience! There’s plenty of time for questions and answers too. These session lasts between 40-60 minutes.
Following this, it’s time to work with the individual class or classes. Each session is usually a minimum of 90-120 minutes, less for nursery and reception but can also be half and full days for a more in depth approach. Karin is very flexible and the visits are discussed beforehand to suit each individual school and the workshops are adapted to suit each year group.
Karin will then show some quick, easy and effective ways of drawing…. very interactive and inspirational. Her workshops are illustration led and are very visual. Her own stories always begin with a picture and her writing is inspired by her drawings, so this the creative force and inspiration behind all her workshops. Drawing is a universal language, and the art of telling a story through the pictures you draw is powerful especially if English is not the first language.
Now the children have the chance to become illustrators too, telling a story through the pictures they draw. The room feels just like an studio now, again a very interactive session.
What Schools Have Said About Karin
“Karin has been the best author/illustrator we have had from Authors Abroad. She is extremely nice, approachable and enthusiastic and the feedback from the students and staff alike was all extremely positive. She worked with students from nursery to Year 12 and brought something to everything, engaging with the students at the different levels. She really inspired the students, some of who came to tell me personally how they had inspired her. She also inspired the staff who have taken away her ideas to use in the classroom and for homework. It was a busy, but fantastic week for all.”
Dukhan School – Qatar
‘Karin is able to get amazing results from children of all ages; because she inspires them to look beyond the pen and ink and consider the thought processes that informed the final product; because she delivers consistently no matter what the task, objective, age range or venue; because the children learn without realising that they are learning, in a cross-curricular way. But most of all, because I know that children love working with Karin and it is evident to all who observe her that Karin clearly loves working with them Karin’s book, Immi, was given to Y2, who produced some outstanding writing and artwork based on the book. Needless to say, the feedback from both the teacher and the children was extremely positive.’ –Clare Willis, Primary School Teacher
‘Karin Littlewood’s workshops are a wonderful learning experience.The children were excited to meet a real live illustrator.They were spellbound as she took them through the process of illustrating ‘The Colour of Home’ and they enthusiastically created their own illustrations. Karin has a way of interacting with children that encourages them to shine. All the schools she visited spoke highly of her workshops.’ – The Learning Trust, Hackney
Interview with Karin
Please can you write a few line introduction about yourself?
I’m an illustrator and I also write my own books as well as illustrating other authors stories. My drawings and words tell stories and take you into another world. I live in London and each day I cycle to my studio which I share with other illustrators, painters, designers and animators- it’s a wonderful, creative place to be. I’ve always drawn ever since I could hold a pencil so for me being an illustrator is the best job in the world!
How did you end up joining Authors Abroad?
Visiting schools is an important and inspiring part of my work. I had an author friend who was with Authors Abroad and one day I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in joining … and of course I said yes!
Authors Abroad have sent you all over the world to visit schools – do any of them stand out as particularly memorable?
I have visited so many interesting countries and it really is impossible to choose especially as every child I meet makes a visit memorable. But there was a very friendly camel at one school in Malawi that still makes me smile whenever I think about him … he wasn’t a pupil by the way but he thought he was!
Do any of the books you have illustrated hold a special place for you?
It’s so difficult to choose as they are are special, but if I had to pick one I would say its my book ‘Immi’… it’s a story of friendship across the world and how the simplest of gifts give the greatest joy. I think that is why so many schools love it too as it becomes true as we connect across the world . One of the simplest, but greatest gifts is a drawing so the story of Immi becomes so real …
How do you feel when you draw, is it still a joy or now that it’s your job is it more like work?
It feels exactly the same as it did when I was little … it feels like I am in another world and drawing is what makes me me! But I am just like everyone else and do have days when it definitely doesn’t go to plan! But then that just means you have to find another way! It is work, but so good to be doing something I have always wanted to do ever since I was a little girl!
You’ve lived in both Yorkshire and London – does either setting prove more inspirational?
I was born and grew up in Yorkshire and I can’t think of a better place! I moved to London after Art College and they are both so very different but both inspiring in totally different ways. I spend lots of time in Yorkshire with family and friends and especially when I’m out walking on the moors and in the Dales, whatever the weather, it just feels so ‘right’. London is amazing, creative, fascinating and always full surprises. The whole world is on your doorstep- people, food, different cultures . But its not all as hectic as people think … I live in a villagey part of London with independent so it’s nice quiet but I can cycle to the centre in 20 mins
What was your favourite picture book as a child?
I had so many! One of my favourites was “The Useful Dragon of Sam Ling Toy” .. set in Chinatown, Sam Ling Toy’s laundry shop is full of lost animals and when he finds a tiny lost ‘lizard ‘.. well you can imagine what that grew up to be! I loved the colours in the book and all the Dragon’s escapades.
What affect do you hope your school visits will have on students?
Illustration is a universal language … telling a story through the pictures is as important as telling a story with words so that is an important aspect of my workshops. I want to give children of all ages the chance to find out what goes on behind the scenes when making a picture book and give them the chance to experience what it’s like to be an illustrator too, using drawings to inspire them to tell and write their own stories. A school visit is inspirational, giving the children a chance to meet an author and to see that I am a real person! To ask any questions they want and to be as curious as they like and to realise that I was a little girl who loved drawing pictures, reading and writing stories just like them. If you love something and work hard then they too can follow their dreams. I can show quick and easy illustration techniques and show there isn’t a right or wrong way.
How do you engage reluctant readers/illustrators?
It’s easy to be scared of a blank sheet of paper and I can feel like that too! But by simplifying things, taking things step by step , showing quick and easy ways of how you can come up with solutions and actually tackling important subject matters by demystifying them … Talking, showing, drawing, explaining and making friends … there is always a special way with each individual child.
Some of your picture books contain quiet important messages, do you set out with a message in mind and create a story around it? Or does the story come first?
I think in pictures so that is the first thing that comes into my mind. The messages that can be found are really what I feel and they find their way into the illustrations and story in their own way
What is your favourite memory from a school visit?
I never have just one … but the joy of seeing the children express themselves creatively in ways many of them never thought they could is always the best thing to take away with you! And also seeing a child that reminds you of yourself at that age .. I always wonder what they may end up doing when they get older
You mainly work with picture books, what books do you read for leisure?
I still read picture books for pleasure and leisure! But I’m very interested in history so I do like travelling back in time.
What is your next career goal?
To keep on doing what I have always done! Illustrating, writing and of course meeting even more children across the world. Each book feels like a new beginning so to continue on this journey is a never ending adventure!
What would you say to a school that was asking about the benefits of an author/illustrator visit?
A visit makes such a lasting difference … and it can change lives. It can open up a whole new world and give the children a chance to explore, be inspired, to create, to discover new ways and find things inside themselves they may not have known was there. Illustration can be a way of exploring so many different topics in a way that is not always possible within the school curriculum. It gives the children the opportunity to meet the person behind the name on a book cover and to find out so much more … it’s a day of connecting and sharing, for teachers as well as pupils
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS.
Paperback or Kindle? Paperback
Cats or dogs? Cats – I do love dogs too though
Prefer to see a pantomime or a play? Play
Would you rather explore the ocean or space? Ocean
Favourite flavour of cake? All of them! But not all mixed up together
Pamper weekend or camping? Camping
Would you rather be able to freeze time or speed time up? Both- depends on what I’m doing!
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what law would you introduce? Stop everything and draw for a few minutes a day!
Arrange for Karin to visit your school
To make an enquiry about Karin Littlewood, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org