Our last week of Imagination Academy 2014 focused on illustration and graphic novels.
On Tuesday, July 30, we hosted illustrator Drew Willis, who showed the group his work in Laurie Calkhoven’s adaptation of Heroes of Olympus, as well as some of his hand-drawn maps for Time Magazine. Drew’s illustrations of Greek myths were incredibly popular with the kids, who collectively had an astounding knowledge of mythology. The kids were especially interested in how Drew uses computers and technology to draw. Drew was full of good advice about what it takes to be a published illustrator. “Looking at other artist and illustrators to see how they do things helps form your own art even better.”
Drew then explained that the best way to draw is through observation and practice. So, he put up some pictures of lizards, snakes and alligators for the kids to use as reference as they sketched their own dragons.
On Wednesday, we had the pleasure of meeting illustrator Kelly Light, who showed us that it IS possible to love your job. Kelly taught the students about various careers in illustration and cartooning, from becoming a background artist to a comic cartoonist. The kids were especially excited when Kelly showed them her sketches, thumbnails, and advance copy of her new children’s book Louise Loves Art, coming out this September.
Kelly led the students in several exciting exercises. First, our students learned about the “line of action,” which is the imaginary line running down a figure’s spine. Kelly posed in various positions and had the kids sketch those poses for 60 seconds. Volunteers then posed in silly positions while the other students sketched. Our next activity was to create characters out of random lines and shapes. The kids had a blast drawing cartoon characters! We received great advice on drawing characters: Keep a mirror by your drawing station to make faces into. By making crazy faces,you can use your own face as a model! Kelly’s final activity was a game where the kids rolled dice to determine what type of character to draw. We ended up with villainous dogs with super strength and bashful three-headed monsters!
On Thursday we welcomed our last guest, Sheila Keenan, author of Dogs of War. Sheila introduced us to the amazing world of graphic novels. Sheila explained that she found her idea for Dogs of War in her neighbor’s trash, when she found an old photograph of a dog serving with the U.S. military. Inspiration can come from the most surprising places! She explained that we can “sniff” out our own inspiration from books, blogs, the internet, movies, documentaries, photos, and observation.
Sheila explained the process of working with an illustrator on her graphic novel. It took a lot of teamwork and collaboration to create a quality piece of work. With that in mind, Sheila had the students form groups to start creating their own graphic novels. The students were asked to include themselves and at least one animal in their graphic novels. All the kids took the task of creating their own graphic novels extremely seriously—and their finished products showed their hard work and dedication!
Friday, August 1 was our final day of Imagination Academy. We spent the day playing a game of telephone-Pictionary and finishing up our graphic novels and drawings from the week. Everyone was excited to show off their finished products! We had an amazing time this week with some incredibly talented kids.
Imagination Academy 2014 was a wonderful success! We were so fortunate to host such talented authors, poets, and illustrators. Most importantly, we had a funny, smart, talented group of young writers who were a true joy to spend a month working with. We can’t wait until next summer’s Imagination Academy!