Our characters included Tracy Beaker, Smaug, Peter Rabbit, The Gruffalo, Winnie the Pooh & Piglet as well as Sophie and The BFG. I gave all of the children a laminated reference picture and explained that this is how I begin all of my paintings because you have to have something to work from. The laminating part is important too because it doesn't matter if you get it covered in paint or water!
The children then all drew a rough sketch of their design, beginning by mapping out the main shapes to make sure that they filled the paper, and then going on to add progressively more detail. I never let children use rubbers at this stage because I don't want them to be afraid of making mistakes- nobody is going to collect their sketches in and mark them so this was their time to experiment and figure out how to draw their character.
Our next step was to transfer the sketches onto large canvases. This is such a difficult skill to master and my group made a very good job of it. We did use rubbers at this stage to make sure that no unwanted pencil lines were visible beneath the paint. I helped a little with the odd positioning of eyes and marking where the head and feet should fill on the canvas.
After morning break we painted our background colours. There were so many different styles from all of the reference pictures that we covered lots of different colour mixing skills to create the more natural colours found in Beatrix Potter's illustrations to the vibrant primary colours in Nick Sharratt's quirky style. It was a bit of a rush (a large piece like this would usually take me a week and we had a day to finish!) but we finished our background colours in time for lunch.
I'm sure you'll agree that the children did an absolutely fantastic job. I was blown away by their talent and what they managed to achieve in just one day. A huge thank you to my group of artists and to all of the staff at Martley for letting me borrow the children from their classes for the day. They were an absolute pleasure to work with.