5 years in the making - ‘the artist’ is out now! 🎨🎉
Wild and free - her colours fly!
A joyful book about a young artist… for all young artists.
Aiming to give creative confidence to young artists everywhere… celebrating what it means to be an artist. Knowing that mistakes are a part of making art… and that the world is a joyful, beautiful place, full of wonders.
This story came from co-creating the ‘Power of Pictures’ visual literacy programme with Charlotte Hacking and CLPE.
Published by Puffin Books in the UK and Doubleday in the US.
Also, Edizioni Lapis in Italy. (more to follow)
'Writer-illustrator Ed Vere returns with another beautifully illustrated children's book, celebrating what it means to be an artist ... an uplifting story for any child who loves to draw.' ― The Independent
'Colorful, boldly imaginative, dynamic, quirky, and wonderfully child-appealing illustrations. . . . This book proclaims what children already know: Creativity and making art spark joy.' ― Kirkus Reviews starred review
'Realizing that making mistakes is part of the process could be a game-changer for the many kids who can't conquer their discouragement when their art falls short of their expectations.' ― Booklist
'Even if readers don't need encouragement to unleash their own talents, they should be intrigued by this protagonist's arc toward artistic assurance.' ― Publishers Weekly
Connection & engagement
(A piece written for 'Teach Primary' magazine about my 'Power of Pictures' visual literacy work with CLPE)
As a writer who also draws, I’m interested in how we connect with another person through words and pictures. How we engage, how we animate, how we get an idea to live in another mind. When I read to children, I’m endlessly amazed by the power of a picture book. That a character is grippingly alive for those kids. An inky drawing of an enormous, lonely gorilla playing a piano, transforms in the mind into a living breathing being, deserving of love. It blows my mind. Every time.
There is something very special about that space in between the pictures and the words. A place which asks your imagination to fill the gap. A good picture book should leave room between words and pictures. Pictures don’t simply illustrate the words – they tell their own story, on a multitude of levels. If we make time to examine them.
We understand complex expressions and emotions through drawings from a very early age, in ways we can’t yet do with the written word or spoken language.
From the moment a child comes into the world they are searching for visual clues. Trying to understand if you are friend or foe, through facial expression and body language. Pictures speak this language fluently. Pictures intimate emotions, feelings and nuances that words cannot because of this sophisticated visual vocabulary (which we are constantly building). Pictures are open to interpretation – there’s nothing concrete to get right or wrong - which means they’re open to discussion.
By the time a child arrives at primary school they’re able to use this visual vocabulary creatively when they ‘read’ pictures and when they draw, yet we don’t harness either. Worse still, most children have given up drawing by the age of 9 or 10 (believing there’s a right and wrong way – there isn’t). In doing so, they lose a vital form of self-expression which they don’t have another outlet for. Careless of us in these times where we’re supposedly more aware than ever of emotional wellbeing.
I struggled enormously with literacy projects at school, English comprehension was an unending nightmare. I just didn’t get it. Drawing was another matter. Some children are academic thinkers – others, just as bright, think in other ways; spatially or visually. We must learn how to engage them, so they don’t come to believe, as I did, that they aren’t worth much.
As an author, I’m struck by how we ask children to complete literacy tasks… how sterile it can be and how far away it is from how I and many other authors actually find our ideas as we write. Rather than writing, many of us draw to generate our ideas; to map out the world of our books, to develop our characters. The Power of Pictures programme shows how to place drawing into the writing process. We (author/illustrators) show teachers exactly how we draw to create a terrain in which we can then write.
Put simply – if a ‘so called hard to reach’ child who thinks they don’t like writing is asked to write – the task can be front loaded with all the problems they don’t like – grammar, spelling, sentence construction. If you ask them to start by drawing – by developing and rounding out a character, you get an idea to start growing in that child’s head before they’ve written a word. An idea that they will then want to grow, which gives them a reason to write. Going back to connecting and engaging – the child has to connect and engage with their own idea in order for it to live.
For that to happen the Power of Pictures author/illustrators must re-instill a sense of drawing confidence in the teachers we’re teaching. Many haven’t drawn since they were at primary school. We demonstrate a few simple confidence-building drawing exercises which show how a character can be easily created. From there a drawn character can interact with another. An idea for a story often sparks soon after.
In an age where we are beginning to understand how important good mental health is, it feels careless to be letting the habit of drawing slip out of our children’s hands. Neuroscience shows us that the right hemisphere of the brain is where it’s all going on as far as our emotions are concerned. It’s the site of non-verbal communication and it also happens to be the side of the brain that we use when we are drawing - the two things are connected. ‘The right brain hears the music, not the words, of what passes between people’ (Allan Schore).
There is a beautiful video you may have seen on the internet; Oliver Sacks’ music and memory project ‘Alive Inside’, which works with Alzheimer’s sufferers. The video shows Henry, in a nursing home for ten years and completely inert. Unresponsive and closed in on himself. Henry is then given an iPod containing his favourite music. Immediately he lights up, his face assumes expression, his eyes open wide, he starts to sing – he’s being animated by the music. The effect doesn’t stop when the headphones come off, Henry, normally mute is quite voluble – he is animated, he has come to life. ‘Kant called music the quickening art – and Henry is being quickened… being brought to life.’ says Sacks. In a very similar way, pictures and drawing can reach across divides. They engage.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it’s about how we connect with another person. By using drawing and pictures, we engage, we animate - we get an idea to live in another mind.
Dr. Oliver Sacks ‘Alive Inside’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKO1ODNgbxs