On-the-spot Portraits

On-the-spot portraits I made of kids during school visits for October's Taleblazers Literary Fest. Thanks to the schools who hosted me and the students who sat for me! And to the Young Alberta Book Society, who organized the tour. If you want to bring real live authors and artists to your Alberta classroom or library, check them out: www.yabs.ab.ca.

Story Avenue

Four hundred kids.
Five Edmonton schools.
Nine writers and illustrators.
Welcome to Story Avenue!
In my workshops, we made the shortest possible storyboards. Since some of my fave writers and illustrators were next door, I kinda wanted to sneak away to see what they were doing in THEIR classrooms!
Thanks to the Young Alberta Book Society and all the amazing volunteers, teachers and sponsors who make this annual Story Avenue event happen. And to the great group of students from Mee-Yah-Noh, Norwood, Oliver, John A. McDougall and Delton Schools: Keep on writing, drawing and thinking!



During my California visit, I met up with Weeds Find a Way writer Cindy Jenson-Elliott at Cardiff School, where she co-teaches an elementary class. Cindy and the students built a garden at the school: sometimes they spot grey whales swimming in ocean a stone’s throw from the playground.

I got to talk to Cindy’s students about writing and illustrating books. And I got to do some drawing! Thanks to Cindy, Ms. Boyesen and Ms. Douillard for sharing your class at the school-by-the-sea.


Teleconferencing to Class

Last Tuesday, Skype took me 800km from Calgary to Bozeman, Montana to join prolific writer, journalist and teacher Michele Corriel in her Writing for Young Readers class. We had a lively discussion about kid books, writing and illustration. Thanks, Michele, for inviting me to join you! 

Beam me up, Scotty!

My Skype visit to a children's literature class 1700km away at the University of Northern Colorado. Thanks, Dr. Erekson and students! Shhh...don't tell anybody that I was wearing my fluffy bunny slippers!

An Author, a Cop and a Librarian Meet in a Grade Three Class

I visited more than 400 students for It's a Crime Not to Read, a Calgary Public Library literacy program that brings police officers, authors and library books into schools. My drawing of Constable Simon (left, center) looks exactly like a composite sketch of a suspect, don't you think? The kids, on the other hand, look totally innocent.

Thanks to Kathy Wise and Eda Czarnacki of the Calgary Public Library for setting this up!


Grade 3 students used their sketchbooks to draw landscapes and brainstorm patterns. They practised using watercolor by making a puddle of clear water on the paper, loading up brushes with paint, and dropping the pigment into the water.  They drew oil pastel patterns using a limited color scheme. Each child contributed one square of a collaborative waterfall scene.


Gone Fishin'

Here's what we did in Grade 1/2 class during my Artist Residency at Calder school. As with all the students, we practiced drawing in drafts in sketchbooks and on larger sketches, fixing any mistakes in our second draft. Then we went fishin', using Sharpie markers, tissue paper collage, and oil pastel.

Snow Crystal Cards

I was lucky enough to teach a workshop to some young artists on Saturday. Here are some photos of the work they did. Beautiful, isn't it? A big thank you to Emily Cargan and her volunteers, and to the talented kids at the Irish Cultural Centre. Go raibh maith agaibh!


What We Drew in School

Last month, I talked about books and drew pictures at schools around Alberta. The students brainstormed to invent a slew of never-before-seen creatures. I sketched their ideas. Then relay teams of kids took turns coloring the drawings - all in about fifteen minutes.

Here are some samples of what we did.

Speed Mural

Each October, as part of the Taleblazers program, the Young Alberta Book Society sends authors and illustrators around the province to talk to schoolkids about writing and drawing books. If you are a teacher, librarian or parent, you should check it out: www.yabs.ab.ca.

Last week for Taleblazers, I headed to northeastern Alberta. At one school, I enlisted a grade five class to make a collaborative speed mural. We brainstormed ideas to design a fantasy creature, drew two drafts and took turns coloring our group picture with oil pastel. The students incorporated tree characeristics into our critter because they've been studying forests. Can you spot the places where we used our brainstormed ideas?









Star-Nosed Mole



From brainstorming to sketch drafts to full color mural - colored by the students in relay teams - all in fifteen minutes. Not bad, huh? I wish I could always have this crew of grade five students in my studio when I'm struggling under deadline!

Ravessa, a grade five student, gave me a copy of her story entitled The Lost Page, about two girls who encounter an enigmatic character and a strange book. Will Charlie and Audrey be able to unravel a mystery, find the lost page and save the world?

And Kody from grade three gave me this marker drawing.

I love it! Thanks to Kody, Ravessa, Ardmore Grade Five Speed Muralists, and to all the kids, teachers and librarians I met last week. Keep on reading, writing and drawing!

YABS Confab

Pictured: Bill Bunn, Val Lawton, Maureen Bush

Thirteen writers, illustrators and storytellers from the Young Alberta Book Society gathered last night for the first Calgary YABS Confab. If you're a teacher, librarian or parent, you should know about the Young Alberta Book Society (www.yabs.ab.ca) - YABS helps to organize and fund school author and artist visits.

Artist and authors of the Young Alberta Book Society make all kinds of stories, from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels to storytelling concerts. And they travel to the far corners of the province to share their literary know-how with schoolkids.

In between swapping news of our latest books and talking about creativity and work, we drew exquisite corpse pictures, a kind of group drawing. Each person draws a section of a picture in sequence without seeing what the person before them drew.

Here are some of the more family-friendly exquisite corpses:

Thanks to the talented crew who showed up for a spirited discussion and a fun evening: Maureen Bush, Jan Markley, Carolyn Pogue, Jacqui Guest, Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli, Sandy Nichols, Bill Bunn, Mary Hays, Shenaaz Nanji, Shirlee Smith-Matheson, Faye Reinberg Holt, Val Lawton.

(Now go read their books!)