Donovan Bixley’s bright, colourful and deceptively complex drawings will be familiar to anyone with children in New Zealand.
His latest title is Draw Some Awesome, an interactive book that engages both beginners and more experienced artists, regardless of their age, giving them the tools they need to find their own drawing style. Donovan enthuses the reader with tips, tricks and techniques, helped along the way by luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, and Wolfgang Mozart.
To celebrate Donovan shares some fun tips to help you unlock your child’s creative potential.
Doodling is a great way to fire your child’s creative juices. But where to start? A blank piece of paper can be pretty intimidating to the best of artists, so it’s handy to have a starting point to set your little ones on their way.
A lot of my books start with drawing funny characters. When I’m stuck for ideas, I begin by drawing some basic shapes. Organic shapes are good – like fruit and veggies. You could start with a banana, or a pear, or perhaps a broccoli, or something more exotic.
Now try and turn that shape into a character. Add some eyes and a face, legs and arms, hair and clothes. When I make characters for a book, I like to take the same shape and try many different options over and over, maybe try giving it long legs or short legs, what about tentacles? A big nose, a pointy nose, small eyes, or maybe dozens of eyes, frizzy hair or a mohawk.
This is a good starting point just to set young artists off onto their own creative pathways. Hopefully, they’ll end up with something entirely fruity that looks nothing like the piece of fruit they started with.
After a certain age, many children want to fully visualise a picture in their head before they even put pencil to paper, and they find it hard to get started. When I’m doodling I try to turn off the part of my brain that likes to think and plan too much. I try to let my pencil scribble away and see where it leads. After doodling again and again with the same shape, I’m often pleasantly surprised by a totally unexpected character that I never even knew I was going to draw.
Many of my books have been inspired because I’ve wanted to write a story about what I’ve drawn and that in turn inspires me to want to draw more pictures about what I’ve written. Using pictures as a starting point for storytelling is a wonderful creative cycle that just keeps feeding itself.
If you have a young artist who wants a challenge then take inspiration from one of the greatest artists of all time. Leonardo da Vinci used to love finding inspiration in random marks on a wall, or the embers of a fire, or the good-old clouds in the sky. Young artists can be like Leonardo too and stir their imagination while at the same time exercising their drawing muscles (your brain and physical drawing skills need exercise just like the body of an athlete does).
To start, simply take a piece of paper and get someone in the family to draw a random scribble on it with a bright marker – they can even do it without looking, or even be a younger sibling, which makes it even more fun. Now begins the creative part. Your young artist will take a different coloured pencil or pen and try and turn that scribble into a drawing.
Children will really have to use their imagination and they may have to turn the paper around and around until they see some part of the scribble that inspires them. Perhaps it could be the outline of a leg of a wild creature, or the spiky back of a dinosaur. Maybe the squiggle seems like the beginnings of part of a vehicle or a robot. Children will really exercise their imagination trying to create a drawing that incorporates the squiggle as part of it. And the more they do, the more that creative muscle will grow.
Draw Some Awesome by Donovan Bixley ($29.99 RRP, Upstart Press) is available now where all good books are sold. Click here for more info and to find out about an exciting competition to win $100 worth of Donovan Bixley books.