This workshop originally appeared as part of the 2021 Indigenous Literacy Day online event. It is now available for free as part of ILD 2022. 

A session for ages 9+ to inspire a creative and playful approach to visual storytelling. 

Video Workshop - 34 minutes - Ages 9+

Ann’s spontaneous demonstrations will inspire and encourage you to relax, dive in and have a go yourself. 

She loves to draw and enjoys making pictures with a variety of materials and tools. 

Pictures are a good way to start stories. Ann finds doodling is relaxing – and a great way to find characters and suggests that when you have created a few, try asking them questions!

For anyone who says ‘I can’t draw’, Ann has some helpful and encouraging advice. 

Everyone is scared of making mistakes but luckily most, especially kids, are also curious and can be encouraged to be playful, courageous and have a go. After all, she’s found accidents can be inventions and mistakes can sometimes be solutions!

Ann suggests some key things that will help grow your creativity, confidence and success.

  • Play and spontaneity – enjoy exploring and experimenting, and not being too judgmental.  Let marks and even accidents suggest ideas 
  • Visual memory – this is your memory bank of how things look. Drawing things around you, really looking at them, will imbed details inside you. Draw things you like again and again - like your dog or bike, trees, buildings…
  • Imagination – your very own inventive way of thinking. Mix it with your visual memory and you can really have some fun
  • Try new materials and tools and be inspired by the accidents and mistakes you’ll make while you try things out.  

Ann, with her helpful dog Patrick as model, shows how once you invent a character you might draw it, paint it or build it! 3D art can be combined with other visuals and photographs.

About Ann James 

Ann James AM grew up in Melbourne. Her playful approach to making pictures is reflected in the stories she chooses and the ways she illustrates them, using a variety of materials and techniques.

In a career spanning 40 years, Ann has illustrated over 70 books, including I’m a Dirty Dinosaur and I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, by Janeen Brian; Margaret Wild’s The Midnight Gang; Lucy Goosey; and Little Humpty; Sadie & Ratz by Sonya Hartnett; the Audrey of the Outback series and It’s a Miroocool! by Christine Harris; A Very Quacky Christmas, by Frances Watts; and her own Bird & Bear books; and most recently, Goodbye House, Hello House, by Margaret Wild, an Honour Book in the CBCA Early Childhood Book Awards, 2020.

Ann is an Ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and has participated in many art and story workshops with children from some of the most remote communities in the country, sometimes creating picture booksincluding I Saw, We Saw (Nhulunbuy P.S.) and Hello, Hello! (Spinifex Writers Camp, Tjuntjuntjara).

Ann was the nominated Australian Illustrator for the Hans Christian Andersen Award,2020.

Ann with her partner Ann Haddon, established Books Illustrated in Melbourne in 1988. For over 30 years they have promoted Australian picture books and their creators through exhibitions and events in Australia and overseas. In 2016 they were each recognised a Member of the Order ofAustralia for their work in Children’s Literature.

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