Creativity on the Coast


The annual Voices on the Coast literary festival hit Buderim recently with a line up of great children’s authors and illustrators. I have been attending for more than 15 years and love it. There are workshops and talks designed to encourage the creative juices of young people in writing, short stories, poetry, with presenters delivering talks on “Game Writing: choose your own adventure; digital illustration; creating characters; writing to thrill; storytelling through scenes; write what you love to read.”

It’s inspiring for me to learn more about children’s book illustration so I attended the Leila Rudge session whose picture book Gary demonstrated how to take a simple idea of a bird to the end – her process, step by step on creating the book. Leila’s work is a mixture of pencil, paint, paper and other bits and bobs found in her studio. Her creativity inspired me and the children in her audience with her friendly, down to earth approach and talents.

She made it seem easy and accessible if practised daily – drawing, that is.





The above cover of Gary shows the changes that Leila made to her ideas and in the end the publisher has to pick a winner that will sell. Which illustration do you like of Gary the pigeon who cannot fly but travels to many places? From the roughs and thumb nail sketches to the final appealing page, the end papers and cover, Leila and her editorial team deliver a wonderful picture story. The final cover was slightly different. Check it out at the end of this post!

Creativity – When do you find you are most creative? On holidays, at home or never!! What inspires you to be creative? I guess if you are like me, I am always observing a shop window, reading, taking photographs, watching people or thinking about things and eventually, something triggers an idea or a project. I look around me and notice colours, textures, patterns, shapes; in the garden, in magazines, blogs and art work. When I was in Brisbane with my 5 year old grand daughter I was thrilled to see that she has a pop art gallery.




WOW! Isn’t it great! Her drawings, paintings are the result of a creative imagination, an artistic mother who loves painting and Audrey’s own brand of unique style. Creativity is like a fountain gushing joy – it can be contagious in a family if creativity is encouraged.

Sadly, creativity can be squashed if a child receives a negative comment or no support.

But rather than talk about a lack of creativity, here are some of my tips to foster creativity.

Show not tell ( a writer’s tip); recycle and reuse everyday objects; give a child a shoe box and let them make something – robot, house, shops, peep show, fairy garden; experiment and fiddle with stones, plants and twigs. Cubby houses with blankets and chairs; a writer’s journal; sand in a baking tray; take them into an old shed or kitchen; play games using handbags, scarves, belts, shoes. Beads in a dish; cardboard and pencils. Making a film or short video; performance poetry; concerts and singing; Pinterest ideas; cooking.

I would like to think that creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression –  it’s needed in maths and problem solving, coding, science etc. Sometimes creative people need the right spaces, resources, atmosphere, the ability to fail  and try again. They need to solve their own problems without a boss. To find the process more important than the end result.

While browsing the internet on this topic, I discovered a few other ideas to nurture creativity.

1 Set a schedule

2 Have a dedicated work space ( most of the time)

3 Talk about what you’re doing

4 Become an observer

5 Explore other creative interests

6 Collect inspiration

7 Get involved in a good cause

8 Get a good night’s sleep

9 Learn something new everyday

10 Take breaks

11 Use a mood board

12 Don’t feel guilty.

Here’s the final front cover for the picture book, Gary written and illustrated by British Leila Rudge aimed at children 3+.


Can you suggest any other creative ideas that work for you? Tell me how you are creative?

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Leave a Comment


July 6, 2016 at 11:06 am

Children’s drawings are priceless!

July 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

Great to see this insight into the creative process of a children’s book!

M.J. Gibbs
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