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Scribble Artist Interview with Kelly Blake!

Big Eyed Cat by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Cat by Kelly Blake

Scribble Town (ST): We are so very happy to have the talented Kelly Blake with us! When I came across her artwork I could see how sensitive this person is to the world around us. From that, I just had to know more about her. What are you up to Kelly?

Kelly Blake (KB): Hi Scribble Town! I’m Kelly Blake and I live in the creative city of Bristol, United Kingdom. I’ve spent a long time studying throughout my life but I now feel I’m at the point where I have learned everything I felt necessary and I now feel confident enough to pursue the dream of producing my own art. I actually moved to London several years ago to complete a Masters in Production Design (movie art direction for anyone who is unsure) but after finishing and eventually moving back home I realised my true passion lies with illustration and creating my own individual artwork. So that’s what I’ve begun.

Normally when I produce some artwork there’s a reason why I’m producing it. The main factor behind all of my work is that I absolutely adore animals; it’s the common thread behind all art I create and I have a large array of artwork under my belt which (I hope) shows just how much I love all things fuzzy. At the moment I am focusing on publishing my very first adult colouring book called ‘Into the Wild’ and I’m working to raise the funds necessary to complete the project by producing my own Kickstarter campaign. If anyone is unsure of what Kickstarter is, it’s basically a crowd funding website where you launch a campaign and ask for the public to fund you. Imagine Dragon’s Den but will a billion different dragons! It’s going rather well at the moment so I’m doing everything possible to ensure I raise all the funds and so I’m able to complete the project successfully.

Please take a look at my Kickstarter campaign here so you can get a feel of the project.

ST: The concept is wonderful!  Is Into the Wild: A Coloring Book About Nature just for adults?  I think many people of all ages would enjoy seeing the pictures come to life.

KB: Thank you! I’ve initially created Into the Wild as a colouring book ideally for adults, but of course all ages are welcome to join in. The reason it’s for adults specifically is because the images are a little more detailed than perhaps some of the colouring books on the market today –even more detailed than most of the adult ones too! Each illustration is comprised of lots of different angular shapes/blocks and it’s only as you begin to colour each section that it reveals a hidden design within the image. Think of it as a slightly abstract and more challenging version of paint by numbers, but with the freedom to choose your own colour coding. It’s rather quite complicated when you get down to it so perhaps it might become a little too confusing for the younger audience; but of course they’re completely welcome to have a go!

Surreal 'Goddess' Illustration by Kelly Blake

Surreal ‘Goddess’ Illustration by Kelly Blake

I originally came up with the idea because I know a lot of people who are very artistic but are not able to draw even the simple stick figures. I have received a lot of compliments for my artwork in the past (especially my abstract pieces) and it led me to think about creating something that enables other enthusiasts to produce something that they’re also proud of without feeling like they’re lacking the talent to do so. It’s also been a proven fact that adult colouring books are being used as a way to de-stress and calm your mind so why not hit two birds with one stone!

ST: That is so thoughtful of you to create something that includes all ages! When and how did you start illustrating and drawing?  Is there a piece of art that always inspires you to create?

KB: When I think back to when I actually began drawing I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t being creative. I’ll always remember at my earliest of ages in Primary School one of my paintings was framed and featured on the wall inside reception as an example of a ‘good piece of art’. Of course, when I look back at it now all I can see are the dodgy eyes and weird shape of Henry VIII’s head, but I feel like I wouldn’t have come so far without all the support and positivity of the people around me. It’s the constant reassurance of ‘that’s great’ or ‘wow!’ that really drives me to produce more and more art and to get better and better. Granted, there’s always a few pieces that make people think ‘hmm, how odd’ but as long as I create something that I feel I’m proud of, then that’s what pushes me to continue with my work. Who cares if 90% of the population dislike it, what’s important is that the other 10% can appreciate it.

Eagle Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Eagle Woodcut by Kelly Blake

There will always come a time when I think to myself ‘I want to do an illustration!’ and the ideas just start flowing, but for those times when I can’t get myself into the mood or I can’t feel any inspiration coming then I start to check out illustrations online to get some creativity flowing. Even things such as typing phrases or keywords into google can help immensely. It’s amazing how much variety of different artwork there is out there and it’s surprising how much inspiration you can get from looking at other people’s work. Pieces that I personally love to flick through include modern and quirky works by artists such as Michael Godard and Fabio Napoleoni, but someone who I look up to as a huge inspiration for my work itself is the work by Canadian artist Nicholas Di Genova. I love the way he mixes processes such as freehand illustration and digitally enhanced methods to create something rather surreal and unique; but very, very special. It’s him who’s helped me develop a signature style myself and I do feel that a lot of my work has a thread of ‘Nicholas’ running through it.

Big Eyed Lemur by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Lemur by Kelly Blake

ST: What is the artistic process of your paintings?  For example, how did your Kinderschema series come about? Do you usually sketch first your idea?

KB: My Kinderschema Collection was originally inspired from an article which I read about cats. It basically went on to say that the reason we find cats big eyes and overly big features so adorable is because of what is genetically programmed into our heads at birth. This led me to research into the science of why the human brain naturally reacts to these traits and I came across a German term called Kinderschema. Kinderschema defines the 5 basic traits that lead us to believe an animal is adorable and these can include; a large head, a large forehead, large eyes, rounded cheeks, and soft body surfaces.  I then decided I wanted to explore some of these factors in my own work and I created an art collection of digital paintings showing us just how much we love all things cute.

When I have a rough idea in my mind of the art I want to produce, I normally go about creating a really quick drawing trying to communicate what’s inside my head. Sometimes this will turn out to be a really crude or basic sketch but I can normally see if the idea is going to work on paper. I’ll also look online and check out other artist’s work to see if this takes me into a different or more creative direction to ensure my idea will definitely look good on the page. I have found that with the majority of my illustrative art, I tend to keep working on a piece until I am 100% happy with it. My motto normally states, “the more ink on the page, the better” but there’s still a fine line between finishing and overworking a piece of art.

Lion Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Lion Woodcut by Kelly Blake

ST: What mediums and techniques do you work with?  Is there a method that speaks to you more than the others?  Why do you think that is?

KB: It’s funny because throughout all my growing years I’ve never been able to pinpoint exactly which field of the creative world I wanted to merge into. This means I’ve studied everything ranging from photography to sculpture, and illustration to video editing and I’ve spent a very, very long time working hard to develop some extremely valuable skills. Due to engaging fully in many of these different fields I now feel that I can make a strong decision as to which route to progress into further. This has meant that my artwork created in the past includes a huge range of different styles but I believe this does make me stronger as an artist. It means I’m capable of merging materials and thinking outside the box. If in the future I decide to create a half illustration-half sculpture, then I know that I require the necessary skills to do so. This means that despite my love for illustrative art, I’m not tied down to producing everything in 2D.

For example, I have recently finished a collection of woodcut prints which involve intricately cutting away small sections from a wooden block. This block is then rolled with ink and printed onto a paper surface. This gives a beautifully rustic alternative to simply using paint brushed onto paper.  This method contrasts nicely to the hand drawn illustrations from some of my previous collections, or to the bold look of the lighting installations that I have formerly produced from recycled materials.

At the moment I am concentrating purely on producing this range of surrealist animal illustrations to publish into my first adult colouring book; but I love that if I choose to, I am able to stop and produce something completely different at any given time. How I feel is that if you don’t have to tie yourself down, then why do it.

ST: When you are not creating, what do you like to do?

Big Eyed Owl by Kelly Blake

Big Eyed Owl by Kelly Blake

KB: Well, it’s actually funny that you ask this because I was thinking about this myself the other day. I’m currently working from my own studio at home and so I find myself working on projects throughout the majority of each day; quite often from morning through to late into the evening. I’m very dedicated to my artwork and it’s lucky that I really love what I do otherwise I don’t think I could stay so dedicated to working this hard. All I strive for is being able to maintain a well-balanced and happy life whilst spending a career doing what I love. When I actually do decide to take time off I quite like to get away from home and stay somewhere peaceful as it gives me an excuse to stop working and to clear my head. I normally spend a few days down at the sea or in the countryside with good company, and I find the calm atmosphere refreshes myself and sets me back up for busy days when I return back home. Also, archery, who doesn’t love a bit of archery? I fancy myself the Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games when nobody is looking!

ST: From a person who seems to appreciate their surroundings, I wonder who encouraged you to be artistic when you were a child?  Do you think being raised in the creative town of Bristol had an effect on you?

Cat Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Cat Woodcut by Kelly Blake

KB: To be honest, whilst growing up I’ve always considered myself a bit of a nerd. While there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd, it meant I perhaps didn’t get out as much as I should. Instead, I spent a lot of time studying and working hard throughout school and I always made sure I put everything into getting my grades as high as possible. Whilst this is obviously extremely important, it does mean I probably didn’t get as much creative influence from the city as I should have. Bristol is known as a hugely influential artistic city and I live amongst some huge pioneers of the art world. This means I was very self-dependant whilst studying and I would love to say that a certain someone was the reason for me producing art today but I don’t believe anyone really was. Sure, I had people who supported me and pushed me along but I feel confident in saying that I was the one in the driving seat of my own artistic career and hopefully this will continue for a long, long time.

ST: Any tips, advice, or ways of encouraging our scribblers? 

KB: My greatest piece of advice would be to create art that YOU love and do it for yourself and for nobody else. There’s been quite a few times in my life that I’ve produced something that the masses don’t like but the minority do. I could have succumbed to produce what most people out there would deem as ‘good art’ but then what’s the point in creating it if it’s not for yourself; then you become one of those people who have their passion turned into a chore and may become quite resentful. If I were given a penny each time someone called my work too-weird, odd, or simply had a lack of faith that it would be well received then I’d have a pretty full bank account by now. Don’t ever let someone tell you that something isn’t good enough because simply put, art is perspective and if you feel that something is to be proud of, then wave that proudness-flag up high and display your work for others to see! I guarantee you there are people out there who will absolutely adore it. Don’t give up and show those people just how creatively talented you are. 

If you wanted to check out some of my work that’s available on the market at the moment, please take a look at my website here at:

You can also purchase any artwork from my Etsy shop at:

ST: Thank you, Kelly, for sharing so much valuable creative information with us! I’m sure your Kickstarter campaign will go great and your artwork will continue to inspire us!

Wolf Woodcut by Kelly Blake

Wolf Woodcut by Kelly Blake


A Lee Hodges Activity!

Make some characters from old toilet rolls, give each roll a white coat base first and then sketch out the shape, then fill it in with colour, this could be acrylic or poster paint. They could be animals or maybe a group of characters from a circus (imagine an acrobat troupe all on top of each other) or a jazz band. I’m going to make a Mariachi band!

Lee Hodges is full of amazing ideas!  Check out his website at!



Scribble Artist Interview with Lee Hodges!

Goulash Disko festival - This was for a festival in Croatia. The brief was pirates, donkeys and tropical feel…This also led to an album cover of the same image, I have it on my shelf!

Goulash Disko festival – This was for a festival in Croatia. The brief was pirates, donkeys and tropical feel…This also led to an album cover of the same image, I have it on my shelf!

Scribble Town (ST): Here we have a beautiful collection of splashes of colors that speak to you in all sorts of sounds and languages! Lee Hodges knows how to make images fun and lively! He is an illustrator/artist, and as he so eloquently puts it is “based in the temperate climes of south west Uk.” Let’s see what he is up to these days.

Lee Hodges (LH):  I’m luckily very busy at the moment (so I hope it lasts!), I have been working at creating a series of posters for kids activities for the RHS gardens, a few editorials too. I have been creating a lot of gig posters for music nights (including my own) and album covers, plus some really big jobs which I can’t tell you about right now…just keep looking…all in all I absolutely love it.

ST: Nice!  Well, you are keeping me on my toes with all the good stuff that you are making!  Your illustrations are wonderful.  Your posters alone make me want to go to the events!  What’s the concept development process like for you when designing posters for these places?

Panama Cardoon - Hasta La Wiggle An album front cover for Panama Cardoon, the music is very latin, tropical feeling, so I went for a Jaguar roaring, coming out of the jungle!

Panama Cardoon – Hasta La Wiggle
An album front cover for Panama Cardoon, the music is very latin, tropical feeling, so I went for a Jaguar roaring, coming out of the jungle!

LH: Thanks, that’s very kind. It’s often the title or subject matter that gives me the ideas, for my own gigs I create my own title or subject matter, which is great fun. For other peoples gigs they usually have a subject and title which then inspires the imagery. For the Spring party poster that was inspired by the Jamaican ghosts called ‘Duppies’ and a particular editorial job I did recently about them, so I thought I’d channel the imagery and ideas into the Spring Party, which has a Tropical theme. I usually chuck on some great Tropical tunes to get in the mood as well!

ST: Ah that makes perfect sense- take inspiration from words to images and vice versa.  When designing your illustrations do you first sketch in pencil?  What is your artistic process?

LH: Yea, I generally squiggle in pencil and develop them from there, adding in colour as I go along, sometimes if the idea is really clear I just jump in and create a finished piece without sketching!

ST: Just go with your gut! Your images have a special feeling to them- like I want to touch them and I’ll find paint all over my hands!  What mediums do you create in?


Day of the Dead Poster – This was for one of my own big nights which we do every year, this idea was to capture the music and feel of the festival and the night.

LH: Funnily enough, it’s predominantly digital, my aim however is too make it look as un-digital as possible, but I use a drawing tablet and try to create a screen – printed, warm feel to my images, that have a fun, vibrant edge to them. I am working more and more at applying these techniques out of the digital realm however, which is how I started.

ST: How did you get started with illustrating?  Was this what you had always set out to do?  So curious about your path!

LH: I have always drawn and been very creative, it was and is my first love. Being an artist is right at the very core of who I am, it’s just a question of channeling all that creativity in the right direction. I have been illustrating for the last few years but it’s only recently that I have decided to give it all of my focus and I’m loving it. I am a very curious person so I have tried and experimented with many different mediums over the years, including film design/animation. It’s important to try new things and experiment with your work, by doing that you are able to apply something unique to your work.

ST: So lovely to hear that art is your first love.  You two belong together!  Who are some artists that inspire you?  What about them do you like?

LH: I like lots of different artists for different reasons…I have always loved Picasso for his versatility and sheer output of images! I love street art, particularly Os Gemeos, when I was in Argentina and Chile, most of the pictures I took were of street art! I often go through phases of liking different artists or something I see of theirs jumps out at me and inspires me, I really like Eduardo Munoz Bachs the Cuban poster artist at the moment.


The Bellman – This is one of my images from the Hunting of the Snark. I have tried to make this fun, colourful and intriguing…It is illustrating the line – “The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies – Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face! ”

ST: When you are not drawing or creating, what do you like to do?  Any games you like to play?

LH: I like to take my imagination on long walks! Generally being anywhere near the sea, up and around the wilds of the South west, I love the raw energy of the coastline especially Cornwall, which is where I am from.
I love watching films too, weird and wonderful films, short ones, long ones. I also run a club/arts night which entails making props for the gigs, crazy interactive inventions and most importantly DJ-ing, I Dj quite a lot and run a Radio show every two weeks.

ST: I can hear the music in your illustrations too!  Who encouraged you to be artistic when you were a child?

LH: Well, no-one really gave me direct encouragement, it was just something I did, loved and kept at, supported by words of encouragement when I had shown my work to my parents.

ST: Well, now you have a whole fan club supporting you! Scribble Town and beyond :).  How is your project of illustrating Hunting the Snark coming along?  You are right- Tove Jansson’s version is great!  What are you hoping to bring into your pictures?

The Jub Jub Bird - Another one of my ‘Hunting of the Snark’ images, this is the Jub Jub bird. This is the line from the book - “As to temper the Jubjub’s a desperate bird, Since it lives in perpetual passion:Its taste in costume is entirely absurd—It is ages ahead of the fashion:

The Jub Jub Bird – Another one of my ‘Hunting of the Snark’ images, this is the Jub Jub bird. This is the line from the book – “As to temper the Jubjub’s a desperate bird, Since it lives in perpetual passion:Its taste in costume is entirely absurd—It is ages ahead of the fashion:

LH: It’s a great and crazily surreal book, it’s almost an artists dream to illustrate! It’s a little on hold at the moment as I have been busy with other work, being a personal project it has been put to the back for a bit. I’m hoping that I am bringing  my own interpretation to it, imagining it with a colourful south american twist, almost like lost explorers discovering a strange land….

ST: I’m looking forward to seeing that in the future!  For now, any last minute tips for our Scribblers?

LH: Tips – Experiment, play – make a mess! Use your sketchbook as a scrapbook too, fill it with colour, ideas. I love to listen to music when I work, it really helps you get into the mood! Think out of the box…!

ST: Will do! The mess in on. Everybody, have a look at Lee Hodges website at  Thanks so much Lee!

Tropical Pressure festival - A poster for a Tropical music festival in Cornwall. All hand written type, as a lot of my work is, it adds a personal touch and holds the image together. I like to think of the type as an image too, letters that bounce and jump around in the image.

Tropical Pressure festival – A poster for a Tropical music festival in Cornwall. All hand written type, as a lot of my work is, it adds a personal touch and holds the image together. I like to think of the type as an image too, letters that bounce and jump around in the image.

Amanda Seyderhelm’s 7 tips for artists

Small painting. Copyright Amanda Seyerdelm

Small painting. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Artists are always full of ideas and feelings.  Sometimes there are just so many of them! Play therapist, artist and author Amanda Seyderhelm gives us 7 activities for us to get the most from our creativity and artwork.

1. Cut pieces of card into strips, and write down one word on each strip – a word that evokes a feeling from a painting you have chosen, or one you have painted yourself. Stick these words into your Journal. Keep a jar full of card strips at the ready!

2. Regularly sort your paintings and drawings into themes: colours, sizes, shapes, places, people. The act of sorting functions on both a physical and emotional level, and helps to categorise your memories associated with these themes. This makes it easier to link between the memories – like creating a huge art journal in your mind!

3. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out! Keep your bin handy. If articles and research are now longer necessary because you’ve either used it, or moved on, chuck this out.

4. Create a unique filing system for your research. I work on several projects at the same time: writing my adult books, collecting images and ideas for my children’s books, and idea for workshops, and keep separate files for each one. They link up in my big vision, but need to be separate while I am in research mode.

5. If you collect postcards like I do, store these in a treasured pot or basket. I keep mine in an African bowl that I bought on a trip to South Africa. Each time I look at this bowl I am reminded of that place. This is one of my sacred anchors. Whenever you feel stuck for inspiration, look at one of your postcards, and let your mind free associate for 5 minutes. Write down your feelings, and see what ideas pop up there.

6. Organising, sorting and storing are three of the most sacred acts in the creative process. Make this a regular habit.

7. Chaos comes before order! Allow yourself time to sit amongst your work – laying mine out on the floor allows me to literally sit with myself and my work. This is a meditative practice, so don’t rush it. Expect to feel strong emotions, and recognise that this practice is as vital to your sacred work as the work itself.

Tree. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Tree. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Children will often move directly to the art table in my play room, and wordlessly create images that over time, express the heartbreak they are feeling and don’t have the language for. Through these images I see a glimpse of this heartbreak.

The key with art therapy is to allow the child the space to create their own images in whatever form and colours they choose. I am not directing them to draw in a particular way, nor am I interested in their technique. What I am interested in is which colour they choose for their images, and what their movement is like while they are painting, and also what I am feeling as their therapist while they paint. It’s my job in the play room to bear (often in silence) what they find unbearable, and say through their paintings. Afterwards, some of these paintings affect me, move me, which is what they are designed to do. That is what they child is feeling herself.

I am in awe of children who want to draw and paint images over time, carefully and thoughtfully, and sometimes angrily, for they are speaking up for the child about issues they find difficult to put into words.

At its heart art therapy will guide you and your children on a personal path of personal growth, insight, healing and transformation. Doing art therapy is liberating because through the body of work created, the child is creating a powerful narrative of their life, which in turn gives them access to feelings and insights they will have been struggling with and often suppressing. The paintings become safe containers for these feelings.

Thanks Amanda!

Songlines V. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Songlines V. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Posted by Andi Thea, on September 13th, 2014 at 10:50 am. No Comments

Category: kids,Scribble Picks,Uncategorized Labels: , , , , ,

Scribble Artist Interview with Amanda Seyderhelm!

Scribble Town (ST): We are so happy that Amanda Seyderhelm is here with us today!  Amanda Seyderhelm is the author of two books, and the creator of Helping Children Smile Again,

Alltherage. copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Alltherage. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Amanda Seyderhelm (AS): Hi! I use play and the creative art therapies to help children aged 5-10 yrs find their voice, rebuild their attachment, and increase their emotional resilience following trauma (loss and bereavement, parents divorcing, parents who are ill, and bullying.)

ST: Wow! You do so much for the community through the arts and play therapy! Where are you all located and what are you up to these days?

AS: I live and work in the UK, in the smallest historic county called Rutland. At the centre of Rutland is the large artificial reservoir, Rutland Water, which is an important nature reserve for Ospreys. I moved here 3 years ago from London to be in the country.  I am studying part-time for my Masters in Practice-Based Play Therapy, while building my private practice. I specialise in loss and bereavement, and work with children aged 5-10 yrs of age on a one-to-one basis, and in small groups, in Schools and Hospitals. I write children’s books, and lecture and train practitioners, family care workers, social workers, teachers, teaching assistants and parents, on the role of therapeutic storytelling in building a child’s emotional resilience. Within this teaching, is the lesson for adults to recover their own lost inner-child, so my teaching style is integrated and holistic. Contented parents create contented children!

ST: How did you come up with the idea for your book, “Isaac and the Red Jumper”?

Isaac and the Red Jumper by Amanda Seyderhelm

Isaac and the Red Jumper by Amanda Seyderhelm

AS: The idea originally came to me in 2001, the year before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Looking back, I see that the idea was a premonition of some of the issues I would face myself regarding my own mortality and healing, and of my 2nd career as a Play Therapist and therapeutic storyteller. I woke up one morning with the story in my head, and wrote it down. I edited it over the years when I realised that children process loss and bereavement differently from adults. Using a therapeutic story gives bereaved children a non-confrontational way to access their feelings and grief by identifying with the character in the story.  Parents learn to develop empathy with their child when they read the book with their child, and use the questions at the back of the book. The questions provide openings and prompts for those conversations that are so important, but often difficult to begin. Before my Mother died in 2012, I published and dedicated the book to her. I donate 10% of the book’s proceeds to TreeTops Hospice who cared for my Mother at home.

ST: What exactly does it mean to be an Art Therapist and Play Therapist for children and families.  I’m so curious about your methods.

Art Therapy in action. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Art Therapy in action. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: During my cancer journey, I was introduced to art therapy, and was taught by three gifted art therapists. Regular practice introduced me to the idea that when words cannot be found, images will tell the story. Painting bypasses the critical left brain, and taps directly into our creative, intuitive right brain, so we can enjoy a direct connection with our true voice, and develop our soul’s narrative. I have continued to paint, experiment and develop my art practice, and teach expressive art workshops, sometimes adapting these for children with special learning needs. It’s interesting that the children in my practice are all drawn to painting, and over the course of the 12 weeks that I work with them, they reveal their emotional faces through their paintings. Sometimes they start by making abstract marks on the paper, and gradually move towards a clearer and more defined image, which reflects their renewed clarity and emotional definition.

Play Therapy is a form of counseling or psychotherapy that uses play to communicate with and help children, to prevent or resolve psychosocial challenges. This is thought to help them towards better social integration, growth and development. In my one-to-one work I practice non-directed Play Therapy, which is a child-centred approach, founded by Virginia Axline. The child is free to choose any toy in my Play Therapy toolkit, which includes sand tray, therapeutic storytelling, music, drama and movement, painting and drawing, puppets, masks and clay, and through these express their feelings, and find new ways of coping, and building internal resources, and emotional resilience.

During my group play therapy work, I choose a theme for each group, and create a directed set of exercises for the group to complete, that involves them using some elements of the Play Therapy Kit. At the heart of all group work is the notion of the journey each child will take to reach the goal. Group work is particularly useful for helping children gain confidence and social skills.

Collaboration 2. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

This collaboration shows how Amanda’s art process has been adapted for working with special needs children. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

At the centre of all my non-directed and directed work is the intention of building a strong attachment with the child. When this is established, the child will show me their inner world, and together we play, and they begin to recover their creativity, vitality and integrity, so they can learn to:

accept themselves

respect boundaries

understand their feelings

express their emotions safely

be responsible for their actions

be creative in confronting problems

establish self-control and self-direction.

ST: How did you get involved with play therapy?  I wonder what your path has been like.  Your artistic nature probably lends to this practice really well.

Cradling. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Cradling. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: When I was 16, I read Virginia Axline’s classic book, DIBS: in search of self, about an emotionally damaged little boy, whose parents and school teachers believed was mentally damaged because he refused to interact, and conform socially. Over the course of 18 months, DIBS had weekly Play Therapy sessions with Axline, and was transformed into a talkative, engaging, and socially adept child. The book made a huge impact on me, so much so that I stayed up all night reading it! So, I always knew that at some point I wanted to practice as a Play Therapist, and my first career in Publishing set me up well because through that I have developed my interest in storytelling. The other book I read which influenced me was The Drama of Being a Child by Alice Miller. Miller challenges conventional child rearing and education, and shows how many children have adapted to the needs and ambitions of their parents, and essentially lost the capacity to express their true feelings. This struck a chord with me, and since then I have been on a mission to help children and adults recover that lost connection with themselves.

ST: You have found your calling! Was there somebody that encouraged you to become a therapist?  Your creativity shows through in your books and I’m sure at school and in sessions!

AS: My personal therapeutic work revealed my path, and various teachers and colleagues have highlighted this as well. Some would say it is an obvious choice for me, as I am deeply curious about how people connect to themselves and others, and sustain themselves creatively. My early life in South Africa has influenced me deeply because of the level of trauma I witnessed children and families experiencing during the apartheid regime. Like most therapists, I have a need to encourage healing and transform suffering, and I believe through play and the creative arts I am able to make a contribution to that.

Conception. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Conception. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

ST: What was your favorite toy or game as a child?  Why?

AS: Storytelling and drama! I am an only child, and was always creating and directing plays at school! I also had invisible friends, something which is common with only children, and this gave me access to a vivid and creative imagination.

ST: Your brain is probably a library of art techniques!  Is there one that you particularly like to use?

AS: I am fond of using the no brush technique to create images that look abstract, but which contain patterns and clues that expand one’s consciousness. The process allows images to emerge, and like meditation, enables the artist to shift from trying to be creative, to simply being creative. Painting in this state, creates paintings which are often surprising, and yet also a reflection of the possibility within our own emotional and spiritual nature. Using this technique I will paint up to 30 small paintings at one sitting. I then choose one or two paintings, and stand these on my bookshelves where I can see them. Over time, the paintings will reveal ideas and clues that unlock a problem or question I have, and I find this therapeutic and inspiring.

ST: Any last tips on creativity?  Any advice on how one can express themselves or develop their ideas is appreciated.

Cromford3:6. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm

Cromford3:6. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

AS: Here are my recommendations for nurturing your creative process:

I believe that if we nurture our intuition and body wisdom, we are rewarded with insights that automatically guide us, which enables us to reduce our dependence on external approval. One of my most insightful moments came after a period of deep meditation. My daily sitting practice enabled me not only listen to, but also hear what my body was telling me. In this case, the message was to have surgery. That surgery saved my life.

Noise pollution, stress, and general life busyness keep us from being able to listen to our inner voice, but what if your life depended on you listening more? What if everything you needed to know was available, if you could only learn to listen?

So what can we do to turn the volume down, so we can hear our intuitive voice?

Meditation works for some people, but it doesn’t work for everyone. I have friends who can’t meditate, and who have found other ways of ‘tuning in’, like gardening, or pottering as one friend calls it! It really is about finding the way that works for you. Don’t beat yourself up if meditation isn’t your thing.

Walking is a great way of getting into your physical body, and switching your analytical mind off. The act of moving forwards tells your brain to settle down, and allows you to pay attention to your surroundings. Pretty soon, you are hearing the birdsong, the traffic, dogs barking, your feet crunching on leaves. It won’t be long before your mind track changes away from, ‘must get back and do that email’ to, ‘I wonder what would happen if …’ I’ve solved some of my biggest challenges by walking, and been rewarded with some inspirational ideas simply because I’ve given myself permission to listen differently. Try 30 minutes every day.

Heartsore. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Heartsore. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Write your questions down. I have a jam jar on my desk that contains strips of coloured card. Next to it is another jar full of my favourite coloured pens. Before I close my office each day, I write my question on a card strip and paste it onto my cork board, or stick it into my Creative Notebook. This act triggers my sub-conscious to start processing the answer. I then let go of needing to know because I trust that the answer will pop into my head, I don’t need to chase it around my mind.

Eat mindfully. Slowly. One bite at a time.

Inspire yourself.Take yourself out on what Julia Cameron calls an Artist Date. This can be anything from seeing a movie during the day, visiting an art gallery, and going rollerskating! The only rule is you must go alone on your date. Dates top up your creative tank, so you aren’t living on empty.

Then wait for the insights. They will come, just be ready to catch them….

ST: As Amanda already mentioned 10% of her book proceeds go to TreeTops Hospice. She also donates 10% of her memoir book, Coming to My Senses: Finding My Voice Through Ovarian Cancer, proceeds to Ovarian Cancer Action Charity. Thank you Amanda for sharing all your wisdom and kindness!

Ode to my Mother. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Ode to my Mother. Copyright Amanda Seyderhelm.

Scribble Artist Interview with Anna Hancock!

Anna Hancock with one of her niece at Chatsworth House. Anna says, "We were looking at a baby goat!  I love spending time with my nieces!"

Anna Hancock with her niece at Chatsworth House. Anna says, “We were looking at a baby goat! I love spending time with my nieces!”

Scribble Town (ST): A big hearty hello to Anna Hancock!  Her wonderful illustrations bring 2D images life and personality.  Let’s see how she does it!

Anna Hancock (AH): I am an English designer and illustrator, creating mostly digital imagery for the publishing and graphic design industries. For the last eight years I have worked from my home office but prior to that I freelanced in many design agencies in Australia and the UK. These busy and evolving environments gave me experiences, skills and a wealth of knowledge to support this latest independent chapter of my life.  My style lends itself to children’s illustration and character development, but I receive a diverse variety of commissions from clients locally and overseas.

ST: You’ve seen a lot, which probably gives you first hand insight and a special kind of empathy for your designing and illustrating.  Where are you now?

AH: I am currently living and working in the beautiful Peak District. I have two personal Greyhound assistants – Greta and Belle – who see to it that I get out twice a day (at least) for some exercise and fresh air. Summer seems to be the busiest time of the year for me and it’s on sunny days, like today, that I dream of having a garden office.

Here is Greta, Anna's greyhound PA! Greta and Belle are Anna's rescued retired greyhounds. She says, "I am a volunteer for Greyhound Rescue West of England. I am part of the re-homing team in my area. Outside of my work, this is what I am most passionate about."

Here is Greta, Anna’s greyhound PA! Greta and Belle are Anna’s rescued retired greyhounds. She says, “I am a volunteer for Greyhound Rescue West of England. I am part of the re-homing team in my area. Outside of my work, this is what I am most passionate about.”

ST: Working in the garden sounds like a dream! How do you come up with your designs? I can imagine that the garden easily allows your mind to grow.

AH: For both design and illustration work, I first of all absorb the brief from the client. If there is any ambiguity, I like to re-write the brief and send it back for them to ensure that I have understood fully and that we are all in agreement of the direction to take. If it’s a design job, I like if at all possible, to ‘live’ with the commission for a day or two (or more if I am lucky) to allow it to settle into my consciousness. And during that time I will do a little visual research creating a mood board that I may or may not share with the client – it’s purpose being to help me focus. (It’s easy to get distracted with random thoughts and left field ideas, and although these thoughts are valid, you can sometimes get lost in a maze of irrelevant concepts).

Umbongo illustrates Anna's packaging and range extension expertise.  "Umbongo, Umbongo, they drink it in the Congo”! She says, "I was asked by a Design Consultancy in the UK to produce 3 additional characters for a new flavour of UmBongo Juice Drink to join the Hippo, Rhino and snake in some jungle fun. They also required designs for a double fronted tetra pack."

Umbongo illustrates Anna’s packaging and range extension expertise. “Umbongo, Umbongo, they drink it in the Congo”! She says, “I was asked by a Design Consultancy in the UK to produce 3 additional characters for a new flavour of UmBongo Juice Drink to join the Hippo, Rhino and snake in some jungle fun. They also required designs for a double fronted tetra pack.”

I used to make mood boards with magazines, scissors and glue – these days I use Pinterest! I always begin with pencil sketches and notes, getting those ideas down as quickly as I am thinking them. After a break I will return to those first ideas and distill them into concepts that will both challenge and meet the client’s expectations. Once the client has established which direction they wish to go in, I begin the development work investigating fonts and colour and turning the pencil sketches into digital visuals. There are usually some changes to be made before finally producing the print ready artwork. I am happy to provide simple artwork, but prefer to outsource anything complicated to a finished artist specialist. If it’s an illustration commission, the process is pretty similar. Lots of pencil sketches and if the project is a large one, I like to provide a sample final illustration so that there aren’t any surprises at the end. I can’t think of anything worse than having to re-do dozens of images because the client wasn’t comfortable with the style! Similarly if there is a character or characters running throughout, I get them drawn and approved before I begin adding them to multiple compositions.

ST: Perhaps you get some feedback from your fans on Pinterest too.  Was there somebody that encouraged you to become an artist?

AH: Walking to school one day, aged 10, I had a bit of a junior freak out about doing a 9-5 job in an office or factory. A few years later my sisters and I befriended a neighbour who worked as a graphic designer in a shed at the bottom of her garden. From the outside it was just a regular shed. Inside it was a haven of creativity, packed with books and art and packaging samples. It was a very stimulating environment and I was very lucky to be invited to work alongside her – a kind of work experience. This is without doubt the beginning of my career.

Front cover of 'Wibbly Wobbly Tooth'. One of many books Anna has illustrated for the ‘Engage Literacy’ series - distributed through Hinkler Education in the USA.

Front cover of ‘Wibbly Wobbly Tooth’. One of many books Anna has illustrated for the ‘Engage Literacy’ series – distributed through Hinkler Education in the USA.

ST: Those experiences and revelations were really life changing moments!  And here you are making it happen.  Before that happened though, what is your first memory of being creative?

AH: I remember drawing a picture of my dad’s shed which sat at the bottom of our garden (well I never – I see a theme developing here!).

I must have been about 6. I took it into school the next day to show the teacher who told me off for lying and for passing off someone else’s work off as my own. When my mum came to collect me, the teacher mentioned what had happened and was made to eat humble pie when my mum confirmed I had indeed drawn this picture. She apparently thought a grown up had done it! I can also remember the smell of the powder paint we used at Nursery!

Sample inside spread of 'Wibbly Wobbly Tooth'.

Sample inside spread of ‘Wibbly Wobbly Tooth’.

ST: Sheds really are a running theme with you!  Maybe because they house tools and are places for people to experiment and get involved with their passion.  Gotta love those coincidences life offers.  Who inspires you the most among contemporary designers?

AH: Not necessarily contemporary – artists and printmakers like Sarah Young, Angie Lewin and the late Edward Bawden. There is a lady whose typography and pattern I love – she works under the pseudonym of ‘Inkymole’. Their work is both strong and graphic, whilst simultaneously being delicate and painterly! I love the pattern and the colours and could happily fill my walls with their work and not get tired of seeing it. In fact I have a Sarah Young screen print that I purchased over 12 years ago and I still get pleasure from looking at it on my bedroom wall every day.

ST: Hmm I wonder if they, too, have a shed story.  When you are creating your designs, who do you think about? Do you think about your audience or do you sometimes use yourself as the potential buyer?

AH: Whether I am illustrating or designing there is always a target market. Understanding that audience is the key to a successful result, so it does help if I happen to be that target consumer!

Silver Peacock - new brand identity. Here is an example of a job where Anna was exactly the target market. She says, "I was in fact a regular customer before I was her designer. The client was emotionally attached to her old logo and had to be very brave when commissioning me. This in turn meant that I felt under quite a bit of pressure to deliver something special. I am pleased to say that both myself and the client are very happy with the outcome and she has recently asked me to design some fabric for a limited edition range of collars."

Here is an example of a job where Anna was exactly the target market. She says, “I was in fact a regular customer before I was her designer. The client was emotionally attached to her old logo and had to be very brave when commissioning me. This in turn meant that I felt under quite a bit of pressure to deliver something special. I am pleased to say that both myself and the client are very happy with the outcome and she has recently asked me to design some fabric for a limited edition range of collars.”

When I am illustrating for children I like to immerse myself in their culture to ensure I have an understanding of what engages small people. Fortunately I enjoy watching children’s films and cartoons and my bookshelves are full of picture books. I know a lot of teaching professionals whose brains I can pick, as well as a wide circle of friends and their children.

ST: Where do you find yourself feeling inspired to create? Is there a different creative process for when you are illustrating as opposed to brand designing?

AH: Ideas and the desire to put them down on paper can spring up at anytime. I rarely feel like ‘creating’ when I go on holiday; I prefer to go somewhere and just enjoy the moment of being there. To give my eyes and brain a rest from evaluating the aesthetic. Taking a break is often the key to solving a creative problem or being inspired. Whether it’s a short dog walk in the park or a week by the sea, taking some time out and giving your brain some space to be elsewhere often results in a renewed energy and a better understanding of what you are doing when you return to the drawing board – or in my case the computer.

I have recently been asked to illustrate a family of Robots - this is the sample on the website that won the commission.

I have recently been asked to illustrate a family of Robots – this is the sample on the website that won the commission.

ST: If you could be a colour, what would you be?

AH: I can’t decide! Oh – that’s like asking someone to choose between their children.  OK – White! White light is composed of all the colours of the spectrum. Is that cheating?

ST: Not at all! Any last tips on art making?

AH: Yes! Don’t be afraid of the paper – it’s just paper! Many people want to create a perfect something straight away and this actually prevents them from starting in the first place. Draw the subject over and over – do pages and pages of the same thing. Paint the scene in front of you repeatedly – each time you will notice something different and each image will be unique. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes – making mistakes is the creative process. Sounds a bit profound – but it’s true. Many a good idea has come out of an unexpected mark on a page! That’s a good philosophy for life as well!

ST: Thank you very much Anna!  Scribblers, to learn more about Anna, have a look at her website

Here is an example of how Anna's pencil sketches develop into final illustrations. The parrot was one of 4 animal characters for a series of interactive digital books  I'm inspired!

Here is an example of how Anna’s pencil sketches develop into final illustrations. The parrot was one of 4 animal characters for a series of interactive digital books.
I’m inspired!

Scribble Artist Interview with Sarah Saunders!

Scribble Town (ST): I can feel my hair blowing in the wind when I look at Sarah Saunders’ ceramic figures! There’s a familiar texture, a close calling for home, and a feeling for journey and adventure personally calls your name.  How does Sarah embody these visceral emotions in her artwork?

Sarah Saunders (SS): I am a figurative Ceramicist. I also work part-time as a lecturer at Doncaster College. I have been teaching ceramics for around 19 years now.

ST: You have been busy honing your craft!  When you are not teaching, what are you artistically working on these days?

I am currently working on figurative heads that have birds and various other animals perched precariously on their shoulders. I tend to make more ladies than men. This is because I enjoy the long flowing hair on the ladies.

ST: I think that even if you didn’t have long hair, one could relate to the feeling of being windblown. The hair looks like it’s drifting even if it’s still. How did you get started with your ceramic pieces?

SS: I started making figurative pieces whilst at university but back then I was making overweight ladies celebrating their bodies. I wanted to make their skin have lots of texture and look like slices of bacon. 533840_302665293172064_773639291_n[1]This technique was very frustrating as the ladies were very delicate. I had lots of disasters. I have changed my construction techniques considerably since then.

ST: We can learn so much from our mistakes!  With time our message evolves with our growth. What do you hope to communicate with your art?  From your website I see very stylized figures.  Who are they?

I just want people to like my art. It’s a bit of fun mixed with a pre-Raphaelite face. I want people to question why that person has a large bird on its shoulder or why that lady is holding a big fish. I like how people have their own stories for my pieces. The ladies were based and evolved from my daughter and the men from my husband.

ST: It’s true! When I look at these figures I start personalizing who they are in relation to my history. In a way, these are story starters. They seem a bit nautical to me so I always imagine adventures on boats and ships out on the great big sea.

Your sculptures have so much texture.  I just want to reach out and touch them!  What tools do you use to create this effect?

SS: I work with the clay as little as possible. By that I mean I bend the clay, cut the clay etc and do everything with simple shapes I try not to over model the clay. I draw on the clay, scratch the clay and use my finger marks to suggest texture in the hair. That’s it, nothing special really.

ST: Oh, you make it sound so easy 😉  Where do you get your inspiration from?

I like pre-Raphaelite paintings, I like the long noses, ruby red lips and long hair and I love people watching. I like seeing peoples body language and how we communicate to each other through our body and eyes etc

ST: Pre-Raphaelite paintings are also full of symbolism and storytelling. I see that connection in your sculptures as well. How old were you when you first started making art and who encouraged you to create?

I have always loved art, but I made my first ceramic pieces aged 11 with Mr Fishwick at Swinton Comprehensive in Yorkshire. He was a fantastic teacher along with Mr Brandam and they gave me the confidence to go onto university. I have a lot to thank them for.

ST: Teachers can have more influence than they get credit for. Thank you Sarah for sharing with us and thank you teachers for your encouragement! To see more work of Sarah Saunders, go to

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