THE SUNFLOWER SWORD
CHILDREN’S BOOKS GOLD AWARD
2011 – IMAGES 35
Miriam studied Illustration at UWE in Bristol, and have been illustrating children’s books ever since. She now works from her home in North Devon, which overlooks the sea. She has a love of quirky children’s books, especially French children’s books.
The winning image is from one of the children’s books that Miriam illustrated: The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring. It is a story of how knights and dragons make friends and how peace comes to the land. The image is the part of the story where our little hero befriends his rival…the big dragon!
“It is wonderful to have my work recognised and awarded. Not only has it been a great moral boost but my work has also received lots of publicity through the award.”
BRIEF: To Illustrate a storybook written by Mark Sperring for Anderson Press. The story is about a land filled with smoke and fire, and how peace comes to the land through the relationship of a boy and a dragon.
MATERIALS: Acrylic paint and coloured pencil on watercolour paper.
RESEARCH: There are a lot of ways in which people have drawn dragons in the past. I wanted my dragon to be fairly friendly looking, so I drew him again and again to strike the right balance between friendly and fearsome. I also drew our little hero many times too, experimenting with all sorts of outfits. I also drew the two main characters together many times to explore their relationship. The sunflower field was inspired by a trip I took to Romania many years ago where there were huge fields of sunflowers.
PROCESS: I did many pencil roughs of the image to get the composition correct. Then I went onto doing small colour roughs to see how the colour would sit. I then pencilled the image onto watercolour paper, and once I was happy with it, I started colouring it with acrylics and coloured pencils.
RESISTANCES: As the image was for a book, I had to make sure enough space would be left for the text, and that the text would be legible. The shadow of the dragon on the sunflower field was quite a challenge too. As well as the number of sunflowers to draw!
INSIGHT: Drawing mythical creatures and lands has to always come from the imagination. For me it is about letting my imagination wander and always carrying a sketchbook to jot down ideas.
DISTRACTIONS: Living on a hill overlooking the sea means that I spend a lot of time staring out of the window!
NUMBERS: 1 dragon, 1 boy, a handful of knights, a million sunflowers, and hopefully millions of books sold!
FINAL THOUGHTS: It has been one of my favourite book projects to work on. I thoroughly loved the story, and this winning image is to date the image I am most proud of.