10 Jul 2013

Picture Book Retreat

At the weekend Gerry and I went to tutor on a Picture Book Retreat organised by Bridget Strevens-Marzo and Anne-Marie Perks from SCBWI.

Photo by Bridget Strevens-Marzo

It was at Holland House, a wonderful place. I hope Mike Brownlow won't mind if I quote him here, he said it so well on his FB page:

'There were lots of nooks and crannies in the house, and lots of secret places in the garden to hide away and draw and write, or just to think. The public spaces were welcoming and friendly and there were areas like the den, where we could explore messier activities like lino-printing. The weather helped of course, but altogether it was an inspired choice!'

Photo by Mike Brownlow

There were talks, activities, and mentoring sessions all weekend.  Gerry gave a lino cutting demonstration. Lots of people went on to make some great images of their own, even some writers who'd never drawn before. 

This is Christine Pym  and Dave Gray (both writer illustrators) doing some lino cutting after Gerry's demonstration. 

Sarah Frost from Hodder, and Alice Bartosinski from Egmont came to give talks about picture books from a publishing perspective. Alice set us a task, she lay out 15 picture books and asked us to put them in order of sales. It was fascinating, trying to work out whether a Julia Donaldson sells more than a book with pants in the title. The ruthless reality!

I gave a talk on Rythme and Pacing, for me it was lovely excuse to get out a pile of my favourite books and read some of them aloud.

What an inspiring and unforgetable weekend, thank you to Bridget and Anne-Marie for organising it, and all the people who came. Let's do it again some time! In the mean time, here are some sketches I did there.


  1. As one of the original Retreat organisers I was so sorry I wasn't able to attend, I was very much looking forward to meeting you and Gerry. Sadly, it clashed with moving house.

    From all accounts it was a fabulous weekend though, many thanks Helen!

    1. Such a shame you weren't there, we'd love to have met you.

  2. Wow, this looks amazing! What a treat :) x