Peter Carnavas Goes to the Sandcliffe Writers Festival

Writers are always looking for new skills and ideas. To this end I’ve been to dozens of workshops, seminars and artist talks, perhaps ten in the last twelve months. Peter Carnavas writes and illustrates picture books, and has numerous titles under his belt. His workshop at last year’s Sandcliffe Writers Festival was one of the most valuable workshops I have ever attended.
I have paid for workshops in which presenters wasted an hour or more allowing participants to ask questions or ramble on about their projects, but in the space of a few hours Peter tackled getting started, getting published, illustration and composition, use of language, character and motivation, narrative structure, the word-picture relationship and the difference between theme and moral. We copied characters he drew on the board—a tried and tested technique—and studied the great variety of books he distributed among us by way of example. Then Peter shared his approach to making storyboards.
I know what you’re thinking—that’s about four workshops, and much of it relates to any kind of writing—and you’d be right; the workshop included practical information that can be applied to writing picture books and to other aspects of the author life, not least being the demonstration of presentation techniques. Peter commenced the afternoon by saying, ‘Draw a cartoon of your own face.’ We all shrank inside. He added, ‘With your eyes closed.’ It was astounding how much freedom that one simple suggestion bestowed. Instantly, we picked up our pencils and drew. Because we couldn’t see. It was all downhill from there. What a great technique; drawing lesson and ice-breaker in one.
Peter shared his experience and resources with warmth and generosity; participants went home with drawings, a handout and a sample storyboard. The Sandcliffe Festival and Peter Carnavas’ picture-book workshop were free. Life doesn’t get much better than that.


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