SCBWI (Gauteng) Illustrator’s Retreat with Korky Paul

Last weekend I flew up to Joburg to attend the SCBWI SA (Gauteng) Illustrator’s Retreat with renowned illustrator, Korky Paul (best know for illustrating Valerie Thomas’s Winnie the Witch books).

“Retreat” was maybe the wrong word for the weekend, as one tends to associate retreats with relaxation and escape and this was neither – but we all knew up front what we were in for as the schedule that was emailed out before hand was jam packed from morning to night with presentations, instruction, and drawings tasks; and the lists of materials to bring with was not short! We worked flat out for 3 days solid, plotting our own stories into page breaks, drawing up roughs and finally creating a watercolour artwork for one full size spread; all lead by Korky Paul, who is a wealth of knowledge, encouragement, and good humour. I really enjoyed his entertaining stories which he generously shared with us over meal times and into the evenings.

The highlight for me was watching Korky demo his process from start to finish. His drawings are mind-blowing, and truly inspiring with the amount of detail and quirkiness that seems to come so easily to him.

Korky Paul demonstrating his process – drawing it out with ink.
Korky Paul demonstrating his process – watercolour painting.

For anyone who is curious, the Guardian has a great article which sums up Korky Paul’s illustration process and covers parts of what he taught us on the weekend: https://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/gallery/2015/mar/24/korky-paul-how-to-illustrate-books .

It was also a real treat to see Korky’s actual roughs and revisions of spreads from one of his published Winnie books. He typically redraws a spread out in full, about four times, fine-tuning it further with every iteration.

To top off the weekend, we were each gifted a Winnie book from his publisher! *Happy dance*.  My autographed copy of Winnie in Space below, with a hand-drawn Winnie on the left-hand page:

My autographed copy of “Winnie in Space”
Gorgeous spread from “Winnie in Space”.

Thank you Jenny Hatton of SCBWI SA for organising such a fantastic and valuable weekend! More pics from the weekend on the SCBWI Facebook page.

SCBWI Gauteng members with Korky Paul – a really fun and talented group of artists and authors!
SCBWI (Gauteng) Illustrator’s Retreat with Korky Paul