James Foley – Writing and Illustrating Picture Books – Adult program

Sunday 13 September – Story by Rachelle Sadler

When I heard that James was unwell and it was uncertain whether he could present on Sunday at the Story Arts Festival, I was more than a little disappointed (and concerned for his health, of course)! I was anticipating his session ‘Writing and Illustrating Picture Books’ based on the perspective and wisdom of an accomplished author/illustrator.

James Foley plan

Thankfully, in spite of illness James presented his session, starting with the basics of picture book story styles. With each type he included examples of picture books written in that style. For example, ‘There was an old lady’ is a classic cumulative structure and ‘Ten little monkeys’ is written in de-cumulative structure.

James shared some general tips for picture book texts including:

  • Write about things you can be bothered drawing
  • You don’t have to write it if the pictures can show it
  • Read the text out loud – it should flow with no clunks
  • Only write in rhyme if you’re really good at it

He then discussed the publishing process and what it involved for his debut picture book ‘The Last Viking’. He described how illustration ideas can evolve and showed some spreads from the planning process for this book.

James Foley the-last-viking-returns-cover-500px

James then went into great detail regarding the principles of visual literacy as seen in the photo:

James Foley visual literacy

It was fascinating to see these at play in his illustrations in his upcoming picture book ‘My Dead Bunny’ by Sigi Cohen. He drew our attention to the size and shape of characters, the point of view for each illustration and the reasons behind these, how a single colour with shades of black and white effectively create tension and set the scene, how our eyes ‘read’ a spread and why illustrations are drawn in the layout to account for this, and how images and text work together to complement each other.

James Foley my dead bunny

James discusses some of these on his blog. If you’d like to know more, check out his website at http://jamesfoley.com.au/

For more on body language: http://jamesfoley.com.au/2015/08/18/drawing-on-body-language/

and how he developed the characters: http://jamesfoley.com.au/2015/07/28/meet-the-cast-of-my-dead-bunny-part-1/

Bio for Rachelle Sadler

Rachelle is a Brisbane based author. Read more of her blogs and find out more about her at http://www.rachellesadler.com


One response to “James Foley – Writing and Illustrating Picture Books – Adult program

  1. Reblogged this on James Foley and commented:
    Back in September I gave a presentation for adults at the Ipswich StoryArts Festival, on the process of writing and illustrating picture books. Thanks to Rachelle Sadler for the write-up on my session.

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