Turning words into pictures

Getting in touch with my inner child!


Starting this exercise in my sketchbook with “Don’t be concerned about the accuracy of your drawing or the prettiness of it”, pretty much on my mind. I just started drawing with a normal pencil and as if I was doing a spider diagram I doodled the object that came to mind. I have picked travel as my keyword and just went with it, at first mainly quick basic sketches that are almost childlike. While doing this, I ended up creating these very quick doodles into a scene!

Let me explain how I came to “getting carried away” in that moment.


On the first page that I sketched out I opted to avoided erasing any work and I doodled the things that came to my mind, which were planes, cars, boats and trains – all modes of transport, thinking later I could always go into more detail on each item later on.
Next was a “doodled version” of the suitcase – which later became an idea to explore more and even making!

My emotions doing this was very childlike, I was almost back in time with the feeling of drawing as child and that carried on to the next page. (See top image) I created a road, mountains around the modes of transport and I guess I wanted to take whole vibe of doodled and place within picture. On these page I was drawing like a child again, I even ended up getting my coloured pencils and ended up putting together this double page illustration, I got carried away in the moment, in the mood and really had a lot of fun doing so,
The result is very very different from my normal work!


“Every idea will benefit from being interrogated and challenged”

OCA – Key steps in illustration

I also take this is ideas/feeling are worth exploring, even if a little note/sketch to come back to a later date. I know that when on a project you cannot go down all the rabbit holes with ideas and need to stick to the limits of a brief. I’m also using each exercise in key step in illustration to push my limits, raise my own bar and explore my illustration style/thought process. In turn, I will hopefully gain the means to fine-tune and polish my projects, ideas and artwork.


Not wanting to ignore the exercise main objective, I backtracked once this out of my system, so, back to the word travel!
Realizing I had messed up my spacing in my sketchbook, I needed to add a page in my sketchbook. While still feeling quite creative, I ended up making a suitcase, which cut to into shape and painted to look like a suitcase (both sides) and it open into a page witch shows my black & white illustrated contents of a suitcase.

To help with drawing the words I had pictured myself packing a suitcase, trying not to forget items I would need to take on holiday or traveling aboard and drew as I thought of the items.

Now, I really wanted to explore a scene on the train, I closed my eyes and pictured my eyes moving around the train and quickly drew the items I see from memory, so far apart from writing this learning post as I go along, I wanted to push these sketches a little more and will work on a digital version as well.

Another reason for wanting to do a bit of this exercise digital is I can easily reuse these items, build up my own stock/clip art images for future reference.

OCA on the train
Digital quick sketch based on the word travel, thinking of traveling on a train.
Pictured all the items I could see.

This image I used flat colours, two layers and one brush.
I did this quickly and tried to make the eyes follow a “wave” with just enough space not to overwhelm or underwhelm a viewer.
I could have done with the seat looking more like a seat, more of a square for the bottom part.

This exercise reminds me of one of my first ever skillshare classes, which may have been one “the” of the classes that led me down this whole learning route all the way to now finding myself studying at the Open College of Arts.
It was by Yuko Shimizu called “learning to draw – A mindset, method and exercises”. The exercises 5A and 5B called drawing from memory can directly relate to “turning words into pictures”. So since this class I’ve have been pretty much drawing every day, even at one point keeping a visual day to day to day diary, drawing in cafes and just from life. Something I think helped me carry out this exercise.

“Trust your intuition.  That’s why you’re an artist.”

Yuko Shimizu

While I did not explore fully with textures within this exercises, it was something I was aware of like while moving my vision way around the train, texture of the curtains – Oil pastels / even collage of feeling. The smoothness of the table – Acrylic or pencil with a glossy varnish or even hi-carb/gloss finished inks. The seats feel matte, maybe a thick gouache dabbed on with a smudge. A guide dog with brushy fur by a dry bristle brush.


Up to this point I’ve relied upon my own visual memory. While I had being doing this exercise and the illustrations I had this huge sense of familiarly, is because I see this kind of technique a lot without realizing it? One of main places I could think I see this sort of thing is in children such as look inside, learning books and maybe doodle books.
In fact when I was younger there was a series of books that I was totally obsessed with by Richard Scarry books, more so the “busy town”. As a child I would find myself lost within the pages of these books for hours.
Maybe that’s the childlike link I first expressed in this exercise came directly from my subconscious visual memory all the way back to “Richard Scarry”, this may explain the reason I felt the need to put my pictures in a childlike illustration.
When Scarry was asked how old he was, he would reply he was five! I’ve got to say when I was first doodling for this exercise, that’s how old I easily could have felt. Even the method in which I wanted to colour digitally has a similar feel, just simple and loose.

Few things evoke childhood memories as powerfully as picture books.

Jenny Uglow – The Guardian

I was a little shocked at this and the felt a real emotional impact when I realized this whole exercise was a real memory throwback.
It’s really weird as I was going to link this exercise to the Usbornes books such as “look inside” series or even Nick Sharratts Tracey Beaker to be my possible illustrators of interest!
However it seems I had already source of inspiration!

Now I do find myself curious in just how deep does childhood memories influence the way an illustrator creates. This something I can explore throughout this course and my career as an illustrator.

While for all the purposes of this exercise, I am now concluding.
The actual objectives of the exercises I want to continue, push and explore more in-depth just to see where it will lead me. For this I know later on there is an exercise titled “your own work” and many others I can use this technique again.

I do feel I should have explored with textures, using something maybe like felt or newspaper, if I was to do differently I would very much include that.
This is one of them exercises I could easily carry on and on with, I feel this is something I will be doing a lot of as I really felt inspired by this as a “starting” point.
I will be taking this forward and be drawing like this in my sketchbook of every day items.

I do ask myself “should I have paid attention to the details” as I’m very childlike in this exercise.
Also is there more room for thinking “outside the box” should I have pushed more within the world travel?

Web links references, notes and bookmarks

Art & childhood memories

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