My First Zine!

Zines are like miniature magazines and can be on any topic that you want. They were originally developed as an alternative to main stream media and they have been in and out of popularity ever since. There are even zine events around the world. Zines are a way for anyone to share their story or their voice with other people. They can be made of anything and be of any quality, that freedom really appeals to the creative in me.

I have seen zines at various art fairs but I have never really looked at them properly. I honestly had no idea what they were until I watched a Youtube video by Holly Exley that really encouraged me to look more into it and to focus more on my artwork than on social media which is taking up more and more of my time.

After watching the video I ordered some zines from Folksy and Etsy from UK based artists. I also received my first zine from an art subscription box, Scrawlrbox.

Scawlrbox Zine comes with the subscription box.

I have had a great time receiving real post with the most amazing zines in, from creators and artists across the UK and I feel like this is something that I will continue to buy from now on. These are the ones that I have received so far.

I absolutely love them. They are all so different in size, in topic and in how the artists voice comes across loud and clear. They are all formatted differently from informational zines to stories and zines with no text at all. The freedom of zines is what has really struck me as special. It is amazing to receive such beautiful post, you can really feel how much care and attention has gone into each one. I would personally recommend every one of the five pictured zines, I was not disappointed by any of them. I am hoping that the artists will continue to create more zines in the future.

I discovered zines in my attempt to get off of social media more and really discover more about the artist that I follow online. I am happy to say that I have spent more time sat looking at all of these illustrations than I ever would of whilst scrolling through my phone and I will look at them over and over again. It has really helped me to feel more connected to the artists work that I have purchased from. It is also super exciting when they come with extras like stickers and badges which I was not expecting.

Feeling incredibly inspired and hoping to spread my own art work a little further than the social media algorithms will allow, I have worked on my first ever zine, Once Upon A Time. It is like a glimpse into my brain when I am trying to create, it is full of colour and makes next to no sense. I have collected watercolours, digital, pop-ups, sketches and photographs together to create what I hope is an explosion of excitement. My zine is now available for sale in my Folksy shop.

I also decided to add a little dino washi tape into every single zine by hand so you won’t know which dinosaur you are going to get.

I have printed a limited run of 50 and I will not be printing more of this zine but I really do want to make another one, so I am hoping that you will enjoy the artwork that I have compiled into Once Upon A time.

If you have a zine yourself or a recommendation for a zine you have enjoyed, please do let me know, I am on the search for more to increase my collection.

Thanks for reading,

Samantha x

Part Time Artist, Full Time Mum, All The Time Tea Drinker!

During term time I work full time hours illustrating and creating but during the school holidays my Webblings, Lilly and Harrison, come first. They are at an age where in all honesty they would be happy to stay in front of the screen for the whole entire holiday and not get bored but since we can finally go out, I didn’t want them to spend all week ruining their eyesight. I also struggle with sensory overload and two many screens on at once drives me slightly batty (and no they won’t be happy to watch the same thing, it is not worth the fight!)

Webb Family.

However all of that is easier said than done, I still have work to do and cannot afford to take every school holiday off of work and if I go more than a day without drawing I get almost as cranky as if I try to go a day without tea. So there has to be some balance.

Last week was half term and we are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful Devon and Cornwall coast and countryside. Now that we are allowed out we wanted to make the most of it and to hopefully create some memories for our Webblings. This blog post is a bit like a diary of what we got up to and how I managed to sprinkle a little creativity into it too.

Lilly is a figure skater and despite the worldwide issues that have meant our local rink is still closed, Lilly has continued to train and improve and is very eager to get back onto the ice as soon as possible. While she trains with her amazing coach, Debbie Marsh, the rest of us wonder around the woods and have a play on the skate park (Minus the skates or skateboard). Harry always takes some form of screen in case we need to stay in the car rather than get soggy in the rain but we do try to get out and walk around if it isn’t too muddy! Jamie was very confident getting to the top of the skate ramp but then not is much when it came to getting down. Luckily we managed to have no accidents on this journey.

I didn’t do any work on this day but days like this in the fresh air, watching my family have fun are days that make me feel more inspired. Walking around the woods is one of the main inspirations for my book Sass Feels Lonely. I think that the fresh air blows off the cobwebs and you start to generate new ideas. I always have my phone on me (a blessing and a curse) and I have filled my notes app with so many ideas or fragments of ideas whilst we have been on trips like this where it is too wet to sit and draw or paint.

On bank holiday Monday we were amazed to get an actual sunny bank holiday and we didn’t waste it. We got in the car (we have a red and white mini called Sally!) and headed to World Of Country Life in Exmouth. It was really amazing. We got to see a lot of the animals up close and they looked really well cared for, they had a lot of wide open spaces and the staff seemed to genuinely care for them. Harry has discovered one of my old point and shoot cameras and he spent a lot of the day snapping away at everything from vintage cars to baby goats. He even managed to get a few pictures of me too! We had a brilliant day and I highly recommend it if you are in the area.

As you can imagine it was a full on day and there was time for a game of ping pong with the husband but sadly no art. However on the way back we decided it would be rude to go all that way and not have chips on the beach so that is exactly what we did, followed by ice cream of course. Exmouth beach is very sandy and with the sun shining you could easily believe you were somewhere more tropical. I sat on the beach watching the Webblings play, Harry burying himself and Lilly making a TikTok and I managed to do a few doodles in my scrappy little sketchbook that I take everywhere. These are life drawings and gesture practice not intended as final images but the process of creating them has improved my art and I urge everyone artist or not to take a sketchbook with them and doodle every chance you get!

We also managed to visit family over the holiday and as I am from a big family we managed to have some very fun water fights and barbecues during the days. Lilly and Harrison managed to spend a lot of time in Nanny’s garden with their cousins, they painted rocks and canvases, drew on the path with chalk and bounced a lot on the trampoline. The nice weather was a real bonus. My five year old nephew Toby dared me to paint Nanny’s house and of course being his crazy aunty (he has plenty of sensible ones don’t worry) I got out my paints and a watercolour book that I carry with me and painted a stylised version of my mums house. Toby declared that I am “like an artist” which was one of the best compliments that I have ever had!

We spent the evenings watching Taskmaster mostly which the Webblings find hilarious. Some of the challenges are completely absurd and I love to hear what the Webblings would do to complete them if they were on the show. If you haven’t seen it then it isn for young children because some of the language isn’t great but for slightly bigger kids and adults it is great fun. During these TV sessions I managed to squeeze in a few hours of commission work, mostly for the amazing Nurture Programme and I am very lucky that they are incredibly patient working parents themselves who understand that things take a little longer during school holidays.

Sample of Connie for The Nurture Programme.

We were invited to meet up with one of my very best friends and her beautiful son to journey over the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall and visit Porfell Wildlife Park and Sanctuary and although it is a very small park it is very special because all of the animals have been rescued from the pet trade or other zoos. They have no breeding programme and are a real sanctuary for the animals in their care. It rained but we didn’t let that stop us. Harry was armed with his camera once more and we managed to see some adorable meerkats and amazing racoon dogs. It was a great morning out. We obviously needed hot chocolate to warm us up on the way home though!

To end the holiday it wouldn’t be a Webb holiday if we didn’t get up to the moors so on Sunday evening we took a spontaneous trip to Burrator Reservoir on Dartmoor, my favourite place in the world! The sun was shining and there were a lot of people around but we managed to find some secluded spots for a nice cup of tea and the perfect end to a wonderful week. It is Tuesday now and I am still exhausted. I am not a fan of the 6am alarm at all but I am glad that we made time to make memories with our Webblings before they are too old to want to do day trips with us. I will catch up with work I didn’t manage to complete this week but I won’t ever have the chance to catch up with the Webblings at this stage ever again. It is really important to me that they know that even though I work, and I am so blessed because I absolutely love my job, I will always down the paintbrushes for just a chance to spend time with them!

I did manage to get my Kuretaki paints out on Sunday night and do a little paint doodle to end my week, inspired by the fairies and elves that we were pretending lived among the bluebells as bluebell farmers playing in the blossom.

Little Pixies playing in blossom by Samantha Webb.

Thank you so much for reading about my week and about how I fit in my career around parenting or rather how I don’t really do much work when my children are not at school. I am still trying to find the balance and I will keep trying. If you have any suggestions for how to better manage my time or for days out that you think we will enjoy then please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Samantha x

Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolours, First Look, Review

I am a full time illustrator and I love to experiment with different mediums, you will find all sorts from digital to needle felted illustrations in my books but if I had to choose one art supply for the rest of my life (please don’t ever make me do that!) then it would be watercolours and Mr Webb definitely is not as impressed as I am with my ever increasing collection of palettes.

However I have never used Japanese brand watercolours so when I was commissioned to work with The Nurture Programme on a big project I decided to treat myself to some new paints (even though the commission is actually digital, any excuse for new paints!)

I have been looking at these paints for a long time and when they arrived I was so excited to use them. They come in a very beautiful green package that makes them feel very fancy a like a real treat. All of my other paints are in metal tins.

Beautiful green box.

This comes in a few different sizes but I chose the 48 colour set because I knew that if I got a smaller set and liked them then I would want the bigger set. This is why I waited until I had a reason to celebrate, it was a big treat. But opening the box felt like Christmas! It is so beautiful inside, I was a little intimidated to even swatch them.

Swatch card in the lid.

The pans are slightly larger than full watercolour pans and there is a swatch sheet inside the lid. All of the colours look stunning straight away! I really liked that each pan is marked on the bottom with the name and number. The bottom of the box has each colour and information on too, just incase you mix them up which I really appreciate because it means that you can take out a few colours to use on your desk at a time because this beast really does take up a lot of space.

I don’t know if it is just a me thing or if it is an artist thing but there is nothing that makes me quite as happy as swatching new paints, it is like new PJs or fresh crisp bedding. One of the most amazing pleasures in this world. I always swatch on the card that comes in the box as well as on a sheet of cold press watercolour which is what I paint on most often. These paints were incredibly satisfying to paint with. They do not need a lot of water for the colour payout, they activate very easily, even the metallic which fall short in some sets.

Swatch on the paper you are likely to use.

The colours are so vibrant and so clean that the swatch card is just so beautiful to look at. I absolutely love the selection of colours. My favourites are the Rose Madder and the Imperial Violet but the whole selection is just very pleasing to look at. I did try it out though too, firstly I had a good play to see how the colours lay down and how they layer because I know that I use layers a lot in my watercolours.

Experimantations.

My experiments were fun and unplanned but was good to see how the colours blend into one another. The colours are a lot less translucent than the watercolours that I am used to. You can layer them if you use the top layer slightly thicker and more of an ink consistency but I found that if you use a lot of water then it was reactivating the colour below even once it was fully dry. This will be an interesting effect to play with in the future that is definitely different to my other paints. I also found that they don’t bleed into one another excessively and I had to use a considerable amount of water to get them to bleed into each other which is something to consider if you use a lot of wet on wet techniques in your painting.

I wanted to try them with an actual illustration since that is what I will be using the paints for, mainly for children’s picture books but also possibly for some products in the future too.

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

I did not get on well with this illustration. I had a lot of trouble because I am not use to using such vibrant colours without having to layer and layer them. I was also very spoilt for choice with the colours, this is my biggest set of colours and I just kept selecting colours that did not go together and so the finished illustration is not what I imagined to begin with. Faced with such an amazing array of colours my mind totally forgot all that I have been learning about colour theory! Some days just go like that, they can’t all be perfect and I think I definitely learnt from the experience, I need to remember to select my colours wisely before I start painting.

I also did something very random, I totally forgot about mixing my colours. I am not sure if it is because I am so used to having a mixing palette built in that I use all of the time (the box is made of card and does not have mixing wells) or if it is because the pans were so big that it didn’t seem necessary but because of this I was using the paints from pan straight to paper which is again not something that I usually do. Hopefully with these things in mind my future endeavours with these paints will be more successful than these two little bugs in an umbrella boat. I did really enjoy using the paints though, I was able to add layers even though they were more opaque than I would of liked.

If you like really thick and creamy, opaque paints that have a flat finish then I think you would really like these too. I will need to practice more to get the most out of them but I do feel like they will be very versatile and will allow me to make some more vivid illustrations. I have since read that you can also use them on black paper too so I will have to try that out.

I am very happy to have them amongst my paint collection, I have yet to find somewhere to store this massive box though so maybe having it on my desk will make me use it more.

Thank you so much for reading my rambling. If you would like to see some more of my collection of paints just let me know, I could talk about watercolours for days!

Samantha x

On A Tiny Journey by Samantha Webb

Sass Feels Lonely – Writing for small children is harder than it seems!

I am so happy to announce that pre-orders for my brand new book Sass Feels Lonely are live on Shookbop! The book will be published on June 21st and I cannot wait.

Sass Feels Lonely is the first book that I have ever written for smaller children, aimed at under 5s (although I do hope that it will have wider appeal). Sass has a very simple narrative with very bright bold colours and a main character that I think you will fall in love with.

Sass is a very fluffy Bigfoot/Sasquatch that lives alone in the woods. He has always been alone but he manages to keep himself busy. Sometimes even the most creative people get lonely and Sass is no exception. The story shows how he tries to make friends and overcomes his loneliness.

Keeping the word count down was a huge challenge.

It was a real challenge for me as a writer to keep the story simple. The first three or four drafts were considerably longer and more detailed but I knew that I wanted Sass to appeal to a much younger audience. To research, I read a lot of books for smaller children and realised that I needed to let the illustrations do their work of telling the story and trust that they can convey what is happening visually. After around seven drafts I managed to get the text shorter and now it simply amplifies the illustrations as opposed to describing them.

I really thought that writing a shorter story would be easier, it seems simple and the masters that create stories from minimal words really do make it seem that way but in my experience the fewer words you use the harder it seems to be to create something that is unique and full of heart, which is always one of my biggest aims when writing a children’s book. I fully underestimated the time it would take to complete and the amount of drafts that it would take. Even now, when it has gone off to print, a small part of me wishes I could keep editing the text to make it even more perfect but you have to realise when it is time to stop or the book would never be ready for publication.

If you decide to give it a go yourself then I really recommend reading lots and lots of books that are aimed at a similar audience so that you can get a good idea of the structure and word count. That is always a good idea for any book you are attempting though but especially if you are unfamiliar with the structure you are aiming for. Figure out exactly what it is that you need to add to your text and everything else can be whittled down to just the bare text that is needed to push your story forward.

Sass was developed with a lot of the images first (I knew the character well before I began writing), followed by the first few drafts of text. The remaining illustrations were created to fit with the first drafts and then the text was edited into the story that it is now, simple and with a minimal word count.

One day I would love to attempt wordless picture book but I don’t think I am quite confident enough for that yet.

Sass was created primarily on the iPad with procreate.

I am delighted that Sass has a wonderful publisher, Stour Valley Publishing. They have handled my previous title Glub and I am so happy with the outcome. I have every faith that Sass Feels Lonely is in great hands.

I have had some stickers created with Sass and some keyring too, it is so much fun to see him on real products and as soon as I have the book in my hand I will be posting all over my social media.

I don’t have any plans for the launch day yet but I know I will be doing some form of bundle giveaway to celebrate. If you have any suggestions for ways to celebrate please let me know!

Sass keyrings.

Thank you so much for reading about my adventure into writing for smaller children. I am really excited to see what you all think of the new book. I hope you will love Sass as much as I do and I hope that your little ones will too! Preorder your copy now!

Samantha Webb.

What Mermay Has Taught Me

Mermay is an instagram challenge for artists, the idea is to draw, paint or create a mermaid for each day in May. There are prompt lists to join if you would like to but you don’t have to. It isn’t a strict challenge, it is supposed to be fun and to stretch your creativity. Mermay was created in 2016 by Disney artist Tom Bancroft and it continues to get bigger and bigger each year.

I first joined the challenge in 2018 and actually managed to complete the whole 31 days of mermaids and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t drawing continuously at this point and I just had a lot of fun with it. I like to think I have grown as an artist but I still love some of the images that I created that first year.

Samantha Webb 2018

Having completed the challenge in 2018 I decided that 2019 was the year to make it more personal and as my heart really is set on creating children’s books it really did only make sense to try and create a mermaid book. One big challenge that I thought I would be able to accomplish.

Samantha Webb Mermay 2019

Well, I tried, I really did but for me 31 days is definitely not enough time to create a whole story, fully illustrate it and edit it too. I managed to do a lot of the illustrations and had my story to a point where I was really happy with it but time was just not on my side and I didn’t manage to complete it. I had come too far with it to leave my story sat in my sketchbook now. Despite some setbacks personally, Livvy and Pipps was published independently under Moby and Puddle Books and I couldn’t be more proud of my mermaid story even if it did take a lot longer than 31 days. You can purchase it right now!

Livvy and Pipps published January 2020

In 2020 I made my New Years resolution to not join in any art challenges and to spend more time on my artwork rather than trying to do lots in a short amount of time, quality over quantity. I didn’t do a single image for Mermay but I did enjoy seeing all of the amazing mermaids drawn by other talented artists on Instagram. Having the pressure off especially in the chaos that was 2020 (I hope I never have to homeschool ever again) was the best decision for my mental health and I am glad that I made that decision.

This year I have decided that I will join in with Mermay again because I love the community feel of it but I won’t be doing the whole month, I can’t even contemplate trying to fit in a new painting everyday. I am so happy that I am now very busy with my illustration career, something that seemed like a dream back in 2018 when I first attempted Mermay. (Let’s face it, It still feels like a dream now!) So instead I have decided that this year I will experiment, inspired by the amazing artist Cindy Lane and we went to the sea and got some sea water to paint with.

Plymouth Seawater!

We had a great day by the sea and then I had fun experimenting with the salty water and my watercolours. The textures and the natural gradients that the salt water achieve are stunning. It is hard to control where the pigments lay and I think it will take some practice to get it right but it is amazing. I have lived by the sea for most of my life and it is not until I saw Cindy Lane’s post that I even thought about trying seawater in my paintings. I love to experiment and it is great to find a way to experiment that doesn’t actually cost me a load of money this time!

It has been nice to join in with Mermay but with the pressure off. I think that my art has improved because I am not putting a strain on myself to create something new every day but I am not stopping myself from joining in when inspiration strikes. Hopefully I have found a good balance for me. I admire the artists that can create a new mermaid image every day but I have learnt that for me, art challenges lead to burn out and a decline in the quality of my illustrations. So I hope that you enjoy the mermaid illustrations that I do manage to post because I am really enjoying creating them.

Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021
Samantha Webb 2021

Thank you so much for reading my post. I think I have babbled on long enough but I really do love Mermay and think that if you can join in without giving yourself burn out, without stressing out and whilst keeping it fun then go for it, you will have a whale of a time! (sorry :P)

Samantha Webb

Webb Review – Arthur Skid’s Chronicles of Being a Kid Volume 1 by Martin Kirkham and Roxanne Knott

Arthur Skid’s Chronicles Of Being A Kid Volume 1. Facts Kids Need To Know instantly looks like it has been around forever and could easily fit onto a bookshelf next to similar titles.

Harrison Webbling is nine and a very keen reader but to really enjoy it the book has to have humour and Martin Kirkham has definitely delivered on the giggles! Not to give away spoilers but one particular bath scene had Harrison in stitches of laughter that he was still talking about the next day on the way to school.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, Harrison asked if they were Quintin Blake which was great because we got to have a chat about different illustrators and illustration styles. The illustrations by Roxanne Knott really fit the style of the story, facts presented in rhyme form. It was genuinely a really fun book to read and to share.

We enjoyed the story digitally.

I’m going to do the mum things and say that one fact in particular might encourage some unwanted bogie flicking but lets face it, most 9 year olds are more gross than any mum could imagine anyway.

If you don’t like your children to read about the more disgusting parts of being a human and all the lovely ways our bodies manage to expel waste then you won’t like this book but if you have a child who cannot get enough of the gore then they will really enjoy it and want to read it over again.

In terms of book creation, we read the digital copy and that was fantastic; easily accessible and intuitive. The only issue really is that we both found the font a little hard to read in places. It is definitely a fun font but I think that perhaps having one a little more generic would help the reader to keep pace with the poetry, at least in our experience.

The layout of the facts was fantastic and a really great way to present a poetry book because children can easily go back to their favourite fact, which Harrison did, numerous times! The introduction of the characters in the beginning was fantastic and the added certificate at the end was a great touch.

In times when we all really need a laugh especially our little ones, this book is a welcome treat. You can purchase a copy here. We dare you not to laugh at the bath scene!

The favourite bath scene!

Harry awards Arthur Skid’s Chronicles of Being a Kid. Volume 1 Facts Kids Need to Know 4 webbs out of 5 and is really looking forward to reading it again after school today!

Find out more on Martins website – https://www.martinkirkham.com

The digital copy of this book was sent to us by Author Martin Kirkham but the review is not sponsored and is an honest opinion.

Glub, Now Under New Management!

I am so delighted to be writing this blog post. Glub, my curious purple creation has had a rough start of it and has been on a real adventure but I feel like he has finally found his true home.

Glub

I wrote the story of Glub around 12 years ago, after a trip to Paignton where we always go in to the arcades and have some wholesome family fun. My husband was adamant that he wanted to win a particularly unflattering teddy of Micheal Jackson because in his words “it is so bad, it is brilliant?’. Our then one year old daughter Lilly was horrified and was grabbing for the cute teddies and really no one would blame her. Sadly that day we walked away without any prizes but an idea was beginning to form in my mind.

Concept art by Jamie Webb.

On reading the first draft my husband drew many pictures of Glub, I absolutely loved his concept art and you can find one of those images today as the end papers in the finished book. The book then sat dormant for a while, I was getting the Cornlings all finished and ready to publish and I wasn’t sure if Glub would be watercolour or felt. He really had to be fluffy didn’t he!

Many, many months went into felting the illustrations, wet felt and needle felt followed by embroidery and some bead work. Jamie photographed it beautifully so that every image still looked fluffy. But I still didn’t do anything for a while.

Glub waits for a new home.

So Glub waited and waited, he was patient. I was really nervous to show him to people because by this point I was really quite attached and if he was rejected I would be heartbroken. However, with a little encouragement in 2018 I entered him into a contest to win publication and cried with happiness when he won. Glub was going to be published! Happy ending, right?

Definitely not, I told you it has been a journey! When the publishers (who I won’t name and are no longer in business) were preparing Glub everything felt amazing. Publication day came and I hadn’t received copies, however the presages had gone out and my goddaughters had received theirs. We raced over to see it and honestly I cried and I cried, no longer happy tears. My book that I had poured years of love into had been released in a format that was cheap, nasty and really overpriced. I called the publisher who had a truck load of excuses but refused to make changes. I was truly upset to have my name on work that was so poorly created. I went through the next few months of stress trying to claw back ownership of my own work and I got it! Glub was all mine again, sadly Amazon refuses to take my name off of the awful listing so please if you want Glub, Amazon is not the place to buy him.

I left him for another year and decided that he was to good to just be left. I decided to self publish Glub to a high standard like I had previously with my Cornlings books. I put him on Amazon but sadly he does not show in the search listings because Amazon algorithms prefer price to quality. (Again do not buy Glub on Amazon). I thought this would be the end of Glub’s story, forced into obscurity because I had made some bad decisions with an unscrupulous publisher.

Despite this Glub has always been a favourite on school visits, children really do love him and at the end of the day that is all it is really about.

Glub gets a makeover on a school visit!

Don’t worry, I am slowly getting to Glub’s happy ending.

Whilst working with Stour Valley Publishing on The Soggy Little Bee by Simon Henderson, they purchased a copy of Glub from me, my self-published version. I was delighted with the sale and did the obligatory happy dance as all authors do when you purchase their books. Then I received a message to say that they would like to take on Glub as one of their titles. I immediately explained all that happened above and assumed it would be a deal breaker.

But on March 1st 2021 Glub was published, bigger and better and in more detail than ever before. The print quality is far superior and Glub looks like he always should of done. I can’t thank Carl and the Stour Valley Publishing team enough. The entire experience could not of been more different to my first publishing encounter.

Glub is a story about not giving up on finding a home and a family and I can honestly say that I am glad that I didn’t give up on Glub!

We celebrated the signing of the contracts!

You can purchase him now and make me do a happy dance, from independent and amazing bookshop, Shookbop!

The Whole Family celebrated on release day!

Gnomevember 2020

I love to take part in drawing challenges but as I draw pretty much everyday already, I find it helps to set myself an extra challenge. In March 2020 I invested in an iPad and an Apple Pencil and a programme called Procreate and my digital art changed forever! However I am a long way from being anywhere near able to achieve what I want to at the moment, so I challenged myself this November to not only draw a gnome each day but to do it digitally.

I have learned a lot from using my iPad every day, one of those things is that I simply do not get the same joy from digital art as I do from traditional art and therefore I don’t think that it will ever really be a replacement for me even if I manage to improve. Secondly, I learnt that ‘layers’ are a blessing from the heavens!

I managed to create 30 pieces of gnome based art work and I feel really proud of the work that I have produced, some are better than other and some are just quite honestly frighteningly bad BUT I was going for practice over perfection and I did just that!

I hope that you like them and maybe next Gnomevember you can join in too?

Devonport Library – Author Visit

Event poster – by Samantha Webb

In August I was lucky enough to be invited to my local library to share my stories with the children and to talk to them about what it takes to create a book, from your initial idea to the finished product.

Going to any reading is always really nerve wracking, what if no one turns up? what if loads of people turn up? what if I can’t speak or no one asks any questions. Oh my goodness, what if they boo??? Maybe it is just me that has these (and a million more besides) worries before each and every reading but I am glad to say that even though on this occasion I did have to make my visit whilst on crutches, nothing went wrong and the entire experience was exhilarating.

I got to wear my bookshelf dress and all of my characters came along to meet the children.

I was welcomed warmly into the library by Nancy and her team. Wednesdays throughout the summer holidays are jam packed full of activities and free lunches so the library was already buzzing with children and their families, some I recognised but mostly I did not. I was given a room to the side of the main library where I could set up and read my stories without competing with the rest of the noise, I was so grateful for this, another worry … What if I’m not loud enough and no one can hear me? and the staff had put up posters to let parents know that the activity would be taking place.

One of my biggest fans, Lilly Webbling rarely misses a reading.

I was delighted to have had the chance to read on and off for the entire hour in a very relaxed drop in session . I read to around 12 children in total and a handful of parents too. My Webblings not included because they could probably tell you these stories by heart at this point. The children had chance to ask me questions and to colour some of my characters on the colouring sheets the library had been kind enough to photocopy for me. I was asked some tricky questions this time like, how do I choose the name of my characters? I feel like the answer to that could be a blog post of it’s own but the short answer is that it is the name I feel suits them most.

Bees can be any colour, you just need a little imagination. Doesn’t Blake look dapper in Purple?

I came out of the visit exhausted to be honest, I am still recovering from a broken leg and was not strictly off of bed rest at this point. I also felt amazing! The children I had read to had asked to hear the stories again and asked if they could find any of my books in the library and I told them that they could find ‘Glub’ when he is available. They all wanted to colour the characters and wanted to tell me about the characters that they would include if they wrote stories like me. The engagement with the children and seeing them engage with my characters is what makes it all worth while, it may only be fleeting but at that moment those children are inspired to create and to design. This is my favourite part of being a children’s author and illustrator even if it is the most terrifying part.

My Nanny and Gramps always said, ‘if something isn’t scary at first is it really worth doing?’ well this is scary but so worth conquering that fear. If you have a story inside you, let it out and show the world!

Thank you to Devonport Library and Plymouth Libraries for allowing me to take up a space on your jam packed summer program. I really enjoyed myself and look forward to returning again someday, just as nervous as the first time no doubt.

Samantha x

P.S. Big congratulations to my Webblings, Lilly and Harrison both finished the Summer Reading Challenge and managed to get their medals for the third year in a row.

Mission Complete! Well done Webblings!