Webb Review – The Birds At The Bottom Of The Garden by Carl A Mynott

The Birds At The Bottom Of The Garden is written and illustrated by Carl A Mynott of British Wildlife Tales. Fully illustrated in colour with rhyming text, this little book is a brilliant introduction to some of the varied and beautiful birds that you can find in a British garden. It encourages you to take the time to really look at them and observe what they are up to, are they collecting for their nests or waiting to catch the worms? There is a whole avian world going on around and above us and this book really gives you the inspiration to take more time to notice it.

From Grey Collared Doves to the bright blues of the Great Tit, The Birds At The Bottom Of The Garden does a great job of introducing them all. The rhyming verse keeps it fun although the lack of punctuation made it difficult for me and Harrison to read at times and is something that the author may want to look into for the second edition (of which I hope there is one).

The front cover invites you into the garden and each page tells of a different bird, followed nicely by some helpful hints to attract the birds to your garden and a helpful checklist so that children can check off the birds when they do spot them.

Harrison and The Birds At The Bottom Of The Garden.

This book was published in 2014 and I know that Carl A Mynott has published more since which we are eager to read too and will hopefully be reviewing in the not too distant future. 

Harrison learning about the wood-pigeon.

Harry enjoyed the pictures in this story, we do not have a garden and the surrounding area is full of seagulls so all of the other birds tend to keep clear however we do go to Dartmoor as often as we can and we are hoping to spot some of the birds that are in the book next time we go. Harry has recently taken an interest in photography and is hoping to get photos of the birds too. This book is definitely inspiring and makes you want to get out and about in nature. 

3.5 Webs out of 5

Harrison has awarded this book 3.5 webs out of 5 because he struggled to read the rhyming verse without punctuation but when I read it to him he really enjoyed it and he really liked the addition of the extra little creatures hidden in the backgrounds (the worm was his favourite).

The Birds At The Bottom Of The Garden is available now from Shookbop. Along with more titles from Carl A Mynott and British Wildlife Tales. But beware they will make you want to venture outdoors and go exploring! 

Thank you so much for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison. 

Harrisons ‘would most like to see’ is the woodpecker.

NOTE – This book was sent to us for review, this is not a paid review.

Derwent Graphitint Paint Palette – First Try and Review

I received this paint palette inside of a Scrawlrbox, a monthly art subscription box that has a surprise selection of art supplies delivered to your door. I absolutely love watercolours but have never tried watercolours quite like this before.

Created by UK based art supplies brand Derwent, Graphitint can be purchased in pencil form or in the palette that I received. It is described as a ‘Unique blend of water-soluble graphite with a hint of colour for dramatic tonal work.’ which means that it is actually not watercolour. However being a watercolour artist I have used it in the same manner as my other paints. I wet them all and swatched them.

The paint palette comes with twelve colours, they all look very similar before they are swatched. The plastic box houses them very securely and the lid doubles as a mixing tray. It does include a water brush and a sponge, I am not a huge fan of water brushes unless I am taking a very limited supply of products to paint on location so I cannot say how this one works but I have had Derwent water brushes before and they work like all the other brands. The sponge I am sad to say will go to waste because, and I should be embarrassed to admit this, I have a very bad habit of wiping my brushes on my clothes, after years of painting I just don’t think I will be able to break that habit in favour of a little sponge BUT it is a great addition if you aren’t a complete fool like I am!

It does include a colour chart which if I am honest is pretty close, closer than most, to the actual colour of the paints but I always swatch on the paper I will be most likely to use. This little card can then stay in the palette for future reference. If I use a considerably different paper I will reswatch before painting, this is fine with me because swatching is one of my absolute favourite things to do, (it is a great cure for art block too!). I also swatched them into my swatch catalogue which has swatches of all of my paints in, this helps me pick a palette quicker before I begin a job (I hoard paint palettes!).

Swatches on watercolour paper.

My first impressions from swatching them were not great, they are thicker than standard watercolours and you could see bigger than usual bits of pigment being picked up by the paint brush. I wasn’t sure I would have a use for them. The colours are very dark, muted and earthy which is a bit of a change to my usual preference. I got out my sketchbook to doodle with them, no planning at all just straight into exploring these paints.

Doodles with paints.

These paints did not mix well with each other, they became muddy and messy really quickly. You can see from the balloons that the colours do not merge very well on paper. With the teddy bear I decided to try layering, I am a bit impatient with painting so layering can sometimes be my downfall, I don’t wait long enough for each layer to dry. It may have been the rare bit of British heat that we have been experiencing but these paints seemed to dry pretty quickly. I layered the teddy and was quite impressed, you can see where the pigments of graphite lay on the paper and it is really hard not to overwork them and keep moving them around but being able to layer the paints meant that in some places where I had removed too much of the grainy texture, I could add more on. I think it would be next to impossible to get a flat wash with these colours, that is not their intended purpose and you may just drive yourself crazy trying to get it all smooth.

On to some practice illustrations, I did feel limited by the colours I must admit, they seemed dark and dull, I was missing a really good green too. However, working within the limitations I did manage to come up with a few ideas.

The colours which didn’t blend very nicely on paper were not too bad when mixed on the mixing tray before hand, I even managed to mix a green I was happy with. I did enjoy using the limited colours and I think that it helped me to create very coherent illustrations. The little Loch Nessie is my favourite though.

After a few days I decided that I wanted to try and create something lighter with the paints and to see how they went with my other watercolours. The answer was, brilliantly. I think they really added depth and dimension to the illustrations that had just a hit of brighter colours. They work great on top of the lighter colours too, adding effects with the graphite particles that I could not achieve with most watercolours.

A Rainbow Pugicorn.

As requested by Harrison, I painted the rainbow Pugicorn with rainbow poop. Perhaps not the most inventive idea but it made my nine year old giggle and I think it really shows off how the graphite inside the paint gives more dimension, it is especially great when painting fur which is never a flat colour anyway.

Princess Tortoise.

Finally, inspired by Lilly who really wants a tortoise (But I am afraid it will end up like this!), Princess Tortoise is slowly on her way to a party. Again, this image shows the contrast between regular watercolours and the Graphitint but I think they work really well together and showed me that they can be used in images that aren’t dark too.

After this exploration I think that the Graphitint paints are brilliant as an extra addition to your watercolours but I wouldn’t expect them to be the only set of watercolours you will want in your collection. They are a lot of fun and it is mesmerising to watch the graphite particles in the water moving around before they settle into place. If this was your first experience with watercolour though I think it would really put you off. They really are a separate medium altogether, one that I will use with my watercolours quite a lot I think.

If you have tried them let me know what you thought or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

Samantha x

We Are The Planets by Isla Grace Green – Webb Review

We were very lucky to be sent a whole bunch of books to review from ShookBop and Harry chose the first one to review, he flew straight to We Are The Planets by Isla Grace Green. It has a wonderfully bright and eye catching.

Harry enjoyed We Are The Planets.

Written by space fan, Isla Grace Green, this book is nonfiction and give you facts about each of the eight planets in our solar system.

Yes, it does leave out Pluto but we can’t be mad about that just because we want it to be a planet still. We get to look at the other eight in order with some very cute illustrations of the planets. The book is set out in a really clear and concise way. It has just enough information on each planet to teach you some facts and leave you wanting to discover even more. Harry and I think it would be great to have a book on each planet.

The colours throughout the book really draw you in and make the text exciting so if you have children who are reluctant to spend time with nonfiction books, this one would be a really great introduction to more information based books.

We found our planet!

The text is clear and concise and the font is fun and accessible for young readers. We really enjoyed the layout of this book, you could pick it up and just look at your favourite planet over and over if you wanted to.

Including a page about the sun might have been a good inclusion but I appreciate books that leave you wanting more and giving you the chance to ask your own questions. After reading this book Harry wondered if the Sun was also completely gas, so we did our own research, asking questions that we wouldn’t have asked if we hadn’t read this book.

We Are The Planets

All that being said you may be amazed (we were) to hear that Isla Grace Green wrote this book when she was just 6 years old! How amazing is that? We are very impressed and hope that it is just the beginning of a brilliant astro/author career.

Awarded 5 Webbs!

Harry has awarded this book 5 webbs! He really enjoyed it, as did I. We recommend it to anyone with a fascination with Space, anyone who has no idea about the planets or anyone who is looking for an entry level nonfiction book.

But We Are The Planets now from ShookBop.

Thank you for reading our review,

Samantha and Harrison x

Lino Carving And Printing For The First Time

I have admired print artists for a very long time. The art of Lino printing dates back as far as the 1890s but more contemporary work by artists like The Black Pug Press or Ink Press Repeat are so inspiring and look so ridiculously complicated so I have come into this process with more than a little trepidation and very little hope of creating anything worthwhile. That being said, I love paper, paint, ink, creating and experimenting so when I got the chance to try it out I really could not resist.

Spurred on by a YouTube video by Mira Byler , I decided to give it a proper go. After all, it is experimenting and the worst that can happen is that I end up with some more scrap paper to make collages.

I purchased the Essdee Lino Cutting and Printing Kit from Hobbycraft and read the instructions fully. It seemed simple but so scary. The Lino itself is not the cheapest thing to replace if you make a mistake so there would be no starting from scratch and no undo button, I would have to print whatever I managed to carve.

I decided that I didn’t want to try and carve anything too fiddly or small so it had to be a dinosaur of course but a dino with a difference. This one has fairy wings simply because when I was drawing on the tracing paper I had an image of wings underneath from a previous project and they just looked too cute not to add them. The following pictures are in no way intended as a tutorial, I am still not sure if I am doing this correctly but this is what I created and how I created it.

I drew my plesiosaur onto the tracing paper and added wings.
I transferred it onto the Lino.
I cut all around it and cut off the edges to use on later projects.
Doesn’t he look cute all inked up?
First ever Lino print.

I spent a long time cutting out all of the details, the wings took a lot of brain work to figure out which bits to carve and which bits to leave. Seeing him all inked up though and ready to print was the best thing ever, it was as though the ink had bought him to life. I have never been so nervous with a new art supply I don’t think than testing this print for the first time. At this point I had spent hours on it and might end up with something awful. I took my time and held my breath as I positioned the paper on top of the lino. When I lifted it off I actually squealed with delight. It was even better than I thought it would be, it has little whispy bits where I didn’t quite carve every bit but I actually like that about it. It looks and feels handmade and not digital which is exactly what I was hoping for.

I used the off cuts to make the little cup shown below. I almost immediately ordered metallic ink and a few colours although the more I do, the more I am preferring the black ink. I have spent a few evenings now carving Lino, it has become quite addictive. I am not sure where it will feature in my illustration work, it may never but it is giving me a new perspective on shape and silhouette that will inform my art in the future. I may even make some prints for my Folksy shop if I ever create something that I am 100% happy with. For now it is a relaxing hobby that makes my brain work just a little harder.

It is a terrifying art form to get into to begin with, you just don’t know what you will end up with but there are few mediums that are as rewarding at the end and the bonus is that once you have carved something you are happy with you can print it over and over as much as you like. Look out for more Lino printing on my social medias in the future because I will definitely be creating more!

Thank you so much for reading my blog, if you have more print artists that you think I should see please let me know! Or if you have any tips and tricks that might of been missing from the starter set too, that would be really helpful too.

Samantha x

Sass is RELEASED!

Sass Feels Lonely is my first story aimed at very young children. It has a simple sentence structure and is just the right length for a bedtime story, especially if you have to read it over and over again. Sass is a big, fluffy, friendly Sasquatch that lives in the forest and gets a little lonely, until he realises that he has been surrounded by friends all along.

Sass was released yesterday, published by the amazing Stour Valley Publishing house and available in their online store Shookbop. I am so proud of the final outcome for Sass, the book is everything that I hoped it would be.

My proud face!

Every inch of this book is in bright colours and I absolutely love it. If you have been reading my blogs or following me on social media for a while you will know how much I love pretty end papers and Sass might have my favourite ones to date. They just start and end the book in as much colour as possible.

Pretty end papers.

I could not have made Sass a reality, (especially with the crazy year that we have all been having) without my cheerleaders, my three biggest fans and supporters, Jamie, Lilly and Harrison Webb. They have all given Sass Feels Lonely their stamp of approval and they may be biased but it is the most important thing in the world to me. They even got up early on a Saturday morning to venture into the woods and have some Sass themed photographs to help me celebrate launch day.

Sass is available now and I really can’t wait to hear what people think of it. It is my hope that people will fall in love with Sass just like I have, maybe get the little ones out into the woods searching for some giant footprints, Sass is very friendly if you do manage to find him. He especially likes splashing in the river so maybe try there first?

Sass is the first ever story that I have written where I fully illustrated the entire book before I had written any of the story. My first few drafts of the story were looooong! At one point I even considered making Sass into a chapter book but he fits the short narrative so much better, even if it did give me long sleepless nights cutting it all back to get to the most important bits.

I really could not be happier with the final book. It is exactly as I hoped it would be and I wouldn’t change a thing. If you look really closely you might just manage to find a Cornling lurking in the forest too.

Thank you for reading and if you do get your hands on a copy of Sass Feels Lonely, let me know what you think!

Samantha x

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.