Many years ago I was introduced to The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. If you've not heard of him, Raymond Briggs is a British illustrator, born in 1934. When Artist Girl was really little I must have snuggled up with her one day to watch the video version of The Snowman on British broadcast TV. For me it was love at first sight. The combination of story, music, and fantasy in The Snowman had me hooked. I wanted to know how to draw like that (the illustrations appear to be done with colored pencils). Thus began an adventure in art for me. Below you can see a frog illustration I did as a result of following this inspiration.
Of course I'd had pencils as a child, but not the beautiful colored pencils that artists and illustrators use. Colored pencils purchased for children generally feel scratchy to use and create dull-colored drawings. I've no idea why we buy these poor quality colored pencils for children. The high quality ones really aren't that expensive. You can pick up a basic set for around $10. If you have a child who is interested in working with pencils please do make the investment of supplying them with quality tools; they are pretty readily available (more information below).
Anyway, if you've never seen The Snowman it is a story without words... totally delightful. Words really can't convey it. I'm going to provide you with some learning links, though personally I'd rather watch the video/DVD version and see the original book than explore this topic online. Somehow watching an online animation seems sacrilege to me :-)
- Read about illustrator Raymond Briggs at the British Council website.
- Visit the official Snowman website and find teacher resources and games. There are animations here, so if you want to see the full DVD first, miss this site out for now. Instead you may want to see a double page spread of the illustrations at Random House.
- Here is an unofficial fan site for Raymond Briggs, where another fan includes his story of discovering The Snowman.
- Raymond Briggs had to go against the wishes of his parents to study art. You can read what The Guardian has to say on Raymond.
At Amazon.com you can see inside the original book version of The Snowman and find
The Snowman on VHS, DVD and in book format. The storybook version with words has a poor review so check your library for the original word-free version, or for the DVD.
I've found artist quality colored pencils locally at places like Michael's and Office Depot. I've also used Cheap Joe's for ordering from online. Here's a set of artist quality Derwent colored pencils for less than $11 from Cheap Joe's, and a set of 12 artist quality Prismacolor pencils at Amazon.com. These are both good quality and would be great for starting out with.