Life size

african, children's books, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, London, publishing

We did it!

The Life Size project is under way. About 100 children from Drayton Park School and myself painted a three metre tall giraffe in one school day. It was tight and I wish there had been more time, but it went smoothly. Life Size is all about showing children size and scale in real terms. We talked about African animals, ways of measuring, what giraffes are like in the wild and they seemed genuinely interested. I got a great big box of chocolates and a thank you card from just about everyone so it was well worth it. The next workshops are at the end of July throughout Brent Council Libraries. I’ll try to remember to give a better heads up to those interested in coming along if you’re in London.
For more about Life Size, visit my website  and look up the events & appearances pages.

Life size

african, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, London

On Wednesday, 30th June, I ‘ll be painting a Giraffe with school children from Drayton Park School in North London. Nothing unusual about that other than the fact that we’ll be painting a(3m tall) giraffe on a canvas that’s 3 x 2.7 m (around 10ft each way)in size! Including this one I have done a total of one paintings with these proportions.  A fully grown adult is between 4-6m tall…

The Life-Size project  shows children scale and size in real terms, teaching them about measurements, helping them to work together on a project and most of all have fun doing it. I hope they are as excited as I am nervous!

More about the project in a separate post, together with some pics from the day.

Here’s the sketch that we’ll working form, together with many photos, facts and figures.

Don’t forget the day job

children's books, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, kids, publishing

It just occurred to me that I can show pieces from books I have worked on…

The first book  to show is ‘Red Light, Green Light’, written by Anastasia Suen and published by Harcourt a few years ago.

A fun rhyming text and easy to illustrate, I tried to experiment with different coloured outlines as well as trying to capture views of traffic and landscape that children wouldn’t normally see, or they might see on TV. Up to that point It was difficult for me to change my style of painting which had become very recognisable. The difficulty was in persuading publishers to allow me to change.
I believe this book was only published in the US. One of the first ideas for an image in this book is the one below. I’ve never been in a helicopter but the bird’s eye view of  a city seems to be one of the most used in cinema and television and we all take it for granted.  I’m sure this secondary experience will be easily surpassed by the real thing. One day…

iPhone illustrations

character, illustration, iPhone illustrations

picture of waiting at a cafe

While I waited for a friend

The task: once a week make a painting on iPhone of a ten minute speaker at a breakfast meeting. The results will be posted each week. This first picture is a test.

What’s in a toddler’s mind part 3.

african, children's books, illustration, stories


The more I watch and observe, the more I learn, the more respect I give to babies and young children – to all young people (that goes without saying). When I worked in publishing I knew no one who had children and subsequently learned to use my editors, art directors and sales people as my primary audience, closely followed by reviewers and librarians, then teachers, the parents, than finally children. The food chain was very long and for something called children’s books quite unbelievably lob-sided.

Similarly,  my wife and I read much about the state of a baby’s mind while waiting for the arrival of our daughter and learned a great deal which was absorbed and suppressed by our excitement so much so that I only realised a year ago that it had actually sunk in. This comes some four years after the fact and luckily coincides with a new found streak of creative energy that is very exciting to yours truly.
I am searching for the answer to the title of this post and hopefully won’t rest until I’ve found it, or at least made sense of it so much that a baby or toddler would look at the result and say ‘Well done old man!’ (I wouldn’t know it if they did)
Then perhaps the audience will be able to move a little up the food chain.