I recently made a video showing how to draw the DNA Helix but I got it wrong! My mistakes were pointed out by Grant Jacobs on his blog
before I drew only eight rungs of the ladder when there should be ten and I had the helix with a left-hand twist wen It should be a right-hand twist. I think I spent so much time thinking how to explain how to draw “a” helix, I didn’t consider that “the” helix had a particular organisation to it. I imagined it springing about coiling and uncoiling in a relaxed sort of way. My appologies if anyone got a D- for their biology homework.
I am more than happy to put this right and hope that this now shows everything properly. Have fun with your bilogy homework!
I recently wrote a post about the Carnegie Medal that caused a bit of a stir in the tiny world of children’s authors. I learned many things from the reactions to that post; mainly that I should only make one point at a time, as readers are liable to choose a sentence or two that suits their prejudices and assume the whole article is about something other that what was intended.
I was amazed at the reaction to this paragraph:
Why are we no longer surprised when kids join gangs and shoot each other on the streets? They’re conditioned to it by playing killing games on their consoles and watching endless serial killer stuff on TV. So why not put it in children’s books too? How else are publishers going to compete and make a buck other than by joining in the slow moral decline? We are conditioning ourselves to accept that it’s okay for kids to kill each other.
What I meant, in the context of the article, was that as children’s publishers find it harder to sell books, they are having to chuck in the towel and join the rest of the media, giving into violence, to be able to compete. Violence sells.
So does sex, but… stick to my point! I had a lot of vociferous reaction claiming that there is no connection between books, video games, movies or comics with violence. That I’m an old reactionary wanting to spoil teenager’s fun. (I thought was writing about books for children – not teenagers – never mind.)
I had to think about that point for a while and here is my reply.
Five million jews, gypsies and unfortunates were cremated during the second world war. How did that happen? A man called Hitler wrote a book called Mein Kampf. Don’t tell me that book had no effect on violence. Where did Hitler get his ideas from? Wagner’s fairy tales, and the eugenic writings of revered writers of the likes of My Fair Lady’s George Bernard Shaw and The War of the World’s H G Wells. Each generation makes the unthinkable acceptable and then practicable.
Many more millions were murdered in the USSR thanks to Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. And how many more millions died thanks to Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book? Please don’t tell me books don’t have an effect on violence.
How many millions have died because of or in the cause of the Bible or the Koran?
Human beings are hard wired to receive stories. That is how we learn. Religions, encouraging distrust in the unfaithful, know this. Advertisers, telling us that the latest gadget will make us look cool and sexy, know this. Politicians, spinning their yarns, know this. They also know that the statistics can be massaged to tell whatever story they like – as in, “…there is no correlation between books and violence.”
Violence sells… but only for so long. We come to accept a certain level of violence then we need more – we are only human. So the level is turned up until we come to accept that too.
Take the TV show Silent Witness which, when it started, was all about the righting of wrongs and moral dilemmas. In the morgue, we would see close-ups of the doctor’s eyes and sweating brow as they went about their grizzly work. It was fascinating, instructive and the story lines were intriguing. We might have seen a toe with a cadaver’s identifying label, but generally the body was covered in a sheet.
Then the special effects department came up with realistic rubber bodies and they let us see the whole grizzly autopsy, with everything hanging out and bits dangling on the floor. That wasn’t enough, CSI began with gory CGI effects and Gore Wars ensued. The original Silent Witness stories began with a body – as does the work of the pathologist. Now the grizzly death scene had to be included – in minute detail.
That wasn’t enough, the un-witting pathologists became the victims as the serial killer genre swung into action, leading to the ultimate in the ramping up of CSI violence – or is it moral decline? – the TV series, Dexter. Dexter works for a CSI department as a blood-spatter analyst, he is also a serial-killer himself, but he’s okay, he only murders other serial killers – what fun! You’d be amazed how often I’ve heard primary school children say they want to be CSIs when they grow up! Why are they watching this stuff? Why aren’t they in bed?
The violence levels are slowly ratcheted up as we accept new levels of violence and come to see them as entertainment. This has all been echoed in the book world with Patrica Cornwell leading the field that was very soon filled with new writers eager to get on the bandwagon.
How incredible that ITN proudly splatters the word “Exclusive” all over pictures of bloody-handed Michael Adebolajo, minutes after he had killed Private Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich. ITN know the power of a good story in a crowded news market. But just a very few years ago, they would never have considered showing those pictures. We have not only got used to seeing pictures like that and accepting the violence, we want more, preferably on the six-o”clock news! (They didn’t even wait until after the 9.00pm watershed.)
Just this week, video of the Santiago De Compostela train crash was shown in slow-motion on the BBC News. They did warn that it was upsetting, but they still showed it. They had the footage, it was already on YouTube so they had to show it. Five years ago, if they had that footage, they would not have shown it. Next week we will want more… bored with train crashes.
Oh – let’s stray off the point and get back to sex – Fifty Shades of Grey – to be precise. A book promoting both violence in sex has it’s own merchandise in Greetings cards shops! Cute, furry handcuffs on a greetings card for valentines day? what kind of violence has that inspired and made acceptable in bedrooms round the world. It’s a best-seller so sadistic, violent sex must be okay – isn’t it?
It’s not the books, video games, movies or comics that are to blame. They are inert. It’s the stories and their messages that are dangerous, they always have been and always will be.
Please don’t tell me that there is no correlation between books, and the stories they contain, and violence. Those committing the violence maybe well be illiterate but they understand stories they are told and can perfectly understand the message that they are fed. Those teaching them, leading them and putting ideas in their heads are clever and highly literate, and there is your direct correlation.
Here is a video showing you how to make a scary Mummy Mask! It also shows you how to measure the eye and mouth holes so they fir you perfectly. If you think it’s too much effort to draw your own, you can click the picture and download your own pdf version for you to cut out, colour in and scare the life out of your friends and relations – Please scare responsibly
Here are links to The Derwent Aquatones and fabulous water brushes.
A glass of water is not a simple thing to draw, mainly because it seems there’s not a lot there! But if you look carefully, you will see the lines and shapes that make up the drawing. Watch the vide and I’ll show you.
Learn how to draw a treasure map with all the olde, ancient wrinkled parchment scroll effects in the corners. Then, decide where to bury the treasure and put an X to mark the spot. Have fun coming up with names for places on the map.
I was childishly pleased when I came up with the series title, Little Horrors. They’re horror stories for small children, whom we often call little horrors themselves. Actually there’s no horror in them at all, just the suggestion. They are meant to be funny with moments of doubt… Shiver with fear.. shake with laughter, as the series slogan goes!
I love reading these stories to Key Stage 1 children. Some hug each other, some pose and pretend they aren’t scared, some burst into tears, but most laugh and join in with the noises and actions. Sadly the publishers, Orchard Books decided not to reprint. But that gave me the opportunity to bring the stories back to life again.
Online, print-on-demand publishing is an amazing thing. The first book in the series, The Swamp Man in now available in old fashioned print and as an ebook for the iPad. When I discovered the Open Dyslexic Font, I made it available as a Dyslexic font edition on the ipad too. The type is weighted so the letters behave themselves and sit on the line and the page colour is cream.
If you would like a signed copy of the Swamp Man, then click here
The Swamp Man – Little Horrors book.
I will be at Carfest North at Oulton Park on the 2nd 3rd and 4th August showing you how to draw all sorts of things and demonstrating some of the fantastic of art materials at the Derwent Pencils tent. Come along and have some fun! To get myself in the mood I’m doing car drawings and this is the first – a beach buggy like what the Monkeys and other hippy types drove around in in the 1960s and 70s. I put flowers on it to make it look a little bit Flower Power!
It’s here! The Royal Baby was born to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London today. There’s so much fuss about it all on the Tv and mdeia, I thought I would add to the fun and celebration by showing you how to draw a baby prince.
Personally I think he’s going to be a Henry.
You can get this design on Baby stuff and Ladies T-Shirts and Maternity Tops by clicking here.