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Classic Children's Book Illustration | Fall

Are there stories within you that you would like to tell? Learn to illuminate your very own narrative in the style of beloved children’s books with the help of this course. We will discover why these beautiful illustrations exude warmth, kindness, and creativity, and then will adapt their simple yet timeless style to our own personal masterpieces.
What is it about those classic children’s book illustrations that open a door to another world? One where we can imagine tromping through the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin, or waltzing through an English Cottage Garden on the heels of Benjamin Bunny? While it could take a lifetime to fully understand the magical grasp these little images have on us, this fall we will begin that journey! We will explore how a stroke of the pen can open the imagination, our memories, and even whole new worlds.
We will begin our studies by focusing on the illustrations of E.H. Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh and the paintings, drawings and illustrations of Beatrix Potter, the author and illustrator of the beloved Peter Rabbit book series.
We will study their art and pictures and begin to articulate what it might be that sets these works apart. From there we will begin creating characters and narratives of our own, taking cues from the worlds around us—as they did from theirs—and using this as a basis for our own illustrations. While we won’t be able to do all our hearts desire in one semester, we will put ourselves on a path that may help us beyond the confines of our class and give us a taste of what we may someday create.
Our class time will be comprised of demonstrations, individual instruction, work-time, and class discussion. Students do not need any prior art experience. The class will start simple dealing with foundational principles. Course material will gradually build in complexity, ending with emphasis on working from observation, creating dynamic compositions, and color mixing. Students will practice thinking like an artist. They will engage in the whole creative process from generating ideas, making intentional decisions with each aspect of their work, and reflecting on what they have made.
Students will be encouraged to practice exercises taught in class and may need to work out- side of class to complete projects.
Along with hands-on studio work, students will participate in regular class critiques, creating a forum for the group to constructively collaborate and discuss creative outcomes.
Students can also expect ongoing dialogues and study of classical illustrations.

Required Materials:
Books and supplies are not included in the purchase of the course.

Teaching art online is a unique learning experience to navigate. If at all possible, buy the version of supply linked below. I can help students navigate obstacles more effectively when we are all using the same materials. If you have any questions regarding supplies, please feel free to email me.

  • Any kind of sketchbook (minimum size 8″x10″): We will use these for exercises and notes. If you already have one that you use, that will do!
  • Document camera (such as Ipevo), or equivalent
  • Pencils for drawing
  • Kneaded eraser
  • At least 2 Micron pens, 005 (link) & 05 (link)
  • Bristol board drawing paper pad (link)
  • Ruler
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Set of watercolor paint (link) and palette (link)
  • Short handled watercolor brushes
  • Size 2 round (link)
  • Size 6 round (link)
  • 1/2” or 1” flat (link)
  • OR a set like this (link)
  • Water cup
  • Watercolor paper pad for studies and final projects (link)
  • Rags or paper towels


  • Set of colored pencils
  • Drawing board for stretching watercolor paper
  • Apron to keep clothing clean
  • Small spray bottle
  • Masking fluid
  • White gouache
  • EpocCam (link) is an app for the iPhone that turns your phone into a document camera. Ipevo has an app for Android phone (link), but I have not used it. Paired with a tension arm like this (link), and you have a very affordable alternative to a dedicated document camera. It will automatically link to Zoom.

Sara Silkwood holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Syracuse University. Sara has several years experience teaching in a variety of areas including college level, church-run camps, Classical schools and privately. She also serves as the fine arts teacher at Valor Preparatory Academy. Currently, Sara works out of her home studio in Waco, Texas where she lives with her great dane-lab mix, Oberon. She spends her free-time backpacking, reading and illustrating her own stories.

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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