In P3 (as grade 3 is known in Northern Ireland) my teacher began reading Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows the books I’ve illustrated that it left an indelible impression on me. But what might be a surprise is that I wasn’t interested in drawing before then. Apart from a Dalek (perhaps the hardest thing to draw badly after-all it is just an upside down bin with a toilet plunger sticking out) I hadn’t drawn anything. But Tolkien’s description of the dragon Smaug created something in my imagination I hadn’t experienced before- certainly the special effects in movies in the seventies couldn’t create anything so powerful (a man in a dinosaur suite destroying houses made of shoe boxes wasn’t fooling any eight year old.) I had to record what I saw in my imagination. And in my imagination my eight-year-old bad drawing was a super realistic image of the greatest dragon ever!
So I began drawing dragons. And my quest to draw the perfect dragon continues to this day, as does my love of reading. I haven’t strayed too far from Tolkien (revisiting LOTR seven times) and graduating to the more ‘gritty’ George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, (threatening to give up in book three for his crimes against his protagonists but unable to abandon the addiction.)
I don’t really know how the experience of reading a story would be any different if you unrolled a scroll or … continue reading