Jeanie Mellersh: Artist

“Small Steps Forward” by Sarah Newman - a book for parents of special needs children Home  Gallery Pastel Portrait Tutorial   Email me
Buy “Small Steps Forward” Next book in series

The sucessor “Stepping Out”, for children from 5 to 12, is now available
Also Spanish translation “Paso a Paso” now available.

How I illustrated “Small Steps Forward”

Fig 44 boy pulls mum by the hand.JPG (119532 bytes)I knew Sarah Newman was a remarkable person as soon as I met her. She lived in a small house in a village nearby and already had two children one of them autistic. She was expecting another baby and she simultaneously produced the baby and the book. 

Fig 55 boy plays with toy train.JPG (124178 bytes)When she realised that her first child had special needs she scoured the bookshops for a book to help her with  her problems but found that there wasn't one, so she decided to write one gleaning all the help she could from the experts.  This was how she produced "Small Steps Forward".

I was given 6 weeks to do the illustrations and Sarah wrote me a list of about 70 situations like "parent and child playing ‘Row row the boat’".  I set out with a map, sketchbook & digital camera and systematically visited and observed play groups and the homes of children with special needs. I talked to some of the parents and carers, and worked out which would be a good way to illustrate each point. I needed to quickly become knowledgeable about the subject.

Fig 25 crying baby (cartoon).JPG (60658 bytes)I believe a good illustrator must have a deep understanding of the subject in order to do the job well. The drawn line must be an intelligent line. I could see this is a practical and beautiful book with delightful text.  I wanted the illustrations to be just as delightful,  so that “Small Steps Forward” would bring a smile to the parents and carers who need some really good things to happen in their lives. I hope I’ve succeeded.

Fig 50 boy looks in mirror.JPG (174395 bytes)

Technical notes:  All illustrations were painted directly on the computer, not scanned. I used Painter Classic and a Wacom table with a touch sensitive stylus.  References were taken with an Olympus 740 digital camera.  In Painter Classic I used mostly the scratchboard pen and the airbrush.

small steps cover straight.jpg (70756 bytes)

Buy it: Click here for Jessica Kingsley (the publisher’s) web page where you can buy online. Or go to Amazon or other online book store.

Click here to email me with comments and questions!

“Row row the boat”

Fig 45 row-row the boat mum & child.JPG (176094 bytes)

This is the picture used on the cover of the book.  It is based on the author who was playing with one of her children.  Much of the book is about having fun with your children.  I hope I've caught the spirit here.

Reading together

Fig 22  boy and mother with book.JPG (217358 bytes)

This mother gets into marvelous sculptural poses with her children.   As with most of the pictures I went to the site with my sketchbook and digital camera, then came home and drew the illustration on the computer.

Father dances with his son

Fig 36 dance holding child.JPG (242394 bytes)

Another one I liked here.  The father and the son were having so much fun singing and dancing around the room.

Kiss the repair man!

Fig 52 kiss the gas-man.JPG (99280 bytes)

Autistic children don't know who to say hello to.  The author's son, seeing his mother and father kissing people who came to the door one day kissed the repair man who had come to mend the gas boiler.  I like the broad cartoony effect here!

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