After obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Science from Concordia University, Javier Valdés complemented his training with a Certificate in Graphic Arts from this same university. Having devoted himself to photography, graphic design and the illustration of books, in particular children’s books, he has also taught photography in the Town of Côte-Saint-Luc. In addition, he prepared a series of courses to introduce underprivileged youth from 10 to 15 years of age to multimedia creation as part of the Rousselot project carried out in the Saint-Michel District of Montréal. In 2004, the artist held a photographic exhibition in Mexico entitled The Face of Poverty. In addition to having published numerous photographs, posters and illustrations, Javier Valdés illustrated, designed and arranged the layout of a book for children entitled ABCDbêtes, published by Les Éditions Les Heures bleues in 2007.
The objective of the workshop is to show students that the creation of a book is within their reach. Participants will familiarize themselves with what a book is, not from the standpoint of the reader, but rather from that of the creator. For this purpose, the author uses slides presenting the various phases of the illustrator’s approach: sketches, drawings, photographs, synthesis of all these techniques, and finalization of the colours on the computer. The spelling book that the author illustrated will serve as a basis for his comments and will help make participants aware of the basic rules for creating a good illustration. Depending on the students’ level, the first part of the workshop, which is more theoretical, will deal with the relationship between words and the colours they call to mind (kindergarten and start of primary school), on the combination of photos and drawings, on the page layout and the choice of character fonts (starting from the 4th year of primary), or on creation using illustration software, which permits a multiplicity of retouches (secondary). During a second phase of creation, students will be asked to stimulate their imagination, at their own pace and using the means at their disposal, by relying on words or sentences to make their own drawings.
Examples of activities
The artist proposes the creation of a spelling book on the theme of animals or any other topic related to what is being taught in class. Depending on the number of participants and the level of the group, students will be asked to draw an animal of their choice, whose name begins with one of the letters of the alphabet. A descriptive, ironical or poetic sentence may also be attributed to each student. For younger participants, the teacher can prepare colour sheets from which animal shapes will be cut. With older participants (end of primary and secondary), the colours and the shapes can be reworked on the computer (depending on the availability of computers at the school). Participants will also be able to work in groups of two or more, with some groups inventing sentences and others illustrating them. The final spelling book can be bound in class.
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