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Liz Pichon: How to get creative in lockdown!

Always being told what to do, not being allowed outside… in lockdown we all become children again whether we liked it or not. Liz Pichon, author of the bestselling Tom Gates series, explains how we can make the most of the situation and unleash our inner 10-year-old

The Big Issue: When we’re not able to go outside as much as we might like, how can we take advantage of this new way of life?

Liz Pichon: When I was a kid with the six weeks summer holiday looming, I hatched a plan to paint a mural on my bedroom wall. I thought I’d better ask first – just in case – which was unusual for me. Mum said yes – but I had to tell her what I was going to do. Looking back, I realise she was just happy I’d found something to keep me busy. It took two whole weeks to finish my jungle scene. I brought friends round to see it, who couldn’t believe I’d been allowed to do it either. The glow stars I added to the sky were my favourite part. I’m not saying GO PAINT ON A WALL, but this might be just the time to do that project that you’d never normally have time to. Have a go!

Is this a good time for us to restart diaries and doodling like Tom Gates?

Definitely, diaries and notebooks are great to keep if you’re like me and forget things! I used the scrapbooks from my primary school to spark ideas for the Tom Gates books when I first started to write them.

Why do adults think creativity is not worth making time for?

I hate the idea that creativity isn’t as important as other subjects. You need creativity in all areas of life. Everything around you was, at some point, made or designed by someone who had a creative idea and put it down on paper. It’s one of the reasons I put lots of extra creative projects at the back of my books. Children often send me pictures of their doodles, things they’ve cooked or made, sometimes T-shirts they’ve drawn on. It’s fantastic to see them using their imaginations and having fun too. I always show my readers how stuff I did when I was their age has helped me to write the books now. I hope it encourages them to keep drawing and reading for pleasure.

How can we tap into our inner 10-year-old artist?

When something’s fun to do, you engage with it and you remember it more afterwards. Don’t worry about making mistakes – that’s how you learn. The more you draw the better you get. Copying a certain style you like is a great way to learn how to do it. Art doesn’t have to look realistic. Try lots of different techniques: paper folding, add jokes, use a photo, make a collage. The main thing is: have a go and have FUN!

Liz Pichon’s latest book Tom Gates: Mega Make and Do and Stories Too is out now lizpichon.com

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