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Wall art for the playroom – a tribute to Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

No time today for craft, but thought I’d capture a retrospective on some wall art I did for the kid’s playroom in the hope that it might encourage others. The point of this blog is that I genuinely didn’t know what I was doing, but if you just have a go, you might surprise yourself, and your kids will love it.

Like many people reading this, the books I loved as a child were mainly those by Roald Dahl. Who didn’t secretly try at least once to move things with their eyes like Matilda, or desperately want to go visit the chocolate factory and eat everything in sight?

I also have a really clear memory of me and my sister being engrossed in Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine on Jackanory. Forget Bottom, the Young Ones, Blackadder or Drop Dead Fred, this is his finest hour! I think you can still access that on You Tube if you’ve never seen it.

Fond memories of watching Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine (picture from curiousbritishtelly.co.uk)

I don’t think I gave much attention to the pictures by Quentin Blake at the time, but have become really fond of them as an adult. They seem so simple but capture the sense of the books brilliantly, and have this enormous sense of fun. For anyone who does want to practice drawing, copying them is a good place to start (try it!).

Anyway, when we moved a couple of years ago, we were lucky enough to have a playroom and I wanted to do something to spruce it up, without actually having to decorate it.

I found a massive old piece of board (about 4ft by 3ft) in the shed, and the idea of using it for a painting came to me, which was quickly followed by a thought to do something Roald Dahl related. Matilda the film is admittedly pretty good, but I’d really love for the kids to have the same connection to the actual books as I did, so felt like bringing the illustrations into their world might help with that.

A board found in the shed

I genuinely hadn’t tried anything this size before, and presumed it would be rubbish by the time I’d finished, but knew that the kids at this point were too young to be anything other than wowed, no matter what it looked like!

I didn’t really know where to start, but gave it a lick of white paint as a base.

Base of white paint

I wanted it to be bright so I then added colour by literally just squeezing the paints (I had some acrylics) onto the board and brushing them out, blurring them into each other a little but not too much.

The actual positioning of the colours was an accident really, and I’d intended on just doing one big picture of e.g. the BFG, but at this point I started to realise that certain books might fit with certain colours, and that this could actually work as a series of smaller images that work as part of an overall scene. Using any pictures I could get my hands on from the actual books, google etc, I hand copied in pencil on to the board then used a paint pen to give an outline.

I was proud of the drawings, and thought about leaving them as outlines as I was a bit worried about spoiling them with paint (I’d tried to do a small Gruffalo before, and just couldn’t get the brown to look right). I’m much better now at knowing how to make colour tones etc, but in the main these were just straight out of the tube. Luckily, it worked as the boldness of the colours stood out.

It took all week, starting once the kids went to bed for a few hours each night. I put on Spotify playlists, and I realised this was actually fun.

The finished product. Measures about 4ft by 3ft.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was really proud of this when I finished it, not because I thought it was of any particular standard but the whole process from start to finish felt good. Its genuinely nice to realise you can surprise yourself sometimes. A hobby is born.