Earlier this year, St Albert's Primary School in Glasgow contacted me and asked if I would be interested in illustrating a children's book for the We Can Be Heroes project.
We Can Be Heroes is an award-winning enterprise that publishes children's books which feature children from Black, Asian and other minorities, and it was lovely to work on the illustrations for the book which had the gorgeous title, Sweet Love.
The request was for 8 colour illustrations and a front cover too.
It's been such a wonderful and uplifting project to work on, and I'm so pleased to share it with you.
The story, written by the highly talented Safina Mazhur, is about a nine-year-old girl who comes from a Muslim background. When one of her school friends tells her that her parents don't love each other because they don't hug or kiss anymore, Emaan starts to worry about her own parents' relationship. She has never seen them hug or kiss - does that mean they don't love each other either?
I started with having a Zoom meeting with the author, Suna Hepha. It was wonderful to be given scope to illustrate the story however I chose, and she explained that the role of food and breaking the fast (it is set during Ramadan) are vital parts of the story.
I loved learning about the different types of food. The importance of eating dates (katoor) when breaking fast in the evening, and also the importance of eating ayatef too - pancake-like treats that are lovingly made at home and finished off with a variety of sweet fillings.
In total, I made 8 sketches plus three extra sketches with book cover ideas. After a few days, the school got back to me and gave me the go-ahead to complete the illustrations in colour.
My preference is to use traditional media - so it was fun to get out the pastels, paints and papers and start illustrating. I then finished off some of the illustrations with small digital embellishments, making sure to keep that hand-drawn look which is so important to my work.
I added some of my own patterns that I had personally designed from my own artwork to the illustrations which complemented the Islamic storyline.
Stay tuned for the front cover reveal! I'm sure that you will love it. Are you excited to learn more about this story? Please let me know in the comments below.