Drawing on the beach totally rocks

Published on: 05 July 2017 Author: Sarah McIntyre

The immensely talented and down right wonderful illustrator Sarah McIntyre, who's work includes Jampires and There's a Shark in the Park, became our fifteenth Writer in Residence back in 2017. In this blog Sarah talks about finding drawing inspiration outdoors? She took us to the beach to help us do just that...

Sarah McIntyre draws by the beach

I get a lot of inspiration from stuff I find on the beach. Can you guess which characters this rockweed inspired?


Yes, it's the Sarcastic Seaweed from Oliver and the Seawigs!

Sarah McIntyre's Sarcastic Seaweed

And I used to wonder what might come out of the bulb of these giant strands of bull kelp, and the answer clearly was...

Bull kelp

... Sea Monkeys! Of course.

Sarah McIntyre's Sea Monkeys

While I was visiting family this summer in Alaska, I did a bit of drawing of what I saw on the beach.

Sarah McIntyre's beach drawing

But I only really started to have fun when I changed medium entirely, from paper to... beach rocks!

Sarah McIntyre's pebbles

I don't have much experience of drawing on rocks. But sometimes it takes a shift in what I'm used to doing to find exciting, playful inspiration.

Sarah McIntyre's pebble

If you find you're struggling with one way of working, try drawing on something completely different! Whether it be beach pebbles, strips of tree bark or driftwood, old bits of crockery - anything that isn't your standard paper.

Sarah McIntyre's pebbles

The town was having an arts auction for its summer festival and I didn't have much good display material, such as frames or clear plastic coating for pictures. But rocks were easy to display and they didn't need a frame.

I got more people buying my rocks than my paintings. And since I had a little basket of extra rocks, lots of people commissioned mermaid pebble portraits on the spot!

Arts auction

In case you're wondering which pens I used, these are some my aunt let me borrow, and they worked great; I liked the different thicknesses of the three tips.

Sarah McIntyre's pebble and pens

So if you're stuck for creative inspiration, head to the woods or the beach and start drawing on things you find there!

Note from Sarah: Of course, be sure you're not taking anything that will be missed, or taking large quantities, or defacing something that will affect a visit to the place for other people. (But I'm sure you know that already.)

Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more