Wednesday, 28 November 2012

A retreat for children’s book writers and illustrators

 Illustrations by Doug Cushman

The first of a series of retreats run by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) was held at the end of October at Fynbos Estate.   The general aim of the retreat was to create an opportunity for writers and illustrators to hone their skills, learn new techniques and boost their confidence about writing and illustrating children’s books. The retreat was run by the SCBWI SA. The facilitator of the retreat, Doug Cushman, is an  award winning children’s book writer and  illustrator  from Paris, France. By the look of it, this retreat was a great success! More on SCBWI below.

Perfect venue for creativity. Perfect food to feed the soul. Perfect being looked after. Thank you
Marjorie Van Heerden Co-Ra of SCBWI SA

For me it was a critical transformation event. I do not quite know how I would have got from where I was to understanding what I need to do to create ‘characters’ if I had not attended this retreat.
I probably cut several years off my development program!!

The oje on one help from Doug was inspirational.
Also I found that the willingness of everyone to share  what they do and are trying to do refreshing and helpful.
Craig Paton-Ash (Illustrator)

The retreat at the Fynbos Estate was perfect.  Your idea of decorating the “walls” with art work, to have plenty of books available for inspiration and to have it set in such a peaceful, beautiful setting was great.  I fell in love with the veranda near the dining area, and the visions of the sun in the lush garden, watching the weaver birds, will stay with me for many years to come.  The food was delicious, the hosts were charming and Doug and I came back very impressed by the dedication and quality of work, as well as the friendliness of everyone in your group.  Although I am not very artistic, I really enjoyed making my anorexic dragon, and writing the weaver birds into my story while sitting in my favourite spot on the porch.
Angela Schellenberg (Writer)  

I particular enjoyed and felt I benefited from the combination of foreign and local expertise at the last retreat. 
The local expertise specifically referring to Marjorie.
I am still on a high of inspiration and working like crazy.
Pippa Lugg (Illustrator)

Thank you for the warm welcome. It was quite idyllic and a lovely experience to visit your beautiful farm Paddy Bouma
What a beautiful setting – removed from the hubbub of the cities. The perfect place to focus on our tasks at hand – illustrating. Thank you
Pippa Lug

Thank you for a wonderful Inspirational weekend
Karen Ahlschlager

What a fantastic venue full of inspiration and a wonderful way to discover the bires and flowers in a beautiful quiet spot of south Africa.  Merci Beaucoup!

Beautiful, friendly, homely, peaceful,l wholesome. I would love to come again!


The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) was formed in 1971 by a group of Los Angeles-based writers for children. It is an international organisation that acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people. There are currently more than 22,000 members worldwide, in over 70 regions, making it the largest children’s writing organisation in the world.
The South African Chapter of the SCBWI, which was formed in October 2003, presents professional talks, workshops, critique sessions, open studios, publishers’ days, retreats, conferences and other themed events for its members.
For more information or to join the SCBWI, visit the Society’s local and International websites:;

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