I studied bats and owls quite a bit before beginning the finished art for Owl Bat Bat Owl. I pulled out books on the subject and sketched directly from photos to ‘learn’ them. By sketching from photographs I got a handle on bat wings and how they move.
In the book I’ve simplified the bats and I’m taking major artistic licence with the babies (bats have single pups – rarely twins, never three), but I like to begin with the real animal and how it moves and behaves. I prefer to consciously simplify/take artistic licence, rather than do stuff by mistake!
After a year drawing owls and bats for Owl Bat Bat Owl it seemed like serendipity when Bat Conservation Ireland got in touch to ask if I’d do some illustrations for a new website they were making called Learnaboutbats. I asked if I could use ‘my’ bats for the site. They said yes, and we were in business.
Making images for the website I discovered I still had plenty to learn about bats! Like all illustrators working to a brief I provide rough line drawings initially. This is so the client can spot mistakes and problems before I take the image to full-colour art.
There were loads of wee problems with my initial drawings. For instance I clustered sleeping bats together in a cave for the hibernation image. Mistake! Bats need to cool down to hibernate so they keep their distance from one another. The images of tightly packed bats I was referencing were of summertime roosting mums.
Myself and Niamh Roche at Bat Conservation Ireland emailed back and forth until I had the details right, then I went to colour. The site went live in October and you can fly over to learnaboutbats.com for lots of wonderful Bat Facts.
There’s info on Irish bats, on a year in the life of a bat, and a slide presentation that will be great for use in the classroom.
You can download worksheets to print out for your class, library group, or the small bat fans in your life.
There are suggestions for games and activities too! https://www.learnaboutbats.com/fun-things-to-do/
Get clicking. https://www.learnaboutbats.com/
And there are t-shirts! Ours arrived in the post this week 🙂
This is my third year as writer-in-residence at Marino Institute of Education. (MIE) is an associated college of Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Dublin. MIE offers courses across the continuum of teacher education and prepares specialist education practitioners at early years, primary and further education levels.