Exploring the murals and street art of Berlin

Interesting Puddle Reflections



I have just completed my first semester on a Masters course in Children’s Book Illustration. This blog is a brief overview of my experiences as a student once more, and the decision that lead to me choosing postgraduate study.



Realising Postgraduate study was the right choice for me

It has been almost ten years since I graduated from my undergraduate degree in Graphic Arts Illustration. My safe bubble of having ‘a plan’ and landing my dream job exploded in the summer of 2009 and over the coming years I took a different path than the one I always intended in the creative industries. I took unsatisfying jobs simply to keep me financially afloat whereas other roles led me to some invaluable experiences.

I went to university at aged 18 and looking back, I think as a new graduate at the age of 21, I didn’t really know exactly how to get to where I wanted to go, or have the knowledge or confidence to make my next move in the arts world. I spent the summer immediately after university teaching ceramics at an American summer camp near Philadelphia, which opened my eyes to the possibility of working with children. I worked hard and I took up various volunteering opportunities at arts festivals and was selected for a 2-week work placement as a props designer for London television studios. These unpaid opportunities were great experiences but I was also in the real world and needed to bring in an income too. After my year out of trying various roles to get my foot in the door, I decided to train to become an early years professional (EYT) and I have been working in schools and early years settings ever since. Five years ago, I also launched my illustration business in a bid to make it my career again.

Last year was a turning point for me. I began to reflect on my experiences and knew I needed to take control of my future in some way. I had always wanted to continue my illustration career by getting into publishing world of children’s books, but I had no idea how I could afford to further my studies in this field, or which universities offered this very specific course. I was worried that it was a bit of a pipe dream to even be considering this new avenue having just turned 30. I was totally overwhelmed with course information online and that’s when I came across FindAMasters.com.

Finding exactly what you are looking for

Children’s Book Illustration had been on the agenda for many years but I also wanted to keep an open mind and look more broadly based on my experience and qualifications. Stumbling across FindAMasters.com was the very point I realised… that studying a postgraduate course could actually be a real possibility for ME!

Things accelerated fairly quickly from this point onwards and within the space of a couple of months, I had chosen my desired MA course, university, submitted my application and was offered a place for September 2019!

I was totally delighted and immensely grateful that I had the information to act and take up doing my masters almost immediately. A year ago I had NO idea that I would now be a Masters student at UCLAN.

Enjoying the process and embracing the change

The best part about FindAMasters.com is the easily guided pages that state the necessary information which allow you to clearly identify pages that are most relevant to you. Personally, the most valuable guidance was the funding overviews that state costs of courses and the postgraduate loans available. I found the blogs really useful and these offer up-to-date information, news or simply raise questions or concerns to do with postgraduate study. The quick and convenient search tool allowed me to do advanced searches into every course imaginable, and refine exactly what I was looking for before applying to my chosen university.

My advise for anyone considering further study is to just get out there and look! It can be a little daunting thinking about signing up to open days and postgraduate events in the early days but the beauty of FindAMasters.com is it’s easy accessible (now) and a great first step so you don’t need to feel any pressure whatsoever. I warn you though- it’s amazing how quickly you change your outlook and the excitement begins to kick in once you start considering the idea!

My experience of studying a Masters so far has been really positive. It didn’t take me too long to get back into the swing of studying again and managing deadlines! I love being a new student again, at a new university in a new city. This is a much bigger commitment than any other study and I’m aiming to make every minute count. I already feel that I am learning so much and making connections that will shape my future career with greater impact than my undergraduate degree.

Winning the scholarship prize was the icing on the cake for my MA journey so far and it’s already been so beneficial to my studies. I have bought a camera that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford, other art materials and equipment, and it has paid for a university study trip to Berlin in March.

You can see more blog posts at http://www.shelleyjayne.com/about




Reflective Journal/ Design Practice- MA Children’s Book Illustration

I’m currently exploring themes for research and development that will ultimately result in my very own picture book aimed at 3-6 year olds.

Nature and Exploration

Nature and Puddles

Nature and the Outside World

Nature and Ethical Responsibility

Nature and Creativity


“The Hundred Languages of Children No way. The hundred is there. The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages a hundred hands a hundred thoughts a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking. a hundred, always a hundred ways of listening of marveling, of loving a hundred joys for singing and understanding a hundred worlds to discover a hundred worlds to invent a hundred worlds to dream. The child has a hundred languages (and a hundred hundred hundred more) but they steal ninety-nine. The school and the culture separate the head from the body. They tell the child to think without hands to do without head to listen and not to speak to understand without joy to love and to marvel only at Easter and Christmas. They tell the child to discover the world already there and of the hundred they steal ninety-nine. They tell the child that work and play reality and fantasy science and imagination sky and earth reason and dream are things that do not belong together. And thus they tell the child that the hundred is not there. The child says “No way – The hundred is there.”

Loris Malaguzzi – Reggio Emilia Founder


Illustrations for Folk Tale Week November 2018


The adventure of a lifetime, finally happened in January of 2016…

THAILAND – Bangkok – Khao Sok – Ko Samui – Ko Tao

AUSTRALIA – Cairns – Great Barrier Reef – Whitsundays – Fraser Island – Noosa – Brisbane – The Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise – Byron Bay – Coffs Harbour – Sydney – Ayers Rock –  Melbourne – The Great Ocean Road – Warrnambool



NEW ZEALAND – Tauranga – Napier – Lake Taupo – Rotorua – Whakatane – Paeroa – Whangamata –  Auckland – Queenstown – Milford Sound – Cape Reinga







This spring I had the opportunity to partake in my own public art project in Liverpool- in the form of a giant duck!

My ‘canal design’ won through a competition organised by Aqua Ducked, and weeks later we were busy painting our designs at the Pier Head, surrounded by other artists, tourists and other passers by.

Being originally from ‘The Potteries’ in Stoke-On -Trent where ducks are typically popular thanks to the local dialect “Ay up Duck!” I felt it was important to keep the duck itself as part of the design– therefore mine became part mallard duck/part canal barge.

As a huge admirer of public art, to actually be live painting for the next fortnight was such an exciting change to my otherwise studio based, solitary working.

I had plenty of helpers from my preschool group of Blackburne House Nursery. We organised duck decorating activities, went to find the ducks on the official Duck Trail map itself, and one of my children even came down to the Pier Head to help me paint one windy morning!

I definitely recommend artists to cease the opportunity to do some public art. Not only is it really fun and inspiring, but it’s a really good way to get your name out there. We were promoted through the press, social media and had named plaques next to our ducks for the duration of the exhibition.

The ducks are now awaiting celebrity signatures and are getting auctioned off shortly to raise money for the charity- Macmillan.


Duck shelley jayne IMG_0076 IMG_0078 IMG_2642  IMG_2652 IMG_2668 IMG_2747 copy  JS62234030

window images

A few days ago, my pre-school group were lucky enough to be invited to a private art session at Tate Liverpool, working with visual artist and creative practitioner Michiko Fujii.

This was such a fantastic opportunity for the children, who were very excited when we arrived at the Albert Dock.

The session had overall themes of line, movement and light for the children to focus on and engage with. We started off by viewing some of the current exhibit works in the gallery. This was a good opportunity for the children to engage in conversation and ask questions. Michiko also provided different types of bendy wires for the children to explore form, and to create their own wire sculptures influenced by Tower of Babel by León Ferrari.

tate liverpool tate liverpool Five-Man Pedersen e No.1)

The next exhibition piece from the DLA Piper Series:Constellations was an installation, in which the children were encouraged to focus on the sound before they entered the pitch black room. “…it sounds like drums!” They were motivated to move to the beat, this even included taking out musical instruments and dancing around the space, whilst trying to catch the ever-changing lines of light bouncing around the room.

This particular group are already familiar with the work of Jackson Pollock and his painting approach thanks to a project we did in the summer exploring different techniques. To my amazement many of the children recognised “Look it’s Jackson Pollock!” when we arrived next to his Summertime Number 9A piece.

The children were given metre long strips of paper and asked to mark make based on what they had seen from all the exhibition’s many different interpretations of line, using light and movement.


Next was studio time where the children could really express their creativity (and finally allowed be a bit noisy now we were away from the public gallery space!)

Michiko provided the children with different coloured markers and oil pastels to draw on acetate squares basing their work around our developing theme, simply exploring lines and marks. The outcomes were extraordinary. Each one was imaginative and all so different in terms of ways of creating lines: from small, controlled lines to bold, jagged zig zag patterns. This activity really allowed each child to absorb what they had learnt, and translate in a completely new way.

The creative freedom was endless from drawing intricately at the table to spreading out on the floor and mark making on huge paper with brusho inks, pastels, paints,  and printing resources.

The workshop concluded in a beautiful way with Michiko transforming their pictures made earlier on acetate, into giant reflections of light on the projector, whilst turning the studio into a dark den with fabric and different coloured lights.

The overall success of this creative session was down to the fact that not only did we have the opportunity to work with a great visual artist, but it benefitted the children hugely that Michiko was early years specialised and timed each activity according to their engagement and interest. The children are still talking about it now! I highly recommend 🙂



EYFS Development:

Personal,Social & Emotional – Self Confidence & Self Awareness

Communication & Language – Listening and Attention

– Speaking

Physical Development             – Moving and Handling

Expressive Arts & Design       – Exploring and Using Media and Materials.











I came across these fantastic pieces of art at Palm Beach International Airport, Flordia. October 2013

street art DSCF3339To me, street art is just another form of illustration, a type of visual language and expression. Back in 2009, I dedicated my final year dissertation on looking at illustrators of all categories, including those who are considered as Outsider or Street artists. I just love the impact street art has on the world and that it invites the audience to contribute and be part of it. Here are some photos from various trips where I was captivated by street art.

Florence, Italy

Prague, Czech

San Francisco, USA

DSCF3972 DSCF3954DSCF3894 DSCF3884 DSCF3883 DSCF3881

San Fran street art DSCF7285 DSCF7284 DSCF7289 DSCF7286 DSCF7293


Ciera and I had an amazing time travelling Europe this summer.From a creative point of view, it was a really eye opening and inspiring trip. We were so impressed with how much we managed to see from day to day, experiencing different architecture, history, art , food, language and culture. We both agreed it was too difficult to pick an absolute favourite place from just a few days in each city, though I instantly fell in love with Barcelona and Venice. Here are some of my more ‘arty’ snaps from the travels…


4barcelona 4barcelona2 4nice 5rome 6rome2 7rome3paris 8flroence 9lucca 14vencie4 13venice2 12venice 11siena 10pisa amsterda, 18zuric 17munich 16burano 15venice5belfastbrusselsEuropesiena prague copen

My wonderful inspiring American friend Julia, who is now aged 13 has definitely got the skills to become a fine artist!

Her drawings and ideas are just beautiful. Watch this space – there will be more fantastic art coming soon!