Touring In: Yukon

Craft: Illustrator

Genre: Picture Books

Ideal Audience Size: 18-24

Maximum Audience Size: 24

Grades: 3 – 10

Special Equipment:



Winner of the 2016 Atlantic Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award


Presentation Information

Hands on Drawing Workshop – Grades 3 – 10 – 15-24 participants with a teacher present to help (90-120 mins)

This workshop will challenge students to draw with confidence, while helping them learn that the world around them is full of inspiration. They will briefly learn about Emma’s process for books like “Hand Drawn Halifax” and “Hand Drawn Vancouver”, and hear about how “EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street”, and then get practice sketching with an outdoor component. Being outside and sketching is a calming but invigorating way to learn to draw.

Students will first start inside a classroom, creating a watercolour wash on multimedia paper taped to a board. This is followed by a warm up exercise drawing their neighbour on a piece of scrap paper with pen, not looking at the piece of paper (blind contour drawing). This always gets students giggling as things don’t always look ‘perfect’, but it really trains the eye to see!

Students then go outside with someone else’s board and draw from observation what they see, using a paper viewfinder to help decide on a subject matter that interests them. They sketch without using pencil or eraser, just as Emma does when working on her books. Using someone else’s colour background creates surprisingly wonderful results, and helps let go of attachment to a particular way that something should look.


Seeing the world through drawing – Grades 3 – 10 – 15-14 participants (90 mins)

This presentation emphasises that the world is full of stories that can be found through drawing. Emma will share her own experience of stories people share with her, or that she overhears, when she is out drawing on location.

She will read aloud from “EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street” and explain the process of illustrating a book and where she finds inspiration. She will also share her technique of drawing with pen and then adding colour on a computer with Photoshop.

Emma is interested in knowing what the students love (and don’t like!) about where they live, and will take suggestions on what to draw while in the area, encouraging the kids to think about what they could draw on their own.

There can be a short drawing component where Emma teaches the concept of blind contour drawing by drawing a volunteer participant on a flip chart, and then has the audience do the same, drawing their neighbour (students will need to bring a pen and notebook).


Book List

Hand Drawn Vancouver by Emma FitzGerald (Appetite of Penguin Random House Canada, Spring 2020)


EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Emma FitzGerald (Nimbus Publishing, Spring 2018)


SKETCH BY SKETCH Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore by Emma FitzGerald (Formac Publishing, Fall 2017)


Hand Drawn Halifax: The Colouring Book by Emma FitzGerald (Formac Publishing, Spring 2016)


Hand Drawn Halifax by Emma FitzGerald (Formac Publishing, Fall 2015)



Emma FitzGerald was born in Lesotho in Southern Africa to Irish parents, grew up in Vancouver and calls Halifax, Nova Scotia home. She has always loved to dance and draw, and wanted to become a choreographer, writer or architect when she was 10 years old.

After completing a BFA in fine art and a Masters in Architecture, she worked in architecture offices in South Africa, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax. She taught architecture in the Gambia, West Africa. Since 2013 she has run her own business as an artist, creating drawings of buildings and people in Halifax, Nova Scotia, selling them as both cards and prints. This led her to create her first book “Hand Drawn Halifax” (Formac Publishing, 2015), which has become a bestselling and well loved ode to the city. As Emma draws on location people approach her and tell her stories, which are woven into the book.

Subsequently Emma explored the South Shore of Nova Scotia in a similar fashion, resulting in “Sketch by Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore” (Formac Publishing, 2017), and she is currently working on “Hand Drawn Vancouver” (Appetite, 2020), which will share stories of the city she grew up in.

Emma is thrilled to have illustrated Sheree Fitch’s children’s book “EveryBody’s Different on EveryBody Street” first written as a poem for the Nova Scotia Hospital to spark conversation around mental health. In this book she was able to include many people dancing, which made her happy. She believes the message of the book; that we are all different and yet the same is a wonderful one.

Emma shares her passion for drawing through teaching on location sketching workshops. She has done so at the Lunenburg School of the Arts, at Urban Sketching Symposiums in Brazil and the UK, and in Libraries all around Nova Scotia.



Hand Drawn Halifax

  • Winner of the 2016 Atlantic Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award

Hand Drawn Halifax

  • Winner of the 2016 Coast People’s Choice Award for ‘Best Book’



Feedback from participants (aged 10-16) during 2018 Summer Library tour with Nova Scotia Library System*:

“I liked that we got to go outside and draw. I really liked the background painting too.”


“I loved how Emma (the artist) guided us, but also encouraged us to explore our art on our own.”


“This program was very eye opening & very informational. I learned a lot in this class and am very proud of my work! It was possibly the best art I’ve done. It was wonderful & it really opened my eyes.”


Feedback from the Librarians who oversaw the workshops during the 2018 Summer Library Tour*:

“Was attentive to all participants, individualized interaction with all participants, professional, calm, and also engaging – kids came away with positive comments and smiles!”


“Emma had a calm, helpful attitude to engaging the children, asking them to share their experience with art & what they liked about where they lived. She gave them enough guidance & shared her experiences, but allowed each participant to make the art piece their own. Going outside to the library lawn to find subjects was brilliant, and switching backgrounds let the participants share their art (and learn not to get too invested).”


“Yes, very engaged and the full two hours were definitely needed. We had nice weather so we were able to go outside and take advantage of the setting for some beautiful sketches of the landscape. They were really pleased to have someone of Emma’s experience come out for the workshop and were excited to have the fun of switching paper part way through so they were working on someone else’s background.”


“Participants seemed to be thoroughly engaged and eagerly tried the techniques and exercises Emma presented. The artwork produced was varied and unique. Emma had an excellent rapport with the children and her feedback about their work was thoughtful and individualized.”


* Emma visited a total of 12 libraries in both city and rural settings, and provided the same hands on workshop offered for TD Book Week for groups of up to 20 children.