Working with children is something that Brummie artist, Francoise Heffernan-Walter Krull has always maintained throughout most of her adult working life. A relocation to the U.S in 2007 however meant that she found her existing qualifications somewhat redundant to the extent that she proclaims, “none of those qualifications meant anything.”


Residing in Upstate New York, Francoise, who is commonly known by the name Fran and who used the name Lace9 online, began harnessing her social media skills, namely Instagram and was developing steady followers. “When I was publishing my book, I was getting into using Instagram and I was learning to draw so I was showing off the artwork as I was doing it, and I was showing people what I was learning. People started following along because people love artwork on Instagram’’ says Fran.


While in the States for a decade, Fran got involved in graphic designing, a skill she said emanated from reservations of enlisting anyone to evoke the pictures her writing was attempting to convey. “I think I’ve realised that through the book process that I am a bit of a control freak’’ the author admits. “I’ve written it all myself. I’ve published it myself, done the covers myself and even though I tried to hire two separate audio narrating people to do the audio book, I have now ended up doing the audio books myself’’ she adds.


Fran’s book Azeron Beyond the Veil  and the sequel Azeron: Rites & Rebellion are  available in paperback form and Kindle. The books are about a group of delinquent teenagers from our world who get trapped in a medieval world that has been at war for aeons and is ruled by women. “It’s a lot of stuff turned on its head. Basically, when I was learning to write they tell you, there are no new stories. You have just got to take an old story and put a new spin on it. I was like what’s the ultimate spin? Let’s make it a women’s world’’ says the writer.


Fran is currently working on the third instalment of the series which addresses the consequences of one society subordinating another society for an extensive period. Humans who have already witnessed unsavoury histories occur, now find themselves being the spectators of similar histories happening, but they are in charge, and they must solve a dystopian society.


Azeron Beyond the Veil is suitable for most age groups if you are fine with letting your children watch moderate violence on television, but the sequel, Azeron: Rites & Rebellion is not suitable for children and is for 16 years and older.


From a young age, Fran would write endlessly to envision another world where she would become so engrossed in a paranormal existence, never wanting to vacate. “I don’t really like the real world and to get away from it, I write’’ said the novelist.


“I don’t feel happy unless children have been around me, smiling, making me happy. They gravitate towards me, I gravitate towards them’’

Children organically draw to Fran and her sheer ability, effortlessly solid trust is testified when a child enters her shop followed by another child who helps herself to the free candy inside the outlet. Although the former teaching assistant and child minder can’t imagine herself returning to the school classrooms anytime soon, the creative found herself bombarded with requests from locals and those further afield asking her to run sessions with young people. The requests were not hard for the entrepreneur to resist as Fran confessed, “I don’t feel happy unless children have been around me, smiling, making me happy. They gravitate towards me; I gravitate towards them’’.


Her art lessons which are under the company name FaBd Art Classes, cater to all age groups who are at least seven. When Fran started the art classes were very structured, but over time this has morphed into more amorphous lessons where unpredictability has become the overarching theme of the classes. Fran said: “When we started out we had really solid lesson plans and structure, but a lot of them have been there a long time and we have covered most of the basics, so I let them guide what’s going to be in the lessons next’’.

“We will have a bunch of lessons based on what we are doing and then when we are running out, I will say to them whose has got ideas for what we want to do next?’’


Just before the December festive season children attending Fran’s FaBd Art Classes wanted to know how to make a light resemble a light when they drew. Indebted to Fran’s teaching, regular attendees of her class had developed a technique that would enable them to achieve convincing images of lights in their sketch pads. Never one to restrict her lessons to the mundane, Fran decided to elevate her creativity once more. Speaking of the lesson, the artist said: “For a bit of extra fun, I said I will bring in black paper and you [children] all bring in your white pens and white pencils, bright colours. And so, we did almost like a negative space where all of our drawings were just light stuff on the dark stuff.”

“We will have a bunch of lessons based on what we are doing and then when we are running out, I will say to them, whose has got ideas for what we want to do next?’’ says Fran. Experimenting to decipher what the children enjoy is key for Fran. The Brummie native said, “I’ve got a lot more art supplies than they have so I can bring things in for them to try out and see if they like it before their parents go spending loads of money on a new type of art for them.”

Fran’s FaBd Art Classes are quintessentially holistic. One could argue that to restrict her classes to description of art classes a disservice to what her lessons teach. For example, in one of her classes at least three children completed a painting each and Fran put their entrepreneurial skills to the test by seeing whether they could sell their artwork in her shop. “If they sell it, they get all the money’’ laughs Fran.


Entwining her novel writing and her commitment to bestow creativity to those around her, Fran has told the children if they invent any interesting creatures and they have propositions about what the creatures can do, she will likely incorporate them into her forthcoming books. “I told them they can draw a creature and if I felt that they needed better drawings, then I would redraw it, but otherwise I will allow them to invent things to go into the books’’ says Fran.


Although psychologist Jean Piaget can be criticised for his absence of ethnocentric and void considerations regarding social engagement when thinking of a child’s cognitive skills, I believe he said “Creativity is an inborn aptitude” but this creativity can be impeded by societal norms as they grow. What is apparent with Fran’s art classes, is the unwavering devotion she has for undiluted creativity that is missing in many conventional educational settings.


Fran is seeking animators who could help turn her books into an animation. If you are able to work with this project, please contact her via her social media platforms: Social Media platforms


FaBd Art classes
FaBd Art classes run every Saturday 15:00 – 17:00 located in the Northfield Trade Centre, 855 Bristol Road South, Birmingham B31 2PA, West Midlands. Once Fran has sufficient participants, she will also start running weekly classes on Tuesdays from 18:00 – 20:00 at the Ra Coffee House, 25 High Street, King’s Heath, Birmingham B14 7BB, West Midlands.
Tailored classes
Tailored private classes for events or groups are also offered by Fran. She can run sessions from the comfort of your home. Activities include mindful doodling, peaceful pasteling and cathartic clay.


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