My Forces Life Art Competition 2023

/My Forces Life Art Competition 2023
My Forces Life Art Competition 2023 2023-06-26T13:27:25+00:00

Thank you for all your amazing entries! THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED.

Winners have been announced and can be seen here.

Last year we invited you to take part in our Writing Competition and we were blown away by your fantastic entries.

This year we’re inviting children, teens, parents and relatives (serving and ex-serving) to participate in our Art Competition and create a work of art about your Forces life.

The Art Competition is open for entries from Friday 7th April

Closing date for entries is Sunday 21st May 2023. Full Terms and Conditions apply – find out more below.

We have 18 prizes including £100 of Daler Rowney art materials and £100 of books!

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso


You can create your picture using any materials (and any combination of materials) – draw, paint, collage, use coloured pencils, pens, paint pens, or pastels.

Choose your own format (any 2D medium that can be reproduced) – this might be a portrait, pet portrait, a landscape, a cityscape, a comic strip, or a graphic short story. We are looking for original work. Colouring sheets or a copy of an existing image will not be accepted into the competition.

What means something to you when you think about ‘My Forces Life’?

This might be your family, one member of your family, a grandparent or aunt, or uncle, who used to serve, a family member who is currently serving, your pet, your house or somewhere you once lived that means a lot to you, a best friend or group of friends, somewhere you travelled to and maybe lived in, a favourite activity you do to celebrate being with family. The subject of your artwork can be anything that relates to your Forces Life

Please scan or take a good photograph of your work of art and email the scan or photograph to with your details: full name, age, military connection, postal address – of the person who made the work, title of the work, and what materials were used to make it. No original artwork is to be posted to Reading Force.

We want to showcase your fantastic creativity and all winning and highly commended entries will be posted in our online gallery on the Reading Force website. By submitting work to this competition you are giving consent for your work to appear in this online gallery.

The Art Competition is open for entries from Friday 7th April

Closing date for entries is Sunday 21st May 2023. Full Terms and Conditions apply.

Winners will be announced in June.

Each category will have one judge who is a children’s book illustrator, artist and BFBS Radio Presenter. Please see judges for each category below.


Mini Grey

Judging up to age 4 category

Mini Grey was given her name after being born in a Mini car in Newport, Wales. She worked as a theatre designer and primary school teacher, before doing an MA in sequential design. She has been making award-winning picture books ever since, including The Last Wolf, Biscuit Bear, Traction Man, The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon (winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal). Her latest book is The Greatest Show on Earth, the 4.6 billion year story of life on our planet, which comes out in paperback April 2023.

Olaf Falafel

Judging age 5-7 category

Olaf Falafel is an author, illustrator and a stand-up comedian (which is pretty similar to a stand-up chameleon except he doesn’t change colour to blend in with the background). As well as trying to make people laugh on stage, Olaf draws a lot and tries to come up with funny ideas for kids books. He also has an Art Club on Youtube full of real drawing tips and facts about famous artists. In 2019 Olaf visited 100 schools in 100 days – and then put his feet up and had a cup of tea.

Cressida Cowell

Judging age 8-11 category

Former Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell MBE is the number one bestselling author-illustrator of the How to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once book series. How to Train Your Dragon is also an award-winning DreamWorks film franchise. Cressida is an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust, a trustee for World Book Day and a founder patron of the Children’s Media Foundation. She lives in Hammersmith with her husband, three children and dogs Pigeon and Zero.

Tony De Saulles

Judging age 12-14 category

Tony writes and illustrates children’s books including the multi-award-winning Horrible Science series. He has won The Blue Peter Prize for Best Book With Facts. Most recently, Tony has written and illustrated the Bee Boy trilogy: Clash of the Killer Queens, Attack of the Zombees and Curse of the Vampire Mites. Tony has been drawing with children in schools and libraries for over 20 years. Life is strange – Tony used to be told off at school for doodling and now he gets paid for it!

Natasha Reneaux

Judging age 15-18 category

Natasha is a presenter on BFBS Radio hosting a daily show from Aldershot. She interviews military personnel, their families, forces charities and is often heard chatting to a celebrity or two. She has won awards including the 2022 ‘Entertainment show of the Year’ at the Community Radio Awards. She loves to read stories to local school children and gets them involved in her shows. When she isn’t working, Natasha can be found with her nose stuck in a book, at the theatre or museum, and always seeking a funny story to tell her listeners.

Eleanor Taylor

Judging adult category

Eleanor Taylor has created over fifty children’s books including Beep Beep, Let’s Go!, No Trouble At All and A Little Bit of Trouble, written by Sally Grindley, Run, Rabbit, Run for which she won the English 4-11 Award for The Best Children’s Illustrated Book. Eleanor illustrated the Hogwarts Crest for JK Rowling. She is currently illustrating the new Peter Rabbit titles. In May 2022 she organised The Rock Retreat, an international residency for writers and illustrators focusing on the creation of books for children and young people.

Creative people are curious, flexible, and independent with a tremendous spirit and a love of play.” – Henri Matisse

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Our sponsors

Bolt Burdon Kemp

“Bolt Burdon Kemp supports Reading Force and their valuable work enabling military parents and children to connect with one another during times of separation. As Military injury claims specialists, we know how important connection is for Forces families whilst parents serve their country.  It is our pleasure to help promote this wonderful and worthwhile charity and we are privileged to sponsor the My Forces Life competition for the second year.”

Daler Rowney

“Daler-Rowney is proud to support the creativity of Forces families and the incredible work of Reading Force. We strive to make a positive difference in the lives of children and adults. Our reputation as a manufacturer of the finest art materials dates back nearly 240 years. Here at Daler-Rowney, our aim is to allow everyone to be creative. Inspiring creativity since 1783, our aim is to be accessible, inclusive and innovative, offering an outstanding artistic experience to all.”

Nosy Crow books

“Encouraging families to read and enjoy books together is at the heart of both Nosy Crow and Reading Force. We are very happy to support this competition that gives children and young people a chance to let their imaginations fly and share with families and the community around them.”

Competition Terms and Conditions can be seen here.