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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | art

Welcome to Roy’s House

Roy's HouseWhat better way to familiarize one’s self with the work of pop culture artist Roy Lichtenstein than to walk through his house from living room to snack bar, from bathroom to bedroom, and finally into his studio, where we can try our hand at painting?

Susan Goldman Rubin and her team at Chronicle have created a book illustrated by Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings, Roy’s House, which lets us see up close his style of art, the colors he used, and the technique of shading color in dots.

printer's loupeIf you look at a newspaper or a magazine or a brochure, and you use a loupe (Merriam-Webster definition: a small magnifier used especially by jewelers and watchmakers), you can distinguish among the dots used to lay the color down (the “halftone” technique).

During printing, when the color is laid down, those dots grow in size a bit. That’s called “dot gain” and printers expect it, compensating on the original.

Lichtenstein exaggerated those dots, and the technique of cross-hatching, to make his paintings bold, bright, and memorable. His style is instantly recognizable. As the back matter states, “His first show shocked critics in 1962.”

Roy's House

The text is minimal (in keeping with Lichtenstein’s paintings) but the author still manages to imbue those words with warmth and humor, spark and spirit. Making use of the artist’s distinctive, jagged-edged thought bubbles provides energy.

This is a book for the very young, the budding artist or art collector, and yet it’s also a book for those who love art, teach art, and are educating themselves about the infinite styles within art. Lichtenstein’s work is iconic … and so is this book. (Merriam-Webster definition: “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence”)

Also take a look at the author’s book Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein (Abrams), written for an older child.

For readers 12 and up, find a copy of Marc Aronson’s Art Attack: a Brief Cultural History of the Avant-Garde (Clarion Books).

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Roads Not Taken

One Way SignMy brother’s driving directions are full of “roads not taken.”

He’ll say something like, “Go about a mile and you’ll see Hamilton. Don’t turn there! You want the next street.” But without fail, I see Hamilton, remember that it was part of his directions, and turn before I’m supposed to.

My father and I are equally directionally incompatible. He’ll recite a mystifying succession of compass points to me. To give him credit, I’m sure his directions are completely clear and sensible to somebody who can actually tell east from west.

Here’s the only kind of directions that seem to work for me: “Turn left at the third Dairy Queen.” I guarantee I won’t miss a single turn if you use “ice cream directions.”

It’s a simple truth:  different approaches work for different brains. What launches one student’s writing road trip might amount to a “road not taken” approach for another. There is no “one way” that works to inspire every student. But for every student, there is probably “one way” that will ultimately inspire them.

When I first started  teaching students to write, I found it frustrating when kids would ask if they could draw their stories instead of write them. I saw my job as reinforcing writing skills, and I was afraid that the writing would get upstaged.

But gradually I realized that for certain students, drawing was the perfect “gateway” activity to writing. So while I still encourage all students to work with words, I also make room for drawing as part of our brainstorming and pre-writing activities.

Words are my artistic medium; drawing remains my personal road not taken. But it turns out that you can follow two completely different sets of directions, offered by two people who think completely differently—and somehow still end up at the same place!

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Collecting your observations

Welcome to New Zealandby Vicki Palmquist

I never kept a journal. Why? It never occurred to me. It wasn’t within my realm of familiarity. I started writing many stories on notebook paper and stuffed them into folders. But how satisfying to have a journal, specifically an observation journal to keep track of what you see, hear, and think.

As a child, I was a hunter-gatherer. Were you? Did you have a collection of rocks? Leaves? Agates? Animals? Perhaps you still do. Or perhaps you know a child who has these tendencies.

I think of Rhoda’s Rock Hunt by Molly Beth Griffith and Jennifer A. Bell (Minnesota Historical Society Press). Rhoda collected so many rocks on her family’s camping trip that she couldn’t walk—they weighed her down.

Adding to Rhoda’s story, I think of Lois Ehlert’s The Scraps Book and Leaf Man. Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert is renowned for her collections, her “scraps,” and how she puts them to use. A consummate hunter-gatherer.

Then there’s a brand new, absolutely amazing book about creating a nature journal, Welcome to New Zealand by Sandra Morris (Candlewick Press). This picture book combines the record-keeping, visual art satisfaction, and examples of different things to observe in nature that will keep a hunter-gatherer busy for years. I admire this book on so many different levels.

Welcome to New Zealand

Very cleverly designed as a journal, this book shows examples of different types of art, ways to arrange things on pages, labels, and note-taking. There’s advice on pressing leaves, observing clouds and phases of the moon, and making a landscape study. Every turn of the page brings a new surprise and something to try on your own. (And you can do this—none of these excuses about not being an artist—you are!)

Morris writes, “Create a layered map of the birds on the shoreline as the tide changes, like my high-tide journal page here. Working from the top of the page downwards, draw the different flocks as they advance closer.” Much better than ANY video game (and I like playing video games).

Welcome to New Zealand

Examples of crayon, pencil, watercolor, and charcoal drawing will inspire each reader. Plentiful samples of creative hand-lettering encourage the freedom to make your journal quite personal. Morris provides ideas, but unless you’re sitting on a beach in New Zealand as you read this, your journal will be all your own.

And that’ just it. If you’re not in New Zealand, reading this book will teach you a lot about the landscape, the mammals, the trees, the insects, and the seasons.

This book is great for any young hunter-gatherer and observer but any old person will like it, too! It’s a treasure.

Other Resources

Smithsonian Kids has a site devoted to collecting.

Kids Love Rocks Fun Club

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson, Advantage4Parents, writes “Why Kids Love to Collect Stuff.

Now that you know about this book (you’re welcome), and you try out some of the suggested activities, send me a sample in the comments. Most of all, enjoy the time you spend with nature and your journal.

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Literary Madeleine: The Horse

by Marsha Qualey

The Horse coverThe Horse: A Celebration of Horses in Art
Rachel Barnes and Simon Barnes
Quercus Publishing 2008

“We paint what matters to us…”

“Horses have always been part pf the human imagination”

                                           —from the introduction

While preparing for this month’s Bookology I read and looked at many books about horses, and this is the one that was totally (totes!) unexpected. I was wowed. Even better, after an initial perusal I felt compelled to page through it again and again, studying the text and savoring the images.

Cave Painting

Spotted Horse Cave Painting
Lascaux, France
Click to enlarge.

In art, paintings over a certain size are classified as “monumental.” This is a monumental book, 17’’ (h) x 14” (w). Accordingly, the reproductions—many on double page spreads—are much larger than any that could be viewed on a computer screen; further, the paper and image quality successfully convey the tactile element of the artwork.

The price tag is also monumental; that along with the size would make this book a questionable one to add to a school library or a personal collection, but its impact as a classroom or living room visitor is easy to imagine.

Horses, Basilica San Marco

The Horses of Saint Mark,
St. Mark’s Basilica
Venice, Italy
Click to enlarge.

History? You bet. The book is organized chronologically, from the cave painters to Picasso. How did the human relationship to horses change? Why? How did those changes show up in our art?

Science? You bet. The green patina on the bronze horses at Saint Mark’s in Venice is enough to trigger many conversations about basic chemistry and pollution.

The Piebald Horse

The Piebald Horse 1650-4 The Getty Center
Los Angeles, California USA
Click to enlarge.

Language arts? You bet. Begin with Paulus Potter’s painting, “The Piebald Horse.” Piebald. This veteran writing teacher smiles at the idea of using the word as a prompt for any number of writing exercises.

Of course, there would be some classroom cautions should the book be shared that way. Because the focus is on Western art, the early sections include a fair amount of Christian imagery. And—yet again—most of the (known) artists are white men.

The Horse Fair

The Horse Fair, 1853-5 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, New York USA Click to enlarge.

The exceptions to the white-guys trope are fabulous, though, and they should be added to any list of report-worthy individuals:

Rosa Bonheur (The Horse Fair, left): “In order to make studies at the horse sale in Paris she obtained police permission to dress up as a man, so she could move more easily around the crowd” (p.123). 

Bronco Busting

Bronco Busting c.1925-35 Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC USA Click to enlarge.

Velino Shije Herrera (Bronco Busting, right): “Herrera was born in Zia Pueblo in New Mexico. He became recognized for his quotidian scenes of the Pueblo Indian Life … this work is signed with his Native American name Ma Pe Wi” (p. 184).

One final warning: this is not a lap book. To savor it you will need a table and time.

 

 

 

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The Scraps Book

The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life

Sometimes I want to walk right into the pages of a book, know everything the author knows, share their lifetime of experiences, and be able to emulate their creativity. Scraps: Notes from a Colorful Life makes me feel that way. I’ve even enjoyed the feeling and texture of the paper because I want in! For […]

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bk_walkthisworld.jpg

Gifted: Walk This World

Walk This World: a Celebration of Life in a Day Lotta Nieminen, a Finnish-born graphic designer and art director Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick Press, November 2013 As you consider gifts for this holiday season, we suggest … (book #2 in our Gifted recommendations) … Visit 10 countries in one book! This stylish […]

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