What 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.
If 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.”
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).