Along with music, painting (fine art) has been one of two primary forms of art. Music and painting are often compared by many significant figures in history. One famous figure is Leonardo Da Vinci. As shown in one of his books, Thoughts on art and life, Leonardo Da Vinci expressed his opinion on music and its inferiority to painting. One main reason of his thought seems to be because painting can last for a long time while music needs to be played each time. He may have a different opinion if he is aware of recorded music of nowadays.
Exposing our children to paintings will help them to develop their artistic talents and overall mental states.
Five recommendable books about painting have been introduced in this article.
(Author & Illustrator: Jeanette Winter, Age range: 5~8 years)
Since he was young, Henry Matisse wanted to draw on a lot of objects such as teacups, in the sand, and in the school books, When he was sick, he drew until he was recovered. Even as a student at law school, he forgot about the law and kept drawing. Many people liked his drawing, and he was happy.
When Henry became old, he was sick and he could not paint anymore. When he got better a bit, he moved to the seaside. Over there, his health condition was improved, and he started drawing again. Then, he started using a pair of scissors and cut out shapes from his drawings. He cut shapes all day. Later, He cut larger shapes, and he was happy. He kept cutting shapes happily until he passed away.
The story is about a French artist, Henri Émile Benoît Matisse. Along with Pablo Picasso, he was considered as one of the two artists who revolutionized visual art in the early 20th century.
The book briefly introduces that he became a painter with his enthusiasm for drawing. In the latter part of his life, his passion moved to cutting shapes with a pair of scissors.
Katie and the Mona Lisa
(Author & Illustrator: James Mayhew, Age range: 2~5 years)
Katie and her grandma go to the museum often. Katie’s favorite picture is Mona Lisa because Mona Lisa is smiling at everyone. One day, when Katie looked at the painting of Mona Lisa by herself, she asked Mona Lisa in the picture, “what makes you smile?”. Then, surprisingly, Mona Lisa answered and invited Katie to come inside. Katie went inside the frame and talked to Mona Lisa. When Mona Lisa said that she was tired of smiling and unhappy, they went out of the frame and visited a lot of art-works including St. George and Dragon by Raphael, Primavera (meaning Spring) by Botticelli, the Lion of St. Mark by Carpaccio, and An Angle with a lute painted by a student of Leonardo Da Vinci. A lot of characters in the above pictures went out of the frame and wandered around the museum. But the angel from An Angle with a lute tamed the dragon and made all the characters happy by playing the lute. All the characters went back to their pictures, and Mona Lisa became happy.
Katie and the Mona Lisa is authored and illustrated by James Mayhew. James Mayhew has created a series of children’s books related to a lot of famous arts in different time-periods. In total, there are 14 books, where Katie is the main character.
Katie and the Mona Lisa is about Katie’s adventure in the museum. The story is about famous Italian renaissance artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, and Carpaccio. Being exposed to these masterpieces will be beneficial for our children.
The book’s colorful illustration is impressive. Also, its creative imagination will make both us (parents) and our children deeply moved and excited. Probably, most of us had thought of going inside a picture when we were young. Through an exciting story-line, several masterpieces of the Renaissance era are introduced. This book is highly recommendable.
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing
(Author: Kay Haring, Illustrator: Robert Neubecker, Age range: 5~8 years)
Keith Haring loved drawing since he was young. He drew everywhere. When Keith won the first-place prize in a school competition, and someone wanted to purchase the piece, he gave it for free. When he graduated from high school and went to Pittsburgh to learn about arts, he drew the boys dancing on the street in his unique way.
When he moved to New York, he drew everywhere, such as on the walls, on the sidewalks, and in the subway stations. Even when these pieces were erased right afterward, he kept drawing. When he drew pictures on the walls of subway stations and received a warning from a policeman, he paid the fine and kept drawing. When he displayed his drawings in an art gallery and made money, he donated money to hungry kids and kept drawing.
He preferred drawing in an open space where many people can enjoy his works without paying. When he visited Paris, France, he drew pictures on the walls of Children’s hospital. When the Status of Liberty was 100 years old, he did a project of drawing only the outline and letting 900 children fill the rest.
When people asked him why he kept drawing everywhere, he mentioned that he was drawing because everyone needed art!.
The book introduces the life of a famous graffiti artist, Keith Haring (1958~1990). So, introducing his life can be considered as a review of this book. As the book explained, Keith Haring was fascinated by painting at an early age. He studied at Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh. But he quit after two semesters because he was not fascinated by commercial art.
Then, he moved to New York City and made friends with a lot of visual artists. He drew a lot on the walls of subway stations. After he received public attention, he drew a lot of murals all over the world, including 300-meter-long Berlin Mural in Germany, which symbolized the German flag.
He used images as vocabulary. With primitive images, he tried to talk about death, love, and war. Most images he created were simple and bold. Radiant baby and barking dog are what he has created.
In 1986, he opened Pop-shop in Manhattan to sell affordable items such as posters and T-shorts. Some people criticized him for materializing his art-works, but the profit was mainly spent on continuing his art-work and donation.
He was openly gay and diagnosed as AIDS in 1988. His interests and concerns include social issues such as AIDS awareness and drug abuse. He succumbed to AIDS-related complications in 1990.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
(Author: Karen Beaumont, Illustrator: David Catrow, Age range: 4~7 years)
A boy was painting pictures on the floor, the ceiling, and the wall. When his mom found out what he did, he said, “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!”.
Still, the boy kept painting on his head, neck, chest, arm, hand, back, leg, and feet with many colors. He continued until he has no more color.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! is written by Karen Beaumont (1954~). A curious and mischievous boy keeps painting on his body parts when his mom told him not to make a mess.
Our children can learn body parts and several colors. Its joyful and somewhat abstract illustrations are impressive. A variety of colors on a black and white background seem unique.
Its main rhyme, “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!”, is based on the song It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More! Therefore, reading this book is like singing a song.
(Author & Illustrator: Ellen Stoll Walsh, Age range: 2~3 years)
Three little white mice on a white paper could not be found by a cat. When the cat was asleep, they found three jars of red, yellow, and blue. They jumped in each jar, and they become red, yellow, and blue. Then, they dripped puddles of three colors.
Three mice jumped into the puddles of each color and saw what colors the puddles became.
After washing themselves to the white, they painted the papers to several different colors. But they left white to protect themselves from the cat.
Mouse Paint is authored by Ellen Stoll Walsh (1942~). It is a story of three white mice who are in a white paper. They play with three colors of yellow, red, and blue.
Through a simple story, the book explains what happens when three primary colors of yellow, red, and blue are mixed. This book is like the Color Kittens, which introduced the same concept of mixing three primary colors, as introduced in one of my previous articles. The book also explains the relationship between mouse and cat. The part where three mice are trying to hide from the cat is very cute.