The lives of artists and the paths they took to produce their best works always makes for a good story. Here are some of our favorite books about artists.
A Child's Introduction to Art by Heather Alexander and Meredith Hamilton
This art book for kids focuses on two things: introducing young readers to classic famous artists and some of their best work and teaching basic art concepts. Artists featured include Mary Cassatt, Jackson Pollock, and Cezanne, and each have a small section of the book devoted to their biography and an analysis of their work that is both kid-appropriate yet still very thorough and educational. I was impressed with the amount of knowledge that was poured into teaching kids about real art. The book also teaches concepts like the color wheel and drawing perspective. It comes with some really cool coloring pages too! for ages 6-12
The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre -
This is the story of the artist Vasya Kandinsky as a boy.
"Vasya mixed red with yellow; then he mixed red with blue. As the colors changed, Vasya heard a whisper. HISS! Louder. HISS! Then louder still. HISS!"
Vasya Kandinsky was a boy who loved to paint and would grow up to be one of the first major abstract artists. This book by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre follows the artist through his childhood and into adulthood where he created some of his most iconic works. Kandinsky possessed synesthesia, the ability to hear color. His paintings were composed almost like a composer creates a symphony. One style the artist was famous for was the concentric circle.
Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look
Wu Daozi, a real-life painter in China during the late 600s, wanted to be a painter but never fit within the box of the traditional painting school. His calligraphy lessons didn't go so well. His characters never matched those of his classmates - instead of number ones, he drew fish, horse tails, and flowers. Instead of worrying about the dishonor he would bring to his family for his lack of conformity, he goes out and does what he loves. He paints and paints and paints. He never stops.
"Every day Daozi painted to his heart's content. With one eye open, the other in a dream, he painted so much that he knew not whether the sun was up or down . . . "
He paints so much that his creations begin to take on lives of their own, leaping off the page in fantastical real life!
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and Amanda Hall -
Why did Rousseau paint? Why did Rousseau keep painting even when every art critic told him it looked like "he closed his eyes and painted with his feet"? Because he loved it. This beautifully illustrated book by Markel and Hall takes the reader through the life of the French artist known for his dreamy jungle scenes painted vividly on canvas. Throughout his adult life, he decided to follow his passion despite every person he knew advising him otherwise. My favorite moment in the book is when Rousseau loads up his work on a cart and walks to an art exhibit to show his work for the first time ever. In the illustration, the art critics standing on the steps of the art museum are towering over him and his little cart. He bravely went into the exhibition hall anyway to show his work. The first show didn't go well, and neither did the second show or the third. This is a classic story of the little engine that could. Rousseau kept at it. Eventually, he caught the eye of an artist named Pablo Picasso, and he finally gets the recognition that he deserved. recommended age: 5+