A PICTURE IS WORTH: ART AND ARTISTS

 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -- Pablo Picasso

Add the titles below to the favorites that you share with the artists in your life. Check out Youth Art Month in the Activities Calendars for art-related weblinks, as well as the birthdates of these artists: Paul Cézanne (January 19), Jackson Pollack (January 28), Norman Rockwell (February 3), Renoir (February 25), Michelangelo (March 6), Vincent Van Gogh (March 30), Mary Cassatt (May 22), Dorothea Lange (May 26), Andy Warhol (August 6), Romare Bearden (September 2), Grandma Moses (September 7), Picasso (October 25), Georgia O'Keeffe (November 15), Georges Seurat (December 2), Diego Rivera (December 8), and Henri Matisse (December 31)..

 

Ajmera, Maya.  To Be an Artist.  Illus. by John D. Ivanko.  Charlesbridge, 2004.  Gr. 1-3
Full-color photographs of children from different countries participate in a variety of art forms. A high energy, engaging, and inviting book.

Albert, Michael.  An Artist’s America.  Henry Holt, 2008.  Gr. 3 & above
The pop artist Albert presents a dizzying collection of collages created from recognizable consumer packaging. Some of the images are American icons, cleverly imagined. The book will surely send students to gathering cast-off materials to create their own collages.

Arnold, Katya.  Elephants Can Paint Too!  Atheneum, 2005.  Gr. 1-3
In order to save working elephants in Thailand, the author initiated a project in which she taught them how to paint. Color photographs compare the elephants with child painters and depict considerable humor. Facts about elephants are included in boxed insets.

Balliett, Blue.  The Calder Game.  Illus. by Brett Helquist.  Scholastic, 2008.  Gr. 5-8
In this third book about Petra, Tommy, and Calder, the trio is once again pursuing a mystery associated with art. This time, it begins with the exhibit of Alexander Calder’s mobiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, after which Calder accompanies his father to England. When he and a large Calder sculpture disappear, Petra and Tommy come to England to help solve the mystery. Companion books: Chasing Vermeer (2004) and The Wright 3 (2006).

Beaumont, Karen.  Ain’t Gonna Paint No More.  Illus. by David Catrow.  Houghton Mifflin, 2005.  Gr. K-2
Delightful read-aloud that begs to be sung, in which a child who loves to paint (and makes a horrible mess in the process) has the paints taken away. Undeterred, he finds the paints and proceeds to paint all the parts of his body. Magnificent splashes of watercolor in the illustrations add to the humor and encourage listeners to use the rhyme in the text to guess the next body part to be painted.

Bolden, Tonya.  Wake Up Our Souls: A Celebration of Black American Artists.  Abrams, 2004.  Gr. 6 & above
This well written text discusses artistic movements within their historical contexts, features substantial biographical sketches of African American artists, and includes high quality reproductions of art. Appended glossary and source notes.

Brennan-Nelson, Denise & Brennan, Rosemarie.  Willow.  Illus. by Cyd Moore.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2008.  Gr. K-3
Willow is the only student in rigid Miss Hawthorn’s art class who paints what she sees in her imagination. The teacher is not pleased, but when Willow gives her a favorite art book, Miss Hawthorn begins to paint and inspires her students to do the same. Expressive watercolor illustrations help to show the power of the imagination.

Bridges, Shirin Yim.  The Umbrella Queen.  Illus. by Taeeun Yoo.  Greenwillow, 2008.  Gr. K-3
Women in the hills of Thailand have been making painted umbrellas for centuries. Young Noot believes she is ready to paint her own and is able to successfully copy her mother’s designs of butterflies and flowers. When she paints her first set for sale, however, she paints all sorts of elephants, which defies tradition. To please herself, she uses scraps to make tiny umbrellas and paints them as she chooses. A visiting king spies them and chooses her to be Umbrella Queen. Superb linoleum prints accent the text perfectly.

Browne, Anthony.  Willie’s Pictures.  Candlewick, 2000.  Gr. 3-5
Willy the chimp is back again in this book and this time he’s painting his versions of 16 famous art masterpieces, each with a monkey “slant.” Each of Willy’s pieces is captioned. The originals on which they are based are displayed in the back of the book (unfortunately, too small). Humorous, but over the heads of most of the picture book audience.

Browning, Diane.  Signed, Abiah Rose.  Tricycle Press, 2010.  Gr. 1-4
At a time when American women artists were neither encouraged nor given credit for their work, fictional Abiah tells the story of her determination to become a painter. She paints a tiny rose in the corner of her paintings in place of her name and dreams of a time in which she can be known by her name. Lovely illustrations depict pastoral scenes.

Bryant, Jen.  Pieces of Georgia.  Knopf, 2006. Gr.  5-8
In a free verse journal, 13-year-old Georgia, a girl who inherited her mother’s artistic talent, writes about her loneliness, her grief at the death of her mother, her father’s lack of attention, and her best friend. She receives a membership to an art museum from an anonymous person and enters a world that extends her life. Well written, with universal themes of love, loss, and friendship.

Campoy, Isabel & Howell, Theresa.  Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood.  Illus. by Rafael López.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.  Gr. 1-4
Mira loves to draw and give away her pictures. As she tapes them on dreary walls in her surroundings, others begin to join in with their own creations. Soon, their somber gray neighborhood is transformed into something beautiful. Based on a true story. Vivid illustrations. Uplifting story about people working together to bring pride to their community.

Carle, Eric.  The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.  Philomel, 2011.  Gr. P-2
In homage to German painter Franz Marc, Carle depicts a man who declares, "I am an artist," and paints an array of animals in brilliant colors, though not as they appear in nature. The reference to Marc (two of his works are appended) will be lost on the target audience, but the book is vintage Eric Carle and celebrates the power of imagination.

Catalanotto, Peter.  Emily’s Art.  Atheneum, 2001.  Gr. K-3
Emily is a big skeptical when her teacher announces an art contest in which a winner will be chosen. She paints several pieces and finally chooses to enter one of her dog, painted with very large ears. It is rejected by the judge, who’s afraid of dogs, and Emily feels she will never paint again. The support of a friend changes her mind. Extraordinary watercolor and acrylic illustrations depict the emotions of the story.

Collins, Pat Lowery.  I Am an Artist.  Millbrook, 1992.  Gr. K-3
A poetic text suggests that art is a process—a way of seeing the world. Lightly colored detailed illustrations illuminate the text. A good book for encouraging children to interpret their world through art.

Colón, Raúl.  Draw!  Simon & Schuster, 2014.  Gr. K-3
A young artist is on a wordless fantasy African safari. A friendly elephant provides the transportation as the boy, sharing his sandwiches and eluding danger, sketches a variety of animals. Glowing illustrations that utilize Colón's scratch technique with watercolor pencils depict the actual adventure.

Daly, Cathleen.  Emily's Blue Period.  Illus. by Lisa Brown.  Roaring Brook, 2014.  Gr. 1-3
This picture book in short "chapters" features budding artist Emily, who becomes interested in Picasso when her teacher introduces him to the class. She makes a connection with the artist who painted only in blue when he was sad. Because her parents have separated, she enters a blue period as an artist too.

Daly, Niki.  Bettina Valentino and the Picasso Club.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.  Gr. 3-5
In this illustrated short chapter book, Bettina is quite taken with her unconventional new art teacher. He imbeds bits of information about artists into lessons about how art challenges, surprises, and even shocks us. When some influential parents find fault with his methods, Bettina and her friends get to work in the name of artistic freedom.

Degen, Bruce.  I Gotta Draw.  HarperCollins, 2012.  Gr. K-3
Charlie is a pup who loves to draw, but his teacher frowns on all the doodling at school. His teacher changes her attitude, however, when she sees that drawing enhances his learning and allows him to draw along with the rest of his work. Great story about having a passion for art and a teacher who allows a student (and herself) to step out of the box. Lively watercolor illustrations have lots of humor.

dePaola, Tomie.  The Art Lesson.  Putnam, 1989.  Gr. K-3
Tommy loves to draw and can’t wait for school when he has an art teacher. Unfortunately, the art teacher allows students to have only one piece of paper on which to “copy” what she has placed before them. Tommy refuses, but they reach a compromise: he copies her picture and then receives another piece of paper for his own. The final illustration suggests that the book is somewhat autobiographical. A dePaola gem!

Elliott, Zetta.  Bird.  Illus. by Shadra Strickland.  Lee & Low, 2008.  Gr. 3-5
A young African American boy uses art to make sense of his world and turns to drawing to help him deal with the death of his older brother, also a talented artist, as the result of a drug overdose.

Fagan, Cary.  I Wish I Could Draw.  Groundwood, 2014.  Gr. K-4
In a book meant to look like a sketchbook, a boy is critical of his ability to draw. As he starts to draw things he likes, he decides perhaps they would look better with a story. Along the way, there is some instruction for budding artists and considerable confidence building.

Falwell, Cathryn.  David’s Drawings.  Lee & Low, 2001.  Gr. Pre-2
David spies a beautiful tree on the way to school and when he gets there, he draws its outline. His friends offer suggestions about what would make it look better, and he incorporates their ideas and titles it “Our Class Picture.” Back at home, David draws it again, HIS way, and calls it “My Drawing.” Cut paper and fabric collages illustrate this story about being true to oneself while relating positively to peers.

Florian, Douglas.  How to Draw a Dragon.  Beach Lane, 2015.  Gr. 1-4
Delightful rhyming verse offers instructions to a group of children about drawing dragons. Illustrations have the appearance of being rendered by children. Tons of fun!

Garland, Michael.  Dinner at Magritte’s.  Dutton, 1995.  Gr. 2-5
A bored French child visits his neighbors Rene and Georgette Magritte, when who should come to dinner but Salvador Dali! Oil paintings in the style of Magritte’s surrealist images make the story come alive as all sorts of odd occurrences abound.

Geisert, Arthur.  The Etcher’s Studio.  Houghton Mifflin, 1997.  Gr. 2-5
A boy helps his grandfather, an etcher, prepare for a studio print sale. As he hand colors each print, his imagination takes over and he finds himself inside each of the adventures depicted in the picture. The work of an etcher is also revealed in the book—one spread is a detailed, labeled drawing of an etcher’s studio, and another spread explains how an etching is made.

Gonyea, Mark.  A Book about Color: A Clear and Simple Guide for Young Artists.  Henry Holt, 2010.  Gr. 2-5
This introduction to color theory begins with "Six Houses on Color Street" and proceeds to discuss primary and secondary colors, warm and cool colors, saturation, and black and white. The text explains how artists visualize colors. The six houses morph into a color wheel by the end.

Hawkes, Kevin.  Remy and Lulu. (with miniatures by Hannah E. Harrison).  Knopf, 2014.  Gr. K-3
The art-buying public doesn't care for lovable, near-sighted artist Remy's abstract paintings, and he's close to starving until nifty little dog Lulu comes along and paints a remarkable portrait of each human subject's pet in a lower corner of Remy's paintings. Remy is unaware, and his pride is hurt when he discovers that Lulu is the reason for his sudden popularity. Vividly colored illustrations. The miniature pet portraits are a delight.

Heap, Sue.  Danny’s Drawing Book.  Candlewick, 2007.  Gr. K-2
On a visit to the zoo, Danny and Ettie are inspired to create a story about an elephant and an aardvark that results in the animals’ going to Africa. Acrylic illustrations show the children at the zoo, and pencil drawings in Danny’s sketchbook tell the story about the animals. This book should give students ideas about making their own illustrated books.

Hershenhorn, Esther.  Fancy That.  Illus. by Megan Lloyd.  Holiday House, 2003.  Gr. 2-4
In 1841, a young man believes he can keep his three sisters out of the poorhouse by being an itinerant painter, a limner. Although he does paint many portraits, the pictures are a little too “real” to yield much money, and he returns home penniless. He finds that his sisters have started a lucrative crafts business and can support them all.

Hurd, Thacher.  Art Dog.  HarperCollins, 1996.  Gr. 1-3
Arthur is a mild-mannered dog who guards the Dogopolis Art Museum, but on some nights, he puts on his beret, grabs his paints and brushes, and paints murals in the city’s alleyways. When a famous painting, the Mona Woofa, is stolen, Arthur is blamed, but he manages to use his talents to find the criminals and gets a gallery showing as a reward. Students may have trouble appreciating the humor in the doggie adaptations of famous paintings.

Johnson, Angela.  Lily Brown’s Paintings.  Illus. by E.B. Lewis.  Orchard, 2007.  Gr. K-2
Lily loves her real world with her family, but when she paints, it becomes magical. Always intent on her work, she creates whimsical scenes in bright colors. She’s a true artist who comes back to the closeness of her family after each sojourn into her imaginative world. Luscious watercolor paintings enliven the text.

Johnson, D. B.  Magritte's Marvelous Hat.  Houghton Mifflin, 2012.  Gr. 1-4
Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte is depicted as a very dapper floppy-eared dog in this delightful and cleverly illustrated introduction to the artist and his work. When Magritte finds the bowler hat in a store, he begins to paint his best pictures ever. As obsession to paint takes over and the hat leaves, Magritte's paints and brushes do not cooperate. Thus begins his quest to find the hat. Allusions to Magritte's work appear hidden in the illustrations. Four acetate pages that depict both sides of an illustration will fascinate readers. The overall effect is playful and fun! Pair this book with examples of Magritte's paintings.

Johnson, Stephen T.  A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet.  Simon & Schuster, 2008.  Gr. 3-8
The author consulted a dictionary, chose words for every letter of the alphabet, and arranged them in alliterative sentences. He then took ordinary objects and created pieces of visual art in a variety of types to accompany the sentences. The overall effect is a feast of abstract art.

Karas, G. Brian.  The Class Artist.  Greenwillow, 2001.  Gr. 1-3
Believing that he cannot draw, Fred is frustrated by a class art project assignment, but decides to create a tipi with drawings on the walls. After a week of no progress, he has nothing to share. His teacher suggests that he draw what he’s feeling, which unleashes quite a number of pictures and some self-confidence.

Knight, Joan MacPhail.  Charlotte in Giverny.  Illus. by Melissa Sweet.  Chronicle, 2000.  Gr. 4-6
Part journal and part scrapbook, this narration of a young American girl’s stay in Giverny in the 1890s reveals life among the Impressionists with paintings connected to characters in her story. Fine art reproductions, historical photos, collages, and watercolor drawings enhance the story. A discussion of actual paintings and artists is appended. See these companion titles for more of Charlotte’s ventures into the art world: Charlotte in Paris (2003), Charlotte in New York (2006), and Charlotte in London (2008).

Laden, Nina.  When Pigasso Met Mootisse.  Chronicle, 1998.  Gr. 2-4
The piggish Pigasso and bullish Mootisse are art world sensations when they become neighbors. They enjoy an amicable existence until they start feuding with each other over their respective art styles. They build a fence between their properties, but discover they miss each other’s company, so they paint an elaborate apology on the fence. Lots of humor and plays on words illustrated with acrylic paintings that mimic the style of each artist.

Lichtenheld, Tom.  Bridget's Beret.  Henry Holt, 2010.  Gr. 1-4
Bridget wears her black beret for inspiration when she draws. When it blows away, she can't seem to draw and wonders what to do. Other hats don't help. When her sister asks her to make a sign for a lemonade stand, she can't resist adding a picture and discovers that her art was there all along. Tips for readers about creating their own art conclude this humorous offering.

Light, Kelly.  Louise Loves Art.  HarperCollins, 2014.  Gr. K-3
Louise loves to draw, and as she works on her art, she discusses what she likes about it and offers advice. Her little brother (Art) watches adoringly and experiments with some art supplies himself. As it turns out, the family has two artists. Comic style illustrations.

Lithgow, John.  Micawber.  Illus. by C.F. Payne.  Simon & Schuster, 2002.  Gr. K-3
Micawber, a squirrel, enjoys fine art and makes weekly trips to the art museum to gaze at the paintings. He stows away in an art student’s supplies and finds himself in her apartment where he secretly uses her materials (and his tail for a brush) to create his own works of art. He ultimately assembles his own gallery showing in his home on top of the park’s carousel. Mixed media illustrations showing a variety of perspectives are cheerful additions to the text.

MacLachlan, Patricia & MacLachlan, Emily.  Painting the Wind.  Illus. by Katy Schneider.  HarperCollins, 2003.  Gr. 1-4
A young artist awaits the return of the artists who come to his island to paint in the summer. Each of them paints something different, and he observes and learns from each. Finally, he is ready to paint the wind. Vibrant paintings enhance the text. (Readers will appreciate the humor in the illustrations created by the fact that each artist has a dog.)

Magoon, Scott.  Hugo & Miles in: I’ve Painted Everything!  Houghton Mifflin, 2007.  Gr. 1-3
Hugo, an elephant, believes he has painted everything in his town of Cornville and no longer has any ideas. His dog friend Miles suggests that he go to Paris for inspiration. He explores several possibilities, but when he sees Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, he realizes he can go back home and paint everything again, but in a different way. The humorous art references in the cartoon-like illustrations might be over the heads of young readers.

Markun, Patricia Maloney.  The Little Painter of Sabana Grande.  Illus. by Robert Casilla.  Simon & Schuster, 1993.  Gr. 1-3
It is the dry season in Panama, school is out, and Fernando is ready to try his hand at painting. Using information from his teacher, he searches for natural ingredients with which to make his paints, only to realize he has no paper. The white adobe exterior walls of his house seem the logical canvas. As he paints beautiful flowers and trees, neighbors want their houses painted too, and the village becomes a colorful mural. Detailed watercolor illustrations provide the color and culture of the village.

Marsden, Carolyn.  Silk Umbrellas.  Candlewick, 2004.  Gr. 4-6
Noi, age 11, lives happily in Thailand with her family. When her father loses his job, however, times become hard for the family and her older sister is forced to go to work in a factory. Not wanting this to be her future as well and knowing that she has artistic talent, she learns to paint silk umbrellas to sell at the market. An inspiring story.

Mayhew, James.  Katie’s Sunday Afternoon.  Orchard, 2005.  Gr. K-3
In this book of the series, Katie cools off on a hot day at the museum by jumping into Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières. As she sits on the frame, water spills out of the painting into the gallery. She hops to Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte and invites others to play in the water. It takes magic from a gentleman in yet another painting to save them from the museum guard. The watercolor illustrations model impressionistic style in this introduction to pointillism. Further art adventures of Katie include: Katie and the Spanish Princess (2006), Katie and the Sunflowers (2001), Katie and the Mona Lisa (1999), Katie Meets the Impressionists (1999), and Katie’s Picture Show (1989).

McPhail, David.  Drawing Lessons from a Bear.  Little, Brown, 2000.  Gr. K-2
Reassuring watercolors illustrate this story of a bear who recalls his development as an artist. He had support from his mother and teachers and learned from museum paintings as well. The story encourages children to believe in themselves as artists. McPhail offers some advice about drawing on the endpapers. Great read-aloud.

McPhail, David.  Andrew Draws.  Holiday House, 2014.  Gr. K-2
Andrew finds a crayon under a sofa. His grandmother gives him a pad of paper, and he begins to draw...and draw...and draw. He becomes so proficient that his subjects leap off the paper, and Andrew realizes that perhaps his art can help solve world problems. The illustrations are an appropriate companion for this sweet and simple story that will invite discussion.

Menchin, Scott.  Grandma in Blue with Red Hat.  Illus. by Harry Bliss.  Abrams, 2015.  Gr. 1-4
Saturday is the best day of the week for a budding artist because that's the day he has an art class at the museum. His teacher encourages the students to respond to various works of art. When he gets home, he looks as his grandma and ponders all their comments. That's when he gets his really great idea. After considerable research and the creation of several works of art, he is ready for his own art exhibition - an overview of his grandma's life. Famous works of art are featured throughout this affectionate story about creativity.

Micklethwait, Lucy.  Spot A Cat.  DK, 1995.  Gr. K-3
Readers are asked to look for cats in 13 paintings by famous artists. Reproduction quality is good; simple text in this introduction to fine art. See also: Spot A Dog (1995) and A Child’s Book of Play in Art (1996).

Micklethwait, Lucy.  I Spy Colors in Art.  HarperCollins, 2007.  Gr. K-3
Using an “I spy…” game format, this book in the series matches the simple statement to colors in varied works of art. Titles of the works and artists are identified within the context of the book; dates and locations are in the end matter. Other books in the series include: I Spy: An Alphabet in Art (1992), I Spy: Animals in Art (1994), I Spy a Lion: Animals in Art (1994), I Spy Two Eyes: Numbers in Art (1993), I Spy a Freight Train: Transportation in Art (1996), and I Spy Shapes in Art (2004).

Moss, Marissa.  Regina’s Big Mistake.  Houghton Mifflin, 1990.  Gr. K-2
When the class is instructed to draw a jungle scene, Regina can’t think of any ideas. She borrows a few from other students, and her creativity eventually kicks in. Unfortunately, her crayon slips while she’s drawing a sun and it becomes a crescent shape. She quickly makes the sun a moon and creates a night scene.

Nilsen, Anna.  Art Auction Mystery.  Houghton Mifflin, 2005.  Gr. 5-8
On the night before an auction, the auctioneer is sent an e-mail suggesting that 16 of the 34 paintings are forgeries. Readers are given information about the forgers, including their level of skill and how much they get paid, and are asked to spot the forged paintings. The solution to the mystery is provided at the end. Excellent reproductions of the paintings are included via a “catalog” that tells about the artists and their styles. An engaging blend of art, math, and mystery! See also The Great Art Scandal (2003) and Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Spot the Crime! (2000).

Parish, Herman.  Amelia Bedelia’s Masterpiece.  Illus. by Lynn Sweat.  Greenwillow, 2007.  Gr. 1-3
In a story that’s a bit longer than usual, Amelia Bedelia is still the same befuddled maid. This time she visits an art museum, foils a forgery attempt, and catches an art thief.

Peot, Margaret.  Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity.  Boyds Mills, 2011.  Gr. 3 & above
A terrific how-to book on inkblot art that is sure to have students wanting to try it themselves. Great illustrations of the author's creations. Lots of suggestions for finished artwork using the inkblot technique.

Pinkwater, Daniel.  Bear’s Picture.  Illus. by D.B. Johnson.  Houghton Mifflin, 2008.  Gr. K-3
When Bear decides to paint a picture, two gentlemen passing by insist that bears can’t paint pictures and deem his work “silly.” Bear explains what he has painted, but the men claim his ideas don’t look like what he described. Bear happily declares that the picture doesn’t have to look like what the men think because it is HIS painting. Everything in the illustrations is done in shades of gray with the exception of Bear’s colorful painting and his paints.

Polacco, Patricia.  The Art of Miss Chew.  Putnam, 2012.  Gr. K-3
In previous books, Polacco has written about her difficulties with reading and the teachers who help her. She pays homage to another influential teacher in her life in this first person narrative. Trisha's skill in art allowed her to study with high school art teacher, Miss Chew, when she was just 11. Not only did Miss Chew inspire her artistic talents, she also helped unravel the mystery of Trisha's reading disability. All of this happened in spite of the efforts of a substitute reading teacher who tried to thwart Trisha's artistic ambitions. Gorgeous paintings illustrate this heartwarming story.

Prevert, Jacques.  How to Paint the Portrait of a Bird.  Illus. & trans. by Mordicai Gerstein.  Roaring Brook, 2007.  Gr. 1-3
The words of a poem translated from the French give precise instructions to a small boy about how to paint the blue bird that wakes him. The boy patiently paints the picture and takes it home to hang over his bed. During the night, the bird flies off the painting and out the window, but the poem reminds us all that, “Tomorrow you can paint another one.” Lively illustrations complement the simple text.

Raczka, Bob.  Artful Reading.  Millbrook, 2008.  Gr. 1-6
The series includes fine reproductions of works of art around a theme. Some of the books have a simple text; other books have lengthier explanations to accompany the art. End matter offers specific details about the pieces. There is much to be learned from these books! Other titles in this excellent series include: Name That Style: All About Isms in Art (2008), The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America (2007), Where in the World?: Around the Globe in 13 Works of Art (2007), Here’s Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves (2006), 3D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet (2006), More Than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses (2003), Unlikely Pairs: Fun with Famous Works of Art (2005), Art Is… (2003), and No One Saw: Ordinary Things Through the Eyes of an Artist (2002).

Reynolds, Peter H.  The Dot.  Candlewick, 2003.  Gr. K-4
Vashti has a defeatist attitude about her drawing ability and stares hopelessly at a blank piece of paper. When her teacher suggests that she make a mark, Vashti becomes an expert at dot creation, to the extent that she is ultimately able to give similar advice to another child who “can’t.” An uplifting read. See the author’s companion book, Ish (2004), for a story about creativity and the art process.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings.  Crown, 2004.  Gr. 5-8
Each chapter presents “outsider artists,” children or adults who have endured incarceration, poverty, war, illness, and racism, many of them with little or no art training. The author tells their stories, emphasizing the impact art has had on their lives. Full-color and black-and-white reproductions of works of art are included.

Runholt, Susan.  The Mystery of the Third Lucretia.  Viking, 2008.  Gr. 6-9
Best friends Kari and Lucas, two 14-year-old girls, see a creepy guy seemingly up to no good in an art museum and decide to figure out what he’s doing. This begins a great adventure that takes them to the museums of London, Paris, and Amsterdam (with Kari’s mom) and ultimately to discover that he’s an art forger trying to pass off his work as the third of Rembrandt’s Lucretia paintings. Good humor and suspense and engaging main characters. The first book in what is supposed to be a series.

Rusch, Elizabeth.  A Day with No Crayons.  Illus. by Chad Cameron.  Rising Moon, 2007.  Gr. K-2
Liza is obsessed with her crayons. One day, when she runs out of paper, she draws on the walls, and her mother takes her crayons away. Not sure she can survive, she takes a walk and discovers all the colors in nature and assembles collages using materials she finds.

Say, Allen.  Emma’s Rug.  Houghton Mifflin, 1996.  Gr. 1-3
Emma, an art prodigy who has won prizes even before she goes to school, stares for hours at a plain, white rug she has had since birth. It seems that the rug is the source of her inspiration. When her mother washes the bedraggled rug, Emma feels she can no longer paint and disposes of her materials, her awards, and her rug. Then she catches sight of something on her bare walls and realizes that her life is full of items to paint, and she returns to her art. Extraordinary watercolor illustrations evoke Emma’s emotions.

Sayre, Henry.  Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces.  Chronicle, 2004.  Gr. 4-8
This condensed history of art presents large reproductions of the works that represent several world cultures and a variety of types of art, including explanations of techniques. A timeline runs along the edge of the pages. Inset boxes give information about the piece and the name of the artist.

Scieszka, Jon.  Seen Art?  Illus. by Lane Smith.  Museum of Modern Art/Viking, 2005.  Gr. 4-8
Trying to find his friend “Art” in Manhattan sets a chain of events in motion that takes a boy on a tour of the Museum of Modern Art. Each museumgoer is delighted to help him find Art by showing him their favorite works. As a result, he does find “art” as well as “Art,” outside the museum waiting for him to emerge. Reproductions (regrettably, too small) of famous artworks from the museum’s holdings are included in the collage illustrations.

Sherry, Kevin.  I Am the Best Artist in the Ocean.  Dial, 2008.  Gr. K-2
A giant blue squid claims that he can draw ANYTHING and proceeds to prove his claim by splashing his ink across the blue sea. He proves his skill by turning a whale into a canvas for a four-page foldout illustration of a Picasso-like work of art.

Stock, Catherine.  Gugu’s House.  Clarion, 2001.  Gr. K-3
Set in Zimbabwe, a city girl travels to her grandmother’s thatch-roofed house in a village. The house is covered with bright painted patterns, and large clay sculptures sit in her courtyard. The little girl is dismayed when storms destroy the paintings and the animals until her Gugu shows her what the rains do for the land. The watercolor illustrations capture the landscapes well.

Thomas, Patricia.  Nature’s Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery of Art and Verse.  Illus. by Craig Orback. Millbrook, 2007.  Gr. 2-5
A long poem introduces the four seasons, each with a different medium of art: winter—sketched in pen and ink; spring—drawn in pastels; summer—painted in watercolors; fall—painted with oils. In the end, the poem returns full circle to winter. Thought-provoking (how would students paint the seasons?) and lovely to look at.

Tullet, Hervé.  Mix It Up!  Chronicle, 2014.  Gr. Pre-1
An interactive text encourages young readers to experiment with colors by mixing them and making them lighter or darker by tapping pages, squishing them together, etc.

Vance, Alexander.  Behind the Canvas.  Feiwel and Friends, 2016.  Gr. 5-8
When a 12-year-old aspiring artist spots a real boy peering out of a painting in a museum, she is drawn into a world of danger and famous works of art as she attempts to free him from the power of an evil witch who has trapped him there for centuries. Readers will learn a great deal about art history as they work their way through this cliffhanging adventure.

Verde, Susan.  The Museum.  Illus. by Peter H. Reynolds.  Abrams, 2013.  Gr. K-3
As a little girl tours an art museum, she finds that each work of art inspires different emotions in her. Eventually, she wants to create something herself when she is confronted with a blank canvas. The lively illustrations further capture the power that art can have on an individual.

Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth.  Look! Look! Look!  Marshall Cavendish, 2006.  Gr. 1-3
A mouse family “borrows” a postcard depicting a famous painting. As they study the portrait, they learn about elements of art--color, line, shape, and patterns—and decide they can create their own pictures. A glossary and instructions for creating a self-portrait are appended. The collage art illustrations are an art lesson in themselves.

Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth, with Linda Friedlaender.  Look! Look! Look! at Sculpture.  Amazon Children's Publishing, 2012.  Gr. K-3
Three young mice visit a museum and focus on a sculpture (Barbara Hepworth's Four Rectangles with Four Oblique Circles), observing and commenting on it. They take out their sketchpads and some clay and experiment with their own three-dimensional sculptures. Instructions for children to make paper sculptures appear at the end of the book. Good choice for art appreciation.

Wiesner, David.  Art & Max.  Clarion, 2010.  Gr. K-4
Art the lizard paints formal portraits. Excitable Max, another lizard, wants to paint too. When Art suggests that Max paint him, he literally does! Art's anger causes all his scales to fall off, and although Max tries to restore Art to his former appearance, things don't quite work out and Art is reduced to a pile of threads. Max eventually reconstructs Art and hoses him with a vacuum cleaner filled with his former painted colors. The result is a brand new pointillistic looking Art, who has a different outlook on the creative process. Humorous text and illustrations. Sure to stimulate a discussion of "What is art?"

Winter, Jeanette.  Nino’s Mask.  Dial, 2003.  Gr. K-3
Nino longs to participate in the Festival of the Tigre in his small Mexican village, but has been told that he must wait until he is older. He closely observes the work of the local mask maker, selects his own piece of wood, carves and paints it. When he dons the mask, he is Perro (Dog) who successfully chases the tigre away. The story is told is hand-lettered word balloons and illustrated with bright colors that reflect motifs of Mexican art.

Yates, Louise.  Dog Loves Drawing.  Knopf, 2012.  Gr. K-2
From the author's previous work, readers know how much Dog loves books. When he receives a blank one, he realizes it's not for reading and discovers how much he enjoys drawing and all that it adds to his life. Perfect for budding artists.

Zalben, Jane Breskin.  Mousterpiece: A Mouse-Sized Guide to Modern Art.  Roaring Brook, 2012.  Gr. 1-3
A little mouse lives in an art museum and is fascinated by the paintings in the modern wing. When the wing is closed for renovation, she imitates the works she loves, leaving the paintings in the empty room. The museum curator arranges a public display of her work. She comes to realize that all artworks do not appeal to all people, but she has developed her own style and that's what's really important. The book provides a brief introduction to a selection of famous artists.

Zemach, Kaethe.  Ms. McCaw Learns to Draw.  Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2008.  Gr. 1-3
Dudley is not very good at school, but he has the very patient Ms. McCaw for his teacher. She knows wonderful things and she doesn’t let the other children tease him. One day, he discovers something Ms. McCaw cannot do…draw, and he jumps to the rescue to give her a drawing lesson. Students are going to want to try to draw all the different kinds of faces the way Dudley shows in the book.

Biography and fictionalized biography
Anholt, Laurence.  Camille and the Sunflowers.  Barron’s, 1994.  Gr. 2-4
Based on fact, this is a story of a young boy, Camille, and his friendship with the outsider van Gogh, who is eventually driven away because he is “different.” Some of van Gogh’s paintings are reproduced along with the illustrations. (Paperback version is entitled: van Gogh and the Sunflowers.) Other titles in Anholt’s series of books about artists include: Degas and the Little Dancer: A Story about Edgar Degas (1996), Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail (1998), Leonardo and the Flying Boy (2000), The Magical Garden of Claude Monet (2003), and Matisse, the King of Color (2007).

Bass, Hester.  The Secret World of Walter Anderson.  Illus. by E.B. Lewis.  Candlewick, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
Readers are informed on the first page of this spectacular biography that reclusive naturalist/watercolorist Walter Anderson “may be the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.” He spent weeks of his life on Horn Island off the Mississippi Gulf Coast, sheltered only by his rowboat, living off food that washed up on the beach, painting landscapes and wildlife. In perfect complement to the text, watercolor illustrations capture the wildness of the land, sea, and sky. An appended note offers more details, accompanied by reproductions of his work.

Benson, Kathleen.  Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews.  Clarion, 2015.  Gr. 3-5
This biography of artist and social activist Benny Andrews, the son of sharecroppers who painted African Americans in the Jim Crow South as well in the cities of the North, is illustrated by the artist's own work. Powerful. Inspirational.

Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.  Picasso: I the King, Yo el rey.  Illus. by David Diaz.  Amazon Children's Publishing, 2012.  Gr. 8 & above
Rhythmic free verse poems explore the life of prolific artist Picasso, beginning with his childhood and passing through the various "periods" of art in his life, his venture into cubism, and the influences of his many women and his children on his work. Diaz's stunning artwork hints at cubism. Five reproductions of Picasso's work are included. Extensive appended matter includes a chronology, a glossary of Spanish words, sources for the quotes that appear throughout, and biographical information. Content is a bit mature for younger readers.

Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.  Diego: Bigger Than Life.  Illus. by David Diaz.  Marshall Cavendish, 2009.  Gr. 6-10
A series of free verse poems narrated in first person reveal the passions of Mexican muralist Rivera’s life, including the many controversies. Colorful, stylized illustrations.

Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.  Frida: Viva la Vida! Long Live Life!  Marshall Cavendish, 2007.  Gr. 6 & above
Free verse poems that define turning points in the artist’s life are paired with color reproductions of her work in this Pura Belpré Medal winner. Appended matter includes quotes from the artist, a biography, and a chronology. A stunning book!

Bond, Rebecca.  In the Belly of an Ox: The Unexpected Photographic Adventures of Richard and Cherry Kearton.  Houghton Mifflin, 2009.  Gr. 1-4
The Kearton brothers were nature photographers in late 19th-century England. They climbed and crawled and even hid in animal skins to get pictures of wildlife. They ultimately published the first natural history book illustrated entirely with photographs. The lyrical writing in this picture book biography is illustrated with soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Additional information is appended.

Bryant, Jen.  Georgia’s Bones.  Eerdmans, 2005.  Gr. 2-4
The lyrical writing and richly textured illustrations in this picture book biography are a tribute to the artist’s appreciation for the color, shape, and space of the natural world and her ability to weave her observations into her paintings.

Bryant, Jen.  A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin.  Illus. by Melissa Sweet.  Knopf, 2013.  Gr. 2-4
This highly readable portrait of African American artist Horace Pippin traces his life from his hardworking childhood, when he drew with charcoal on scraps of paper until he won art supplies in a contest, through his service in WWI, to his adulthood when he finally became a painter and was recognized for his work. Magnificent watercolor, gouache, and collage illustrations pay homage to his work. Hand-lettered quotes appear throughout. Ideal for reading aloud, this inspirational biography is a gem. Excellent appended material.

Burleigh, Robert.  George Bellows: Painter with a Punch!  Abrams, 2012.  Gr. 3-5
Fascinating look at a likely little known artist who spent most of his life in New York City, a place whose vibrancy is the focus of his paintings. Lively writing, superb reproductions of his work, and direct quotes within the text all contribute to this fine biography.

Burleigh, Robert.  Paul Cézanne: A Painter’s Journey.  Abrams, 2006.  Gr. 4-8
Insights into the author’s personal life are incorporated into discussions of the artist’s paintings and his various styles. Excellent reproductions of his paintings and archival photos are included in the text. A glossary of art terms is appended.

Burleigh, Robert.  Edward Hopper Paints His World.  Illus. by Wendell Minor.  Henry Holt, 2014.  Gr. 2-4
Hopper's life from the time he was a boy who liked to draw through his adult years when he painted what he saw is the subject of this picture book biography. Sumptuous realistic paintings rendered in gouache watercolors illustrate the readable text.

Burleigh, Robert.  Seurat and La Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots.  Abrams, 2004.  Gr. 3-6
The author incorporates facts about the artist’s life into his discussion of this famous painting. Most of the text focuses on Seurat’s use of the pointillist style, the color and composition, and size of the work, as Burleigh encourages readers to really look at art and think about the stories that might be within.

Burleigh, Robert.  Toulouse-Lautrec: The Moulin Rouge and the City of Light.  Abrams, 2005.  Gr. 4-6
This lively, accessible biography introduces readers to the talented artist against a backdrop of life in Paris. Reproductions of Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings, lithographs, and drawings are large and abundant. The book also includes period photos of the artist and his associates.

Christensen, Bonnie.  Fabulous!: A Portrait of Andy Warhol.  Henry Holt, 2011.  Gr. 3-5
Focusing on his growth as an artist, this picture book biography is a superb portrayal of Warhol's life from his sickly childhood through his emergence as a pop culture icon. The magnificent illustrations, collaged photo transfers on canvas, painted in oils, are replicas of Warhol's work.

Comora, Madeleine.  Rembrandt and Titus: Artist and Son.  Illus. by Thomas Locker.  Fulcrum, 2005.  Gr. 3-5
Told in the voice of Titus, this biography highlights important events in the artist’s life and relates how he incorporated the ordinary and the extraordinary aspects of his world into his art. The illustrations are based on paintings or etchings of Rembrandt, and the style very much resembles that of the artist himself.

Danneberg, Julie.  Monet Paints a Day.  Illus. by Caitlin Heimerl.  Charlesbridge, 2013.  Gr. 2-4
In first person voice, Monet describes how he quickly paints a scene by the seaside before the light changes. Before he finishes, the tide comes in and sweeps away all of his art supplies (and very nearly the artist as well!). Informational notes on the pages and in the back matter.

Dionetti, Michelle.  Painting the Wind: A Story of Vincent van Gogh.  Illus. by Kevin Hawkes.  Little, Brown, 1996.  Gr. 2-5
van Gogh’s time in Arles is told through the fictional eyes of Claudine, his charwoman’s daughter, who wants to be an artist herself. She begins to see the world in van Gogh’s colors, but she also witnesses his volatile personality and his depression. Still, she defends him to the hostile citizens. Oil paintings evoke van Gogh’s palette in this story of loyalty and the power of art to alter one’s vision.

Duggleby, John.  Story Painter, The Life of Jacob Lawrence.  Chronicle, 1998.  Gr. 4-8
Illustrated with numerous full-color reproductions of Lawrence’s work, this biography relates the pivotal events in his life and artistic career. Quite often, descriptions of the artist’s paintings and the influences that led to their creation allow readers to see Lawrence’s world through his paintings.

Duggleby, John.  Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood.  Chronicle, 1995.  Gr. 4-8
Although one of America’s most famous paintings is probably Wood’s American Gothic, the artist’s story is likely not well known. The author brings him to life in this biography that features a storyteller’s style of using anecdotes and bits of conversation along with descriptions of his life of hardship as a child and his pursuit of his dreams to become an artist. Many full-color reproductions of Wood’s work are included.

Everett, Gwen.  Li’l Sis and Uncle Willie: A Story Based on the Life and Paintings of William H. Johnson. National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian/Rizzoli, 1991.  Gr. 2-5
Told through the first-person voice of Li’l Sis, the niece of William H. Johnson, readers learn something about the life of the artist and the places he painted. Both historical and contemporary themes of African American experience inspired his work. His vibrant art illustrates the book.

FitzGerald, Dawn.  Vinnie and Abraham.  Illus. by Catherine Stock.  Charlesbridge, 2007.  Gr. 2-4
Vinnie Ream sculpted the life-size statue of Abraham Lincoln that stands in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. This picture book biography begins with her childhood in Wisconsin, continues through her young adult years in Washington (where, at age 14, she was one of the first women employed by the U.S. Postal Service), through her apprenticeship to a sculptor, and eventually, her commission to sculpt Lincoln.

Friedman, Samantha.  Matisse's Garden.  Illus. by Christina Amodeo.  Museum of Modern Art, 2013.  Gr. 1-4
Elegant paper cut-out illustrations complement this story about Matisse's creative process as his work with this medium and method evolved. Eight of Matisse's works are reproduced throughout. This book will surely inspire students to explore color and shape in their own art.

Fritz, Jean.  Leonardo’s Horse.  Illus. by Hudson Talbott.  Putnam, 2001.  Gr. 3-6
Two artists working on the same subject are featured in this uniquely designed book. One is Leonardo da Vinci who was commissioned by the Duke of Milan to sculpt a horse, three times its normal size. Leonardo worked on it for years—war and rain ravaged his clay—and died without finishing it. The second artist is American Charles Dent, who vowed, in the late 1970s, to complete the statue and give it to Italy as a gift from the American people. The illustrations include reproductions from Leonardo’s notebooks, lavish period scenes of Italy, and magnificent paintings of the horse sculpture.

Gherman, Beverly.  Ansel Adams: America’s Photographer.  Little, Brown, 2002.  Gr. 6-9
Beginning with his childhood, the author discusses Adams’ fascination with both photography and the piano and details how his appreciation for natural beauty had a profound effect on his life. This beautiful biography is illustrated with many examples of the photographer’s work.

Gherman, Beverly.  Norman Rockwell: Storyteller with a Brush.  Atheneum, 2000.  Gr. 4-8
Amply illustrated with reproductions of Rockwell’s work as well as photographs of the artist and his family, this well-researched biography follows the artist’s life from childhood to his death, illuminating his skill as a painter.

Greenberg, Jan & Jordan, Sandra.  Action Jackson.  Illus. by Robert Andrew Parker.  Roaring Brook Press, 2002.  Gr. 2-5
By focusing on the time during which Jackson Pollock created one of his most famous paintings, Lavender Mist, the authors manage to weave into the text details about his early influences, his studio, his pets, and other aspects of his life. Impressionistic pen and watercolor illustrations pay tribute to the artist and his work. Informative appended matter includes biographical details, quotes, photographs, and source notes.

Greenberg, Jan.  Romare Bearden: Collage of Memories.  Abrams, 2003.  Gr. 5 & above
This biography, filled with color reproductions of Bearden’s (known for his collages) work, relates how the artist drew upon his memories of growing up in North Carolina and the experiences of his adult years in Harlem to create art that celebrates African American life.

Greenberg, Jan & Jordan, Sandra.  The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius.  Roaring Brook, 2013.  Gr. 5-8
Ohr was known for eccentricities and flagrant self-promotion in his lifetime, but after his death, he became respected as a potter for the innovative shapes, textures, and glazes of his pieces. The text is supplemented with excellent color photographs of his pottery. Back matter includes a fascinating piece on "How to Look at a Pot."

Greenberg, Jan & Jordan, Sandra.  Vincent van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist.  Delacorte, 2001.  Gr. 6 & above
This well-written and well-researched biography begins with the artist’s childhood and follows his life through other occupations before he dedicated himself to his art. Drawing from van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo, the authors illuminate his complex personality. They also discuss the influences on his art and his techniques, while offering insight into art in general. An outstanding work, with reproductions and additional appended material.

Greenberg, Jan & Jordan, Sandra.  Andy Warhol: Prince of Pop.  Delacorte, 2004.  Gr. 7 & above
Using quotes from interviews and other documents, the authors trace the life of Andy Warhol from his childhood and art school years, through his stint as a commercial artist, to his career at a Pop Artist. They provide insight into his work and his artistic methods and do not avoid the more controversial aspects of his life. The book also contains an insert of reproductions of his art, a bibliography, source notes, a chronology, and an excellent glossary.

Hartfield, Claire.  Me and Uncle Romie: A Story Inspired by the Life and Art of Romare Bearden.  Illus. by Jerome Lagarrigue.  Dial, 2002.  Gr. 2-4
In this work of fiction, Bearden’s nephew from North Carolina is visiting his Harlem home only to find the artist secluded in his studio. That leaves his aunt to show him the sights of the city, and he discovers that he loves Harlem. On his birthday, his aunt is away and he must spend the day with Uncle Romie. To his surprise and delight, his famous uncle does know how to have fun and he sees the liveliness of Harlem in Bearden’s art. The book’s illustrations in acrylics with touches of collage depict the period setting quite well.

Harvey, Jeanne Walker.  My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey.  Illus. by Elizabeth Zunon.  Marshall Cavendish, 2011.  Gr. 1-4
The focus on Bearden's childhood makes this fictionalized biography an introduction to the artist that is well-suited for younger readers. Three-line rhymes provide a rhythmic text that flows well as a read-aloud. Double-paged spread collages comprised of oil paintings, fabrics, and photographs reflect Bearden's style. Substantial appended matter.

Herkert, Barbara.  Mary Cassatt: Extraordinary Impressionist Painter.  Illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska.  Holt, 2015.  Gr. 2-4
Even as a child, Mary Cassatt was determined to become an artist, though such a pursuit was not considered proper for a woman. She studied in Paris, and a connection with Edgar Degas opened the door for her to paint as she wished. The book's multimedia illustrations are lush and allude to Cassatt's style and subjects, but some mismatches with the text may leave younger readers confused. Use as an introduction - then follow up with additional resources.

Hill, Laban Carrick.  Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave.  Illus. by Bryan Collier.  Little, Brown, 2010.  Gr. 1-4
This beautifully illustrated picture book biography tells the story of a man who lived his life as a slave in South Carolina and created extraordinary jars and pots inscribed with two-line poems. Watercolor and collage art in earth tones extends the story by revealing a backdrop of Dave's surroundings and showing the materials he used and how he shaped them. Additional information, as well as a photograph of some of his surviving works, is appended.

Isom, Joan Shaddox.  The First Starry Night.  Whispering Coyote Press, 1997.  Gr. 1-3
An orphaned boy makes friends with van Gogh in Arles and learns how the artist “sees” what he paints. The villagers fear van Gogh’s odd ways and eventually, he leaves. In lieu of payment for his lodging (he’s sold only one painting), he leaves behind some paintings and arranges for the boy’s education. The boy’s favorite, The Starry Night, patches his ceiling, giving him comfort that his friend is still there. van Gogh-like paintings make up the illustrations.

Judge, Lita.  Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West.  Viking, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
In 1871, artist Thomas Moran accompanied a geological expedition to Yellowstone Park. He endured discomfort and harrowing experiences to paint the breathtaking wilderness. Judge’s lively writing and elegant watercolor illustrations, rendered in Moran’s style, invite readers along on the journey. Snippets of journals kept by Moran and others on the expedition appear throughout. Accompanying the final illustration, Judge’s reproduction of Moran’s monumental painting The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, is a discussion of his contributions to the creation of Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park.

Krull, Kathleen.  Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought).  Illus. by Kathryn Hewitt.  Harcourt, 1995.  Gr. 6 & above
Enjoyable as well as informative biographical sketches of 20 artists. Essentials of their lives, the happy and the tragic, plus bits of trivia are included.

Kugler, Tina & Carson.  In Mary's Garden.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. Gr. 1-4
Little-known Wisconsin folk artist Mary Nohl is featured in this picture book biography. Even as a child, Mary loved to create. After she helped her father build a home on Lake Michigan, Mary began to develop her talent further by collecting ordinary objects, combining them with cement, and creating sculptures from them. She installed these works of art in the garden of her father's house. Watercolor, collage, and digital art illustrations effectively portray Mary's sculptures. An appended note offers more information about her life.

Landmann, Bimba.  I Am Marc Chagall.  Eerdmans, 2006.  Gr. 3-6
In a text based loosely on Chagall’s autobiography, the first person narrative highlights the important influences on his life and work. Three-dimensional illustrations created from an assortment of materials, reflecting Chagall’s artistic style, create moments from his life. The line between fact and fiction in this book is difficult to determine, but readers interested in Chagall will be fascinated by it.

Lasky, Kathryn.  Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O’Keeffe.  Illus. by Ora Eitan.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.  Gr. 1-4
A period of one day encompasses the later years of the artist’s work, including the inspiration provided by her desert environment, flowers near her home, and the many objects she found on her walks.

Le Tord, Bijou.  A Blue Butterfly: A Story about Claude Monet.  Doubleday, 1995.  Gr. 1-3
Delicate watercolor illustrations executed in the style and colors of Monet’s palette accompany this slight narrative about the artist in his later years. The author refers to some his best known works while addressing his style and dedication to his art.

Le Tord, Bijou.  A Bird Or Two: A Story about Henry Matisse.  Eerdmans, 1999.  Gr. 2-5
Matisse is already an accomplished artist by the time he moves to Nice, which marks the beginning of this tribute biography. The scant story tells just enough to interest readers in his paintings, with occasional quotes to show his interest in all the arts. Richly colored illustrations full of light and bold shapes capture the artist’s zest.

Lewis, J. Patrick & Jane Yolen.  Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers: The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse.  Illus. with art by Marc Chagall.
Creative Editions, 2011.  Gr. 6 & above
Fourteen poems, all titled from Chagall's art, provide a chronological portrait of the artist's life. Excellent reproductions of Chagall's work accompany the poems, as do photographs and informative sidebars. Beautiful book design, evocative poetry, remarkable tale of resilience.

Littlesugar, Amy.  Marie in the Fourth Position: The Story of Degas’ “The Little Dancer.”  Illus. by Ian Schoenherr.  Philomel, 1996.
Gr. 1-3
In this fictionalized account, Marie is a quiet, plain girl from the chorus of the ballet at the Paris Opera who posed for Degas to provide money for her financially struggling parents. Through her modeling, her dancing improves, and the sketches become the basis for famous sculpture. Oil paintings reminiscent of Degas’s work highlight the text.

Littlesugar, Amy.  Jonkonnu: A Story from the Sketchbook of Winslow Homer.  Illus. by Ian Schoenherr. Philomel, 1997.  Gr. 3-6
The author’s appended comments indicate that this is a fictional story based on a trip Winslow Homer made to Petersburg, Virginia, in 1876. African Americans were not allowed to celebrate Independence Day, but Homer made sketches for the painting, Dressing for the Carnival, as a family prepared for “Jonkonnu,” a holiday that celebrates freedom from slavery.

Lyons, Mary E.  Talking with Tebé: Clementine Hunter, Memory Artist.  Houghton Mifflin, 1998.  Gr. 4-7
Lyons’ primary source research results in narratives that show her subjects as determined individuals who, in spite of life circumstances, teach themselves to create art from their experiences and become known for their craft. The author examines the life and influences on the work of two other self-taught African American artists in: Starting Home: The Story of Horace Pippin, Painter (1993) and Painting Dreams: Minnie Evans, Visionary Artist (1998).

MacLachlan, Patricia.  The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse.  Illus. by Hadley Hooper.  Roaring Brook, 2014.  Gr. K-3
Gorgeous ink relief prints scanned into Photoshop illustrate the brief lyrical text in this picture book biography of Matisse. An excellent introduction to the artist!

Maltbie, P. I.  Picasso and Minou.  Illus. by Pau Estrada.  Charlesbridge, 2005.  Gr. K-3
Minou is Picasso’s cat, and he is not fond of his master’s paintings from the Blue Period. They are not selling well, so Minou is forced to go out in search of his own food. When the cat finds food with some carnival performers, he takes Picasso to them, thus leading the artist to new subject matter with fresh new colors. An author’s note provides the facts behind the story along with a picture of Picasso and Minou.

Maltbie, P. I.  Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains.  Illus. by Jos A. Smith.  Abrams, 2010.  Gr. 2-5
In this fictionalized biography, Monet's son serves as the inspiration for his paintings (seven in all) of the steam engines that passed through the Gare Saint-Lazare Station in Paris. In addition to the story of how Monet convinced the station manager to delay the trains so he could paint, the book explores Impressionism as a style of art. Vivid Impressionist-inspired watercolor illustrations complement the text. Author and artist notes are appended.

Markel, Michelle.  Dreamer from the Village: The Story of Marc Chagall.  Illus. by Emily Lisker.  Henry Holt, 2005.  Gr. 1-4
Bright acrylic paintings illustrate this introduction to the life and work of Chagall from his boyhood in a small Russian village, which strongly influenced his art, through his adult life. Chagall never thought he saw the world as others did, and his imagination carried into his paintings. Only one reproduction appears in the book.

Markel, Michelle.  The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau.  Illus. by Amanda Hall.  Eerdmans, 2012.  Gr. 2-4
Told in a lyrical first person voice, this picture book biography introduces self-taught French artist Rousseau, a toll collector who started painting at age 40. His fantasy paintings of nature and animals evoked much ridicule from critics, but Rousseau persevered and was finally accepted as a painter after Picasso publicly honored him. Vividly colored watercolor and acrylic illustrations effectively correspond to Rousseau's style and choice of subjects.

Morales, Yuyi.  Viva Frida.  Roaring Brook, 2014.  Gr. 1 & above
This homage to artist Frida Kahlo uses little more than two-word phrases per page. Eye-catching photographs of Morales's art, comprised of handmade dolls representing Frida, her pet monkey, her husband Diego River, and other characters, radiate. The text is in English with Spanish translation. Not really an introduction to Kahlo for younger readers, this book would be of interest to budding artists and in art class with older students.

Nikola-Lisa, W.  The Year with Grandma Moses.  Henry Holt, 2000.  Gr. 1-4
Excerpts from the memoirs of Grandma Moses paired with some of her paintings form the basis of this book. The author provides a brief commentary that somewhat thematically connects with each piece of art. The book conveys the self-taught artist’s love for the beauty of nature.

Novesky, Amy.  Me Frida.  Illus. by David Diaz.  Abrams, 2010.  Gr. 2-5
Story focuses on the year that Frida Kahlo spent in San Francisco with her husband Diego Rivera while he worked on murals for the city. Never before out of Mexico, she gradually begins to gain confidence and uses the city and its surroundings as inspiration for her own paintings. The illustrations evoke Kahlo's own style.

Parker, Marjorie Blain.  Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse.  Illus. by Holly Berry.  Dial, 2012.  Gr. 2-4
This biography covers the whole life of Matisse, but focuses on his work as an artist. Spectacular illustrations start out with black-and-white drawings to represent his young years, then move to bright colorful acrylic paintings, and finally to the cutout paper art of his later years. Superb introduction to the artist.

Partridge, Elizabeth.  Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange.  Viking, 1998.  Gr. 6 & above
This superb photo-essay of the photographer whose photos of the Great Depression and Japanese internment camps have become iconic, uses diaries, interviews, letters, and personal recollections of the author (who knew Lange through her father), and is illustrated with about 60 of Lange’s photographs, all beautifully reproduced.

Penrose, Antony.  The Boy Who Bit Picasso.  Abrams, 2011.  Gr. 3-6
In this book that is more of a memoir than a biography, the author offers childhood memories of growing up with Picasso as a family friend. Picasso's family, the author's family, and Picasso's work are introduced in a childlike voice. Photographs taken by the author's mother and reproductions of Picasso's work illustrate the pages. The brightly colored, engaging design will attract the attention of readers.

Ray, Deborah Kogan.  Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001.  Gr. 4-6
Born into poverty, Hokusai’s determination led him to the great artist he became. He produced 30,000 works of art, including his famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, and his painting influenced Western impressionists. Evocative wash and colored pencil illustrations depict 19th century Japanese life.

Ray, Deborah Kogan.  Wanda Gág: The Girl Who Lived to Draw.  Viking, 2008.  Gr. 1-4
Richly colored illustrations add warmth to this tribute to the author of Millions of Cats and other early children’s books. This story is one of perseverance and determination, as Gág used her art to sustain her through difficult times.

Reich, Susanna.  Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin.  Clarion, 2008.  Gr. 6 & above
An excellent introduction to the life and work of George Catlin, famous for his paintings of Indian life. The author makes it clear that Catlin sought to paint authentic individuals and cultural rituals of what was a vanishing way of life, but he also used his paintings for his own fame. Several reproductions of his work are included in black and white; unfortunately, only 8 works are in color. Extensive appended matter.

Rodríguez, Rachel.  Through Georgia’s Eyes.  Henry Holt, 2006.  Gr. 1-4
Cut paper collages, particularly of O’Keeffe’s work, enhance a well-written text that begins with the artist’s childhood and art school and extends to her move to New York, and finally, to her home in the desert of New Mexico. That O’Keeffe expressed her life through her art is evident in this book.

Rodríguez, Rachel.  Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi.  Illus. by Julie Paschkis.  Henry Holt, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
This picture book biography relates details from the life of Spanish architect Gaudi beginning with his boyhood and his love of nature through his adult life, during which he created extraordinary structures that reflected his interest in the natural world. Appended list of websites directs readers to photos of Gaudi's work.

Rosenstock, Barbara.  The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art. Illus. by Mary GrandPré.  Knopf,
2014.  Gr. 2-5
Text follows the life of Russian-born artist Kandinsky, a pioneer of abstract art. Vasya is bored with his studies until his aunt gives him a paint box and he starts to experiment with bright colors. He hears colors, likely a condition of synesthesia, which blends senses. The vivid illustrations reflect the energy of Kandinsky's work. An intriguing introduction to the artist.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Degas and the Dance: The Painter and the Petit Rats, Perfecting Their Art. Abrams, 2002.  Gr. 3-5
Most of girls at the Paris Opera House were poor, working class girls, nicknamed “petit rats.” Degas created more than 1000 ballet pictures, showing the girls rehearsing, warming up, and dancing. Full-color reproductions of drawings, preparatory drawings, and finished paintings in oil and pastel are included along with a narrative that focuses on the artist and ballet.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Whaam!: The Art & Life Of Roy Lichtenstein.  Abrams, 2008.  Gr. 4-8
Lichtenstein is noted for his art inspired by comic books, and this biography contains many reproductions of his work in a large, colorful format. The overview of his life is brief, as most of the book is devoted to a discussion of how his art evolved. Highly readable! Exceptional appended material includes many additional resources.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Witness and Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O'Keeffe.  Chronicle, 2011.  Gr. 6-9
This richly designed biography is a highly readable account of the artist's life from the time of her childhood, when she developed her passion for art, through her life with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, to the place she would eventually claim as her own, the hills of New Mexico. Includes 25 reproductions of her work.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Diego Rivera: An Artist for the People.  Abrams, 2013.  Gr. 5-9
This biography follows Rivera's career, noting the influences on his art and examining the evolution of his style. Rivera believed that art should be for ordinary people and created public murals that called attention to the working class. Reproductions of his work are included. Extensive appended material.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Delicious: The Life & Art of Wayne Thiebaud.  Chronicle, 2007.  Gr. 5-8
Thiebaud describes his art as “realist,” painting objects that “have been overlooked,” such as cupcakes and gumball machines. Rubin effectively relates his childhood, art training, and struggles to find his style and his audience. Reproductions of his work illustrate the main topic of each chapter. Readers will enjoy this!

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  The Yellow House: Vincent van Gogh & Paul Gauguin Side by Side.  Illus. by Jos. A. Smith.  Abrams, 2001.
Gr. 3-5
For about eight weeks in 1888, van Gogh and Gauguin lived and worked together in Arles. It was a time that influenced the work of both. The author contrasts their styles and personalities and describes how each one viewed the same subject through their respective works of art. Realistic watercolor and gouache illustrations depict both men and the setting beautifully.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Andy Warhol: Pop Art Painter.  Abrams, 2006.  Gr. 5-9
In a text that is accessible and concise, the author delves into Warhol's early life and focuses on the creation of his art as an adult. Quotes from the artist and those who knew him appear throughout. Colorful pages adorned with photographs and reproductions of Warhol's work make for an eye-popping design. Extensive timeline, glossary, and resource materials are appended.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Everybody Paints!: The Art and Lives of the Wyeth Family.  Chronicle, 2014.  Gr. 6-9
N.C. Wyeth, his son Andrew, and grandson Jamie are introduced in a beautifully designed book that showcases their art set within the context of the events that shaped their lives. Many examples of their work are reproduced.

Schroeder, Alan.  In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage.  Illus. by JaeMe Bereal.  Lee & Low, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
Readers may not be familiar with the work of Augusta Savage, even though she achieved some prominence during the Harlem Renaissance, but they will be inspired by her determination to become an artist from the time she was a young child. A lengthy Afterword contains additional details about Augusta's adult life.

Shapiro, J. H.  Magic Trash: A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art.  Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.  Charlesbridge, 2011.  Gr. 1-3
Working together and the power of art are the themes of this inspiring picture book biography of urban artist Tyree Guyton. By transforming everyday junk into art, Guyton, along with friends and family, rebuilt his decaying Detroit neighborhood and developed the Heidelberg Project, an interactive sculpture park and community-based arts education program.

Sills, Leslie.  Visions: Stories about Women Artists.  Albert Whitman, 1993.  Gr. 5-8
The lives of Mary Cassatt, Betye Saar, Leonora Carrington, and Mary Frank are profiled. The text examines the challenges each faced in becoming accepted as an artist. Reproductions of their work are included, plus black-and-white photos of the artists.

  “Smart About Art”   series. Grosset & Dunlap.  Gr. 2-4
Information about the artist’s life and work is presented as if written by a fictional student. Reproductions are interspersed throughout the books along with the illustrations. Titles in the series include: Edgar Degas: Paintings That Dance (2001) by Maryann Cocca-Leffler; Vincent van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (2001) by Joan Holub; Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlillies (2001) by True Kelley; Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors (2002) by Jane O’Connor; Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules (2002) by True Kelley; Frida Kahlo: The Artist Who Painted Herself (2003) by Margaret Frith; Mary Cassatt: Family Pictures (2003); Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Paintings That Smile (2005) by True Kelley.

Spires, Elizabeth.  I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmondson and His Stone Carvings.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.
Gr. 6 & above
The child of freed slaves, William Edmondson had religious visions from a young age. In his mid-50s, he heard a voice tell him to pick up his tools and carve a tombstone. He did carve tombstones and many more stone sculptures and became the first African American to have a solo show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In 23 poems, the author lends voice to Edmondson and his works.

Stanley, Diane.  Michelangelo.  HarperCollins, 2000.  Gr. 4-7
In this highly readable picture book biography, the author approaches the life of Michelangelo chronologically (complete with his struggles), but weaves explanations of his styles and techniques, as well as discussions of his sculptures, paintings, and architecture into the narrative. Heavily illustrated with Stanley’s own artwork and computer-manipulated reproductions of Michelangelo’s paintings and sculptures.

Stone, Tanya Lee.  Sandy’s Circus: A Story about Alexander Calder.  Illus. by Boris Kulikov.  Viking, 2008.  Gr. 2-4
When people think of Calder, they generally think of his amazing mobiles. This picture book biography, however, deals with a much lesser known aspect of his life as a young man. Hired to draw pictures of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, he took the project further and created figures using wire, cork, string, and other assorted found objects. His circus eventually filled five suitcases, and he performed it for appreciative audiences in New York and Paris. A unique and joyful story that celebrates the relationship between art and play.

Tate, Don.  It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.  Illus. by R. Gregory Christie.  Lee & Low, 2012.  Gr. 3-5
Biography of former slave Bill Traylor, who, in his mid-80s, began to draw pictures based on his memories of rural life in Alabama as well as his world in the city of Montgomery as a poor and lonely old man. Christie's acrylic paintings reflect Traylor's style and use of color. A valuable introduction to one of America's little known folk artists.

Tonatiuh, Duncan.  Diego Rivera: His World and Ours.  Abrams, 2011.  Gr. 1-3
This biography introduces the artist in a manner that is appropriate for younger readers; and then, in a series of hypothetical questions, it asks them to imagine what Rivera would paint in our contemporary society. The original art is hand-drawn digital collages, rather than representations of Rivera's work. Extensive appended material.

van Gogh, Vincent.  Vincent’s Colors.  Metropolitan Museum of Art/Chronicle, 2005.  Gr. 1-4
The text is taken from van Gogh’s letters about his art to his brother, Theo. Gently converted into rhymes, each set of stanzas is accompanied by a corresponding excellent reproduction of one of the artist’s most famous works. This lovely introduction to van Gogh’s work concludes with a list of the paintings and a citation of the source from which the text comes.

Waldman, Neil.  The Starry Night.  Boyds Mills, 1999.  Gr. 1-4
A contemporary boy guides a mysterious artist (van Gogh) around Manhattan after finding him working at his easel in Central Park. They end up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art looking at The Starry Night, which inspires the boy to try his hand at painting it. The illustrations are done in the style of van Gogh’s work.

Wallner, Alexandra.  Grandma Moses.  Holiday House, 2004.  Gr. 1-4
Illustrations reminiscent of the artist’s own work highlight this biography that traces the life of Anna Mary Robertson from the time of her childhood, through her adult years as a wife and mother, and on to her later years when she began painting as “Grandma Moses.”

Warhola, James.  Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol.  Putnam, 2003.  Gr. 2-4
Warhola, nephew of Andy Warhol, relates family visits to the New York home of his famous uncle, a place crammed full of wonderfully unique items. Watercolor illustrations provide a good picture of the inspirations for Warhol’s work. That art can be found everywhere is evident in this story.  Also: Uncle Andy's Cats (2009)

Wax, Wendy.  Renoir and the Boy with the Long Hair.  Illus. by Nancy Lane.  Barron’s, 2007.  Gr. 2-4
Renoir’s son, Jean, thinks he is old enough to have his long hair cut, but his father disagrees because he likes to use the boy as a model and paint his beautiful hair. Some reproductions of Renoir’s work are scattered throughout the book along with the illustrations.

Whitehead, Kathy.  Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter.  Illus. by Shane W. Evans.  Putnam, 2008.  Gr. K-3
This picture book biography tells the story of the self-taught folk artist who worked on a plantation and painted life as she saw it on any surface she could find, but who could not view her initial gallery exhibitions with other visitors because of her race.

Wing, Natasha.  An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers.  Illus. by Julia Breckenreid.  Henry Holt, 2009.  Gr. 2-5
Unique and engaging introduction to artist Josef Albers, whose fascination with colors and their interactions (through his endless painting of squares) established much of what we know about color theory today. Striking illustrations and extensive appended material add to the presentation.

Winter, Jeanette.  Henri's Scissors.  Beach Lane, 2013.  Gr. 1-3
In this introduction to Henri Matisse and his work, readers learn that he gave up the practice of law to move to Paris and paint. He created art for many years until he became too ill to paint. He discovered that he could cut objects from painted paper and became famous for his cut-paper creations. Quotes from Matisse appear in the text.

Winter, Jeanette.  Mr. Cornell's Dream Boxes.  Beach Lane, 2014.  Gr. K-3
An introduction to reclusive artist Joseph Cornell who, in addition to drawing and painting, collected all sorts of items and used his talents to create shadow boxes. His favorite audience for the boxes was children. He was a dreamer, and this book invites readers to dream, as well as create.

Winter, Jeanette.  My Name Is Georgia.  Harcourt, 1998.  Gr. 1-3
Overview of Georgia O’Keeffe’s life beginning with her earliest training in art, following her to cities, and ultimately settling with her in the desert, which inspired a great deal of her work.

Winter, Jeanette.  Cowboy Charlie.  Harcourt, 1995.  Gr. K-3
Stylized acrylic paintings complement this biography of western artist Charles Russell, beginning with his boyhood and following him to the Montana frontier where he worked as a cowboy and painted the landscapes he loved.

Winter, Jonah.  Frida.  Illus. by Ana Juan.  Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2002.  Gr. 2-5
Brightly colored expressionistic paintings fill the pages of this biography of the Mexican-born artist Frida Kahlo, illuminating her zest for life in spite of early difficulties (polio and a near fatal bus accident).

Winter, Jonah.  Just Behave, Pablo Picasso!  Illus. by Kevin Hawkes.  Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2012.  Gr. 2-5
This lively and dramatic biography focuses on the energy and enthusiasm of the artist who refused to conform to popular convention or even replicate his own successful work. Winter examines Picasso's experimentation with color and style during his younger years and follows him to Paris where his work underwent several "periods." Brightly colored illustrations filled with vitality further underscore Picasso's larger-than-life persona.

Winter, Jonah.  Diego.  Illus. by Jeanette Winter.  Knopf, 2007.  Gr. 1-4
Rivera’s controversial life is not part of this biography that serves to introduce the artist to younger readers. Most of the text is devoted to his years as a young man. Richly colored borders in Mexican folk art designs suggest the themes of his art (champion of the poor).

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