Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Talking With Artists

Cummings, Pat, ed. 1992. Talking with Artists. New York: Bradbury Press. ISBN 0027242455

Plot Summary
This book gives a brief two to three page biography on each illustrator (there are 13 including the compiler and editor Pat Cummings) and a two to three page question and answer session that each illustrator reveals even more about themselves and their craft.

Critical Analysis
This book had a predictable pattern. It began with a biography of the artist. I liked how each one included a childhood and a recent photograph. The writing was easy to read and interesting. The question and answering section seemed like the artists were answering letters sent to them by young fans. Each illustrator had the same eight questions. Included within the illustrators' space were different samples of their work. Some were referenced in the Q & A part and some were discussed in the biography. It was neat to see early drawings of the artist (some were from childhood) and how they developed their craft.

Some common themes I found among the artists were that many loved to draw from an early age. A few of the artists had professional artistic training; some had natural talent and were just encouraged to continue. Many traveled around the world and often put people they really knew in the illustration. Most of the artists profiled in the book were married; some had children and almost all of them worked from some kind of studio in their homes.

At the back of the book was a handy glossary of terms used within the writing, which I think is beneficial to all readers. There also was a list of books by the artists at the back of the book. I thought that was a handy reference to "read more about it" or in this case, see more about their work.

As I could not check this book out of the local university's library (it is an educational reference book), I was not able to read it to my daughter. I'm not sure if she would have found it as interesting as I did since she's only four. However, as I read, I imagined myself being about ten years old, loving to draw, and how this book would help encourage me to continue doing what I enjoyed through drawing.

Review Excerpts
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards: 1992 Winner

*Encourage children to write to people who are doing what they want to do. Ask questions of how they got started and what someone up and coming should do and study to be able to "do the job" they want.
*Have students try different art techniques
Other books about children's book illustrators:
Cummings, Pat. 1999. Talking with the Artists Volume Three. ISBN 0395891329
Marcus, Leonard S. 2006. Side by Side: Five Favorite Picture-Book Teams Go to Work. ISBN 0802796168
Sheaks, Barclay. 2000. The Acrylics Book: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist. ISBN 0823000621

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