How To Spot an Artist (Prestel Junior)
Written & Illustrated by Danielle Krysa
For ages: 4-9
They don’t get much better than this. Using a collection of wonderfully diverse artistic techniques, readers get a perfect explanation of who an artist can be. The answer is everyone. Author Danielle Krysa begins by taking readers through the ways artists can look, being big or little, young or old. Readers are shown various artistic mediums, and a big emphasis is on glitter, meaning an entire page is devoted to it. A warning about art bullies is also given, those voices that tell you that your work is no good and that you can’t get better. The solution to dealing with an art bully is to make more art.
Krysa does a thing that I love seeing teachers implement. She models through the presentation of her lesson. We must pay attention not only to the words she says but also to the way she delivers them. Each page of the book is worth studying as it showcases how art is made, from simple things to more complex pieces. There’s so much mixed media, pencilwork, blobs of paint, and even creative use of typography. It all amounts to an excellent survey of what art can be for students who are beginning to open their imaginations.
- Make art! Provide students with various materials (paints, crayons, colored pencils, playdough/clay, etc.) but only one subject. Have students pick a medium and make art based on that object. Once everyone is done, host a gallery show where they can look at the variety of creations.
- Have everyone start with the same basic shape, a square. Each student should make a piece of art with that shape as the start. It’s yet another chance to display how diversity in creativity produces terrific things you might not expect.
- Art pep talk! Have students compose a note for someone who is down because of an art bully. They should make their letter encouraging and positive for this person to keep making art.
Making a Great Exhibition (David Zwirner Books)
Written by Doro Globus
Illustrated by Rose Blake
For ages: 4-9
We take things up a step from the previous book with Making a Great Exhibition by Doro Globus. Where our first text focused on art in the abstract, this is a book about art and curation as a career. The text begins with the creation of art, introducing us to artists that work in different mediums. We get glimpses into their workspaces and come to understand how the spaces need to be different based on what materials are used.
Once the artist has a body of work to show, we follow the pieces as they make their way to a museum. Here we are introduced to curators and explain how they not only choose art to exhibit but how they create connections between pieces. Readers are also introduced to essential roles like security guards and event coordinators. The illustrations throughout the book have an immaculate & crisp feel, made up of blocky shapes and bold colors. You’ll be right at home if you’re familiar with the trendy Memphis art style from the 1980s. Making a Great Exhibition does a beautiful job of introducing children to the process of bringing art to people.
- If your school holds an art show, you need to read this book to the children beforehand. Then incorporate students into specific roles. Let them experience being a curator or an event coordinator.
- In the text, we see a curator making drawings of how to arrange items. Have students draw their own art exhibition layout and write an explanation for why they have chosen to put each piece in each area.
- Contact a nearby art gallery or museum and organize a visit specifically to meet the curator. Have students prepare questions for her beforehand to learn more about how her job works.