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Art in Literature

Brianna Blair
Art and Storytelling
Back in the fifteenth century, Leonardo da Vinci made
the following remark about visual storytelling:

And you who wish to represent by words the form of


man and all the aspects of his membrification, relinquish
that idea. For the more minutely you describe the more
you will confine the mind of the reader, and the more you
will keep him from the knowledge of the thing described.
And so it is necessary to draw and to describe.
Words or Pictures
Maurice Sendak, widely regarded as the greatest
author of visual literature (though he refuses to identify
as a childrens author), once wrote of Caldecotts
rhythmic syncopation and its legacy:

Caldecotts work heralds the beginning of the modern


picture book. He devised an ingenious juxtaposition of
picture and word, a counter point that never happened
before. Words are left out but the picture says it.
Pictures are left out but the words say it. In
short, it is the invention of the picture book.
All About Perspective
Salisbury and Styles cite gaming developer turned childrens book
illustrator Jon Skuse, who articulates both the tragedy and infinite
potential of todays childrens ebooks beautifully:

The eBook isnt about winning or losing. Its about an exploration, and
experience, rather like a pop-up book. What many publishers are doing
wrong at the moment is just copying printed picturebooks on to this
format, which does both media a disservice. Its just like looking at a
PDF. Children will simply flick through. A printed picturebook is a
particular kind of physical experience that can be savored and
revisited. The eBook needs to exploit its own particular characteristics
and strengths to evolve as similarly special but distinct experience.
What are your thoughts?
Color

Convey emotions
Symbolic
Cultural reference

Children are most drawn to bright colors, the intensity,


and overall amount of certain colors.
The Meaning of Color
What does red mean?
Yellow?
Blue?
Green?
What about black?

Now pick two colors


Lines
Is it continuous?
Is the line thick? Thin? Dark or light?
Fluidity (equilibrium)
Soft
Broken or geometric

A thin line appears more fragile, whereas a bold line appears more
impactful and stable.
Shape and lines deliver ABSTRACT meanings (the ones you can make
on your own, or that are purposefully designed by the artist to convey
a certain feeling.)
Artists use line to convey movement and mood
Lines everywhere! In motion, festive,
fun
OR
Calm, sleepy, still

Morris Louis
American, 19121962
Beta Kappa, 1961
acrylic on canvas, 262.3 x 439.4 cm (103 1/4 x 173 in.) Charles Sheeler
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Marcella Louis Brenner American, 18831965
Classic Landscape, 1931
oil on canvas, 63.5 x 81.9 cm (25 x 32 1/4 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth
Shapes, shapes, shapes!

Geometric shapes versus biomorphic

Edward Steichen
American, 18791973
Le Tournesol (The Sunflower), c. 1920
Piet Mondrian tempera and oil on canvas, 92.1 x 81.9
Dutch, 18721944 cm (36 1/4 x 32 1/4 in.)
Tableau No. IV; Lozenge Composition National Gallery of Art, Gift of the
with Red, Gray, Blue, Yellow, and Black, Collectors Committee
c. 1924/1925
oil on canvas, 142.8 x 142.3 cm (56 1/4
x 56 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Herbert
and Nannette Rothschild
Shape
Can you see sea-like creatures in this piece?
Vegetation?

Now lets create shapes that have meaning!

Beasts of the Sea


Henri Matisse
1950
Paper collage on canvas
Even the placement of text? What?!
Text placed on the bottom can deliver many ideas:
Weighted
Sadness

Text at the top can be seen as:


Freedom
Light
Draws the eye

Your eye often (comfortably) goes to the center of the page, unless
objects are placed purposefully. If the objects or text is placed toward
the sides, the eye moves across the page.
Find a Caldecott Award winner or
nominee
Artistic Styles (from-the-text terms)
Realistic art: represents natural forms and provides accurate
representations without idealization
Impressionistic art: depicts natural appearances of objects by rendering
fleeting visual impressions with an emphasis on light
Expressionistic art: communicates an inner feeling or vision by distorting
external reality
Abstract art: intrinsic geometric forms and surface qualities with little
direct representation of objects but rather an emphasis on mood and
feeling
Surrealistic art: presents incongruous dream and fantasy images
juxtaposed with very realistic ones
Primitive and folk art: reminiscent of the style prevalent at the time the
story events occurred
Realistic art: represents natural forms and provides
accurate representations without idealization
Impressionistic art: depicts natural appearances
of objects by rendering fleeting visual impressions
with an emphasis on light
Expressionistic art: communicates an inner
feeling or vision by distorting external reality
Abstract art: intrinsic geometric forms and surface
qualities with little direct representation of objects
but rather an emphasis on mood and feeling
Surrealistic art: presents incongruous dream and
fantasy images juxtaposed with very realistic
ones
Visual Representation
A tremendously important storytelling medium, one that
equips young minds with a fundamental understanding
not only of the world but also of its visual language.