Stories that dive into the art world
I am not an artist. I have done lots of sewing and needlework over the years, but I have to have a pattern. I am a craftsman, not a creator.
Most kids’ first experience in the art world comes with a box of Crayola crayons. Remember the fun of all those beautiful new sharp colors just waiting to be used?
Well, then we hear about “The Day the Crayons Quit” from Drew Daywalt. Oliver Jeffers adds his delectable illustrations to this funny tale.
Duncan is in class and goes to take out his crayons and finds a stack of letters instead. They have his name on them.
Written on primary paper with the color under discussion, the first letter is from a very upset Red.
He explains why he is tired and lists all the work that he has to do — fire engines, Santa, Valentines, apples and so on.
Next we hear from Purple, who is not only upset about always being grapes and dragons; but is tired of “living outside the lines.”
Beige is tired of being called tan or light brown. He is also tired of Brown getting all the credit.
White really lets him have it. She is tired of him always using her on white paper. It leaves her feeling “empty.”
Black hates to be used as outline for the other colors. He is never a cloud or a ball by himself.
We keep going until Duncan comes to the end of the letters and draws a wonderful picture using all the Crayons in unique ways. He gets an A for coloring and an A+ for creativity.
“Max and the Dumb Flower Picture” by Martha Alexander is a classic about a long argument about patterns and free drawing.
This feud was going on my freshman year in college. Should children “draw” by filling in outlines (coloring books) or free hand. Does a tree have to be green and brown? Sky blue?
When told to color an outline for his mother, Max is determined to not follow the pattern. He runs away from class and does his picture his way.
The other kids are so impressed, they follow his example and Ms. Tilley comes to see that they are all beautiful. The mothers agree.
It took me a while to realize that we never really see Max’s picture.
“Dream Something Big” by Dianna Hutts Aston introduces Simon Rodia, a most unusual artist.
An Italian immigrant from Italy, he came here to “make something big.”
He did. In Watts, Calif., he built Watts Towers. This spectacular “building” began in 1921 and continued until 1955 when Simon left to live by his sister.
He never came back to see his work.
He had a secret recipe for mortar. He used found objects and tiles from the factory he worked in during the day.
The tallest tower is 99.5 feet tall. He used unbelievable amounts of “junk” to construct them.
His towers are now a national landmark. I wish I could show you a picture of this wonderful construction.
He died in 1965 at the age of 86.