Art for the Faint of Heart

I love art and am certainly a proponent of the fine arts as part of an education. But I have had a really hard time wanting to work on any art projects with the boys lately.

I’m not sure what it is. I’ve been making honest efforts. I’ve checked out several books from the library that were on my list of projects to tackle in Storybook Art. But I just wasn’t feeling it.

We finally had a break-through last week and we might back back in the groove again. Thankfully.

Here are some of the projects we’ve done in the last little while.

From “Have You Seen Birds?” (Storybook Art, page 108):

I highly recommend checking this book out from the library if it’s not in your budget to purchase. Wow! Barbara Reid does an amazing job with modeling clay. All three of us were enthralled with her illustrations as well as the breadth of the varieties of birds she portrays in her book. Our favorite was the owl, who looks like he’ll fly right off the page into your living room. The details are incredible.

I knew the boys would enjoy working with modeling clay (I was right) and I wasn’t a bit surprised when their Pressed Clay Illustration project had a bird theme (the book was really that good).

Then we hit a slump. The best I could come up with was folding newspaper boats ala Curious George because the instructions were part of the story (not a Storybook Art-approved project). Not one of our finer moments.

But then we rallied and had some fun with “Drummer Hoff.” I remember loving this book as a kid. Going back for a first read-through as an adult, I couldn’t figure out what it was I loved about it way back then. It’s kind of a dumb storyline with a weird ending. But after reading it to the kids several times a day for the past two weeks, I’m in love again, and I think it’s all about the illustrations.

We had a blast imitating Ed Emberley’s illustration style for our weekly project.

Henry drew a pirate ship approaching an island.

And included the all-important underwater prison cage.

Samuel opted for a literal interpretation of Drummer Hoff to get warmed up:

(Drummer Hoff is in brown at the right; the guy in the blue is Sergeant Chowder with the peg leg; and the yellow guys are two of the other characters. He messed up with one of them and was so upset over it that he drew a blue line through it to “kill” him. I love the chain that Private Parriage used to lower the carriage. And I’m not entirely sure if the purple blob is the shot, the carriage, or the barrel.)

But then he came around and let me “help” him draw a shark and was very focused on coloring in the panes. He did a great job and this is a current obsession of his—coloring something all the same color and doing his best to stay in the lines.

This week, we opted for creating an illustration using a “sidebar” technique, copying illustrator Jan Brett. If you’ve never heard of her, RUN to the library or bookstore. She is my new favorite. We have absolutely loved everything we’ve read of hers.

The main portion of the page is the jist of the story, and then in the sidebars, she tells a sub-story or two through illustration. It is simply enchanting.

Henry and Sam had a great time creating their own stories. We took our piece of drawing paper and folded two sidebars on the edges. I wish the boys had chosen different mediums to create their pictures because they were really great. Sam drew an alien and some alien wars in the sidebars…with a peach-colored marker. Henry also had an alien theme…in pencil. Here are the pictures I took but they aren’t the easiest to see. Perhaps the best part was listening to them narrate as they drew. Either that, or listening to how the story changes every time I ask them to tell me about it.

The big alien is in the middle, a blue alien covered in green is the right sidebar, and a small alien in a bubble is in the left sidebar.

I don’t know why, but the facial expression on this alien cracks me up!

Henry’s six-handed alien was the hero of his story.

Here’s the antagonist on the right sidebar, guns blazing.

In the left sidebar, we have a pile of alien eggs with one freshly hatched alien child. Henry assured me that by the time he reaches alien adulthood, he’ll have all six hands just like his dad.

Here’s hoping we can stay in our groove!


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