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Archive for Sunday, June 25, 2006

Books cater to budding young artists with taste for hands-on fun

June 25, 2006

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Three very different books from the same publisher give kids the chance not only to experience art, but to interact with it.

All three volumes, from Peel Productions, excel in encouraging experimentation with visual effects. Two paperbacks, "1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life" and "Draw Monsters" (each $6.99) offer step-by-step instruction for actually putting art on paper. A hardback, "ABC Art Riddles" ($13.95), also deals with verbal concepts.

Together they provide a backbone for students who want to learn how to flesh out their artistic aspirations.

"Ocean Life" provides a solid grounding in drawing basic shapes and turning them into marine life. Whether the student wants something easy, like a killer whale, or something detailed and color-filled, like the clown triggerfish, author/illustrator Freddie Levin has produced ample guidelines and well as finished examples.

Children easily can follow the steps if they apply themselves and concentrate. To get the desired effect, they will have to work at eye-hand coordination and self-discipline.

These are excellent drawing lessons. However, it's impossible to fly through them. Attention to each detail is important.

Kids who won't draw anything else certainly will be willing to try their hand at monsters. Written and illustrated by Damon J. Reinagle, "Draw Monsters" abounds with creepy and contorted figures that allow kids to enjoy Halloween effects year-round.

Like "Ocean Life," it emphasizes the need to start with ordinary everyday shapes, like an oval, and gradually connect them with multiple lines at a wide range of angles. The extensive illustrations allow students to copy what they see or also can serve as a springboard for each child's imagination.

Budding artists will have to study body structure and shading. These aspects are shown and explained, but still, much rests upon the reader paying close attention and developing the ability to imitate.

"ABC Art Riddles," a books of word games by Kansan Carol Murray, with illustrations by Freddie Levin, coordinates questions in rhyme that need an alphabetical answer with art that gives clues to the solutions.

Not a typical alphabet book, it teaches art terms as it introduces letters. The answers are sometimes surprising and frequently challenging. Some are simple, but others require hard thought.

Readers will learned a large amount of unexpected information by book's end. New ideas abound, leaving children not only with exposure to art but to the language of art, too. It's an ABC book that can be studied again and again, uncovering something new each time.

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