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Picture Books. What Makes a good picture book?. Picture Books are a unique art form. The function of art is to clarify, intensify, or otherwise enlarge our experience of art. There are two codes of meaning operating at the same time. They can work together or play off each other.

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picture books
Picture Books

What Makes a good picture book?

picture books are a unique art form
Picture Books are a unique art form
  • The function of art is to clarify, intensify, or otherwise enlarge our experience of art.
  • There are two codes of meaning operating at the same time. They can work together or play off each other.
  • Pictures are not necessarily subordinate to the words.
  • Where else do you see a series of artworks put together to tell a story?
  • Some of the best art is produced in picture books.
some functions of the illustrations
Some functions of the illustrations
  • Establish setting
  • Define and develop characters
  • Reinforce text
  • Provide a different viewpoint
  • Provide Interesting asides
  • Extend or develop the plot
  • Establish Mood
style
Style
  • Realism, Representational art (Rapunzel)
  • Surrealism. dreamlike. Strange juxtapositions (The Voice of the Wood)
  • Expressionism. Express inner experience. Some exaggeration. (A Chair for My Mother)
  • Impressionism. Light, movement, and color over detail (Freedom Summer)
  • Naïve. Appears child-like (The Oxcart Man)
  • Cartoon Art. Few lines. (That Terrible Halloween Night)
media painterly
Media: Painterly

paint, pencil, ink, watercolor, pastels, crayons, colored pencil, charcoal, markers, gauche, watercolor, oil paints, tempura, acrylics, etc.

media graphic
Media: Graphic

wood cuts, Linoleum cut, paper cut, scratch board, collage and all kinds of combinations.

visual elements
Visual elements.
  • Lines: horizontal, vertical, diagonal. Movement, tension, guide viewers eyes
  • Shape: curved shapes=natural, angular shapes=manmade. Also curved shapes are more often “yonic” or feminine, and reassuring and comforting. Angular shapes are more often “phallic” or masculine, and imply aggression.
  • Color: hue, saturation, monochrome, Creates moods
  • Texture: Tactile sensation
  • Composition: Arrangement. Unifies the other elements. Balance, what’s larger and smaller, etc.
also important
Also Important
  • Quality picture books art says something of significance.
  • In inferior books, all art looks the same. (Disney, sesame street, art taken from TV and movies)
  • Quality picture book art is unique
  • Stereotypical art implies stereotypical stories.
  • Action and Detail bring individuality. (Tuesday and Rosie’s Walk)
  • Good details are often subtle, like cosmetics. They work best when you don’t realize they are there.
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