Very excited to be going in to Grassington Primary School in North Yorkshire tomorrow. I’m going to be reading Noise of Snow to the First Class, with the eager youngest ones. After my last visit they were making their own books, writing and illustrating them, so keen and happy. Hopefully something similar happens after this visit: stories of snow and friends and illustrations of how snow, cold and winter makes them feel. And then, in assembly at the end of the day, giving out copies of Cold Hands Meet Warm Heart to the children who’s versions of Giuseppe Arcimboldo were included in the book. Great pictures of their heads covered in their favourite things! Thanks to Philip and Paige and to Archie (who is now in Year 7 at high school)
Isn’t it funny, strange, reassuring, when you open a door, you can walk into a room and find it begins to fill with like minded people? That’s a round about way of saying that since I started on these art story books for children, and researching artists to feature in them, art keeps popping up all around. Billboards around the country are featuring different pieces of art, and TV programmes about female artists, about Frieda Kahlo have cropped up. The returning of artworks taken from their original owners by the Nazis are now being returned. And I am reading Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
The descriptions in the book feature colours. Wonderful descriptions like ‘I could hear rich carpets in their voices.’
Delicious descriptions, visual descriptions.
And the girl in the book learns about painting from the artist, Vermeer, which echoes the suggestions in my book as to how to try different styles of art for yourself. Dab with the brush, dip in diluted white paint and sweep…use a brush instead of a pencil to sketch…
”I had never seen a painting made from the beginning. I thought that you painted what you saw, using the colours that you saw….that’s what is so strange. It’s painted many colours but when you look at it, you think it’s white.”
And my book, ‘There are many ways to paint – we can paint what we see, how we feel or what we’re thinking about..’ and that was before I’d read Girl with a Pearl Earring.
It’s out there, in the atmosphere, a movement that we’re all thinking about.
Well, it’s re-sized to US Letter, a couple of pictures changed, edited the painting suggestions at the bottom of each page to correspond to the illustration and now waiting for copies so that I can entice an agent or a publisher. It’s with someone now, who I’m hoping will take it on board, but it’s only been with them a month and I can’t nag…waiting, one of the hardest things. And on Friday, exciting, I’m going back to Grassington Primary School in North Yorkshire to hand out copies of Cold Hands Meet Warm Heart to three children whose illustrations have been included in the book. This is the first book I tried with the school (along with Sun Plus Rain Equals Rainbow – but waiting permission for some artwork for that, and until the new year when Munch is out of copyright, so that one is on hold.)
So, Noise of Snow, your first outing.
Loving researching the artists’ biographies and seeing the threads and connections and how artists never stop learning and how this is true, should be true for all of us, developing and experimenting and creating and things don’t work, so we try something else, and oh, yes, that was useful, take that and use that, no, that wasn’t, leave that behind. I liked that once, but not now…so, so interesting. And now, the final section on African masks and reading about the masks made to represent the gods, Shango, god of iron and war, Eshu, the principle of uncertainty (love that), Oshu, the river goddess and Obatala, god of creation and growth, amongst others. And how they keep cropping up, from what I have learnt through Brazilian dance and more recently, Cuban.
I’m working on the biographies for Noise of Snow now, but still not absolutely sure about all the Art Work. I have lost my nerve in trying to use working artists due to copyright issues. For Cold Hands Meet Warm Heart, two successful working artists, one Brazilian, one West African, both refused permission to reference their work. I’m still waiting to hear from about six. It’s so much easier to use artists who are out of copyright, but that means they are mostly male, white and European. And the whole point of the books is to have a range of nationalities, styles, male/female, past and present. We need to by inspired by working artists today as well as the ones hanging in museums.
My other thought is, that through researching artists, I’ve seen the connections, who influenced who, who worked with who and so artists down the line have been influenced by these originals too…so do I keep with the source?
And it’s also how ‘minds think alike.’ I thought only Piet Mondrian painted in the strong primary colours with white, but no, others did too and before him.
So, it comes down to the nationalities and male/female mix. I have to keep trying.
Just listened to a radio programme ‘The Battle for the Detroit Art Gallery.’ The city is bankrupt, the city owns the city Art Gallery so is considering selling the art it houses to pay for the day to day needs of Detroit’s people. There is a debate going on. If someone goes bankrupt, then their assets are sold off. Is a city any different? Which is more important, people being made homeless, facilities being cut back, or a gallery housing Art for you to go and look at?
If the Art is sold, it will be bought by extremely wealthy collectors around the globe who are keen to add pieces to their private collections. PRIVATE collections, which means the general public will not have daily access to it. This isn’t just about Detroit. Other cities are considering this option. Which means more Art is taken from the public domain into the private.
So. If certain people are so wealthy they can buy one or several Matisse’s for example, why don’t they consider paying a yearly sum into keeping the entire gallery open for everyone? If all the collectors did this, then Art Galleries around the world would remain a place of inspiration for everyone, not a few.
And then there is the gap between the very wealthy and the rest. That is another debate, for another blog, but like in many situations, there are overlaps. If, as it seems to be happening, the very things that give us our dreams and aspirations and hope are taken away and kept for only the very wealthy, then the gap becomes not only about money, but much much more.