Even Picasso needed a dose of inspiration now and then. We know it’s important to let kids experiment without structure, but it’s also a good idea to expose them to new technical and artistic ideas. Creativity shouldn’t be stunted by reading a “how to” book, or by looking at famous artists’ work. On the contrary, gaining a little bit of technical know-how might take that creative expression to the next level. Just like most modern painters studied the Old Masters for inspiration, kids can begin to appreciate masterpieces as treasure troves of artistic information. The art books I’ve selected for technical guidance and art appreciation are high quality, kid-friendly and fun.
1- WHAT SHALL I DRAW? By Ray Gibson (Usborne Publishing.) This was an early favourite, because it has step-by-step instructions for some of the things kids most want to draw.
Similar to the popular Ed Emberley series, all the drawing consist of basic lines and circles. It’s simply a matter of following the steps and decorating with colours. This is great when kids become frustrated when they can’t draw “that thing,” and it quickly builds confidence.
2- Cartooning: The Ultimate Character Design Book by Chris Hart. With the rising popularity of Manga and other graphic novels, it seems that more kids want to know how to cartoon. My kids absolutely love the Chris Hart series. He has many books on cartooning, including Manga, but I find this one the best place to start. He does a great job of demonstrating how to achieve various facial and body expressions. This is not so much a “how to” book, but tips on how a just a few differences in lines can achieve completely opposite effects. AGES: 8 and up.
My daughter drew this after a bit of practice with the Chris Hart book. I think it’s really good!
3- Usborne: The Children’s Book of Art by Rosie Dickins. A great introduction to a variety of masterpieces with information about the artists, techniques, and paintings. There are internet links should kids wish to explore further. Lots to learn and to look at in this book. AGES: 8 and up.
Leave these books lying around near the art table for easy reference, or share them together!