Monday, August 15, 2011

Self-portraits

A recent release by Tara Books, Following My Paint Brush by Dulari Devi and Gita Wolf, tells the life events that lead to Dulari Devi becoming an artist. This autobiographical picture book beautifully depicts what growing up in India was like and the difficulties her impoverished family had filling even the most basics needs. From a young child her expectations were of nothing but hard work. It is not until one of her employers provides the opportunity that she discovers the wonders of art. She is immediately drawn in and eagerly wants to learn more. Through her art we see her as a child, her family and where she gets her inspiration. This is her journey from labourer to artist.

The illustrations are done in the traditional Mithila style of folk painting derived from eastern India. These detailed, heavily lined paintings have customarily been used to decorate the walls of houses depicting religious Hindu gods, goddesses, icons and scenes of everyday life.

Another book that also focuses on self-portraits of artists is Just Like Me: stories and self-portraits by fourteen artists edited by Harriet Rohmer. These artists, predominately living in North America, most from the United States, also tell their stories about becoming artists and how their identities are reflected in their art. Each two-page spread features a different artist with one page dedicated to a visual portrayal of themselves, showcasing their art style. I really enjoyed the range of styles, finding out what inspires them and what lead them to this path. The piece done by Michele Wood (p.27) is especially evocative of journey, detailing several important points in her life.

In case you’re wondering, I will be drawing these two books into my mega-book talk to the Nellie McClung Elementary School teachers as they both reflect the ‘big idea’ the school will focus their teaching around next year.

Today is Nonfiction Monday at Amy O'Quinn's website.  Check out the links to other blogs focusing on nonfiction children's literature today to learn about other resources.

3 comments:

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I love picture books about artists - so these two books I shall definitely look for in our community libraries here in Singapore. Thank you for sharing.

Doret said...

Mithila style looks gorgeous. Picture book bios about artist are also so beautiful.

Amy O'Quinn said...

It always fascinates me to learn how artists/writers became who they are. This sounds like a great read..thanks for the suggestion. I've enjoyed hosting today's Nonfiction Monday and 'meeting' the participants!

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