Thursday, August 8, 2019

Portrait of an Artist: Vincent Van Gogh

I love the child-like quality of the illustrations in this kid-friendly biography about Vincent Van Gogh. Each page is full of vibrant color, and painted in styles that mimic some of Van Gogh's techniques. Readers will learn about the early influences on Van Gogh's life and see examples of his work on each double page spread.  The prints tie in perfectly with the story line as it proceeds.

I found it interesting that the title page lists the illustrator first and then the author. But I have to say the illustrations are really the driving force in the story with so many rich details to explore on each and every page.  The story, while well written, seems more of a supplement to the visual story the art tells. 

The author handled Van Gogh's self-inflicted ear injury, as well as his untimely death, in a very sensitive manner. Parents of older children may want to research more about Van Gogh's struggles and have a discussion about depression, mental illness and suicide.

I loved that the back of the book provides titles of paintings, the year they were painted and the museum location where the work is displayed. Additional background notes are offered for a many of paintings.  An extension activity could be to either visit a local museum or explore one online and search for more of Van Gogh's works. Online images can be zoomed in to find greater detail. 

This book would make a great resource for art education. The illustrations introduce children to color combinations, perspective drawing, and visual storytelling. Students can explore how Van Gogh's style of painting changed once he was introduced to impressionism. The book will also serve as a great model for replicating art on their own: younger readers can copy the techniques of  the illustrator's work and older students can try their hand at creating works modeled after Van Gogh's actual paintings.

Portrait of an Artist: Vincent Van Gogh can be pre-ordered before its September 3, 2019 release. Order a copy for yourself and an art enthusiast in your life!

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Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Portrait of an Artist: Vincent Van Gogh from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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