Tag Archives: artists

Oscars: Take time to pray for all those in media who really need a prayer

February 24, 2012

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On the occasion of the Academy Awards this weekend, in its parish bulletin St. Therese in Deephaven offered this prayer for the media and entertainment industry:

“Father, in a world deafened by a cacophony of sounds, may all be able to hear your whispering voice. We ask this for all who work in media, the press, radio, television, the internet. May they cherish truth more strongly than their own prejudices and personal agendas. May they present truth in a way that will enlighten hearts rather than inflame passions and conflicts.

“We pray for the artists and musicians of the world. May they utilize their talents to give you glory and in the process receive the recognition that they deserve. May they expose the horror and error of sin and the beauty and truth of virtue. We ask this, Father, in the name of your Son, our divine Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life, who lives and reigns gently with you, and the Holy Spirit, one loving God, forever and ever. Amen.”

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Van Gogh for children? Story and illustrations paint new book into a confusing corner: Who is the audience?

April 19, 2011

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Are young readers ready for the life story of a famous artist who commits suicide?

That question nagged at me upon several passes through “Vincent van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind.”

Author Chiara Lossani’s text – driven by the 19th century artist’s own letters to Theo, his brother and best friend – offers biographical information, of course, but, even better, insight into the creative mind.

It’s a troubled mind, as we know, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many young readers at the lower end of the target age (seven and up) could handle the alcoholism, the insanity, the frank description of the artist’s roommate, Paul Gauguin, waking up to find van Gogh “standing at the foot of his bed, staring at him with cold eyes, a razor in his hands.”

No less slicing off a piece of his own ear and shooting himself.

Age-appropriate for young readers?

It’s content more appropriate for older students, it would seem, but then I wondered if the children’s book size and the illustrations were such that might turn off, say, a junior high reader.

The fact that the illustrations by Octavia Monaco are full-page for the most part points to that lower-age target audience, yet Monaco’s work is hardly childish. In many instances her use of bright colors echoes van Gogh’s famous paintings, but the artistic subtleties are way above my perception of anything a second-grader would appreciate.

As an adult, I really liked the book, yet I couldn’t help but think this effort in the Eerdmans Books for Young Readers series could have benefited from better design.

First, the reproductions of 14 of van Gogh’s paintings are too small. Just from a size comparison, the art of the book’s illustrator overwhelms the art of the renowned subject of the book! Let me see: Do I want to see van Gogh’s work in a book about van Gogh, or Monaco’s?

Secondly, black type overprinted on dark-colored illustrations is simply difficult to read. Lossani packs lots of information into the 34 pages — I didn’t know van Gogh once had been in the ministry, did you? — but the design does her text no favors.

On the plus side: Giving elementary school students an introduction – any introduction – to the creative arts and the cultural heritage of a van Gogh is an admirable project. Just the lesson Vincent shares with Theo – “Painters teach us to see” – is a lesson worth learning at an early age. – bz

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