"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Splash of Red: the Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant

A Splash of Red: the Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, Illus. by Melissa Sweet, 2013.

I had never heard of Horace Pippin, and perhaps I am not alone. This title took care of that oversight. Admired and promoted by N.C. Wyeth, Pippin was an important self-taught African American artist. He was born in the late 1800s and loved to draw with charcoal and paint pictures from childhood until his creativity was temporarily arrested by World War I. He was wounded in the trenches and his right arm was badly damaged. Still, he returned home to the United States, married, and taught himself to draw again by supporting his right hand with his left wrist and using a hot poker to burn drawings into wood. Using this method, and strengthening his arm, he began to paint again. He hoped to sell his works for $5.00 per painting. His art hung in a shoe store window, and soon he was discovered, had his own art show and his public career as an artist was made.

Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet closely collaborated on this book, researching Horace Pippin together and visiting his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. They clearly have love for their subject. Further reading, websites and sources of Horace Pippin's quotes are included. Sweet's watercolor, gouache and collage illustrations are inspired by Pippin's work, and she includes some of his quotations in her pictures. The back endpaper is a map of the places that you can see Pippin's art.

You can also view many of Horace Pippin's paintings here: http://www.museumsyndicate.com/artist.php?artist=213

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