Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Look! Seeing the Light in Art

Look! Seeing the Light in Art

Gillian Wolfe
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 10
Frances Lincoln, 2006   ISBN: 978-1845074678

For hundreds of years artists have been using light to create all kinds of effects in their paintings. We are going to explore some of these effects by looking at sixteen paintings to see how their creators used light in different ways to achieve a certain effect.

For example in Henri Rousseau’s painting The Sleeping Gypsy the artist wanted to give his painting an air of mystery and he achieved this by highlighting the lion and other features in the painting in a special way. It is almost as if they have a magical glow which is reflected in the moonlight.

Pierre Auguste Renoir wanted to create a painting showing dappled light. He painted a picture of a girl standing on a swing and she is under a tree. Light is drifting through the leaves above her and the dappled light speckles everything beneath. Using fragments of color he achieves the dappled effect perfectly and somehow he also manages to capture the atmosphere of peace and calm at the same time.

For each of the sixteen paintings in this book the author takes her readers on a fascinating journey of exploration, showing children how artists use their skills to create the light effect that they are after. For each of the sixteen light effects the author includes an activity which the reader can try for his or herself. Each activity is tied to the light effect on that page and it gives the reader the opportunity to see how the light effect works. Or it offers the reader the opportunity to try creating a picture in a style similar to the one used in the painting.

Finally, at the back of the book, a “Look it up” section provides the reader with further information about the painters who created the paintings shown in the book.

Beautifully presented and carefully thought out, this book will give young artists a fascinating insight into the world of art and the artistic process.