Using Story books as Art Inspiration

We are lucky to have some beautifully illustrated books at home. One of M’s favorite book is “Who took my strawberries?”. Its a book about a selfish farmer who is too greedy to share any of his strawberries with the birds or the children of his village. But when his crop of strawberries accidentally finds its way into the mouths of the animals, birds, and people of the community, he discovers that sharing can be a lot of fun.

The author and illustrator is Arlina Cavo, a french artist born in Geneva, Italy, in 1958. She studied painting in Milan. Some of her works can be found here.

The story setting is in the farm land, a village and surrounding forests. I loved the flow of colors and the transparency of the water colors bringing various shades to the illustrations. The flowers and fauna are made with little brush strokes. The detailing of the little bushes is simply beautiful. The trees in the background looks shady and flowing with the wind. It made me want to draw with some wet paint brushes and water color.

Little elements from the illustrations
The strawberry and the farm by M

So M and I turned the pages and I spoke to her about beautiful elements in the illustration. We drew them on a piece of paper using water colors. M is three and can’t actually draw from still life. But she used this medium to translate her thoughts while drawing. What I loved about this activity is-

1) Bonding over the painting– Both of us could participate in our own way. I drew the elements and she loved dipping her brush into water and then the water color slabs, mixing colors. She drew the strawberry farm, plants, ocean and the sun.

2) Expression: She learned to express her thoughts through drawing. When she discovered the transparency of the water color medium. She wanted to draw a fish. A toadstool and the turtle hiding from everyone.

A fish colored by M

3) Transparency and color mixing- Water color medium allows kids to mix colors in layer. The gradual transition and mixing of color as oppose to mixing thick tempera paint and creating a blob of new color, it introduces them to shading, light/dark shades, transparency, detailing  and so many things at the same time.

Who need art books when a story book can bring in the inspiration and gives you an opportunity of introducing new art medium to kids. Another positive point in drawing inspiration of book illustration is that kids can associate and express themselves in a better way as the story books are very close to their heart and minds.

7 Tips for Using Story Books as Art inspiration

1# Reading together- Read Stories and create an interactive environment while doing it. Read my post about making reading fun.
2# Introduce them to new art mediums- Try different colors/ mediums/objects and give them a free hand for expressing themselves. Read more ideas at our Art Series.
3# Look for inspiration– Look for beautifully illustrated books for your kids at bookstores or  libraries. Even a magazine or a newspaper can act as inspiration.
4# Bonding with the kids– Participate in the art projects. Kids will love to see you enjoying art. They will learn that art brings enjoyment and pleasure.
5# Art as a Process- Don’t be very result oriented. Let them draw and paint from their heart and express themselves.
6# Appreciate Art- Point out things you love about the paintings or illustrations. Ask them about what they like best about them.
7# Art with learning– Art gives us so many opportunity to learn. For example when M was coloring the little fish that you can see above. I told her that “why don’t you give some fins to your fish. They will help her swim better” . This teaches her the importance of fins for fishes to swim. You can add several fun facts and learning to introduce new concepts while they are up at art.

The above mentioned ideas have really worked for me. I know the list in not exhaustive, these are only from my experiences with M. Your inspiration is just resting in your book shelf. I hope this post inspires you get up and take another look at your kid’s bookshelf.
And now for this weeks Kids Co Op linky. Read more for the great kid friendly ideas from across the globe



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