A young child will not simply read about Henri Matisse, for instance, in Patricia MacLachlan’s “The Iridescence of Birds” (Roaring Brook, 40 pages, 17.99) but will, from the very first page, experience the artist’s vibrant aesthetic through Hadley Hooper ’s illustrated homage. We get a nice sense of the continuity of Matisse’s interest in color and form by meeting him as a little boy “in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray.” His mother paints, hangs bright rugs on the walls, and lets her son arrange the fruits and flowers she buys at the market: “pears and oranges in a bowl, on a tablecloth, and flowers in a blue vase.” Each description in this elegant book for 4- to 8-year-olds is accompanied by a Matisse-inspired print that leads us to see how such a child grew into the artist whose joyful works drew record museum crowds this very year.- WSJ Bookshelf, December 27th, 2014
The exhibit includes seven paintings all about memory and place. Because of the inherent nostalgia of the topic, I'm aggressively unsentimental in my execution. Using relief printmaking, I'm essentially drawing with an X-Acto knife. By cutting, inking and printing quickly, the images acquire a direct and urgent quality. All works completed in 2014 and are oil on panel. Goodwin Fine Art, November 7th through December 2014.
“If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived / in a dreary town…” Thus begins this speculative exploration of the painter’s early encounters with color, worded as a book-length query. It’s his mother who brightens Henri’s gray surroundings (“Painted plates to hang on the walls…she let you mix the colors”), brings him fruits and flowers to arrange, and swathes a room in red rugs. Most inspiring are the changeable colors of pigeons (given to Henri by his father). The brief text culminates with a second question: “Would it be a surprise that you became / A fine painter who painted / Light / and / Movement / And the iridescence of birds?” While MacLachlan addresses these mind-opening thoughts to the reader, Hooper visualizes what might have influenced the artist-to-be. Using relief prints and digital techniques with a decisive and economical rough-edged black line and colors that echo Matisse’s evolving palette, Hooper sets the happily involved small boy amongst images that become bolder and brighter as the book progresses while fluidly incorporating the painter’s own imagery. It’s a spacious and beautiful book, as much a lesson for adults on visual enrichment and nurturing a creative spirit as an introductory biography for children. Back matter comprises notes by both author and illustrator and a list of four biographies for children. Joanna Rudge Long for Horn Book Review
I was thrilled to be invited to a visit with Jules, the creator and curator of the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I've been a reader of the blog since first doing research into picture books, it's a wealth of information and I've found many new favorite artists there. Jules is warm and energetic and the picture book's BFF! I hope to meet and thank her in person one day -for all the great reading and inviting me to be part of the 7 Imp Alumni.
I'm so glad the Matisse book is getting such good response. And I'm so happy I'll be working with Neal Porter and Jennifer Browne again on another book. On 'Iridescence' they guided the roughs, the page turns and the flow with such care, I remember reading feedback more than once and getting weepy:) The whole process felt guided in a very knowing, trusting and mature way. It was truly the perfect combination of content - Matisse!- and form with Patricia MacLachlan's spare, perfect words.