Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse!

In honor of Henri Matisse, who was born on New Year’s Eve, I am writing about how I feel when I look at his works in person.

What makes seeing a painting in a museum so special?  Everybody probably has different reasons but two stand out for me the most.

First is the scale of everything. You may see a painting a hundred times but never understood the impact it makes by the size of it, whether it is 8 feet tall or much smaller than you would have imagined.  There is no better way to show the scale of something unless you are there to see it for yourself.  The MoMA has this comparision that shows Matisse's painting  “Bathers by a River,” so you can see just how big it really is.

Photo: Henri Matisse painting Bathers by a River, May 13, 1913. Photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn. Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester

Painting: Henri Matisse. Bathers by a River. 1909–10, 1913, 1916–17. Oil on canvas, 102 1/2 x 154 3/16" (260 x 392 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I encourage you to show your children this photograph and then bring them to see the real painting at The Chicago Art Institute, it will be a WOW you can’t buy in a toy store.

The other reason why seeing a painting in a museum is so special, is being able to look into the painting and see the many layers of the painting.  You almost always see things in the painting you can never see in a book or online.  This summer I visited Matisse’s “The Red Studio” and was amazed…I could have looked at it for hours. I felt like I was going back in time and envisioning what Matisse was thinking when he painted what he did.  Why he put strokes down, what made him put some details in and what made him leave details out.  To see the underpainting…his original canvas, you can see the canvas how Matisse was seeing it.

This painting inspired us at kidzaw to create a painting kit to help children understand a little bit about this painting and make them feel a part of it too. Here are some close-ups of the painting, The Red Studio. If you get a chance to go to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC and see this painting you will also be amazed at how big this painting really is.

Our Matisse kit should be ready in Spring of 2012 and we will keep you updated on its progress.

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse
and Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Art Institute of Chicago Family Programs Jan/Feb 2012

Cool thing to do with the kids on their day off...

Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Monday, January 16
Drop in between 10:30 and 2:00

Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King! Hear a storytelling program with Gwen Hilary, accompanied by the music of Enoch Williamson at 11:30 or 12:30, and visit a drop-in workshop to make a picture that celebrates friendship and peace. Enjoy a gallery walk at 12:15 or 1:15

Download the latest Family Programs brochure and find a program that fits your family.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, our last book in our series is is clearly a must. The Night Before Christmas Pop-up written by
Clement Clarke Moore and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.
This book was created by the master of pop-up books, and you will be fascinated how he made everything work...the Santa pops out of the chimney, glides over the clouds in his sleigh and much more inspired by Clement Clarke Moore's classic Christmas rhyme.

Robert Sabuda who is also the force behind many stunning best-selling pop-up books, including America the Beautiful, Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-up Journey.
There is a spread where the Emerald City pops up and even comes with emerald green colored glasses you can wear to make everything even more green!

©Robert Subuda

Friday, December 23, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Just one more day left till Christmas...our next book is one of my personal favorites, Olive the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh.
I have been collecting Children's books for years and when I found out the creators of The Mr. Lunch series of Children's books had just created a Christmas Book...I knew I would love it.

Now, Olive has branched out and she even stars in her own movie! I have been a fan of Olive for years and was happy to find all these cool collectables...
My prized Olive and Mr. Martina Christmas Ornaments...
A Snow Globe...
An Advent Calendar...
I even made an Olive themed photo album from a 2001 Nordstrom Shopping Bag.

Let's just say...I like Olive!

Copyright ©1997 J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Heres a book that belongs in your collection right next to all the Christmas classics. My Penguin Osbert written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
and illustrated by H.B. Lewis.
 I was so pleased when I found this book a few years ago...the story is so sweet and very imaginative.
And, the beautiful illustrations, you can't help but soak up every detail of this book, and your children will want to read it over and over (Mine, like to read it all year round).
I highly recommend this book, you will fall in love with Osbert!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

The next book in our countdown of favorite Children's Christmas Picture Books is called The Little Fir Tree written by the author of Goodnight Moon,
Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Jim Lamarche.
There are many versions of this well-loved Christmas story, but I love this version because of its delicate and glowing paintings by award-winning artist Jim LaMarche. 

You are going to be part of
a great celebration.

The Little Fir Tree is a character in this book, that longs to be part of something. The Little Fir Tree finds it's connection with a little boy and his family.  Through beautiful pictures and words, see how both the tree and the little boy grow and heal.

  More about Margaret Wise Brown

Margaret Wise Brown wrote hundreds of books and stories during her life, but she is best known for Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny. Even though she died over 45 years ago, her books still sell very well. Margaret loved animals. Most of her books have animals as characters in the story. She liked to write books that had a rhythm to them. Sometimes she would put a hard word into the story or poem. She thought this made children think harder when they are reading. She wrote all the time. There are many scraps of paper where she quickly wrote down a story idea or a poem. She said she dreamed stories and then had to write them down in the morning before she forgot them. She tried to write the way children wanted to hear a story, which often isn't the same way an adult would tell a story. She also taught illustrators to draw the way a child saw things. One time she gave two puppies to someone who was going to draw a book with that kind of dog. The illustrator painted many pictures one day and then fell asleep. When he woke up, the papers he painted on were bare. The puppies had licked all the paint off the paper. Margaret died after surgery for a bursting appendix while in France. She had many friends who still miss her. They say she was a creative genius who made a room come to life with her excitement. Margaret saw herself as something else - a writer of songs and nonsense.  

text ©1954 by Roberta Rauch and Bruce Bliven, Jr. Text copyright renewed 1982 by Roberta Brown Rauch. Illustrations ©2005 by Jim LaMarche.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

The next book in our countdown of favorite Children's Christmas Picture Books is called The Spirit of Christmas from the New York Times—Bestselling Author/Illustrator, Nancy Tillman.
From the first page you fall in love with the poetry of this book.

I had Just nodded off,
at a quarter past four,
when the Spirit of Christmas
stepped in through my door.

The spirit is an actual character in the book and is hidden on every page...which my boys love to find hidden pictures.  Another thing that makes it fun, is that there are beginnings to popular christmas carols designed within the illustrations, so you can sing some of those songs with your children as you is fun to see how much of these popular carols you all remember the words to.

As you go through the pages of everything that is wonderful about Christmas, the reader soon discovers that the best part of spending Christmas is with the ones they love.  This is a perfect gift to send to a child (or anyone) that is special in your heart, but is far away.  Hope you enjoy this book as much as me and my boys.

©Feiwel and Friends An Imprint of Macmillan, N.Y. Cover art copyright ©2009 by Nancy Tillman

Monday, December 19, 2011

Children's Christmas Picture Book Countdown

Every year I get a new Christmas Children's Picture Book to read to my two boys on Christmas Eve.  We have built quite a collection, and I thought it would be fun to post some of our favorite books each day this week until Christmas.

Happy Holidays Everyone!
by Marcus Sedgwick and Illustrated by Simon Bartram
 I originally bought this book because it was illustrated by the artist of one of our favorite books, The Man on The Moon by Simon Bartram. We love his bright, super-surrealistic and "very detailed in a goofy kind of way" illustrations.

This year my son has been wishing for SNOW on Christmas day.  This book tells a simple story of a boy's wish and illustrates it in a magical way including translucent pages that lead the reader to a wish that comes true. 

I really recommend this Christmas book as well as his other books! Here are some illustrations from our favorite, The Man on the Moon: (A Day in the Life of Bob). A funny story that keeps you looking to see if aliens really exist.
A Christmas Wish: Text and design copyright ©2003 by the Templar Company plc. Illustrations copyright ©2003 by Simon Bartram
The Man on The Moon: (A Day in the Life of Bob). Illustrations copyright ©2003 by Simon Bartram

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Starry Night is on Vogue's Top Ten Most Wanted List!

Enjoy the holidays at the Chicago Art Institute!

Family Festival: Holly Days
Tuesday, December 27 to Friday, December 30. Drop in between 10:30 and 3:00

Visit the picture book exhibition Animals Around the World and come to the studio where you can create a paper animal sculpture of your own.  Explore movement, rhythm, and yoga in a storytelling program led by Pranita Jain of Kalapriya at 11:30 and 1:00.  Enjoy and interactive family gallery walk at 2:00. On December 27 only, meet the Art Institute's mascot Artie the lion.
Steve Jenkins. Illustration from How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? 2008. Written by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Artist Steve Jenkins combines cut-paper collage with amazing animal facts to create dynamic nonfiction picture books that appeal to readers of many ages.

Did you know that the tailorbird, using her sharp beak and silk from a spider’s web, sews a leaf into a pouch that will hold her nest and eggs? In Biggest, Strongest, Fastest, Jenkins presents such facts with awe and reverence, while in Brothers and Sisters he presents equally compelling tidbits about animal siblings. (Did you know that nine-banded armadillos are always born as quadruplets and that whiptail lizards are all females?) Actual Size allows kids to put their hands over the life-sized hand of a gorilla or peer into the eye of a giant squid. The artist often uses handmade paper to capture the various textures and colors of animal skin, creating an added sense of dimensionality. Original pictures from seven books are on view in this exhibition, allowing visitors to compare the original artworks to the illustrations in the picture books—all while learning fun facts to share with classmates and friends.