Monday, August 21, 2017

PIcture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang (1991, 2016)

 I love art.  I'm in a foursome (I'm a very modern guy) with literature, visual art and music.  Literature is my true love, but I have to say, without art, I may have ended up on the trash heap in high school.  It was art that saved my life, made me feel whole and alive and accomplished and talented and special (I had a tremendously good art teacher, the same brilliant woman from second through twelfth grade).  I toyed around with being an art major for my first semester of community college. Although I also studied music in elementary and junior high school, I have a different kind of relationship with music than I do with art and literature.  I still love all three.

But I'm also really bad at all three.

I feel like I know next to nothing about literary criticism.  I can't originally think my way out of a wet paper bag when it comes to deep reading a book.  I like read.  I like reading what other people have written about what I have liked reading.  Outside of this blog, I do not write about what I read.  This blog is not literary criticism.

I know more about music, because I have sung in a choir for about five years.  Much of what I learned about music during elementary and junior high school was tucked back in the far reaches of my pointed little head, just waiting to come out.  Some of it did.  A lot of it didn't.   I still need plenty of help with music.

I know nothing about art.  I shouldn't be so emphatic; I do know some things, because i had that kick ass heroine of an art teacher.  But whenever I look at a painting or an illustration, I can tell you if I like it or not, but really, that's it.

This book, Picture This was amazing.  Because it tries - and I think succeeds- in teaching you how to look at a painting or picture, and really understanding what it going on.  Not necessarily the intention of the painter or illustrator - although that is still certainly true - but also why, when you look at a painting, certain things going on in the painting make you feel and react the way you do.

I would need to re-read this book several times for all that Molly Bang is trying to say to sink in to my thick skull.  But I still really enjoyed this.  More than enjoyed - it's a valuable book that can satisfy intellectual hunger.

Picture This: How Pictures WorkPicture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are wonderful books, and lovely books, and delightful books. There are also valuable books that satisfy intellectual cravings and hunger. Molly Bang's Picture This falls into that valuable category. I can admit that I know next to nothing about art and illustration; now I know a bit more. The book is really amazing because Bang tries - and I think succeeds- in teaching you how to look at a painting or picture, and really understanding what it going on. Not necessarily the intention of the painter or illustrator - although that is still certainly true - but also why, when you look at a painting, certain things going on in the painting make you feel and react the way you do. Bang does this cleverly and in such a way that you get it; she's never talking down, nor does she ever dumb anything down. A remarkable book!


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