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A big “thank-you” to all of you who have read, supported, and written for the “Media Reviews” column in NAEA News— and welcome to all who are joining us now in our online format.
Here you will find reviews by your colleagues of a variety of the latest books and videos of interest to art educators—resources for your personal or professional library and reference materials that support your classroom teaching and planning strategies for student learning and assessment; that offer instruction in practical art methods, skills, and techniques for various media; that showcase new digital technologies and their application to art education; that stimulate academic research and collaboration; that highlight new artists or look at art history in new ways; and that inform and connect you to new programs and initiatives in art education in multiple settings, including museums and community arts centers.
Note: With few exceptions, books reviewed here are not available for ordering through NAEA, but are often found on Amazon.com or the publisher’s website.
**Posted November 21, 2012**
Art Teaching: Elementary Through Middle School
George Szekely & Julie Alsip Bucknam. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.
Art Teaching is a comprehensive introductory course in art education for contemporary classroom practice, delivered by the truly original voice of George Szekely, mentor to a generation of art teachers. Future art teachers—to whom this text is addressed—or practicing artist-teachers seeking creative rekindling will find countless departure points for lessons, discussions, and introspection. Reading this book will change the way teachers think.
Szekely and Bucknam provide a counterpoint to mainstream thinking and practice. Instead of a book of answers, here is a book of questions. It is through posing and pondering these that a deeper, richer understanding of teaching and learning develops. Those using this text in art education classrooms will applaud its scope, versatility, and value in sparking meaningful discussions. The book’s format offers multiple entry points for investigations designed to help art education students formulate their own style while constructing authentic artmaking experiences for children.
Start at the beginning and embark on a thoroughly enjoyable tour through classrooms of past eras and current day, discovering attitudes and conventions that shape present teaching. Or flip to any page, encyclopedia style, for scores of creative approaches, gentle caveats, central questions, and descriptions of daring adventures encountered when creating art with children. Proposed are considerations for classroom management, communicating with parents, addressing standards, and extending artistic experiences beyond the school day. New art teachers will find the sample assessment tools and other printed forms useful as they build classroom routines.
Art Teaching is one of the most transformative books about art education I have read in many years. I wish all art teachers would read and discuss its contents. It will change the way teachers teach and students learn.
Reviewed by Nan E. Hathaway, Middle School Art Teacher, Waterbury-Duxbury School District, Duxbury, Vermont
A Complete Guide to Teaching Art to Those With Autism: Utilizing the Elements and Principles of Design and Life Skills
By Mishawn K. Reynolds. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011.
A Complete Guide to Teaching Art to Those with Autism is written in a manner that is easy to understand regardless of the reader’s background. The book outlines and briefly defines different aspects of individuals on the autism spectrum. Ms. Reynolds reviews the different schematic learning stages, which helps the reader to better understand where the child’s cognitive ability lies. This book addresses how the arts are an integral part of learning and emphasizes the importance of teaching core subjects through the visual arts to children on the spectrum, as their learning is empowered with hands-on experiences. The book is divided into short sections that review basic facts about ASD, schematic art development stages, foundational instructional elements, review of literature (philosophers throughout history), art model programs, elements and principals of design, relevant art supplies, planning and implementing a curriculum to fit students’ needs, including evaluation procedures, effective teaching strategies, behavior management techniques, and 100 lessons written for anyone, ranging from novice to advanced level teachers and parents with experience with this population.
Ms. Reynolds includes lessons that build on the elements and principals of design, which allows the child to build on previous skills learned while instilling the basic elements of an arts curriculum. The book provides a comprehensive understanding of the art process and importance the arts have held through the centuries in the educational system. Ms. Reynolds wrote a particular guide that provides concrete examples of lessons and the process. This is an excellent reference book for all who work with children on the spectrum as well as a great guide for parents to incorporate art into home activities, as it has been proven to be a great way for children on the spectrum to express themselves.
Reviewed by Lynda Abraham-Braff, K-12 Special Education Art Educator, Wesley Spectrum Highland School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Note: To purchase the book, download lessons, review previews, and sign up to be part of a small case study, visit: www.teachingart4autism.com
Watercolor Painting: Expert Answers to the Questions Every Artist Asks
By George James. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2012
The book is very well organized and the premise for each chapter is a set of basic or fundamental questions. For example, Chapter 1 (Equipment and Workspace) contains a set of 25 basic questions that anyone might ask concerning the equipment, tools, materials, and supplies that are needed for a novice watercolorist. Questions are listed at the beginning of each chapter and the questions become subsets of pages that address each question. This plus the color coding of each chapter makes is very easy to find useful information. Most if not all of the information presented—from historical referencing to watercolor methods, approaches, and techniques—square with my own experience as a watercolor painting teacher and professional watercolorist.
The book is small in size, which lends itself as a quick reference in the field or studio. The drawback is that the images are relatively small. The book is full of illustrations including photographs of tools, equipment, and techniques. It is very much a “how to” book. Good quality watercolor examples are used to help answer questions, demonstrate an approach or method, or make a specific point.
There are a lot of good definitions and instructions that a teacher might use to design class assignments or that the student might use to understand a specific process, technique, or approach in a basic manner. As a reference book for the teacher and the beginning watercolor student, the information and approach works well. The glossary in the back of the book is limited to two pages and is thin in my opinion.
I would definitely recommend this book to high school teachers and those teaching beginning watercolor classes.
Reviewed by Dr. J. Stephen Lahr, Professor of Art, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia
Fantasy Art Drawing Skills
By Socar Myles. Kent, England: Search Press, 2012.
At first glance, Fantasy Art Drawing Skills is about the surreal, the fantastic, and the imaginative. This book is all of that, but it is also a fine text covering every aspect of learning to draw with suggestions for a varying tool box from pencil to computer. Collecting images for one’s archives and taking digital photos is part of the mix. In the author’s own words, “Through lessons in basic draftsmanship, explorations of materials and techniques, and exercises in translating ideas to images, an essential skill set may be developed.”
Myles’s book is divided into four parts:
1) Starting to draw, 2) Picture-making techniques, 3) Anatomy, and 4) Concepts and characters. The subject matter is set out sequentially, but it is not confined to any format. There is a fresh open-ended feeling to this book. Each section is elaborately illustrated, showing interwoven visuals of the content being presented, a great appeal to artists. For specific advice on each topic, one can read side-bars entitled “Tips” and “Be a better artist.”
If you wish to learn to draw fantasy art, the purpose of this book, you will be intrigued by the chapters in the section entitled Concepts and Characters. My particular favorites are Storytelling and Planning, Robot, Troll, and Plant spirit. Once you become inspired by this method you will never again look at an object from a junk yard, a bird in your yard, or even a vegetable the same way again. I believe Fantasy Art Drawing Skills by Socar Myles should be part of every artist’s reference materials. This richly illustrated and content-friendly book is also appropriate for students from high school to university.
Reviewed by Marie L. Meegan, Adjunct Senior Instructor, MAT Art, Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts
Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel: All New Edition
Daniel Cooney. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2011.
This book states that it is ‘everything you need to know to create great work and get published.’ While it does provide information on many different aspects of graphic novels, that statement might be slightly overstated.
The book does cover every aspect that you could possibly think of in creating a graphic novel. Subjects such as ‘creating a character,’ ‘layout and paneling,’ and ‘inking and coloring’ are covered along with a host of others. Also helpful are ‘further reading’ lists which name other books to read to delve deeper into specific areas of creating a graphic novel.
In trying to cover every aspect of creating a graphic novel from start to finish, Cooney limits himself from going in-depth on any of the different areas covered. Subjects that deserve a whole book are only given 2-6 pages of limited information. The book tries to bolster this limitation by having pages of ‘expert’ opinions. Unfortunately, these ‘experts’ are not big names in the graphic novel field.
Cooney only touches on digital creation methods and, while mentioning webcomics, only discusses digital methods for lettering and coloring, completing ignoring drawing and inking digitally.
The artwork and illustrations included are a mixed bag. While they provide good examples of the subjects discussed, they are relatively weak artwork compared to what is being published in the graphic novels. Paying for rights to republish artwork from some of the stronger artists in the field would have been a huge plus to this book.
In the end, while this book would entertain those students interested in comics and manga in your classroom, there are other books that cover this same information more in depth.
Reviewed by Donald Peters, Art Instructor, N.F. Woods Technology and Art Center, Mooresville High School, Mooresville, North Carolina