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Looking at Paintings: An Introduction to Fine Art for Young People
by Erika Langmuir
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Reviewed by: John L. Hoh, Jr.

If I had this book in college, I might not have taken the Art Appreciation elective.

Then again, given that most electives were Greek and I maxed out on History electives, maybe not. I would have missed out on a professor having a profound appreciation for the various nudes painted through history.

This book seeks to instruct children about art, that is fine art such as paintings in the museum. It starts by relating to the reader familiar things like drawing pictures and taking photographs and buying postcards. Once upon a time, we didn't have the fancy technology so artists were hired to create paintings. As one can surmise, only wealthy people could afford paintings. Thanks to Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre, George Eastman, and Edwin H. Land most of us have our mugs captured for all posterity because of the invention and development of the camera.

The book then looks at the various methods employed in art to show contrast, depth, distance, size, and the like. The principles of art, the use of color, and the use of a "vanishing point" are explained. How are horizon lines used? What's with those borders? These and other topics are covered in this book. Sometimes to illustrate a concept portions of a painting will be copied from the original image and enlarged.

The familiar characters of Disney take the reader on this tour of art. Interspersed Mickey Mouse drops names as he claims one ancestor or another had known this or that famous artist and affected their work. Yes, even the Mona Lisa. If nothing else, at least one gets to know what the name "Mickey" is in other languages.

This is a great book for children to learn about art, the principles behind the creation of art, and looking at some great paintings of the world.

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