My favorite reading challenge is Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. Visit Alyson’s blog to discover more wonderful nonfiction titles.
The title of Susan Goldman Rubin’s group biography of three generations of Wyeth painters comes from Jamie Wyeth: “Everybody in my family paints, excluding possibly the dogs.” And the dogs may not paint, but they’re certainly familiar to art lovers from the Wyeths’ dog portraits.
Everybody Paints! concentrates on the life and art of N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth, the most famous Wyeth painters. We learn salient details of the artists’ domestic lives, especially as their interest in art is supported (or not) by parents, spouses, and other family members. We gain an overview of their career, from their earliest interest in art through their training to early successes and controversies. And we see many, many examples of their art with some discussion of its meaning and reception history. There is a lot of ground to cover in a group biography of three enormously prolific artists, and Rubin is admirably in control of her material, selecting just the right detail to bring the artist’s character to life.
N.C., Andrew, and Jamie were certainly not the only members of the family who painted. N.C.’s two daughters, for instance, also painted and even supported themselves by giving lessons. I wish Rubin had devoted more space to the women’s art.
Rubin’s book is beautifully designed–printed on thick, glossy colored paper and lavishly illustrated with photographs and dozens of reproductions of paintings by N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth. It’s also a pleasing shape–slightly larger than a trade paperback but not nearly as large as a picture book.
This book is best suited for older readers, though even younger readers might enjoy looking at the paintings. I didn’t have much interest in the Wyeths before picking up this book, but it more than met my test for good nonfiction: it sent me straight to the web to do more research and straight to the library to get a coffee table book of Andrew Wyeth’s work. I’m looking forward to reading more of Rubin’s books about art for children (she’s written many).