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Picture This
Cover of Picture This
Picture This
How Pictures Work
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Molly Bang's brilliant, insightful, and accessible treatise is now revised and expanded for its 25th anniversary. Bang's powerful ideas—about how the visual composition of images works to engage the emotions, and how the elements of an artwork can give it the power to tell a story—remain unparalleled in their simplicity and genius. Why are diagonals dramatic? Why are curves calming? Why does red feel hot and blue feel cold? First published in 1991, Picture This has changed the way artists, illustrators, reviewers, critics, and readers look at and understand art.
Molly Bang's brilliant, insightful, and accessible treatise is now revised and expanded for its 25th anniversary. Bang's powerful ideas—about how the visual composition of images works to engage the emotions, and how the elements of an artwork can give it the power to tell a story—remain unparalleled in their simplicity and genius. Why are diagonals dramatic? Why are curves calming? Why does red feel hot and blue feel cold? First published in 1991, Picture This has changed the way artists, illustrators, reviewers, critics, and readers look at and understand art.
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  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2016

    Bang published the first version of her groundbreaking exploration into the psychology and physiology of viewer response in 1991 (Bullfinch Pr.). Having confronted her own compositional challenges, the author/illustrator wanted to share her newfound understanding regarding the language of images. Using construction paper shapes as stand-ins for narrative elements in "Little Red Riding Hood," she explains how changes in size, color, and placement affect observers' emotions. In his foreword, visual thinking and psychology scholar Rudolf Arnheim called this primer on picture structure a "grammar for the eyes." Textual edits and graphic enhancements were provided in a 2001 revision (SeaStar). Chronicle's 25th anniversary edition features a handsome new design and additional content. Uncoated gray pages unify and offer rest from the dynamic red, black, white, and purple scenes. With text on one side of the gutter and images on the other, each element now has more room. Fonts are sized, colored, and organized for maximum clarity and flow. The first section is now titled "Building the Emotional Content of Pictures," with subtle changes underscoring intent. Bang's ongoing questions allow readers to compare layouts and develop their own ideas before considering hers. Her voice is noticeably more confident in the chapter on structural principles, as if time and experience have bolstered her beliefs. Most exciting is the new chapter deconstructing four full-color compositions from her Caldecott Honor title, When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry... (Scholastic); she discusses the portrayal of feelings ranging from fury to contentment. The final section contains experiments for inspired readers. VERDICT Many art books draw attention to formal elements; no others manage to elucidate the how and why of perception for nearly all ages with such depth and ingenuity. A must-have for picture book aficionados. [Ed. note: See Up Close interview with Molly Bang, p. 18.]-Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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How Pictures Work
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