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Description : Story Painter A biography of the African American artist who grew up in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance and became one of the most renowned painters of the life of his people. Full descriptionChildren who have been captivated by the bold, colourful paintings of Jacob Lawrence (1917-) in the context of African-American history lessons now have a chance to learn the full life story of this unique, dedicated artist. Though it’s hard for any text to stand up against artwork this imaginative and strong (25 full-colour reproductions from Lawrence’s Migration Series, Toussaint L’Ouverture series, and more, are included here), John Duggleby has crafted the tale of Lawrence’s life into a satisfyingly rich and quick-moving biography.
As much a history of the cultural life in 1930s Harlem as it is the story of Lawrence’s upbringing, Story Painter also includes all the details necessary to make Lawrence’s personal artistic life spring into being. We see him start experimenting with tempera paints at an after-school programme at the same time as he’s running off to hear special black history lectures at the Harlem libraries. His dedication to his craft was obvious at a very young age, earning him support from prominent black artists like Augusta Savage, and winning him great working gigs like the Easel Project, which paid him $23.86 per week for two paintings every six weeks. Museums and gallery owners courted him as soon as he showed his work publicly; by age 30, he was considered to America’s top black artist. A few years later this dizzying ascent took its toll, and Lawrence spent a nine-month stint in a hospital for depression. He soon righted himself, eventually moving to Seattle to become a distinguished art professor and mentor.
Exquisitely designed, Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence builds a relationship between the full-page illustrations and their concurring partnered text that makes this book a visual splendour. The strongest colour in a painting, for example, may show up as the background colour for the accompanying words, or may be used to make a sidebar snippet of African-American poetry pop off the page. The handful of evocative black-and-white photographs of Lawrence feature beautifully drawn borders and are set against rich backgrounds of colour. This level of design sophistication and care is reverential to Lawrence and a great reward for all readers who care about art and its pursuit. (Ages 9-12) —Jean Lenihan, Amazon.com