Today I am very pleased to be sharing a book by a local artist and author called The Boy Who Paints, published by Fenton Street Publishing Co. I was sent a copy of the book when it was first released in February 2013 by Jane Watt, a freelance writer/editor and owner/ director of Fenton Street Press Publishing Co. I had previously given a Reading Power workshop at a school I Fort Langley that Jane had attended and she felt that the book would “fit” with many of the strategies. She was certainly right!
There is a story behind every book and this one is no different. Both the artist, Richard Cole and the writer K. Jane Watt met outside the Grade 1 classroom in Fort Langley, B.C. where both had sons in the same class. Their conversations, eventual friendship and weekly coffee meetings, led them to team up to create this extraordinary picture book about a boy who wants to become an artist. The boy in the story, we can assume, is loosely based on painter Richard Cole’s life journey to becoming an artist. He is discouraged that his paintings don’t look “right” until he discovers the power of color.
But the story is so much more than that – it is a rich story of self-discovery, having confidence in your vision and realizing possibilities. Through the discovery of color mixing, the boy sees the world differently and experiences his own “transformation”. There is interesting information at the back of the book about color mixing and the history of paints which would tie in nicely to an art lesson.
The illustrations are unique and interesting as Cole layered and combined materials such as handmade papers, maps, old dictionaries, pen and ink, paint from oil, acrylic and watercolor, all mixed together on different papers, then scanned and reworked them in Photoshop.
Another thing I appreciate about the book is how they have referenced the Canadian landscape in many of the pages: “the quiet of a mountain lake”, “the deep horizon of a prairie field”, “the wind’s footsteps in a field of canola”.
In terms of teaching – this book could be used for Connecting, Visualizing, Inferring, Transforming, not to mention an anchor book for an art lesson. This unique book, layered both texturally and textually, is truly a celebration of art, of Canada and of self discovery. A must for every Canadian library!