M is for Masterpiece: an art alphabet book by David Domeniconi and illustrated by Will Bullas, Sleeping Bear Press, 2006
Sleeping Bear Press is known for their alphabet books on various themes. This book shares the framework of the other books with handsome color and good layout.
Will Bullas's illustrations evoke the artist at work as many of the illustrations feature the "artist's" hand creating the picture. "V is for Van Gogh" is a close up of an artist's paint smeared hands painting a swirling sky. Closeups of paint tubes, colored pencils and brushes bring the tools to life.
The book includes the art of many cultures from Native Americans to Easter Island to African masks.
Domeniconi's text rides in a column to the side of each spread. His information is excellent. In addition to the traditional explanations for the subject he includes related stories. For example, in "L is for Landscape" he describes the enormous impact the landscape paintings of Albert Bierstadt had on our country as they communicated the grandeur of the West to Easteners. I thought this was an inspired subject choice to illustrate the concept.
Q is for Quillwork
J is for Japanese Print
My only criticism is that this very interesting text was somewhat difficult to read because of the size of the type. It is an art to balance all the page elements with the amount of text but this was a shade too small for easy reading.
All in all, this is a nice survey of artists, media, techniques and art forms
A side note: I've been interested by Albert Bierstadt ever since the time I saw one of his paintings in an art gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was having fun looking at all the art but I kept going back to one painting on the wall.
It was very small, maybe 12 inches long at the most. It showed a campfire with a few cowboys sitting nearby. The only light in the painting came came from the glow of the fire. I remember thinking it was a very intimate scene even though the great outdoors loomed in the darkness beyond the fire.
When I asked someone how much it was, I learned it cost more money than the price of my house. The gallery person looked at my slack jaw and said, "Well, it is a Bierstadt." Used to his colossal works, I had not realized he was the artist of this small piece.
I sure can pick'em.