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Getting to know paintings

LOOKING AT PICTURES SERIES. By Joy Richardson. IN THE DISTANCE. MAKING FACES. CHANGING COLOUR. LIGHT AND DARK. Watts. Pounds 8.99 each.

How do you paint a nose, a crowd, sunshine, rain, and something in the distance? The books in this series show how famous artists have tackled some of the problems faced by aspiring novices.

Twelve appropriate paintings ranging from Roman times to the present are illustrated in each book with, alongside, three or four relevant details that focus on the issue in question.

The series is characterised by an appealing lightness of touch. The paintings are well chosen to interest primary school children, and very well reproduced.

New ideas are carefully introduced in a cumulative way, so that each painting is met with a deeper appreciation than the last. The initial challenge on each spread, of spotting where the enlarged details come from,is a worthwhile and engaging activity, and the practical hints on how to create each effect seem cheeringly easy to emulate.

Just in case you need starting off gently, each book includes some art "exercises", putting into practice the ideas shown. If there is a gripe, it would be that an attempt to simplify the text has created some inelegant wording, but most nine and 10-year-olds should be able to cope with it and should find this series an enjoyable addition to the classroom library.

Susan Morris

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