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You soon get the picture

HOW ARTISTS USE SERIES. LINE AND TONE COLOUR. SHAPE. PERSPECTIVE. PATTERN AND TEXTURE. By Paul Flux. pound;8.99 each. pound;42.70 the set. Heinemann. Available from TES Direct pound;8.99 each.

Great artists make us see the world afresh. Through a combination of shape and colour, line, tone, pattern and texture they reinterpret life in all its facets through visual language, a language that thrills and challenges and creates beauty and new insights, but is often bewildering to the uninitiated.

Pupils are very open to the language of art. They are not as threatened by the weird and wonderful as adults are and are instinctive mark-makers. As with foreign languages, the earlier pupils are initiated into visual language, the more easily and effortlessly they take it on board.

The How Artists Use series for key stages 1 and 2 contains a huge variety of wonderful pictures and are clear and well strucured, describing styles and movements, including Classical and Abstract, Impressionism, Op Art, Cubism, showing how artists have used this language to startling, disturbing or beautiful effect.

For example, in Pattern and Texture Paul Flux shows how we can see patterns in the photograph of a New York street or Colorado rock formations, in nature - plants, stones, animals. He then shows how artists have taken these patterns as the basis of their own creations and suggests how readers might create pattern effects for themselves.

There is a danger in reducing great art to simple constructs, in creating a formulaic approach, that the mystery and poetry can be lost. On the other hand, Flux has provided an invaluable key for pupils looking at painting, and his simple yet sensitive and highly knowledgeable explanations will greatly enrich understanding. Well worth the investment.

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