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Visual literacy and picture story books

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Visual literacy and
picture story books

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What is visual literacy?

The ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning
from information presented in the form of ...

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Interpreting the visual text
Art elements
   •   Colour
   •   Texture
   •   Line
   •   Form
   •   Space
   •   Shape
 ...

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Visual literacy and picture story books

  1. 1. Visual literacy and picture story books
  2. 2. What is visual literacy? The ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image. Visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be “read” and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading
  3. 3. Interpreting the visual text Art elements • Colour • Texture • Line • Form • Space • Shape • Size • Balance 1
  4. 4. Interpreting the visual text Media • Media – tool and surface an illustrator uses • Techniques – the way in which the illustrator applies one medium to another e.g. painting, drawing, sculptural, printing, collage • Mixed media – two or more techniques 2
  5. 5. Interpreting the text Aesthetic perspective • Focuses on the affective/personal response of the viewer to the illustration • A visual text that engenders a significant personal response is more likely to motivate someone to seek to understand and interpret a text “Essentially an aesthetic perspective asks questions about how the illustrator has created mood or feelings and what personal responses are engendered by the illustrators’ combination of elements in balance and layout.” Reading the visual, p187 (Anstey, M. & Bull, G., 2000)
  6. 6. Interpreting the text Functional perspective • Analysing illustrations to learn: sees the artist as a storyteller rather than creator of art • Looks at how elements and media/techniques come together to convey meaning about: - Characterisation - Setting - Plot - Theme Reading the visual, p188 (Anstey, M. & Bull, G., 2000)
  7. 7. Interpreting the text Functional perspective “The best children’s books are about the complex business of being human. They may seem to be about rats and pigs and rabbits and koalas and all manner of unlikely adventures, but they’re not really. They’re about people. They are about Life with a capital ‘L’. They are concerned with the transmission of human values to a group of readers and listeners who are at a crucial stage of discovering how the world works and how they might live. In practice picture books are strong on story and they’re subtle on metaphor. They’re simple and direct in their telling (the author’s voice is intimate and personal), and complex and insinuating in their meaning. They focus on the particular as a means of understanding the abstract – as children do. They are exploratory (as children are). They’re preoccupied with rights and wrongs – as children are – without being moralistic. They delight in the idiosyncratic – as children do. They’re clear-sighted and truthful. They’re optimistic. Above all they are playfully serious – or seriously playful.” Ros Price, ‘Women’s Book Review 1990–1991’, in Creative Connections: Writing, Illustrating and Publishing Children’s Books in Australia, papers of the Canberra Children’s Book Council, seminars 1987–1993
  8. 8. Interpreting the text Social critical perspective • Critical literacy • Messages and associated beliefs about issues such as gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status • The messages that we read/view help us to construct a particular picture of the world Reading the visual, p190 (Anstey, M. & Bull, G., 2000)
  9. 9. Telling stories through pictures • Illustrations are often used to clarify the meaning of the text for early-years readers • The majority of story books also have illustrations that add meaning, and in some cases possibly subvert/change the original meaning • Wordless book
  10. 10. 3
  11. 11. Telling stories through pictures Illustrators often say there is no point in illustrating what has already been told in words 4
  12. 12. Telling stories through pictures “With every book my first rule of thumb has been to not draw what is there already in the words. I try to find something from behind or between the words, something unsaid, something from the moment behind and beneath the moment, something about where those words come from, something from and about the heart, to then add to the words.” Drawn from the heart, p 296 (Brooks, R., 2010)
  13. 13. Art elements Colour • ‘Hot’ colours – excitement, happiness, anger • ‘Cool’ colours – harmony, peace, sadness • Placement of certain colours near each other can prompt mood, or draw attention to certain features • Media used can emphasise colour, e.g. luminous watercolours, gouache – more intense
  14. 14. Jan Ormerod, illustration from Lizzie Nonsense, Little Hare Books, 2004, watercolour on paper, courtesy of the artist
  15. 15. Elizabeth Honey, illustration from Not a Nibble, Allen & Unwin, 1997, watercolour and ink on paper, courtesy of the artist
  16. 16. Art elements Texture • Connecting the sense of sight with the sense of touch/ feel • Can rouse memories, and create empathy for character and setting • Use of media influences texture
  17. 17. David Miller, illustration from Snap! Went Chester, text by Tania Cox, Hachette Australia, 2003, paper sculpture, courtesy of Woodleigh School
  18. 18. 5
  19. 19. Art elements Line • Can create mood • Curves – warmth, safety • Jagged, sharp - excitement, destruction, unease • Line can draw attention to something in the illustration
  20. 20. Shaun Tan, illustration from The Rabbits, text by John Marsden, Lothian, Hachette Australia, 1998, oil on canvas, courtesy of the artist
  21. 21. Bob Graham, illustration from Greetings from Sandy Beach, Lothian, Hachette Australia, 1990, colour pencil, pen and watercolour on paper, courtesy of the artist
  22. 22. Art elements Form • Refers to the boundaries of an object and how it relates to other objects • Used in the positioning of characters to show their relationships and how they feel about each other
  23. 23. Ron Brooks, illustration from Fox, text by Margaret Wild, Allen & Unwin, 2000, mixed media on paper, Peter Williams Collection
  24. 24. Fox “That first picture was a real mixed-media job: a multilayered collage of bits and pieces of different papers, heavy impasto, oil paint, acrylic, ink, watercolour, shellac, oil sticks…and instead of drawing with pens, pencils or whatever, I gouged, scratched and scraped my way through all this stuff using kitchen forks, bits of wire, old dental tools, bits of rusty tin, sandpaper – whatever seemed to work – to find my lines. I then worked the oil sticks into and over the whole picture, working and rubbing them in across the entire surface, obliterating the whole image under deep black, red, blue, brown or green oil. After allowing this to dry a little, I rubbed and polished off the higher, flatter, smoother surfaces with soft cloth; laid glazes of acrylic and wash over the top, gouged back in again, varnished again with shellac, added more colour here and there – until I felt the image had everything I was able to find. Until I felt it matched the voice in the writing – the texture of the language.” Drawn from the heart, p 282-283 (Brooks, R., 2010)
  25. 25. Ron Brooks, illustration from Old Pig, text by Margaret Wild, Allen & Unwin, 1995, watercolour on paper, courtesy of St Catherine's school
  26. 26. Jane Tanner, illustration from Love From Grandma, Viking, 2010, colour pencil and watercolour on paper, courtesy of the artist
  27. 27. Art elements Space • Liberal use of space indicates isolation, emptiness • Busy illustration can infer chaos, lots of activity, energy • Space can also draw attention to specific objects
  28. 28. Rebecca Cool, illustration from Isabella’s Garden, text by Glenda Millard, Walker Books Australia, 2009, acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the author
  29. 29. Armin Greder, illustration from The Island, Allen & Unwin, 2007, pencil on paper, courtesy of the artist
  30. 30. Art elements Shape and Size • Visual outline of an object which we use as to recognise objects • Rounded – warmth, safety • Angular – excitement, confusion • Use of object/character size can convey different emotions
  31. 31. Leigh Hobbs, illustration from Mr Chicken Goes to Paris, Allen & Unwin, 2009, gouache and pen on paper, courtesy of the artist
  32. 32. Elizabeth Honey, illustration from I'm Still Awake, Still, music by Sue Johnson, Allen & Unwin, 2008, gouache on paper, courtesy of the artist
  33. 33. Art elements Balance • How different elements come together and which elements are dominant • Arrangement of objects in an illustration rather than the elements – chaos or stability, or the effect of drawing one’s attention
  34. 34. 6
  35. 35. Gregory Rogers, illustration from Way Home, text by Libby Hathorn, Random House Australia, 1994, chalk, charcoal, pencil and torn paper, courtesy of Books Illustrated
  36. 36. Activities Comparing images • Compare different images (from the same story) which portray different moods indicating possible changes in character, plot • Consider elements and media/technique
  37. 37. Activities Comparing images • Compare images from multiple texts • Investigate themes, characterisation and setting through the use of elements and media/technique • Illustrator study - compare images from multiple texts by the same illustrator to see how they differ
  38. 38. Armin Greder, illustration from The Island, Allen & Unwin, 2007, pencil on paper, courtesy of the artist Shaun Tan, illustration from The Rabbits, text by John Marsden, Lothian, Hachette Australia, 1998, oil on canvas, courtesy of the artist
  39. 39. Ron Brooks, illustration from Fox, text by Margaret Wild, Allen & Unwin, 2000, mixed media on paper, Peter Williams Collection Ron Brooks, illustration from Old Pig, text by Margaret Wild, Allen & Unwin, 1995, watercolour on paper, courtesy of St Catherine's school
  40. 40. Activities Education kit More activities can be found in the education resource, eg: • Short-activity ideas (Bloom’s taxonomy) • Book-based activities, e.g. Lucy Goosey; Fox; To the Top End • Theme-based activities, e.g. My home, my family; What does tomorrow look like?; Telling stories through pictures Activities are aligned with the e5 instructional model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate)
  41. 41. Sample activity Telling stories through pictures Based on Lesley Reece’s (Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre) framework for studying picture books 1. Write out the text from a picture story book and read then discuss 2. Students create illustrations for different sentences and then discuss illustrations 3. Read the original story with illustrations then discuss
  42. 42. Sample activity Telling stories through pictures • Rule up 2 columns • 1st column – copy the text from one page • 2nd column – list all the things shown in corresponding illustration • Look at how the illustrator has gone beyond the written text through the use of art elements and media
  43. 43. Sample activity Education kit – Telling stories through pictures 7 8 9
  44. 44. Alternative activity Students predict text for a wordless book or discuss what they think is happening 10
  45. 45. Online resources • http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/look • http://www.delicious.com/lookeducation • http://www.diigo.com/user/lookeducation
  46. 46. Book cover references • Margaret Wild, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas, Jenny Angel, Puffin, 1999 • Jackie French, illustrated by Sue deGennaro, The Tomorrow Book, HarperCollins Australia, 2010 • Shaun Tan, The Arrival, Lothian, Hachette Australia, 2006 • Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks, Fox, Allen & Unwin, 2000 • Jeannie Baker, The Hidden Forest, Walker Books, 2000 • Jeannie Baker, Window, Random Century, 1992 • Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo, The Boy and the Toy, Penguin Books Australia, 2010 • Gary Crew, illustrated by Steven Woolman, Beneath the Surface, Hachette Australia, 2004 • John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan, The Rabbits, Lothian, Hachette Australia, 1998 • Stephen Michael King, Leaf, Scholastic Press for Scholastic Australia, 2008

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