Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Horace Pippin


If a man knows nothing but hard times, he will paint them, for he must be true to himself…

splashIt is interesting to analyze a picture book that “really works” and is obviously well crafted. One of the reasons for the success of a picture book is because of the connections between the text and the illustrations. Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet collaborated on A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (Knopf), a picture book biography about the talented artist. In the author’s and illustrator’s notes in the back of A Splash of Red, Bryant and Sweet both detail how they worked. The author and illustrator traveled together to research Pippin and his work.

Horace Pippin was passionate about art as a child, but life and work got in the way, as he grew older. It wasn’t until he returned from WWI with a badly injured arm, that art re-entered his life. At that time, Pippin found it difficult to obtain a job due to his injury. One day, he picked up a fireplace poker, and he held his injured arm as he scratched a design in some wood. He finished his first painting three years later, by retraining himself and strengthening his arm. Through that painting, he found himself again, as he used somber colors that represented his years as a soldier. Even then, he would add a splash of red.

It took years for Pippin’s work to be recognized, but he has emerged as one of the premiere painters of his time.




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