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Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler

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They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthale They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential “Color Field” style of abstract expressionist painting with her “soak stain” technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler’s early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.   

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They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthale They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler became an originator of the influential “Color Field” style of abstract expressionist painting with her “soak stain” technique, and her artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. Dancing Through Fields of Color discusses Frankenthaler’s early life, how she used colors to express emotion, and how she overcame the male-dominated art world of the 1950s.   

30 review for Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    A wonderful introduction to Helen Frankenthaler and her place in the color field painting movement.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Sutter

    A beautiful read with gorgeous illustrations. Perfect for parents wanting to nurture lovers of art, history, and learning about the unique perspectives an artist brings to her work. Loved it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Elizabeth Brown beautifully portrays the creative experience of Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler with energy and joy, and Aimée Sicuro's illustrations match Brown's carefully selected words in tone and vibrancy. Brown masterfully distills her extensive research to show how Frankenthaler followed her heart and defied artistic rules, then remade them by creating her own "soak-stain" painting technique. Brown uses dance terms to describe not only how Frankenthaler moved about as she created Elizabeth Brown beautifully portrays the creative experience of Color Field painter Helen Frankenthaler with energy and joy, and Aimée Sicuro's illustrations match Brown's carefully selected words in tone and vibrancy. Brown masterfully distills her extensive research to show how Frankenthaler followed her heart and defied artistic rules, then remade them by creating her own "soak-stain" painting technique. Brown uses dance terms to describe not only how Frankenthaler moved about as she created her work, but the movement she created in her work. This painstakingly-crafted picture book is a work of art in itself and stands out in its field.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Leslie

    Elizabeth Brown's lyrical words and Aimaee Sicuro's passionate illustrations bring Helen Frankenthaler to life and will make you want to become an artist.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sheri Dillard

    This book is gorgeous, both the illustrations and the rich, descriptive text. I loved learning about Helen Frankenthaler and how she created her own style in the modern art world. Beautiful and inspiring!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Breisacher

    The life of Helen Frankenthaler is told in this lovely book, where colors swirl across the pages with beautiful words and images.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beth Anderson

    The text ebbs and flows and surges, bringing life and energy to Frankenthaler’s story. Knowing what I know now from Elizabeth Brown’s post last week for Behind the Scenes, I can see that her experimentation with and immersion in the techniques the artist used brought forth a text that really imitates the art. Though painting is a rather quiet pursuit, Brown’s tremendous selection of verbs carry the story from Frankenthaler’s heart to our own. The softly colored illustrations are warm and inviting The text ebbs and flows and surges, bringing life and energy to Frankenthaler’s story. Knowing what I know now from Elizabeth Brown’s post last week for Behind the Scenes, I can see that her experimentation with and immersion in the techniques the artist used brought forth a text that really imitates the art. Though painting is a rather quiet pursuit, Brown’s tremendous selection of verbs carry the story from Frankenthaler’s heart to our own. The softly colored illustrations are warm and inviting, free and flowing. This story of a rebel artist who found her way will no doubt inspire kids to play with their own creativity and find their own freedom in art.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alex (not a dude) Baugh

    Brown introduces young readers to Helen Frankenthaler, who is best known for her big, bold Fields of Color paintings. Helen's love of color and freedom of expression began as a child, when she was encouraged by her parents to follow her instincts about art, even while her teachers were promoting q more realistic style of painting done within the lines. Sadly, at age 11, Helen's colorful inspiration failed her when her beloved father suddenly died, and though she kept painting, it was never the s Brown introduces young readers to Helen Frankenthaler, who is best known for her big, bold Fields of Color paintings. Helen's love of color and freedom of expression began as a child, when she was encouraged by her parents to follow her instincts about art, even while her teachers were promoting q more realistic style of painting done within the lines. Sadly, at age 11, Helen's colorful inspiration failed her when her beloved father suddenly died, and though she kept painting, it was never the same as before since it never really expressed what she felt inside. Then, as an adult, Helen met Jackson Pollock, and she realized that if he could break the rules, so could she. But it took a trip to Nova Scotia to really free Helen's painting. And what Helen created were paintings seeped in colors and deep emotion - a technique called "soak stain" where the paint is allowed to seep into the canvas. Sicuro's watercolor illustrations are energetic and bright, and without trying to recreate the soak stain techniques, she nevertheless manages to capture the sense of Helen Frankenthaler's paintings. Back matter includes More About Helen Frankenthaler, a Timeline of her life, Author's Note, Quotes and Sources, and an extensive Select Bibliography. Also included is a Poured Paint/Soak-Stain Activity that kids can do to really understand how Helen's technique works, and the most important thing to remember for this activity - there are no rules!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    I love reading biographical picture books. They are amazing because they have a way of getting to the heart of the person quickly. This book stays within that structure and shows quickly how important color was to the artist, Helen Frankenthaler. I enjoyed learning about her infatuation with colors. I especially enjoyed the author's note at the end of the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emily Masters

    I could have stared at every page of this beautiful book for an hour. The illustrations are striking and free in a way only watercolor can be. I had never heard of Helen Frankenthaler, but now that I know who she is I have a feeling I'll be keeping an eye out for her name in art museums for a long time to come.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Wow, this book is fantastic. The illustrations really do the book and the artist justice, I feel.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This was lovely. Well researched, honest, and the illustrations are true to the art form and color field movement. A wonderful addition to any library or school collection.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Y.Poston

    Love this children's biography of a lesser known artist!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nanette Heffernan

    Biographies give us an opportunity to see how great women (and men) became legends. But in Dancing Through Fields Of Colors, children get so much more than a timeline. Brown’s retelling of Helen Frankenthaler’s life also reminds readers (young and old) to believe in yourself, never give up and always, always question everything. Author and illustrator come together beautifully, balancing text with art although this is one of those rare books where, in spite of being a picture book, the language Biographies give us an opportunity to see how great women (and men) became legends. But in Dancing Through Fields Of Colors, children get so much more than a timeline. Brown’s retelling of Helen Frankenthaler’s life also reminds readers (young and old) to believe in yourself, never give up and always, always question everything. Author and illustrator come together beautifully, balancing text with art although this is one of those rare books where, in spite of being a picture book, the language is so vivid the art is almost just a bonus.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Xochitl

    An inspiring, beautifully written story about a famous female painter.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    I really liked how this showed Frankenthaler's own explorations of ways of doing art throughout her life as well as those she was trained in (like still lifes and cubism) and how she was influenced by other people working (her professors, Pollack). The main text mostly doesn't contain her art, but the illustrations use watercolor, ink, and charcoal (and really color in general) in ways that work well with Frankenthaler's own style. The illustrations also did a great job of showing the other style I really liked how this showed Frankenthaler's own explorations of ways of doing art throughout her life as well as those she was trained in (like still lifes and cubism) and how she was influenced by other people working (her professors, Pollack). The main text mostly doesn't contain her art, but the illustrations use watercolor, ink, and charcoal (and really color in general) in ways that work well with Frankenthaler's own style. The illustrations also did a great job of showing the other styles around her/influencing her. Some of the verbs in the text are really part of the illustrations, which was fun. And the use of verbs here in general is great. I was surprised by how dance-y some of it is!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Helen Frankenthaler's story and her art is beautifully presented through Elizabeth Brown's lush, descriptive text. Gorgeous illustrations by Aimée Sicuro reflect Frankenthaler's unique technique of thinned oil paint and "soak-stained" effect, using unconventional tools. Leading the reader through her happy earlier childhood and then a heartbreaking loss to emerge has one of the 2oth century's leading (female) abstract Expressionist artists, who never liked to paint inside the lines. The stunning Helen Frankenthaler's story and her art is beautifully presented through Elizabeth Brown's lush, descriptive text. Gorgeous illustrations by Aimée Sicuro reflect Frankenthaler's unique technique of thinned oil paint and "soak-stained" effect, using unconventional tools. Leading the reader through her happy earlier childhood and then a heartbreaking loss to emerge has one of the 2oth century's leading (female) abstract Expressionist artists, who never liked to paint inside the lines. The stunning spread which includes "Helen dreamed of setting her colors free, like she was as a child, running without boundaries." perfectly encapsulates her art: setting the colors free. Includes richly detailed back matter.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Elizabeth Brown skillfully immerses us into the colorful and creative life of Helen Frankenthaler, an exceptional and talented artist in the area of Abstract Expressionism. Readers get to deeply experience the ups and downs with Helen as she grows up in a loving family and finds her way in the art world which can be cruel and crushing. The illustrations captures the spirit and exuberance of Helen and her art and complement the story perfectly.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amber Webb

    Dancing Through Fields of Color is a stunningly beautiful book about the life of Helen Frankenthaler. The words and illustrations allowed you to feel colors and emotions laid out on the pages. You felt every pain and joy alongside Helen as she explored her life as an artist. This is a perfect non-Fiction picture book to share with students along with some amazing art and dance opportunities.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Dobrez

    I'll be looking for Frankenthaler's paintings as I visit galleries after reading this picture book biography describing her approach and process to her painting. I loved all the color names sprinkled through the pages.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    Absolutely gorgeous nonfiction picture book. The words and illustrations dance on the pages of this inspirational biography of artist Helen Frankenthaler. A must for any budding artist’s bookshelf. Or anyone who prefers to color outside the lines

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Greenley

    Lyrical language and colorful illustrations provide context and an appreciation for a lesser-known (to me, anyway!) figure in American art history, as well as an appreciation for Frankenthaler's pour and soak splashy art technique. Fun art activity for your kids in the endpapers!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tina Hoggatt

    It is good to see biography of Helen Frankenthaler in picture book form. Despite some plummy writing in text and awkwardness in illustration I would recommend this book. The young reader will identify with Helen's desire to paint her own way and with the loss her father.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Biography of Helen Frankenthaler for elementary level. Explores her love of color and painting from childhood on.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beth Larkin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Vattula

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tara

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margo Jantzi

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