Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler by Elizabeth Brown, illustrated by Aimée Sicuro
Dancing Through Fields of Color:
The Story of Helen Frankenthaler
illustrations by Aimée Sicuro
Review Copy from Abrams Kids
With Dancing Through Fields of Color, Brown has written a picture book that is an in depth look at an artist as a child. Born at a time when expectations for both girls and artists were rigid, Frankenthaler was born to a mother who recognized her talent and supported and nurtured it, letting her explore colors by dripping nail polish into a bathroom sink full of water and drawing a chalk line between her two favorite places, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and her home. Helen's creative, buoyant energy was impacted by the death of her father when she was eleven, but she did eventually return to painting. In school and then in college, she continued to fight being forced to create a certain kind of art in a certain way to meet the standards of the time. When she was finally free to express herself exactly how she wanted, she was still met with criticism. The second half of Dancing Through Fields of Color is a look at perseverance and continued exploration until finally breaking through with her 1952 game-changing work , Mountains and Sea. Brown ends her book with Helen's completion of this painting, writing,
When she was done, Helen danced in that field, free among all the shimmering colors of her life, extending, reaching beyond the painting into forever.
Sicuro's illustrations, done in watercolor, ink and charcoal pencil, are expansive and expressive and glow with transparent color. They capture the energy of creativity as well as the sweeping swaths of colors that are part of Frankenthaler's work. Back matter includes information about Frankenthaler's life, Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting, a movement Frankenthaler spearheaded. There is also a timeline, author's note, bibliography, quotes and sources as well as a "Paint Soak/Soak-Stain Activity."