Friday, February 19, 2010

When Big Artists were Little Kids Exhibit and Book Signing

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Reception and book signing, Thursday, Feb. 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

What was Monet’s nickname? Why did Seurat paint with dots? The real answers—accompanied by imaginative childhood tales—are explained in When Big Artists were Little Kids, a new children’s book by Greg Constantine, research professor emeritus of art and artist-in-residence at Andrews University. A book signing and exhibit of seven pairs of original watercolor illustrations from the book and eight acrylic paintings will be exhibited at Andrews University’s Art & Design Gallery in Smith Hall in Berrien Springs, Mich., beginning with a reception and book signing on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 6–7:30 pm.

Constantine’s latest children’s book was inspired by his own beginnings as an artist. Released in November 2009 by Edgecliff Press, When Big Artists Were Little Kids is for middle readers (ages 7–12). It depicts 17 famous artists, from Leonardo to Warhol, as little kids. Constantine uses a combination of the artists’ real biographical incidents and his own imagination to tell the stories. On one side of the spread, the book depicts an incident from the artist’s childhood, and on the facing page it shows how that may have influenced their adult work.

“It’s good to be somewhat informed about what the artist ultimately achieved, and if not, you will learn even if you don’t realize it,” said Constantine. “So there’s a certain amount of education involved.” The book includes simple questions on each page for children to answer by looking at the pictures, promoting the learning experience.

Constantine crafted all of the watercolor illustrations in the 36-page book himself and then wrote the stories to go with them.

Constantine taught painting, drawing and art history at Andrews University for 46 years. He has published three books containing his drawings and paintings infused with sophisticated humor. Constantine exhibited this artwork in over 62 shows, many in New York, and some internationally.

Born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada to parents who emigrated from Romania, Constantine recalls as a child filling all his workbooks with more drawings than schoolwork. This became such a problem that pencils and paper were taken from him in order to focus his attention on the necessary academic subjects. Eventually, however, art survived and prospered in his life as he boldly broke into gallery exhibiting in New York and beyond.

The 8.5” x 11” book can be previewed and purchased online from the publisher’s website.

Gallery exhibit hours are 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday–Friday, Feb. 25–March 14. After this exhibit closes March 14, it will travel to New York City’s Tribeca district for an exhibit and book signing on March 21.

Contact Greg Constantine for more information at 269-471-3278.

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