We’ve been having a heat wave in Boston. What better way to spend my time on those 90° days than sitting inside our AC-blasting office trying my hand at various arts and crafts activities from one of my latest Out of the Box finds — The Interactive Art Book (Insight Kids, March 2013) created by paper engineer Ron Van Der Meer and author Frank Whitford?
Seven informational sections examine techniques and materials used to create art; the way we see and process images; light and color; movement; composition; the way we use pictures to tell stories; and how different styles present different interpretations of subject matter.
Each one of the seven spreads features a handful of reproduced masterpieces, from Vincent van Gogh’s to Wassily Kandinsky’s, in order to highlight something important about that particular section’s topic. And thankfully, the book includes a wide range of reproductions, from high art to optical illusions to a Tom Armstrong comic strip.
Van Der Meer’s three-dimensional pop-up models of well-known paintings effectively illustrate perspective, while a spinning color disc, a Calder-esque mobile, a handheld phenakistoscope, and an removable activity book encourage hands-on participation and interaction with theories and techniques thoroughly explained by the text.
Following a prompt from the eighteen-page activity book, I did my best to create paper sculptures in the style of Yaacov Agam, where the image at the forefront is meant to change depending on your point of view. They’re crude attempts, I know. I blame all this central air I’m breathing.