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Picture This | Class #2 2015

picture this

Molly Bang‘s Picture This is her personal exploration as she works to analyze the emotional effects of art. Most illustrators go with their gut as they compose their pictures, but Molly wanted to see if there were some rules involved. An experienced illustrator, she says she began to understand art and composition better through this exploration. This book was originally written for adults, but I know some teachers in later elementary and middle school who use the exercises in the second half of this book.

Did Molly’s explorations resonate for you? Help you understand pictures and illustration?

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. They absolutely resonated. I used this book to prepare for my service on the Caldecott Committee. Later I also used Dilys Evans Show and Tell to continue to refine how I approached amazing art and composition in children’s book illustration as I reviewed books.

  2. Lindsey Bailey says:

    I had never thought about pictures this way – not formally, at least. Molly’s ideas about size and placement of objects in illustrations really rang true to me. I especially loved how she conceived of the picture as a “world” – that’s a helpful and beautiful way of looking at them.

  3. I think this will be really helpful when thinking about how images in other books are created or how the pages are done in the layout portion of design. What messages is the illustrator/author trying to send by the type of shape of the illustrations or what feeling is he or she trying to convey?

  4. Sara Gordon says:

    I don’t think I’ll be able to look at a picture book again without analyzing all of the illustrations! This book was helpful in explaining the meaning conveyed through each tiny detail that the illustrator chooses; nothing is an accident. I didn’t realize the level of intention that goes into each aspect of the illustrations and how much of a difference it makes to notice these details.

  5. Josh Jenkins says:

    Molly’s comments about color resonated a lot to me. I was amazed by how much suspense was created in the Little Red exercises with so few colors. Saving the small bit of white for the wolf’s teeth was such a clever move! Also, the idea of Red and her mother being shown to be related by Mom having an element of red in her color (purple) was really interesting. It makes me want to reread so many books and just look for little tricks of color here and there!

  6. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    I just heard from Molly Bang who is working on a 25th anniversary edition of Picture This for fall 2016 with Chronicle Books. She says she’s having a great time revisiting and revisiting this book.

  7. Stacey Kahn says:

    I absolutely loved reading this book. As a person who has much more of a literary background and an interest but not a fluency in visual art, Molly’s book proved super helpful. It reminded me a lot of the Design articles we read last week; it seemed like the next logical progression in training our eyes for the page, for children’s books specifically, but for visual cues generally, too. Breaking down images into simple elements was not only effective to demonstrate basic principles of perspective and emotion, but also as an illustrative tool in how we intuitively analyze art. Looking forward to seeing her 25th anniversary edition!

  8. This book will definitely change the way I look at picture books… and all works of art! Fascinating read. Thank you for introducing me to this book!

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