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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Don't be scared of your Blue Horses

The very wonderful Eric Carle, of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame, wrote another brilliant but lessor known book, called The Artist who painted a Blue Horse. In it he tells the story of Franz Marc and Carle's own art teacher who introduced him to the wonderful work of Marc, at a time when it was not safe to do so.

Eric Carle spent his childhood in Germany, at the time when the Nazi regime forbade modern, expressionistic or abstract art. One day, his art teacher showed Carle some 'forbidden' art, saying "Just look at the looseness, the freedom and...the beauty of these paintings". At the time, the young Carle was shocked and thought his teacher had gone mad, but the lack of realism and animals of the 'wrong' colours that Carle is famous for now were "really born that day seventy years ago".

I only discovered this book last year despite owning almost every book Carle has published -  you could say I'm a HUGE fan - and I instantly fell in love with it. It made me stop and think. We inflict so many arbitrary rules on children, on what is acceptable and how they should do things. Sometimes we need to remember that some things are just ahead of their time.

My son is doing a project on a food chain, and he is putting himself in the marine chain. He decided, rather than draw land for the diorama, he'd put himself in a submarine. I am torn between telling him that's not really the right thing to do, and thinking it's hilarious. As it is his homework, not mine, the submarine is staying. I hope his teacher feels the same way.

We should never be scared of the blue horses...












24 comments:

  1. Great post! I have never heard of this book - and now I have. And I love it already. I am a big believer in letting kids paint and colour however they like. We're always putting boundaries on our kids (colour within the lines) which inhibits their creativity. Yay for purple trees, yellow skies, orange grass and blue horses!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  2. It's weird how no one has heard of it - I collected all his books as they came out and still somehow missed it. But yes, who says it's right to colour in the lines...?

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  3. I love this. I am so guilty of pulling in the reigns of my son when maybe all he needs is to do his own thing. He may well be ahead of his time :)
    Becc @ Take Charge Now

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    1. It's hard not to, I reckon - you watch them make it so difficult or complicated (or ruin it) and it's hard not to jump in and jost say "do it like this" - I find, for me, anyway.

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  4. My daughter got this out of the library at school a few weeks ago! I love the combo of these two.

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    1. He's a genius, Eric Carle. Tell your daughter I like her taste!

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  5. I've never heard of this book - sounds wonderful :-)

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  6. Love, love, love this! I had no idea that was Eric Carle's history (and I too am a BIG fan - I made a hungry caterpillar quilt for my son when he was born!). Beautiful book. Can't wait to hunt down a copy!

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    1. Neither did I? Funny how it never really got discussed - I guess it was just hungry catapillers & brown bears...

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  7. Great post Lydia - I love the perspective that Eric Carle had. Why should we limit the imagination of our children? I hope your son's teacher appreciates his interpretation of his assignment! Kirsty @ My Home Truths

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  8. So do I. I suspect not the wisest but figure if he wants to do it's his mark at the end of the day...

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  9. I had never heard of this book until now either. I think I definitely need to check it out, thanks for sharing. And I agree, it's a hard thing to let our kids do their own thing their own way but so important too as well.

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  10. I hadn't heard of this book either. I'm going to try and track it down. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Sounds like a great lesson to be learned from this book! It is so hard (for me anyway) to give my son free creative reign over things and not to make him abide by strict guidelines. But ultimately it is adults who stifle creativity.

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  12. I love these sort of books but my five year old only seems to like books about Spiderman. Sigh. Other than that he likes Dr Zuess or Mr Men books. They're okay but I wouldn't mind a bit of variety.

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  13. Love Eric Carle and love the story of the blue horse. I do think adults forget to "play" and need to let children think outside the rules xx

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  14. What a great story! I just saw The Monuments Men over the weekend, loose interpretation of history it may be but nevertheless it was very sobering to think about the damage the Nazi regime did to our cultural heritage. I'm so glad Eric Carle had a brave tutor or we might never have known that very famous caterpillar!

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  15. Such a cult writer and illustrator these two are really aren't they? I might get it out again, now my daughter is a little older she might appreciate more than she has in the past!

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  16. I'm so rigid myself with stuff like this that I do find it hard to let my kids just go with their imaginations. Such a lovely back story too - thanks for sharing again x

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  17. When I was at school my first question to the teacher when we were doing colouring activities was always 'does it have to be the right colour?' I loved making the animals different colours, with purple trees and blue grass :)

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  18. My kids loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Thanks for sharing this info about Eric Carle - I love trivia like this :-)

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  19. I loved this post before and I still love it now - awesome selection from your archives Lydia!

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  20. Totally agreed. If that's how he sees it, then that's how he should draw it!

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