Well, here's where this post gets exciting! Last spring I asked my fourth graders if they'd like to write to the author and let him know how much we liked his book. They were excited to do that and we brainstormed together about what we wanted to put in the letter. I wrote their ideas on the board and they took turns writing on a single piece of paper. They also filled an envelope with drawings they made inspired by the book and some of their linoleum prints.
Mr. Warhola wrote back! I showed the kids today the very lengthy hand-written letter answering our questions. He told us more about his own art and writing and more about Andy Warhol. And that's not all -- Mr. Warhola sent us a signed poster and some original drawings -- working sketches for his next book. I can't wait to get these in a frame and hang them in the school.
One of the things kids find amazing about Andy Warhol when we read Uncle Andy's is that the artist had 25 cats all named Sam! James' next book is going to be about those cats! The working sketches he gave us are of a couple of those Sams. Uncle Andy's Cats will be coming out next summer. We can't wait!
One of our academic standards for art in PA is to teach kids the difference between original art and reproductions. Young kids sometimes are confused by this.
Mr. Wales: "This is a Picasso painting --"These gifts from Mr. Warhola will help teach that standard! I also like to stress to kids that artists don't just sit down and create masterpieces out of the blue. A lot of planning goes into creating a work of art, including sketching. Trial and error, making plans and refining. These little sketches are a glimpse into his process and something an actual original drawing the artist made.
First grader: (interupting) "Wow! How did you get ahold of it?"
Mr. Wales: "Well, actually it's a poster of the painting that he did."
First grader: "Well did he make it or not?"
And on and on it goes.
We're starting our own gallery at Lynch-Bustin Elementary School! Last year we received a similar gift from artist James Gurney. Writing letters is a good way to learn the power of writing!