Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Illustrations of "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" Now Available in Online Gallery

Illustrations Created by Calef Brown, Timothy Basil Ering, Steven Kellogg, James Ransome, and Chris Van Dusen for All 27 Episodes of
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a national reading outreach project jointly sponsored by the NCBLA and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Originally published on the Library of Congress’ website---and soon to be published in hardcover, paperback, and audio formats by Candlewick Press!---The Exquisite Corpse Adventure is a buoyant, spontaneous experiment; a progressive story game just like the one many families play on road trips and at home when there is a power outage and kids play at camps and parties. It is a game in which one person begins a story, stops at a cliff-hanging moment, and the next person picks it up and continues until everyone in the group has the opportunity to contribute.  

Each episode is sumptuously illustrated by one of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure contributors  (Calef Brown, Timothy Basil Ering, Steven Kellogg, James Ransome, and Chris Van Dusen), each of whom took turns creating the illustration for their assigned episodes in true exquisite corpse style--without looking at what their colleagues had created for previous episodes.

Here is what Chris Van Dusen has said about painting illustrations for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure:

All of my illustrations are painted in gouache (rhymes with "squash") which is kind of like an opaque watercolor. I paint on illustration board and I usually start with the background and work my way to the foreground. Since the writing is so wonderfully wacky in "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" there are several images which would make great illustrations. Still, I choose my subjects carefully. I want to intrigue the reader with the illustration as I hopefully did in Episode 1. For this piece, I decided to lead off with a real (literally!) cliff-hanger.”

Chris painted the dramatic illustration for Episode 1, pictured here at top right.
To maximize the educational impact of The Exquisite Corpse Adventure, the NCBLA partnered with the Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University to create an online Education Resource Center complete with supplemental articles, classroom activities, bibliographies, art activities, discussion questions, and more!

Included in the Education Resource Center are extensive "Talk Art!" appreciation activities and discussion questions created by Mary Brigid Barrett for Episodes 1 through 19. (The activities for Episodes 20 - 27 are coming soon!) Here is a sample of the "Talk Art!" activity for Episode 1:

Draw four horizontal rectangles on the board or on a large sheet of paper. In the first rectangle, draw a long somewhat straight horizontal line that contacts the left and right side of the rectangle. In the second rectangle draw a horizontal softly wavy line that contacts the left and right side of the rectangle. In that third rectangle draw a straight diagonal line from a bit above the bottom  left corner to a bit below the top right corner. In the last rectangle draw a jagged diagonal line—like a lightning bolt— from a bit above the bottom  left corner to a bit below the top right corner.

Talk about the line drawing in each rectangle—does the simple drawn line evoke any emotional response?  Ask them which drawn line in that rectangular space makes them feel safe? Do any of the lines make them feel calm or even at peace? Which two lines are restful? Which two lines are more exciting? Is there a line that looks almost dangerous? WHY? Then ask them if these were realistic drawings, simple landscape panoramas they might encounter in real life, what landscapes come to mind? Why do certain landscapes like a pasture and big sky, or a view looking out over the soft rolling waves of a lake or ocean make us feel calm, relaxed, even safe and secure?  Ask them what real landscapes come to mind looking at the two diagonal lines.  Why do diagonals of any kind bring out a more energized emotion—especially jagged diagonals?

Be sure to take a look at ALL the illustrations created for The Exquisite Corpse Adventure in the gallery of illustrations on the facebook page of The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance.