Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood

Overview

Meet the painter of American Gothic in this biography that follows Grant Wood's path to becoming a renowned American artist.

Follows the life of the Iowa farm boy who struggled to realize his talents and who painted in Paris but returned home to focus on the land and people he knew best.

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Overview

Meet the painter of American Gothic in this biography that follows Grant Wood's path to becoming a renowned American artist.

Follows the life of the Iowa farm boy who struggled to realize his talents and who painted in Paris but returned home to focus on the land and people he knew best.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Midwestern plainspokenness shapes this account of the native son's life and work, told here as a sort of farm-bred fairy tale of early hardship and eventual triumph. Wood's monetarily poor but visually rich childhood and determined pursuit of his own artistic vision are described in an unsentimental but lively manner, the scope and tone well suited to the target audience. With its stately layout, handsome full-page color reproductions, monochrome line art, vintage photographs and quick demonstration of the artist's hen-drawing technique, the book itself is inviting. A few inconsistencies-paintings reproduced but not mentioned in the text and others referred to but not shown-and the lack of bibliography are unfortunate oversights, and the absence of detailed captions may cause confusion as readers will not immediately recognize all the illustrations as Wood's works. The treatment of Wood's contacts with the abstract style and impressionism, meanwhile, seems almost xenophobic (a teacher explains impressionism by holding one of Grant's watercolors under a running faucet). Still, Duggleby's homage to his fellow Iowan is a quietly inspiring portrait of the hard work, perseverance and down-home quirkiness of a major artist, and a clear exposition of his place in American culture. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Regionalist painter Wood was an original. From his unforgettable "American Gothic" and "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" to his borderline surreal images of farming fields, he defined his Iowa home and a way of life. Duggleby's low-key biography fills in all the facts: Wood's shyness, his perfectionism, his forays from Iowa to study art in Paris at a time when his rustic vision was totally against the grain of modern styles and theories. Beyond the obvious facts, the book manages to relay the carefully paced, Midwestern thinking behind each of Grant Wood's paintings. The reproductions of Wood's paintings are superb. This is a book for both kids and adults.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-The most famous American painting may be Wood's American Gothic, with its weathered, pitchfork-holding farmer and aproned wife. Readers meet the mid-Western farm boy who studied art in France and Germany, but always returned to America's heartland. His style was clean and photographically precise, his landscapes "...real-and not quite real-at the same time." Critics called his style "Regionalism" and began to notice and celebrate American painters. Duggleby's title is fittingly large and square, with cover and endpapers decorated with cows, chickens, and farm implements. Wood's paintings are beautifully reproduced, most in full color, and the wide margins, decorated chapter headings, and clear typeface make the book a pleasure to read. The author writes with great skill, telling Wood's story not simply with dates and places, but with anecdotes, descriptions, and snatches of conversation. He brings the artist to life-his shyness and stubbornness, his dreams and disappointments, his way of winning friends, and his determination to paint in his own way. He makes Wood out to be a person worth knowing and knowing about. Few books, if any, are available on the subject. This gem of a book is marred only by a lack of documentation.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The painting American Gothic has become so ubiquitous that children may associate it with cartoons or cereal boxes without realizing its artistic origins. This biography of the painting's creator, Grant Wood, introduces readers to a shy artist who worked in the style now called Regionalism to represent his midwestern surroundings.

Wood's dreamy nature didn't always fit with the rigors of Iowa farm life into which he was born. Duggleby includes many anecdotes from Wood's childhood, to help readers understand the boy's struggle to become an artist. The biography is supplemented with plenty of large black-and-white and full-color reproductions of his art, which serve as illustrations for Wood's life story. Photos are used, too: A particularly interesting one is of the two models for Wood's most famous painting. The only oddity in this volume is a tacked-on ending: three pages of instructions for drawing chickens. Bland art instructions read like filler in an otherwise eloquent volume.

From the Publisher

--KIRKUS REVIEWS, Pointer, March 1996
The painting American Gothic has become so ubiquitous that children may associate it with cartoons or cereal boxes without realizing its artistic origins. This biography of the painting's creator, Grant Wood, introduces readers to a shy artist who worked in the style now called Regionalism to represent his midwestern surroundings.

Wood's dreamy nature didn't always fit with the rigors of Iowa farm life into which he was born. Duggleby includes many anecdotes from Wood's childhood, to help readers understand thc boy's struggle to become an artist. The biography is supplemented with plenty of large black-and-white and full-color reproductions of his art, which serve as illustrations for Wood's life story. Photos are used, too: A particularly interesting one is of the two models for Wood's most famous painting. The only oddity in this volume is a tacked on ending: three pages of instructions for drawing chickens. Bland art instructions read like filler in an otherwise eloquent volume. (Biography. 8-12)

--SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, May 1996
The most famous American painting may be Wood's American Gothic, with its weathered, pitchfork-holding farmer and an aproned wife. Readers meet the mid-Western farm boy who studied art in France and Germany, but always returned to America's heartland. His style was clean and photographically precise his landscapes "...real--and not quite real--at the same time." Critics called his style "Regionalism" and began to notice and celebrate American painters. Duggleby's title is fittingly large and square, with cover and endpapers decorated with cows, chickens, and farm implements. Wood's painting's are beautifully reproduced, most in full color, and the wide margins, decorated chapter headings, and clear typeface make the book a pleasure to read. The author write's with great skill telling Wood's story not simply with dates and places, but with anecdotes, descriptions, and snatches of conversation. He brings the artist to life--his shyness and stubborness, his dreams and disappointments, his way of winning friends and his determination to paint in his own way. He makes Wood out to be a person worth knowing and knowing about. Few books, if any, are available on the subject. This gem of a book is marred only by a lack of documentation.

--BOSTON BOOK REVIEW, September 1996
Artist in Overalls, a biography of the great American artist Grant Wood, is about integrity and perseverance. Wood was born on a farm in Iowa; his childhood, while poor in the economic sense, was rich in rolling fields, beautiful woods, and those "amber waves of grain"--a phase that fits Wood's paintings exactly. Wood began to draw at an early age. Lacking materials, he took charrred pieces of wood from the kitchen stove and drew on the clean white insides of cracker boxes. He drew everything he knew--the wavy fields, chickens, streams, whatever he saw. After his father died, and his family moved to town, Wood often traveled miles in the evening to take art courses. In early adulthood, he once simply showed up in an art class at the University of Iowa and, since no one inquired as to his right to be there he stayed. In addition to poverty, Wood had to withstand criticism from friends and family for not looking for "honest work." He was eventually hired to teach art by a school principal. Although aware that his was an unconventional teaching style, she realized that Wood was imparting something immeasuraable to his student. During a subsequent trip to Paris, he was exposed to Impressionism, which, however, failed to sway him. Visiting a museum he experienced an epiphany of sorts, realizing that the clean lines of Gothic art were what he was seeking. Out of this relization came two paintings--Woman with Plants and American Gothic--which established his

This biography of the painting's creator, Grant Wood, introduces readers to a shy artist who worked in the style now called Regionalism to represent his midwestern surroundings. Kirkus Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811849081
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 9.75 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

John Duggleby was born and raised in the rolling hills of lowa where Grant Wood lived and painted, and he studied journalism at the University of lowa, where Grant Wood taught. John lives with his four year-old daughter, Katie, in McFarland, Wisconsin. This is his fifth book for children.
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