One of the most often-asked question from kids of authors and illustrators is: “Where do you get your ideas?” What they really want to know is, “ ‘How can I be like you?’ ” In author/illustrator Roxie Munro’s latest book, Masterpiece Mix, she introduces her readers to a story of the process of creativity and presents them with new ways to look at art and their own environment. Like the last book I reviewed, Seagrass Dreams, this is a multi-leveled, innovative, different kind of picture book where interactivity can lead to new discoveries at every reading.
Masterpiece Mix begins traditionally enough with the autobiographical problem Munro faces when she decides to do a painting and shows how she prepares a blank canvas, and gets her tools ready. Ultimately, she must come to grips with the challenge that faces anyone who faces a blank page, screen or canvas. “What should I paint?”
For many, at this instance, their minds are as blank as what they’re looking at. So Munro offers suggestions by showing us how other painters have solved the problem with reproductions of art from museums and books. We see works by the great masters of different genres: still life, landscape, portraits, animals, figures, and the arts and even sports. The paintings are accurately rendered and the subtext is that part of the creative process is to study the craft of masters.
Then she tells us her father’s advice, “Paint what you love.” Roxie loves cityscapes and what an amazing cityscape she creates for the culmination of the book! I will tell you only that it is brilliant and that it is also a puzzle that the child and adult reader will return to again and again.
The back of the book is extremely important as it is here that she identifies all the great paintings she admires and has previously shown. And she gives the reader the key to where you can find them her own masterpiece.
A master is a person who gets inspired by a vision in his or her mind, of what they want to create because they have invested time in study, developing a craft (no small thing) and practice. If they’ve gone public with their works, they get opinions of others which can help or hurt. Bravely, they persevere. If they’re lucky, they reach the top of their game, as Roxie Munro has, where there is a seamless connection between what is in her mind and on the page—a masterpiece of its genre. Brava! Roxie!
Masterpiece Mix publication date is August 15.