"The Elephants of Art" Teaches Kids Art Fundamentals

Steve Adubato goes one on one with writer and illustrator of "The Elephants of Art," Jo O’Mara, about how her book teaches children about the fundamentals of art including line, color and shape.

4/24/17 #2025






"Toulouse sets out on a weird wonderful journey exploring some pretty amazing stuff as he searched for the famous elephants. It wasn't long before he found them. First was Linus, the elephant a line, Starla, the elephant a shape, and Rainbow, the elephant a color. They taught Toulouse about each of these elements but more importantly, they showed him how great they looked when used together. That is so great. You were looking at a video. Book of the same name. The author is Jo O'Mara She is a writer and illustrator "The Elephants of Art" She's an art teacher for urban arts at Montrose Center in Hoboken, New Jersey. How are you doing? I'm good. I'm good. You? I'm doing great. Great. Tell me, by the way, I want to thank our good friend Nicky Manarezzo our mutual friend who brought us together For you to be here. Yes, yes Give me a sense. The video, the book, the premise. Okay, well, the premise is... Obviously it's a pun. I can't help it. I'm a big fan of puns but I teach young kids and I want to teach them the elements of art. The elements. Elements of art. Not the elephants of art Right. And they're important. They're line, they're shape, color, texture, value, space, and form. Mmm. And they're something that artists use all the time but everybody uses them. You know, architects use them. Engineers use them. Hair salons. I mean they're all things that have to do with visual. Right I was just doing a lesson and we were doing a robot collage and I used the inside board of a computer and I showed the kids the inside are all of those elements too. Inside of machines. So they are all around us and I just feel like when kids have a visual awareness of them not only does it help them draw which is what the book's for. It shows you how to put them together to draw. That's right But you know, they'll be walking down the street and they'll see the way a shadow falls down onto the grass and they'll see the lines or they'll see a snail and say "look, there's a swirly line" and they're just more aware of things around them. So, to me it just heightens their awareness and they're also putting together things and learning how to make things connect and that helps their drawings. You know Jo, I gotta tell ya what's fascinating to me is I was reading the book with our 6 year old daughter and 12 year old son.Oh good. Both together. I remember going back and forth page by page and they were laughing over the elephants..."