Art & Max

David Wiesner

Well…you could paint me.

David Wiesner has won THREE Caldecott Medals.  THREE!  I think I won three dollars once from a scratch off lotto ticket.  My all time favorite of his books is June 29, 1999. And confession:  when I was a librarian, I took it home for a week so no kids could check it out and I could have it all to myself.  Scandalous, I know.

But in this one, Art and Max are both lizards.  Duh.  The cover told me that.  Art begrudgingly allows Max to paint with him, and accidentally becomes the subject. Art is the art.  Max’s messy ways cause some slight problems for Art, and he has to figure out a way to paint him back together.  Very clever, a tad confusing, but definitely beautiful.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is not really a rule at all.  And you don’t have to do a lot of math.  It’s a guideline for compositions used by photographers, designers, and artists.

When you divide your composition into 9 equal parts, you should place important elements along the lines or at the points where they intersect. (side note:  Your family vacation beach photos are more interesting when the horizon is along one of those lines rather than dead center.  Try it!) These lines and points drive the eye to look around and through the composition, rather than get stuck dead center.  Take a look at this very first spread from Art & Max.

{This photo is from here, where you can see a series of sketches leading up to the final illustration.}

And the rule of thirds applied:

Even across two pages of his book, David Wiesner set this scene according to the rule of thirds.  The easel is lined up right along one of the verticals.  Art and Max themselves are not perfectly aligned to the vertical, but they are close enough and it feels right.  Max is even lunging across the intersecting point there, which is curiously enough sometimes called a crash point.  See how the megaphone and the little lizard’s eyes are looking right up towards the crash point highlighted in blue. Art is also gazing to that point.  This is how the rule of thirds allows for flow and movement when you are reading an image.  We are never stuck in the middle of this art, but instead get to actively be involved in the scene…

…which is how I found out here that either Art or Max is a Pink Floyd fan.  (See that?!)


  • Suellen
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Carter! I’m going to request this book from the library for my grandchildren. Thanks for the reminder of the rule of thirds.

  • Posted September 18, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Check Tuesday out for them, too:)

  • Posted September 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Tuesday is a cool one. It inspired Evelyn Coleman to become a writer.

    Are you interested in the possibility of joining a critique group of picture book writers? I tried emailing you, but it didn’t send. If you want to know more, contact me at wildbike @

    Love your blog. Very cool.

  • Posted September 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Christie! I remember you from the Write On Con forums where I majorly lurked but didn’t have my act together enough to be a part of the conversation! I did join a PB critique group shortly after that, but thanks for thinking of me. That’s so sweet. If you ever want to bounce ideas and words though, I’m definitely up for that!

  • a
    Posted June 28, 2014 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Hola! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the courage to
    go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

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