by Sandra Neil Wallace (Author) Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
Ernie Barnes was an NFL football player who longed to make art. Finally his dream came true. When Ernie Barnes was growing up in North Carolina in the 1940s, he loved to draw. Even when he played as a boy with his friends he drew with a stick in the mud. And he never left home without a sketchbook. He would draw families walking home from church, or the old man on the sofa. He drew what he saw. But in the segregated south, Ernie didn't know how to make a living as an artist. Ernie grew tall and athletic and became a football star. Soon enough the colleges came calling. Still, in his heart Ernie longed to paint. Would that day ever come?
Ernie Barnes was one of the most important artists of his time known for his style of elongation and movement. His work has influenced a generation of painters and illustrators and can be found in museums and collections, such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the California African American Museum. Between the Lines is a story of inspiration, spirit, and of an American original who pursued his dream. This enchanting picture book includes pieces of artwork created by this little known artist who captured the truth and beauty of the world he saw around him.
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This rich portrait of an innovative and determined artist begins with Ernie Barnes as a child in the segregated South. Despite a desire to pursue art, football was Barnes's ticket to college, where he visited museums for the first time and was dismayed to find no black artists represented ("Your people don't express themselves in that way," a docent told him). But Barnes refused to abandon his artwork, even after being drafted as a professional footballer. Collier's multidimensional collages are a dynamic mix of gridiron action and quiet moments of Barnes with his brushes and canvases. It's a well-sourced, stirringly told account of an artist drawing inspiration from and finding beauty in the immediate surroundings of his world. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Liza Voges, Eden Street Literary. Illustrator's agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Jan.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 1-4—The pursuit of dreams and the resilience of the human spirit shine in this illustrated biography of one of the world's greatest sports artists. Growing up in the segregated south, Ernie Barnes loved to draw and rarely left home without his sketchbook. Shy, quiet, and often picked on, Barnes found his voice by painting what he observed in his surroundings: families walking, an old man snoring, the junk man peddling. When he grew to be six foot three, he was recruited for the high school football team and eventually earned a sports scholarship to an all-black university. Still, Barnes was discouraged: he wanted to be an artist instead of an athlete. His art teacher inspired him to paint what he saw, and suddenly his calling was realized: he will paint football, seeing the beauty in what before was ordinary. Barnes would go on to make the NFL, play for the Colts, and paint his first football painting, The Bench, a work that would define his career for years to come. After leaving football for good, his professional dream was fully realized when he was invited to become the official artist for the American Football League: "When I became an athlete, I didn't stop being an artist." Collier's illustrations are storytellers on their own, blending emulations of Barnes's work with dynamic, mixed-media imagery that enhances the book's historical relevance. VERDICT An absolutely indispensable illustrated biography that will remind readers of all ages that it's never too late to pursue their dreams.—Natalie Romano, Denver Public LibraryCopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.