We often see strange figures when we stare at clouds in the sky, don't we? The children in this picture have seen a huge giant striding along, a club over his shoulder. They watch and wonder about him. Where is he going? What will he do? ``The Giant'' was painted by the artist N.C. Wyeth. Five of the youngsters on the beach are his own. The sixth - the boy with the white hat - was a friend and art student of his. This painting is large - 6 feet high and 5 feet wide - and covers part of the wall in the dining room of a school at Westtown, Pa. It is called a mural because it was painted directly on the wall.
N.C. Wyeth loved children. When his first child was born, he and his wife moved to Chadds Ford, Pa., because he wanted his family to grow up in the country. There all five of his children had a happy life, sled riding, ice skating, going for picnics and for walks in the woods. Their father often went along. He enjoyed playing with them and thought up many exciting games.
As a boy, he had lived on a farm himself. He might always have been a farmer if his mother hadn't realized how much artistic ability he had. She helped him go to the Massachusetts Normal Art School to study. There he showed such talent that he was chosen to be a pupil of Howard Pyle, a famous illustrator. Mr. Pyle took only a few special students. He charged no tuition or fees but insisted that they have imagination and work hard. Wyeth did.
Wyeth's first real sale was an oil painting of a cowboy on a bucking bronco. He had ridden horses on the farm and he knew just how the cowboy felt as he rode and how he stayed on the horse's back. All this he showed in his painting. The Saturday Evening Post, a popular magazine, bought it and used it as a cover.
He did more western sketches for magazines, although he had never seen the West. Finally several publishers decided he should actually go there and they paid all his expenses. He got a job as a cowpuncher, cutting cattle out of herds. When he wasn't doing that, he visited Indian tribes or traveled over old stagecoach trails, always making drawings and taking notes. After he returned to the East, he was able to use much of the material he had gathered.
Next Wyeth turned to book illustrations. Some were for adults but many were for children's classics. ``Treasure Island.'' ``Kidnapped.'' ``Robin Hood.'' ``Robinson Crusoe.'' ``Rip Van Winkle.'' ``King Arthur.'' Perhaps you have read some of them? Maybe you have copies of your own? If you do, look at the pictures carefully. Do the people seem so alive they almost leap out at you from the pages? Can you see them move about and hear them talk? Do you feel the same fear, joy, or anger they do?
Then N.C. Wyeth probably painted them. The artist who could make a giant appear in the clouds.