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Local Art Educator Published!

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What do you get when you combine history, geography, international languages, rhyme, and art? You get the newest book from Firehouse Publications titled "If Picasso Went on Vacation." This inter-curricular collection of poems and illustrations, was created by 40 art teachers from all over the world, including 2 images by retired local art educator Kim Defibaugh of Williamsburg. Though it was designed with children in mind, we suspect that it will be bought up and treasured by adults too if the author's last book, "If Picasso Went To The Sea" is any indication.

This collaboratively created volume started in January 2016 with a group of die-hard certified art educators, sharing ideas and choosing artists to emulate from history. From Renaissance works to more modern pieces of Pop, each participant chose an artist from history to emulate. From Matisse and Picasso to Käthe Kollwitz, and Joan Mitchell, these teachers stepped into the shoes of historic greats and created a work of art of a famous landmark that artist might have made. This is a common project in schools across the United States and abroad-to learn about the life and work of an artist and try to make a new work within their genre-not just a copy, but a work that might fit into their portfolio.

"The collection is awesomely diverse!" says author Eric Gibbons, "We have artists from all over the globe, from different periods of time, male and female, black, white, native peoples, and everything in between. We also chose a very diverse approach to the media including traditional paintings and illustrations, to collage, mosaic, and even an example of quilting in the style of Sarah Mary Taylor. My favorite thing about these artworks is that I learned about so many important artists I had not really heard of, and I have been teaching art for more than a quarter century!"

Gibbons continues, "We all know Picasso, Matisse, and Andy Warhol, and some people with a bit of an art background will recognize names like Aaron Douglas, Stuart Davis, and Antoni Gaudí, but how many know the influence and importance of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Dr. Atl, or Kim Hong-Do? I had not heard of Dr. Atl before writing this book, and learned that he is considered a national treasure of Mexico for his art. He is truly amazing! There is something here for everyone, no matter their familiarity with art or art history.

Each artwork is accompanied with a unique poem that tells a bit about the artist, their genre, and the landmark subject. Each poem ends by teaching the reader how to say yes, no, and hello in the local language. Each illustration is accompanied by a globe that indicates where on earth that landmark exists. The author has even uploaded a free extended learning packet readers can download and explore themes of geography, poetry, research, history, language, and more.

Gibbons says, "People often mistakenly assume that art is a frill to help fill time in school when really it is the key to a successful program. Art combines all disciplines and makes them more deeply understood by children. Students who have art outscore their non art peers by a wide margin. Solid research shows that students who have art in high school score an average of 100 points higher on the SAT exam than their non art peers. Art teachers know, when we grid, measure, and draw-we use geometry. When we make sculptures-we use engineering. When we mix colors-we reveal information about physics. When we create illustrations for stories-we learn about literature. When we review the styles of art from da Vinci to Banksy-we teach history. When we write about art-we strengthen these skills. When we create works of art, we solve complex visual problems in creative ways. Art is the meeting place of all subject and should be supported in all schools around the world with certified art teachers.

Books will initially be available through and several museum bookstores across the USA, and directly from the publisher at You can find out more information too by connecting with the publisher's Facebook page, just search "Firehouse Publications."


Author and publisher Eric Gibbons can also be contacted via email to or by phone at 609-298-3742.

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