Author Spotlight

“There is a feeling that comes over me when I’m writing well. It is the same feeling I get from seeing a great painting. All my senses are engaged. The imagination runs free. Ultimately, it’s an act of sharing.”—Jan Greenberg

Jan Greenberg’s books have been named an ALA Notable Book, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, an IRA Teachers’ Choice, and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book.


Since childhood, Jan Greenberg’s life has been focused on art and writing, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that she combined these two interests, eventually writing two important books on art for young adult readers.

While other children were playing basketball or computing complex mathematical formulas, Greenberg was reading and writing poetry and stories. Her favorite book was A Little Princess (“I must have read it 30 times”).

Her interest in contemporary art was stimulated during her years at a private school in St. Louis, Missouri. The art educator from the local museum came each week to show films and slides of abstract expressionist artists such as Jackson Pollock.

After her marriage, Greenberg was surrounded by contemporary art. Her husband has a gallery, and at home their private collection was growing. Greenberg’s interest in writing about art grew out of her desire to make the subject comprehensible to children: “I noticed that young children were open to contemporary art, but by the time they reached their teens, many didn’t understand it. The Painter’s Eye came out of my desire to help young people develop a language of art.”

Together with a group of art educators, she developed a system of looking at art that could be used in the classroom. Out of this came both The Painter’s Eye and The Sculptor’s Eye, which Greenberg wrote with Sandra Jordan, a writer and photographer based in New York City. Each book includes interviews with the artists, full-color reproductions, and photos of the artists at work. Reference features include a glossary of art terms, list of museums, bibliography, and index in each volume.

Greenberg is the author of several novels. She teaches writing at Webster University in St. Louis, and is also an art educator who visits schools to give presentations about art and writing. She has three grown daughters and a bulldog named Jasper (for the artist, Jasper Johns).


Portrait of an Artist
(with Sandra Jordan)

—A Robert F. Sibert Honor Book
—An ALA Notable Book

“An exceptional biography.”—Starred, Booklist

“This outstanding, well-researched biography is fascinating reading.”—School Library Journal

(with Sandra Jordan)

—An ALA Notable Book
—A Booklist Editors’ Choice
—A Child Study Children’s Book Committee Children’s Book of the Year
—A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
—A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
—An IRA Teachers’ Choice
—A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book

“[An] intelligent, articulate, and handsome introduction to the language of art.”—Starred, Booklist

“An excellent book for art students, as well as for teachers who are looking for words and ways to explain contemporary art to their classes.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Beautifully designed, organized, reasoned, and presented, an outstanding, mind-expanding book.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

(with Sandra Jordan)

“A companion to The Painter’s Eye that’s equally enriching, intelligently organized, and provocative. . . . Handsome and inspiring.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“Sometimes matter-of-fact, sometimes dreamy, and always thought-provoking.”—Starred, The Bulletin

“Greenberg and Jordan demonstrate mastery of the language of art and of the vocabulary of young people.”—Starred, School Library Journal