review: Everyday Watercolor

Everyday Watercolor

Everyday Watercolor: Learn to paint watercolor in 30 days by Jenna Rainey

Like a lot of folks, I’ve always admired the beauty of watercolor paintings and I feel like it’s a medium that appears to be more simple than it is – it’s not that it’s hard to use, but it’s hard to use well. This book takes you from color theory and other basics through the essential techniques all the way to complex layering. Each of five sections offers half a dozen daily assignments so you can build your skills and, as you add on to your previous knowledge, build a repertoire of techniques that will allow you to do whatever you want with watercolor. Each assignment includes the amount of time required to complete it, most of which are an hour or less.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Color Index XL

Color Index XL

Color Index XL: More than 1,100 new palettes with CMYK and RGB formulas for designers and artists by Jim Krause

If you’re a designer or work with color in some other way, this book may be a handy tool. It is exactly what the subtitle says: it’s a collection of color palettes you can use to create a professional and pleasing look to the things you make. Each page has four versions of a palette – bright, light, dark, and muted – which include a lovely color image accompanied by the CMYK and RGB codes for each color used. The designs which demonstrate each palette are reminiscent of the tangram puzzles you may have enjoyed as a kid and may also be used as inspiration for creators. I can definitely see myself using this book as a tool while designing quilts and knitting designs. In addition to being useful, this book is also fun to flip through as a sort of art piece, if you’re into this sort of thing.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series

Visual Guide to Working in a Series: Next steps in inspired design – gallery of 200+ art quilts by Elizabeth Barton

Many artists work in series and art quilters are no exception. Barton offers examples of the things that can tie a series of art quilts together, using some of her own quilts as well as those by other well-known quilt artists. These examples are meant to provide inspiration and the accompanying information a guide to developing one’s own style. Barton also shares some of her own creative process, such as taking a photograph, making it into a tracing, and then piecing a quilt based on that outline (just one of many possibilities explored here). General artistic techniques and information are also provided, such as positive and negative space, color theory, value, and creating the illusion of depth. This book is a good choice for those wishing to learn as well as those just looking for inspiration.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system

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review: Color Squared

Color Squared

Color Squared: Color, Dot, Dash, or Stamp Your Way to Pixel Art by Lee Meredith

Coloring books for grown-ups are super popular these days. This is a take on those, but each image is a grid with a number or letter in each square. You fill those squares in using your tool of choice and, gradually, a pixelated image will appear. Instructions are included for using different ways of filling in the squares, such as drawing circles, lines, or dots. A basic monotone image is included for each coloring page, showing what it would look like if you filled each square fully using greyscale.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Perspective in Action

Perspective in Action

Perspective in Action: Creative exercises for depicting spatial representation from the Renaissance to the Digital Age by David Chelsea

Do you remember sitting in a school hallway drawing lockers to learn how to capture perspective? I can totally recall the big brown drawing surface balanced on my knees and the quiet concentration of a class of middle graders focused on something that seemed like a Very Important Life Skill. This book takes a practical approach and uses sequential art (it looks like a comic book/graphic novel) to take the reader step by step. Many of the panels show not just what’s being drawn but the artist or artist’s hand as well, giving a really easy to follow demonstration of the technique being described. It even has a chapter on motion perspective, so you can draw your own animated gif!

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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Art Walk Central 2017!

Art Walk Central 2017 opens today! My piece is on display at Veterans Memorial Library in downtown Mount Pleasant – you can check it out in the main corridor outside the study rooms.

Her Home Apothecary quilt

It’s called Her Home Apothecary and is an art quilt (my favorite medium) combining traditional quilt piecing techniques with applique and freehand embroidery. The theme, broadly and as usual, is feminism. I’m trying to get better at the promotion side of things, I have a scheduled consultation with Yeah Local, who will try and get my internet game into the future and not the other way around. So here’s my request to you to check it out and, if you like it, vote for it! Register to vote online (requires in-person activation at ArtReach or the CMU Art Gallery) or in person at a variety of local venues. My code is AWC42. I’ll be at the Art Battle and Artist Meet and Greet tonight, August 3rd, so say hi if you see me! And thanks to the library for hosting my piece!

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review: Manga Art

Manga Art

Manga Art: Inspiration and techniques from an expert illustrator by Mark Crilley

I’m familiar with Mark Crilley from way back – he was a speaker at several youth librarian conferences back when I was heavily involved in planning said conferences (he lives in Michigan, so he was easier to book than some out-of-state folks) and his books became popular in my library (place of work) pretty quickly after he started releasing them. He’s known for his manga illustrations and in this book, he shares information about drawing in the manga style with lots and lots of examples. Lest you think it’s all one thing, these examples are created using a variety of techniques and variations within the manga style, so the illustrations aren’t monotonous – you might not necessarily guess right off the bat that they’re all created by the same person. For each example, Crilley offers a personal story about how, why, and when he created it, all with the purpose of celebrating the process of making art. Appealing for young folks and adults.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Foundations of Drawing

Foundations of Drawing

Foundations of Drawing: A practical guide to art history, tools, techniques, and styles by Al Gury

Looking for a book to use as a text while teaching yourself to draw (or to improve your drawing skills)? This one is designed for that purpose. Starting off with a history of drawing, Gury moves through prehistory, ancient, medieval, renaissance, baroque, nineteenth century, modern, and contemporary eras of how drawing has been used in art. From there, things move to the practical, with chapters on materials, skills, aesthetics, and demonstrations (still life, portraits, the human figure, etc.). Works of art by the author and other artists of varying degrees of fame are used as examples throughout, tying directly to the points made in the text. Includes index.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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review: Portrait Revolution

Portrait Revolution

Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from around the world for creating art in multiple mediums and style (with 450 portraits from the artists of Julia Kay’s portrait party) by Julia L. Kay

Author Julia Kay challenged herself to do a three-year project in which she made a self-portrait every day. At the close of those three years (in 2010), she started JKPP: Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which she defines as “an international collaborative project in which artists all over the world make portraits of each other.” She created a flickr group (which now includes around 1000 members) and participants began making portraits of one another and the discussion and interaction became quite lively (this project started on flickr at a time when it was much easier to form communities there and in the years since, changes to the site have made it more difficult in my experience). Between 2010 and the creation of this book, artists from over 50 countries created and shared over 50,000 portraits, highlights of which are included here. Chapters arrange the portraits by media, by style, and by theme, and each portrait includes the title (first name and country of the subject), artist, media (physical and digital techniques are both included), original size, and a brief statement from the artist about the piece. The portraits are reproduced here in varying sizes, from just a couple inches square to an entire page (~9×7″). In some cases, a variety of portraits based on the same photograph are included, offering half a dozen or so interpretations. A separate chapter features a few portraits created by each of 15 artists with a paragraph or two of information each shared about their own style and process. The final chapter discusses things to think about and choices to make when creating portraits. A directory of artists, general index, and index of subjects are included.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

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