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


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


review: The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching: Creative stitch techniques and inspiring projects by Joanne Sharpe

This book covers a range of stitching techniques including machine and hand sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Sharpe’s goal is to enable the maker to create unique art using the artist’s preferred choice and combination of methods. The pieces shown also use fabric painting, dye, art markers, and more. Some basic information about using these tools and techniques is provided, along with inspiration pieces created by the author. The bulk of the book consists of projects that showcase one or more techniques and include utilitarian items like bags and pillows as well as pieces created purely to be art. Fans of mixed media collage will find lots of inspiration and useful information here.

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


WIP Wednesday: more background

I carved out a little more time this past weekend to work on my current art quilt. I pieced together the ground section, which I did in a log cabin-ish type of pattern (truth: I haven’t actually ever followed a pattern to make a log cabin quilt! I’ve just admired photos and looked at patterns in books). I generally do most of my quilting by the seat of my pants – whatever feels like it’ll work, I’ll try.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

Here’s the start, at the center, of the ground section.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

And the back view. Isn’t that just pleasing to look at? Maybe I’m the only one who loves to see the underside of quilting when it looks so tidy?

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

After piecing together the entire ground section, I added blue to the sky, clouds, and put the ground and sky sections together.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

Most of the photos I’ve used for reference have clouds at the point where the sky turns from sunset colors to blue, and I think it works really nicely.

Art quilt WIP: Fall Frolic

I’m going for a frayed-y look around the edges of the clouds, so I removed some threads where it was easy to do so. These edges will also get more frayed-y looking as I work with the quilt top. So far so good! Now I really need to figure out what I’m doing with the figure(s) so I can work on that this coming weekend.


Review: Pop Painting

Pop Painting

Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon by Camille d’Errico

When I first cracked the cover of this book, I did not actually know what Pop Surrealism was. However, on looking at the art inside, I realized that I am totally familiar with this style! Plenty of Blythe enthusiasts are into this style and I see it online all the time. This particular artist seems quite inspired by kawaii, which also fits.

Not just an overview of the style, though, this book is specific to the author and includes details about her techniques, inspiration, and journey as an artist. She also addresses the reader as a mentor, encouraging and guiding and hoping for artistic fulfillment for others. Artists looking for quite specific technical detail won’t be disappointed, either. She describes techniques and tools but also how to depict particular elements such as eyes and hair and how to add depth to your work. Despite not creating art in this medium much if at all, I found this book to be quite inspiring and learning more about the techniques increases my (not insignificant) appreciation for those who create it.

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


Review: Just Add Watercolor

Just Add Watercolor

Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch offers “inspiration & painting techniques from contemporary artists.” I am not a painter, nor do I think I’ll take it up anytime soon, but I adore this book regardless. It is set up so that each double page spread is a combination of information about a particular technique or strategy for using watercolors along with a lovely work of art that illustrates the technique or strategy.

I find it interesting to read about these techniques even though I’m not using them – some of the underlying philosophies and ideas translate to other forms of art and creativity. I also find the artwork featured in this book to be very inspiring. They vary quite a lot in style and feeling, but (perhaps because they were selected [or created?] to typify a specific idea, each one provides a connection for the viewer. Despite their relatively small size (the book is only about 5.5″ x 7.5″), I found myself drawn in when looking at each piece. (I will admit that much of my favorite picture book art uses gouache, and a lot of these use that.) I definitely see this as a book I’ll keep at hand to peruse and to use as inspiration for other creative endeavors.

Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books.


Art Walk Central 2015 is on! and I’m in it!

I’m super mega excited to have one of my art quilts featured in Art Walk Central this year! It’s displayed in the window at Gray’s Furniture downtown. Check it out!

My piece, Figure and Flock, in #artwalkcentral15  -  AWC24 to vote - check it out at Gray's Furniture

Shameless self-promotion: You can vote for it! My number is AWC24 and you can sign up to vote online and at ArtReach. You can also enter the instagram selfie contest! There are lots of neat pieces on display all over downtown as well as at other community venues like Park Library, The Dreamer, and Ziibiwing. Art Walk Central runs through August 22.


needlepoint geometry

If you haven’t stopped in to the Art Reach gallery recently, you should make time to see the current exhibit: Needlepoint Geometry by C. Joanne Grabinski.

Needlepoint Geometry exhibit by C. Joanne Grabinski

Her work is detailed and so satisfyingly accurate! She works in a variety of colors and has many varied inspirations ranging from Asian art traditions to the traditional arts of the southwest.

Needlepoint Geometry exhibit by C. Joanne Grabinski

I love the colors in this one! It reminds me of my grandparents’ living room (the frame is the color of the awesome chairs I inherited from them).

Check it out! The exhibit runs through July 18th.