Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art Book Reviews

The last few reviews are copied from my letterlady blog. I'm adding one new review to the top - just to keep them all together. If you read the earlier ones, you can skip the ones after the first one here...DRAWING LAB - 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim.

I reluctantly bought this book. I draw. I felt it would be too 'beginner' for me. Yet, it was garnering praise from many sources and who am I to ignore it when others like it so well? I bought the book. I have been too busy to give it more than a cursory look until today at lunch. I read several pages and skimmed through the remaining chapters. It was a good purchase. Besides introducing new exercises to try, it reminded me of old ones. It introduced foolishness to the mix. It made drawing playful and took away the mystery. It won't turn anyone into an artist overnight, but it will convince you that it's not rocket science and it can be fun just for the sake of fun. Sonheim's childlike drawings are deceptively simple. Some remind me of Brian Andreas drawings...scribbles almost. The exercises she proscribes are simple and imaginative. She takes the fear out of the idea of drawing. I will be trying some of them. Some I have tried before. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to draw but thinks they can't. Yes, you can!

Bridging Time and Space (essays on layered art) is a beautiful book. It is full of good information and inspiring images. It is much more discussion than instruction, but experienced collage artists will appreciate the essays and visuals. I have taught collage workshops and own several collage books. This one is probably my favorite. More fine art than craft, the collage examples in this book are varied in technique. It was produced by the society of layerists, so naturally layering is a prominent factor. Sometimes it is paint that is layered, sometimes paper, sometimes it is more assemblage and sometimes it may seem to be more layered thoughts than any obvious layering of media. Although this book was published in 1998, I was fortunate to find a copy in 2001. If you can find one, you won't be disappointed. (This one is out of print and rare to find - usually very expensive if you do.)

This review is on Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists: Experimental Techniques for Composition, Layering, Texture, Imagery, and Encaustic
I first discovered Ann Baldwin many years ago when surfing the net in search of collage examples for a mixed media collage class I was teaching. At that time she was doing collages with authors as the main focus. She's branched out since then, and I like the direction she's taken. A few years ago I bought her video, "Telling Stories with Collage & Paint." It's an excellent resource, so when I saw she had written this book, I made sure to buy it. It has many new examples of her work, and includes chapters on abstract design, materials, composition, combining words with paint - something I love to do as a calligrapher, using digital photographs and even encaustic painting. Ann is an excellent instructor and doesn't leave gaping holes in the process as many authors of how-to books tend to do. I'm looking forward to exploring this book more thoroughly, but I've already seen enough to convince me of its worth.

The Chinese Brush Painting Bible: Over 200 Motifs with Step-By-Step Illustrated Instructions
I have a few Chinese painting books, but I believe this will be my favorite. It's a small format, but has 256 little pages full of nice images and good directions. In the early pages, there is some history, some discussion of materials and technique, with direction for making various strokes. The bulk of the book is full of examples of many Chinese motifs. It is not 'how to paint a Chinese painting', but more on how to paint small motifs including animals, flowers, insects, trees, berries and more.

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