Book Review: Foundations of Drawing by Al Gury

As an artist I am always on the lookout for comprehensive guides to drawing and painting. I love learning from the experts and Al Gury, chairman of the painting department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia is just the man to get this kind of advice from. His newest book is Foundations of Drawing: A practical guide to art history, tools, techniques and styles. 

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The book is probably the most comprehensive guide I have come across so far. It is split into five sections. First section talks in depth about history of drawing. Part two reviews materials, I greatly appreciated the meticulousness here, some materials I was really curious about, but found hardly mentioned in my previous studies. Part three discusses essential drawing skills with a large discussion on composition, which was probably my most favorite part of the book – so clear and valuable it was to me. Part 4 discussed the esthetics and various styles. Part five focused on a few drawing demonstrations- still life, interior and human form, again with some interesting bits of art history.

Overall impression: Wonderful addition to my collection, tons of valuable information to go through and ponder. I think this book will be most interesting for someone who is serious about drawing and art history, there are no immediate instructions and how tos, I see it more as a very detailed drawing encyclopedia. Probably best suited for adult artists due to the amount of information. 5 stars.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Cook Korean! by Robin Ha- it’s a comic! it’s a cookbook!

Korean food is delicious and I try not to miss an opportunity to leaf through a book on Korean cuisine and try a dish or two. I am also an aspiring artist and art book enthusiast. Robin Ha,  a comic artist,  brings the two together- in her book “Cook Korean!”   . Yes, it is a comic book about cooking Korean Food!

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The book features more than sixty recipes of Korean most popular dishes. Each recipe is done in a delightful comic strip with straightforward yet amazingly detailed instructions. The introduction shows us basic tools and ingredients, but also specialty dishes of Korean regions, as well as Korean table layout (which I really appreciate, I see it often in k-dramas, but it’s good to know what’s on it at last). Next 1o chapters cover staple dishes for 10 categories : Kimchi and Pickles, Side Dishes, Meat and Poultry, Seafood, Soups and Stews, Porridges , Noodles and Rice Cakes, Snacks and Street Food, Cocktails and Anju, and finally Korean Fusion. Each chapter introduces reader to a specific food category and includes cultural tips and historical facts as well. I loved the character Dengki who cooks each dishes in the comic strips. I loved gorgeous illustration that opened each chapter as well. A quick leaf-through can be found here.

Overall impression: This book truly stands out. The dishes are not complicated and the fact that the instructions are so thorough helps a great deal. Sometimes the comic format seemed a bit erratic to me, but it took some getting used to and I found it easy enough to follow. The main character is adorable, comics are humorous and fun to read even without any plans to cook. I loved all the cultural information, very helpful and educational. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

Popmanga Coloring Book by Camilla d’Errico

Coloring books are awesome, coloring book by a favorite artist- twice as great. I am a huge fan of Camilla d’Errico’s art and her Pop Painting book remains my favorite go-to source for anything related  to the artistic process. I love her whimsical paintings and the idea of merging art with pop culture. Imagine my excitement when I found out a Popmanga Coloring Book by her  is coming out.

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The book is so fun (see a quick leaf through here) It features her trademark art in black and white, some drawings are portraits, some a scenery, but always a story in each one of them. I love the variety- there are larger drawings, and those that are intricate and full of detail. There are patterns too if you are in the mood for meditation. The “helper” character Ayako that appears on some of the pages and gives a reader some advice about coloring is absolutely adorable.  The paper is great. I colored with watercolors,  the buckling was minimal and paper held the paint extremely well.

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This book is too fun to pass up, I am so glad it’s in my hands now. Looking forward to hours of entertainment and hoping to learn a lot about drawing in general by studying d’Errico’s sketches in this book. A must-have for a coloring enthusiast, whether a fan of pop manga or not.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

BOOK REVIEW: The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

I enjoyed Mark Crilley‘s previous work The Realism Challenge and found his lessons clear and straightforward. I was excited to see his new work and in such an interesting format- a graphic novel called The Drawing Lesson. My children were especially excited for this one, as they are huge fans of graphic novels and they love to draw. As a self-taught artist I can appreciate the advice about the basics.

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The book focuses on the importance of a mentor in the life of an aspiring artist. The story is about a boy named David who encounters a woman artist in the park. David admires Becky’s art and begs her to teach him. Each chapter introduces a concept and gives the idea for practice. Both characters are funny (my kids laughed so much at poor Becky being annoyed by eager to learn David). And as David’s drawing progresses, so does his friendship with Becky. The final chapter and Epilogue were quite touching. Each chapter gives very basic but at the same time very useful advice about how to get this or that part of the drawing right. There are 11 chapters, my kids were done reading it in one sitting and grabbed their sketchbooks right away.

Overall impression: I think this book is a great tool for introducing the basics to the young people as well as adults that want to learn how to draw but don’t know where to start. Some aspects of the story (introducing yourself to a stranger just because they draw well and especially barging into their houses) irked me a bit, but didn’t bother my kids at all. They paid all the attention to the advice about drawing. My children enjoyed the format of the graphic novel very much. 5 stars.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

It’s been a while…

May is almost done, and last time I talked about how we’re doing was the beginning of March. Where did the time go?

Seriously, though, we had a rather intense spring–  field trips and museum visits, kids participated in Roots and Shoots program focusing on cleaning up local water ways. Both kids had their concerts with choir and ballet. Both had their testing and although I am still waiting for the final numbers, I am fairly sure they did well. D. got silver at karate tournament and got promoted into next level at his choir, C. joins his choir next year as well.

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great horned owl- mama

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baby horned owl

 

 

 

Looking back at our school year, I can say that it was probably the toughest one we had in 7+ years of homeschooling. There were too many activities, and although I scaled back a little in the very beginning of the school year, it still was a lot. There were positive changes in kids’ learning- C. especially made a huge leap with her spelling and story telling skills. She is fantastic with math too, she really loves it. C. also took some Spanish classes and enjoyed it immensely. D. focused on basics and out of all extra subjects he enjoyed science the most. We are a little bit behind on our history studies, the last month was just so crazy, but we will catch up during the summer.

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I already know kids’ schedules in co-op for the following school year. I am more or less certain what our extra curricular activities will look like. It was a tough decision for me to choose what stays and what goes, especially because kids wanted to do it all and they are good at what they want to do. But we will take a break from some things and hope it will be a little bit slower.

My things- I have a positive change in my life as I am able at last to make a little bit of money with my art.  It’s not something huge (yet), but the response is positive and I am looking forward to expanding in the future. I am also painting walls in C’s room, replacing stickers with drawings. Husband changed jobs and still has some school left for the fall semester. Summer is for resting.

 

What I hope we’ll do this summer?  TAKE IT SLOW please. I am looking forward to lazy mornings, to books, and paint and yoga, but most of all outings in nature. Slowing down. Reconnecting. I am not sure if we will be able to take any far away trips this summer and I don’t have anything planned as of right now (although I would love to see ocean again)

BOOK REVIEW: Simply Calligraphy by Judy Detrick

When I first started sharing my art with wider audience I was surprised to find that hand lettering and calligraphy are very much a trend in creative community. Calligraphy is widely used for greeting cards, wedding invitations. Besides, beautiful lettering is just so pleasant to look at. I find  writing messages by had both soothing and  satisfying. But where does one start? Judy Detrick, a calligrapher and graphic designer  lays it down in her new book Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner’s Guide to Elegant Lettering.

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This book is very straightforward and after I went through it, the word “minimalistic” comes to mind. It has the basics that will have one started-the author offers techniques for lettering with broad-edge pen-creating italic letters. She takes the reader through the process of creating first lowercase and then capital letters and numerals. There is a little note explaining how it’s done and an example with strokes order on the page next to the notes. There is additional information on flourishes and how to put together an invitation or note. The author also shows Uncial and Fraktur in the very end of the book.

Overall impression: I found this book very basic indeed. It will surely be useful for those that are just starting exploring hand lettering, but not much beyond that. I wish there was more information on flourishes, for example. It is a very good resource for someone who is intimidated by calligraphy as it lays all the basics out without overwhelming the reader, but something more substantial will be needed after the first exercises.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

BOOK REVIEW: Wonderland by Amily Shen

As long as I remember, I found myself drawn to anything that is related to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Movies, clothing items, you name it. Amily Shen’s new coloring book Wonderland is all about that crazy, whimsical world created by Lewis Carrol. Amily Shen is a Taiwanese artist, a custom shoe designer in the past and now illustrator and author of drawing books. Wonderland is her first coloring book and what a delight it is!

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The coloring book is set up as a picture/chapter book, with themes separated and a little bit of accompanying text added to hold the story together. I find that I enjoy this kind of coloring book organization very much.  I enjoy the balance of large area drawings to quickly fill in with color and more intricate ones with tons of details to focus on. If I had to pick, The Teahouse in the Mushroom Forest and A Mad Tea Party would be my favorite chapters and those I am looking forward to coloring the most.

 

Overall Impression: A delightful coloring book with hours and hours of enjoyment stored on its pages. Lots of tiny details to look at and color. Cute characters. 5 stars

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.