BOOK REVIEW: Doodletopia Fairies by Christopher Hart

We adore fairies in this household. And we adore art. Kids love books that teach them how to draw and Doodletopia Fairies by Christopher Hart came into our house just in time. I have heard of Doodletopia books before, but haven’t had a chance to look into others before.

9781607746959

The book is full of cute fairy characters  and there are 8 sections on each little feature: Heads and Faces, Fairy Bodies, Magical Clothing and Accessories, Wings and Poses, Fairy Personality, Magical Powers, Musical Instruments and Fairy Dwellings. Each section contains very clear and easy to understand directions on how to draw this or that feature and then an exercise is offered to help develop your own characters.  Readers are eased into each new lesson with the skill they have acquired on previous pages. Initially I thought of this book as a kids’ book, but as an illustrator I found I can learn from it as well. We will make it a family activity book, I say.

Overall Impression: Enjoyed looking through this book quite a bit, children are very excited about learning more about drawing fairies and elves with this book. Instructions are straightforward and easy to follow, exercises are fun and helpful. 5 stars.

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.

BOOK REVIEW: The Watercolor Course You’ve Always Wanted by Leslie Frontz

My own artistic journey is only beginning and many things seem difficult or confusing. There isn’t always time or funds available for formal painting lessons. That’s when one truly appreciates the book like “The Watercolor Course You’ve Always Wanted”. The author, Leslie Frontz, is an artist with forty years of experience and numerous teaching credentials.

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Let’s take a closer look at the book. As most of the books of the kind it starts with the description of materials needed to have a successful journey towards mastering watercolors. I was pleasantly surprised my the relatively small list  of necessities. The techniques of preparing a surface for painting are clearly explained. From then on each chapter carefully but straightforwardly lays out various elements of creating a watercolor painting — working with shapes, value, how the  colors work together, how to create a desired texture and how to express the mood and atmosphere on the paper. Each chapter has step-by-step demonstrations. I especially liked that paintings on demonstrations are created from the photographs, as it is how I am painting now. Numerous artworks are included to illustrate each point brought up in the book.

Overall impression: This book proved to be a valuable source for me. It clears up many questions that I had. I appreciate the fact that while each chapter is comprehensive, the material is presented in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the beginner like me. Five stars.

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

Week’s Roundup: September 14-September 20,2015

Another busy week for us.

Picture of the week:

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

Hand in hand, deep in conversation, two gnomes walked through the forest

What were we up to this week:

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Week’s Roundup: June 7-June 14, 2015

Another week went by, and suddenly it’s half of June gone just like that.

Photo of the week:

Despite my protests they managed to sneak a book each to the table

Despite my protests they managed to sneak a book each to the table 😀

What were we up to this week?

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Week’s Roundup: April 20-April 26, 2015

Whew, what a week, once again. I will probably write these words over and over all the way until the end of May…

Picture of the week:

How glad I was to see it was raining today, something about the rain is always soothing and being indoors on a wet day when there are no places to be is refreshing

How glad I was to see it was raining today, something about the rain is always soothing and being indoors on a wet day when there are no places to be, no people to meet and we can just be warm and cozy in our pjs, read and play and bake…

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Lunar New Year

Our week flies buy in another blur of business, but we did have a little event for Lunar New Year yesterday.

First, we talked about why some people celebrate New Year’s arrival on the days other than January 1st  (such as Rosh Hashana, Russian “old style” New Year (January 13th) and Lunar New Year among them). Then we read D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine (affiliate link) to see the major elements of Chinese New Year Celebration.

d is for dragon dance

Then we read about the legend of Chinese Zodiac animals in Russian (Легенда о Восточном Календаре. Мария Ершова, Игорь Олейников. Еще мы  прочли Нианское чудовище, тоже Олейникова иллюстрации)

legenda o vostochnom kalendare

nianskoe chudoviwe

and read our horoscopes for the upcoming Lunar Year, C. was delighted to find that she will have a very lucky year, D. was promised reward for his hard work, mine was more or less ok, my husband’s year is supposed to be luckier than the one that just ended. We’ll see 🙂

We did a couple of simple art projects

1. The idea for this finger print art came from this blog. It’s a simple and fun art project. First children painted their backgrounds using watercolor paints. Second I printed out some articles in Chinese (you can use newspaper too if available in your area) and children cut out buildings. Third, buildings are pasted onto the background. Children added cute panda stickers (affiliate link)  too. Then they put yellow and red blobs on the page (we used acrylic paint and brushes for that, but for tiny artists fingerprints would be more fun). After everything was dry, children connected their lanterns to create a garland, and added fireworks in the sky.

D.'s artwork

D.’s artwork

C.'s scenery

C.’s scenery

2. The second art project was to create a sheep- symbol of the new Lunar Year. Children painted the background -sky and grass, then painted the sheep- paying attention to the head and legs and just outlining the body. The body was filled in with pom-poms and cotton balls. Since it’s the year of Wooden Sheep they used some brown pom-poms in addition to the white ones. Oh, and don’t forget the googly eyes 🙂

D's sheep

D’s sheep

C. draws rainbows a lot nowadays, I love her sheep's ears too :)

C. draws rainbows a lot nowadays, I love her sheep’s ears too 🙂

So, this was our little event for this Lunar New Year celebration. Hope the Year of the Sheep will bring a good fortune to everyone!