BOOK REVIEW: Everyday Watercolor by Jenna Rainey

Watercolor is such a tricky medium to work with, but also so rewording. It takes a while to figure it out and a right instruction is invaluable. The new book by illustrator Jenna Rainey  –Everyday Watercolor is an excellent starter or a refresh course for anyone who wants to paint with watercolor.


The book is literally meant to be used every day, with lessons for 31 days of the month. It provides material for a consistent practice, introducing new skill every single day. Each activity builds on the previous one. The book starts with introduction and continues on to week 1 – Technique, where we learn how to handle watercolor , select colors and getting a feel of the brush. Week 2 is Form, Perspective and Light, followed by Complex Shapes in section 3. Value, volume and depth as well as application are discussed in Sections 4 and 5. Each day has an exercise that includes detailed steps and palettes for the proposed work. The book is very easy to follow and gradual buildup of skills helps with confidence.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who always wanted to try watercolor, but was afraid to do it. I definitely recommend it as a fun daily practice or a refresher course too. 5 stars.

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


BOOK REVIEW: Color Index XL by Jim Krause

What can be handier for traditional or digital artist than a set palette. I myself found limited palette exercises incredibly helpful both while working digitally and with traditional media.  Color Index XL– the new book by author and graphic designer Jim Krause is an invaluable source of just that- a collection of over 1000 color palettes.


The book begins with a quick introduction into color theory and proceeds to list the palettes. The book doesn’t require any specific method to use the palettes, but they are grouped into three sections (of about 360 some combinations). First section deals with warmer palettes that lean toward warm colors (orange, red and yellow), second section is all about color combinations with a variety of hues, and the third section is dedicated to combinations of cooler hues. Each color palette includes 5 colors and both RGB and CMYK formulae are provided.  Each page includes dark, light, muted and bright version. See a quick flip through on my instagram

This book is incredibly handy resource for anyone working with colors, I am deeply appreciative of all the hard work that went into it and will surely refer to this book on a daily basis. 5 stars and a must have.


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

Goodbye November +Advent Calendar

November is over. And thank goodness. Somehow it turned out to be so much more stressful than I was hoping it would be. There were quite a few shocks close to heart and there were and are a lot of things to ponder and re-evaluate.

What have we been up to:

-Lots of field trips: We went to Denver Art Museum and saw Glory of Venice and Japanese Fashion Exhibits. We went to Denver Museum of Nature and Science and saw Extreme Mammals exhibit, as well as Mummies (D. loved it so much, C. on the other hand hated it, “too many dead bodies”, I must say it was interesting but I didn’t enjoy it as much for the same reason). We went and listened to an awesome Drums of the World performance by Colorado Symphony. Even got to do Mannequin Challenge with them. We took a tour around Denver Center for the Performance Arts. D. and I did it once when he was in the first grade, but we had an awesome guide this time around and, since I am so much more in touch with my artistic side now, I achieved new levels of appreciation for the backstage workers, designers and craftsmen.


-The weather was fickle, with winds, first snow and some icy rain. But plenty of sunny days too.  We were busy with extracurriculars too- both kids had a dress rehearsal for the choir concert (C. can’t wait to debut, I unfortunately will have to chaperone and watch her from the backstage instead of the audience), both participated in karate tournament. C. did extremely well, was brave and endured long waits. D. did well too, but he also got hurt, not seriously but enough for me to consider taking him to the ER. He was ok in the end, very thankful for that.

-Also thankful for friends that we were finally able to have over for dinner, thankful for everyone being overall okay and even husbands medical concern isn’t serious and very treatable.

-We have two intense weeks ahead of us, two concerts for each of the kids, tournament training at karate, I will most likely cancel our mid-year testing, I don’t think kids will handle 4 hours and then a long rehearsal all in the same day. We all need rest.

-As usual I have made an advent calendar for kids, they ask for it and really look forward to simple activities we do. The list is pretty much the same as last year, the only thing I added is “grant each other’s wish” (with a reminder to keep it realistic and kind)


Kids read a lot in November: D’s favorite was “Marvels” by Brian Selznick and C. loved Grace Lin’s “Starry River of the Sky”. I am hoping to do a little book advent as well as the one with the activities we’ll see how it goes.

Hopefully, December is kind to all of us

Week’s Round Up : First 10 days of January

Hello, and Happy New Year to everyone who reads me 🙂 It’s been a while, but we’re back again.

Photo of the week:



New Year met us with nice biting frost, such beauty!

New Year met us with nice biting frost, such beauty!

What we were up to until now:

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Our season of small celebrations continues.

Day 4: Family movie night! Kids watched Home Alone for the first time, I haven’t seen this movie in more than 20 years so it was nice to return to childhood for a little bit (but I do admit I cringed at injuries of unlucky thieves, ugh).

Day 5: We put a little bit of lights outside

TBSOA 2015- lights outside


Day 6: D. and his choir performed in Christmas Concert and it was absolutely amazing. Well done once again!

TBSOA 2015- CHoir


Day 7: It was our “Winter Art” day. We read one of our most beloved winter books – “Buying Mittens” by Nankichi Niimi, such a lovely, kind tale and Kurai Ken’s illustrations are gorgeous!

Kids then painted their own illustrations- splitting the task, D. painted background and made a tissue paper foxes applique on it and C. created mittens for the little fox.

TBSOA 2015- winter art


I did a little bit of winter art myself, comparing forest scenery and what it’s like in the city

more at instagram

We listened to a lot of holiday tunes, kids also watched Russian movie “The Snow Queen”, beautiful fairy tale.

The song of the first week of holiday celebrations is Ukranian song Shchedryk (more known to English speaking friends as “Carol of the Bells”



We have successfully started our December celebrations.

It feels very nice to ease into days of candlelight, baking side by side and slowing down to watch the year end.


Day 1-3 of our December went well, kids cut out some paper snowflakes, we put up lights at home and today we baked our first batch of cookies.


BSOA -snowflakes


rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up

rolling out lights is probably just as much fun as hanging them up


Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy -  2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt - mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar - mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Vienna crescent cookies, the recipe is very easy –
2 1/3 c of all purpose flour +1/3 c of almond meal +pinch of salt – mix together; 1c of softened butter +1/3 c of sugar – mix until fluffy; slowly add flour; chill for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F and bake about 12 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar.

I made some holiday sketches:

TBSOA- drawing 1


TBSOA- drawing 2


We read “Snow” by Uri Shulevitz and “Tiger in the snow” by Nick Butterworth. It’s amazing how kids are still enjoying picture books that they loved as babies.

We also read e.e. cummings’ “Little Tree”, from Literary Advent by Book Riot. I read The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry  on my own and will re-tell this lovely story to kids too.

Overall we had good three days and looking forward to more.

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Wishing a most wonderful Advent to all!

Goodbye November- The Best Season of All 2015

November flew by even faster than October, who knew it was possible, yet here we are. We had some awesome outings, kids participated in our homeschool program’s annual science fair, we were very sick with nasty respiratory bug that is going around, welcomed first real snowfall of the season and a few after that, had a very quiet Thanksgiving…. And it’s December tomorrow, which means The Best Season of All 2015 is starting!

Every year we have a very special month of December, having some holiday fun every day. I usually make a calendar of activities and kids are excited to find out what will each day bring. Last Year’s calendar and list of fun things to do can be found here. Follow the tag to see what we actually managed to do.

This year’s calendar is all drawings of mine

advent fun calendar 2015


Activities are spread through the whole month (don’t ask what it takes to come up with them, every year I try to add something new to old faves). None of these are mandatory for us of course, life happens and most of the month will be very busy with various things, so we’ll do what we can.

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