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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

BOOK REVIEW: How to Set a Table by POTTER

Who doesn’t love a cute home decor book, bonus points for practical tips. How to Set a Table by POTTER book promised to offer an exciting range of possibilities to add to one’s dining experience. I was surprised to find the book on a smaller side, quite compact and under 200 pages long.

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The information touches many aspects of shared meals: it mentions casual dining, weekday breakfasts, formal dining, buffet-style entertainment and even birthday picnic. It is however quite concise: an occasion and approximate setting mentioned and not much else. A tip on etiquette is likewise included but only one per occasion. I did appreciate the info graphics on types of basic dinnerware. Formal dining has nice tips on arranging of plates and glasses. The photography is lovely and images are abundant – plenty of eye candy here.

Overall impression: I think it makes a cute little gift. The book is very pretty to look at, it has this delightful linen cover that I just loved. It won’t teach you everything you need to know about table etiquette, but I thought it was a nice and pretty cheat sheet with enough occasions included.

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

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

BOOK REVIEW: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

The Midnight Queen is a debut novel by Sylvia Izzo Hunter. I confess I picked this book initially because of the beautiful cover. The plot seemed interesting too, and reminded me of Suzanna Clarke Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norell.

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The story revolves around Gray, a young magick scholar, who got into a terrible predicament involving a murder and had to go spend the vacation in the house of his Professor. He gets to know the Professor’s daughters and together with them tries to untangle the situation he found himself in. The style of the writing imitates that of the Regency period novels. And although I think it was a nice touch and added to the atmosphere, I also found it was “trying too hard” at times and soon grew tired of it. The plot moves slowly, and language unfortunately doesn’t help to speed it up. First 100 pages were especially trying, it started to move a little bit faster after that, but not by much. The story was  entertaining and I still think the plot sounded really interesting,  but it ended up just ok.

Overall impression: Not bad, but not great either. Goodreads marks it as a first book of the series, I am not sure if I am looking forward to the next one. 3 stars.

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

BOOK REVIEW: The New York Times : Footsteps

Literary travels are incredibly attractive to me. What was the author looking at, how did a place influence his vision and story development? I was always curious about this story-place connection. A  new book called The New York Times: Footsteps explore this in a delightful collection of essays that were originally featured in The New York Times travel section.

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The essays touch almost every corner of the world-  Americas, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia. Some places I would never associated with a particular author (such as Mark Twain and Hawaii, probably for me having a limited knowledge of his works). I loved essay on Mary Oliver, exploring Prince Edward Island with L.M. Montgomery was another favorite. Those two I went after first.  It was fascinating to read about Rimbaud in Ethiopia and I particularly enjoyed a peak at Carroll/Dodgson’s  Oxford. I am slowly working through this book, savoring each little essay and possibly making travel plans of my own. I am not reading it in any particular order, focusing for now on beloved works and making a list of those I haven’t got a chance to read yet.

I enjoy this book so far, it is very interesting to see the place through a personal connection of an essay’s author and still imagining what it must have looked like to a book author at the time. I wonder if I can make at least few of these trips myself. Interestingly enough I imagined this book as a sort of a tourist guide originally, but I am glad it turned out to be almost diary-like experience. 5 stars.

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

BOOK REVIEW: DINNER by MELISSA CLARK

I don’t often see a cookbook that deals with specific meal of the day, or rather when I do, it’s focusing either on breakfasts or special occasion. It’s the first time I came across a book that is dedicated specifically to dinners. Melissa Clark, a writer for a number of cooking publications offers an astonishing collection of recipes that are meant to “change the game” of typical dinners by adding new flavors and giving new options to a home cook.

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The recipes are organized by main ingredient, which is helpful (although I’d prefer to have all the poultry in one section, rather than chicken separate). There is a good number of light dishes and a plenty of vegetarian choices. The author uses lots of ethnic flavors too. Most of the recipes are kid friendly. We tried a few simpler ones, and they turned out pretty yummy. Most of the ingredients look easily attainable.

Overall impressions: With over 200 recipes to choose from this book looks like a delight. It will take me a while to cook through it, which means lots and lots of new dishes for my family to enjoy. The recipes are easy enough to put together and directions are fairly straightforward. Gorgeous photography.

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