#ColoringAmerica | A Review

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I would like to talk to you today about yet another coloring book (I KNOW, I KNOW…I have an addiction. It won’t be fixed). But this one is pretty cool guys. I received God Bless America: A Patriotic Coloring Book recently, just in time for the 4th of July (WOOHOO!)

Now, when I requested this book for review from blogging for books, I had a few preconceptions to contend with.

#1 – the pictures would be simplistic..

FALSE! There were 9 illustrators given quotes to work with. Some are rendered simplistically, but nicely, while some are so gorgeously sketched for us that I don’t want to color the images. I want to leave the play of black ink on thick white paper all alone and stark with the quote woven throughout the page.

#2 – The quotes would ‘typical’…

FALSE! The quotes in this coloring book are a mixture of well and lesser known pieces from historically important people and documents. Each page has a beautiful illustration (apparently we’re meant to color them, I don’t know if I can!) and on the back of that page the full quote that phrase is pulled from (the song, the stanza, the paragraph) is listed, along with some information about the year, the author, etc. Bible verses are freely used.

#3 – This would be a ‘normal’ coloring book…

FALSE! I was SO wrong! This coloring book includes historical facts and information on the person who said or wrote the words in question, 9 different illustrators and hand letterers, an online quiz about the information in this book, and a SPOTIFY PLAYLIST to listen to in order to create a multi-media experience while coloring.

I am so enthralled with this book. I was looking for a new coloring book to add to my shelf and what I received is a book that I will be proud to use as a teaching tool. A book that contains historical facts, coloring pages, and a musical playlist is something that can be an amazing aid in helping students to remember facts about our nation and its history. These lessons could take many forms, like students creating a short presentation (perhaps multi-media even) around their chosen or assigned quote, writing prompts, and even a small group creating a lesson over the quote.

This book earned a 5 star review from me. If you enjoy coloring and are a patriotic American (Or just enjoy history) I would very much like to recommend this book to you!

Artsy Animals

Do you like random facts? Do you enjoy animal artwork? Do you love tiny little books that can conveniently be carried with you virtually anywhere???

THEN I HAVE JUST THE BOOK FOR YOU!!

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*Slightly smaller than actual size*

Maja Safstrom is an architect and illustrator from Stockholm who has worked with Ten Speed Press to bring us a small book with a big impact. Coming at a mere 6.3×0.7×7.8 inches in dimension, The illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts combines pen and ink/black and white drawings with facts about several different animals, all seemingly hand lettered. This book gives us not only  peek aat nature, but  look at the author’s nature journal (of sorts).

The book is very well made, the cover binding feels nice and fits very well into a hand, the interior pages have the look and feel of thicker art paper, and the entire piece feels like a work of art lovingly created for the audience.

If you enjoy Maja’s style of artwork, as I do, I highly suggest also following her on Instagram!

I’ll leave you with a  fact to ponder while you’re waiting on that page to load.

“Penguins laugh when they are tickled.”

You’re welcome and have a marvelous day!

Review – Collage This Journal

Collage this Journal

By Elanor Shakespeare

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The Summary, according to Amazon.com:

This irresistibly interactive journal is filled with dozens of clever ideas for recording your life, such as “Make balloons out of photos from special and happy occasions” or  “Fill the genie’s lamp with wishes.” The author/illustrator’s wonderfully layered photo-illustration montages invite readers to mix media, too, and make this keepsake truly their own.

Review:

Cover – 4.5/5 Dragons

Both clean and whimsical, the front cover boasts a classically creative design with just a hint of whimsy. The back cover pushes that whimsical element just a smidgen more, which is perfect. The blurb on the k is well written and perfectly descriptive on what the journal is about, without being over the top.

Interior – 5/5 Dragons

The idea of this journal is that you use whatever supplies you want in order to create collages in response to each new prompt.

For example, the very first prompt is a framed, blank page that asks you to collage a self-portrait…using images of yourself.

Another prompt asks you to redesign the covers of your favorite book, while still another asks that you write, draw, or collage images of who or what makes you laugh.

There are 52 such prompts, each with whimsical, almost water colored pages that provide a creative muse for the completion of your ‘journey’s’ art.

So be creative, be free, and ENJOY!

Overall Rating 5/5 Dragons (stars)!

Book Review of Art Students League of New York on Painting

 

Penguin Random House’s Art Students League of New York on Painting page has this to say about the book:

….”This unique book brings you into the studio classrooms of some of the League’s most celebrated painters—including William Scharf, Mary Beth McKenzie, Henry Finkelstein, and Knox Martin—for lessons on a variety of fundamental topics, idiosyncratic approaches, and quirky philosophies. Scanning the table of contents is like flipping through a course catalog: do you want to take Naomi Campbell’s “Working Large in Watercolor,” James McElhinney’s “Journal Painting and Composition,” Sharon Sprung’s “Figure Painting from Life in Oil,” or Ellen Eagle’s “Poetic Realism in Pastel”? Now you can—from the comfort of your own home studio (or living room). ”

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Overview:

The Art Students League of New York On Painting was written by James L. Mcelhinney and the instructors of the Art Students League of New York. With amazingly detailed illustrations, artist biographies and autobiographies, and mini-lessons on art, this book is full of inspiration and new knowledge for its audience.

Character Believability:

This book is based completely on real artists and those artists gave interviews and lessons for us to read, so this should be a no brainer. However, a few of the interviews and auto-biographies felt padded and ‘jazzed’ as though they meant to make themselves come out super-cool, but they only managed to make themselves seem slightly less believable.

Flow and Pace:

A few places were a bit sluggish for me, but the majority of the book had a good pace and flow. The pictures and interviews moved well together.

Reader Engagement:

I was very intrigued by the art pieces and mini-lessons in this book. I didn’t enjoy the interviews as much, but I’m also not the typical ‘art person’ this book was aiming at. The set up of this hard-bound edition is very nice, with gorgeous art and thick pages that pack a vibrant punch and keep the reader flipping pages.

Reader Enrichment: 

I feel like I learned a lot about art and different types of painting in this book. Not only were the mini-lessons very educational, but the other segments were well written and provided a lot of random art facts for even the least artistic of souls.

Character Believability: 4/5
Flow and Pace: 4.5/5

Reader Engagement:4.5/5

Reader Enrichment: 5/5
Reader Enjoyment: 4/5
Overall Rate: 4.4/5

 

Buy The Art Students League of New York on Painting 

*I was sent this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and ratings herein are my own.*

Spotlight On…

Spotlight On Art

Today’s spotlight on art is going to focus on something I consider to be a special sort of art all its own; editing.

As an author I consider writing to be my special gift, my art, and I feel confident in saying that I am pretty good at it. I work, write, rework, write, read, edit, rewrite, edit, etc. before sending it to readers, editors, and their ilk to make sure that my work is ready for its audience. Even then I may go back and edit two or twelve more times. As a self-publishing Indie Author I have to wear all of those hats and dance around with them balanced like the Mad Hatter. I don’t get paid to do it, I don’t get paid to write most of the time. I just don’t like feeling as though I’ve let down my readership with sloppy writing.

As a reader, I feel disappointed and gypped when I read a book that is poorly edited. The writing can be amazing, the story line phenomenal, and the characters my absolute favorites but if the editing is terrible I feel sad. Add to that poor word choices and time line mess ups and whatever else can go wrong, and the editors’ jobs are obviously more important than many people stop and realize.

I believe that a huge part of the stigma against purchasing and reading self-published books is because so many of them have terrible editing. When a book is obviously a first or second draft that has not been edited for content or grammar it is an insult to the reader. They are then often so disappointed and soured by the experience that they don’t buy from that author or even in that genre or type (self-published etc) again.

So learn a new art, share it with your friends…edit your work. This is an art form most of us can at least dabble in!

Until next time, may you have a blessed, energized, and inspired week.

 

Spotlight On:

Welcome Welcome to this week’s Spotlight On Art

Today we are talking with the wonderful illustrator Louise Boulter, of Louise Boulter Illustration.

  • How did you get started in illustrations?

When I think about it,  I was illustrating to text when I was at school, creating stories and illustrating them.  My first job was for a lovely lady who owns fashion label Brat and Suzie. She got me going by asking me to come up with some illustrations for her t-shirts.

That sounds like a lot of fun!

  • Has art been a lifelong passion of yours?

I grew up with my mum who was an artist and Studied fine art at Wimbledon school of art. So I grew up in that environment.  It felt unnatural and intimidating studying fine art, but drawing and illustrating has always been something I’ve done, like sitting down to a good book.

My mom is also an artist, and my illustrator, but I could never draw well enough to suit myself so I stuck with writing. I think it is always amazing when someone can draw and create like that!

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  • How do you want people to feel when they see what you’ve created?

 

Most of the time the work I produce is commissioned by a client.  So I want them to like it.  I do family portraits so I would like the client to feel I’ve captured the nature of their family in one way or another.

Understandable! You want to make sure you capture what they want…which would drive me crazy. In my opinion, that is probably much more difficult than creating what pops into your own head and then hoping people in general enjoy it!

 

  • What media do you prefer to draw/create in, and why?

I love drawing with a scratchy fountain pen and quink ink when its all scratchy and unpredictable.

I enjoy writing with a fountain pen as well, mostly because the ink flows in funny ways and the scratch is very ‘old world’ and satisfying. 

 

  • What is your creative space/working environment like?

A complete and utter mess.  I am currently surrounded by receipts for tax, scraps of paper, pens rolling around the desk top and as it stands 4 empty teacups.  I try and tidy it once a week.

I don’t believe in completely clean work spaces! I always feel like if the work area is clean (while you’re in a project anyway) that you are probably having issues with the job at hand. 

 

  • What is something new that you’ve either learned or noticed recently?

These wonderfull GIFs that have been floating around.  Ive seen so many beautiful moving images recently.

I love those! 

 

  • What illustration related projects would you love to be able to do in the future?

A childrens book.  I am currently going though a process with a writer.

Wonderful! Children’s books are so much fun!

  • What inspires you?

People and nature.  I find I don’t really need to walk far at all until I see someone interesting.  The sensations of walking by the sea or in a forest or clifftops is almost like my fuel to keep me inspired and happy.

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Nature is so amazing, ever changing and ever solid. I find a lot of inspiration there as well. 

Thank you Louise for joining us today! It has been a lot of fun getting to know you and I look forward to seeing that children’s book soon.

You can find Louise Boulter at:

http://www.louiseboulter.co.uk/

and on Twitter: @123lop

Remember, if you, or someone you know, would like to be featured on a Tuesday Spotlight or on an Author Interview Friday please leave me a comment letting me know!

As always, I look forward to hearing from you so start up a conversation in the comment section and I’ll hop on in! Until we meet again, may your week be full of blessings and inspiration!

Artistic Tuesdays – Illustrator Becky Tyree

Welcome to this week’s beautiful edition of Artistic Tuesday! My guest today is my own illustrator (and mother) Becky Tyree. A lover of lighthouses, Christmas, and crazy deep and detailed art, Becky is a seamstress, an artist, a teacher, and much much more! Let’s see what she has to say about her art!

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               Showing her sass!

  • How did you get started in illustrations?

I studied art with a mail order art class. I really enjoyed the lessons and found mixed media enthralling.

I remember that class, she was studying that when I was about 6 or 7. My bedroom wall got a gorgeous mural of a swan on a lake. When we moved I begged until she painted it on a canvas for me!

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Her older pictures are signed ‘Teeto’ (a family nickname) but her new artwork and illustrations are signed with her full name, “Becky Tyree.”

  • Has art been a lifelong passion of yours?

I really only began art sometime in my early twenties. My husband encouraged me a lot when I was learning.

  • How do you want people to feel when they see what you’ve created? I want them to make a connection with the work. If they don’t, it is not for them.

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  • What media do you prefer to draw/create in, and why?

I love pencil work, mixed media (for me that would be pencil, ink, and then watercolor, acrylic, or even colored pencil), and wet on wet oil.

Karl the Koi

Karl the Koi

  • What is your creative space/working environment like?

Our residence is an old Church building. My art studio is on one side of the ‘stage’ and the other side is my sewing room. The auditorium is undergoing it’s transformation into our family room and my art gallery. We hope it will be finished this year, but…..you never know.

They have been working a little every day on the great room. With the original plain colored glass windows (they are not pictures, just gorgeous glass) mostly intact, the walls getting painted, and a few pews and chairs being fixed up and painted, the space will be a bright and beautiful place to display her artwork!

  • What is something new that you’ve either learned or noticed recently?

I am always picking up anything to help me with my artwork. Recently, my granddaughter has been teaching me how to listen to what she says and translate it into a picture.

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LITTLE MONSTER!!

She has been watching videos and scanning Pinterest etc. for new ideas on how to make the perfect illustrations. She invariably decides she likes her way better because she can’t figure out why people are making things so hard on themselves! I’m sure they would think the same about her methods..I hear artists are slightly tempermental about their works. Of course, the Monkey has been giving her direct instructions for Little Monster as to the color composition, items and their placements, and so on.

  • Tell us about your two all-time favorite pictures: Please include 1 thing that you have drawn or created, and 1 someone else did.

Okay, Here I will first include my favorite picture…..Thomas Kincaid’s paintings that include lighthouses!

This is Thomas Kinkade’s “Courage” lighthouse. To see more fabulous works and get the stories behind them, check out the official site at: http://thomaskinkade.com/art-genre/lighthouses/

My favorite from my work….The wet on wet oil painting I did of a stream drifting though autumn tree’s and fields.

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She has a collection of lighthouses. Not just one or two here and there…the woman has a collection of over 100, maybe over 200 at this point, that includes miniatures, nick-knacks, paintings, blankets, coasters, table cloths, etc etc etc.

 

  • What illustration related projects would you love to be able to do in the future?

I am looking forward to drawing more dragons and fairy’s. I have the start of a wall mural going up to my daughters writing loft featuring one of her dragons. The mural is going to spread up both sides of the stairs right off the mentioned family room.

The dragon in question – pictured below – is Lavinia. Some of you have read the books and/or the short stories I post on here occasionally and are thinking “who is that?” Well, Lavinia hasn’t been in the books just yet. You see, she is a very special ‘keeper’ dragon, the Guardian of the Garden. Lavinia is posted to protect and observe a portal between Realta and Earth. This portal just so happens to reside inside the walls going up the stairs to my writer’s loft. And yes, we pat her nose and tell her hello or goodbye and goodnight every time.

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  • What inspires you?

Writers who are able to describe in such a way that I can see their story. It really encourages me to draw. God’s grace to have given me such a wonderful gift, and my loving family of writers. I am not a good writer, but I figure, hey, they aren’t the best illustrators either, but together we make a great team.

Go Team! She’s right you know, there’s a reason I’m not drawing my own stuff! Stick figures come out with weird bumps when I try to draw.

 

  • Who is your favorite artist/illustrator? Why?

Norman Rockwall With a simple picture he could tell a whole story. People connected to his work, and his work was realistic while at the same time interesting to us all.

  • Finally, tell us where to go to find you/who you illustrate for if you don’t have your own pages yet:

So far I have kept my drawings in our family. I am finishing up the drawings for my granddaughter on her first Little Monster book; – Little Monster is set to go on preorder September 20th and release on October 1st. I did a teaser post with the illustrations recently. If you want to check that out, I’ve linked it for you HERE.

Then I will be working with Elizabeth S. Tyree and an animal wildlife preserve in Kansas to complete both a color book about the animals at the park there and a series of stories about animals in the park and their cousins in the wild. Ask Elizabeth Tyree about those details. – I have spoken a little about Leonard the Lemur and more details will be coming shortly. If you would like to know more about the park we’ve talked into being Leonard’s home, check out www.tanganyikawildlife.org

After that, and probably some during, I will complete a set of pictures for the Stone Dragon Saga’s updates, as I have agreed to draw those this year. For myself I will be painting four wet on wet nature scenes and fifteen different floral studies to place on our family room/gallery walls. For Dr. W. Jay Tyree, I will be drawing updates for his children’s books at the beginning of next year. After that ….who knows…someone else want some drawings????

The rose from Dr. Tyree's original version of Monsoon McKreel...which  didn't even have an eel in it!

The rose from Dr. Tyree’s original version of Monsoon McKreel…which didn’t even have an eel in it!

I will be setting up an illustrator’s profile for her sometime soon, once we have a site we agree on to host it.

Thank you for sharing with us today Becky! We look forward to seeing your work in the books, and updates on your gallery walls!

Remember, if you are an artist and would like to be interviewed for the blog just let me know! Have a great day everyone!

Creative Journaling

Most of us have heard the term ‘Creative Journaling’ at some point or another. Some of us may even have attempted it at some point or another. Well let me tell you something…the world of creative journals has advanced significantly since the time I bought a little sketch book and some colored pencils, convinced that I could mix words and watercolors to create something amazing and awe inspiring. (I filled 4 or 5 pages and set it aside).

One of the best things to happen for the creative journaler, in my opinion anyway, is the rising popularity of creative journals. Not just notebooks or sketchbooks that you purchase and then fill as you see fit. No, these wonderful books provide you with specific ideas, prompts, and suggestions for each entry. Some of them are non-date specific, allowing the artist to pick and choose their prompts, moving through the pages on a whim and the wave of your emotions.

However, there is a daily creative journal that does include the dates. In fact, the Q&A a Day for Creatives: A 4 year Journal by Potter Style includes (you guessed it!) 4 years worth of dates. Each page is fitted with its own unique prompt and separated into four spaces. You merely fill in the year and fill out the box.

The prompts vary from the type of medium used, to the type of art created, and even to the type of question asked. Each day is a prompt meant to break you out of your box and allow you to view your day, and maybe even your life, in an inspiringly creative way.

I give the cover art 3 out of 5 dragons, the color blocking just doesn’t do it for me. I love the bright colors but feel the brown should have either gone completely across or not been included at all.

The inside, however, is exciting, fun, and definitely worth 5 out of 5 dragons! If you are a creative type (or if you want to try to be one) this is a great book to start with. You never even have to show it to anyone! If you aren’t an artistic type and don’t want to try this one, don’t worry! Potter Style has several more of these journals, such as the 5 year Q&A a Day that I still fill in every night, or the 3 year for kids and/or the the college student Q&A a Day! Check them out and find something that will fit your life, the questions are always interesting and thought provoking.

*I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review from Blogging for Books. Opinions are my own.*

Call For Authors/Illustrators to Interview

I have been the happy interviewee for a few well done Indie Author blog interviews and would love to pass that opportunity along to others! So here it is: If YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW is an Author or Illustrator AND would like to be interviewed for my blog, please let me know! I have a list of 10 questions that I’ll send your way, and we’ll get you set up with a scheduled publication of the interview.

When published, I will promote your interview via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, and this blog.

So leave me a message here or through my e-mail

I can’t wait to hear from you!