Biographies and Art Technique Books

Posted January 17, 2017 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I bought 4 new books and 2 used books that looked interesting for biography art techniques.

1) How to Draw & Paint Animals: Learn to Draw with Colored Pencil Step by Step by Debra Kauffman Yaun – another excellent Walter Foster publication, and a large format with few pages like their older publications. Many good steps and tips in this without the usual interminable pages of supplies that many publishers use to pad out their books.

drawinganimals_cp

2) No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield – I rather like Gina’s exuberant, loose style which is accurate but so different from the precious approach to painting tedious art that looks like a photograph. Again, no 21 pages of supply discussion padding out the substance of the book.

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3) Colored Pencil Cats & Dogs: Art & Instruction from 80 Colored Pencil Artists by Ann Kullberg – Each artist has a picture and a page of remarks and tips. I love this kind of book where you can get inspiration without copying a tutorial.

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4) John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes – A recent biography recommended by several newspapers. The print is a bit small but I’m enjoying it as I knew nothing of his life.

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These two I bought used on ABE so it will take a while to get them. I have read two other biographies by Mary S. Lovell, so was interested in the one that she did on the Churchill family. She doesn’t include everyone but some of the well-known Churchills and family history.

5) The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell – I bought an older edition paperback and it’s not as fancy as the newer and larger books with photos of the family on the cover. Winston Churchill wrote his own biography of his famous ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, but I wanted something lighter.

thechurchills

6) Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon – I wanted to re-read the biography of Dickinson My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger, but it was tedious to read I thought I’d try another approach and bought this for $1.

emdickbio

I joined a new book group for this year where you keep track of what you read each month (something I always forget to do), and they also read a book together each month. I recently got an app for our tablet for reading eBooks, and it wasn’t as hard on the eyes as I expected so I am enjoying reading the first two classic books.

Years ago I used to be on several book groups on Yahoo Groups, but they changed the format on Yahoo which made it more difficult to read and reply to messages, so I gave up and left them all. I miss talking to people about books though, and part of the fun is checking other people’s lists of books and finding new authors of fiction and new non-fiction reads on fascinating subjects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fashion History Books

Posted December 26, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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I got a notice of a price drop on a book on my wish list. While there another interesting book appeared on a similar subject so I bought these two books:

Art Nouveau Fashion by Clare Rose

Glasgow Museums Seventeenth Century Costume by Rebecca Quinton

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Apparently Glasgow Museums are publishing a series of books on their various collections, much like the Victoria & Albert Museum did a range of books on their collections. This one also discusses embellishment and accessories as well as the main costume, which are two of my favourite topics regarding fashion.

I have a number of books on historical collections of fashion or textile design which I enjoy. Here is a list of titles from my collection:

Purse Masterpieces by Lynnell Schwartz

Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 (Museum of London; Medieval Finds from Excavations in London: 4)

Costume and Fashion: A Concise History by James Laver; 4th ed., (Thames & Hudson World of Art series)

Medieval Dress and Fashion by Margaret Scott

Textile Designs: Two-Hundred Years Of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout and Period by Susan Meller and Joost Elffers

Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement by Linda Parry

Embroidered Textiles: A World Guide to Traditional Patterns by Sheila Paine

Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century (V & A Museum); Claire Browne, ed.

Toile de Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel et al.

The Book of Silk by Philippa Scott

Dress in Detail from Around the World (V & A Museum)

A Separate Sphere: Dressmaker’s in Cincinnati’s Golden Age by Cynthia Amneus

Style and Splendor: The Wardrobe of Queen Maud of Norway 1896-1938 by Anne Kjellberg

Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style, DK/Smithsonian

100 Dresses, The Costume Institute/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute

Many of these are large books; the Kyoto Costume Institute books are huge and slipcased in a double set. They were on sale so I was lucky to find them. The Victoria & Albert Museum have many books on specific centuries and fashion that I missed out on before they went out of print.

Still, I am rather pleased that over the years I’ve gathered some really wonderful books on the subject, with two more coming to read and browse through and learn.

 

 

 

Don’t Struggle With Cheap Gouache!

Posted December 16, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

Tags: , , , ,

Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve been struggling now and then to use my set of Reeves gouache. It’s great for beginner’s having a fiddle with a medium they aren’t sure about, but they are quite chalky and the colour quality isn’t that great.

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Gouache is strange to work with because it dries so fast, but also enticing because of its opaque qualities and coverage. It has a creamy consistency that is interesting and a matte finish which looks and feels good.

So this week I hauled out my tube of white gouache to use on a graphite picture for highlights, and the tube is almost empty, and I said to myself “Why are you still struggling with this little set?” I like gouache, I have plans to use it in my new sketchbook project, and try it out more on darker colours of Canson Mi-Teintes paper which I love, but this grade of gouache is something that’s pointless when I need a better quality of paint that will help me improve my art.

I gave up the struggle and bought a set of ten artist quality gouache tubes from Winsor & Newton. Oh man, I could have picked out 20 individual tubes and got just the right colours, but the cost would have been close to $200, whereas the set was $73 and I bought an extra tube of Permanent White which uses titanium in the mix rather than the Zinc White that comes in the set.

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Chemicals in paint: Zinc White mixes well with other colours, Titanium White likes to be on its own, creating highlights and drawing things on Mi-Teintes paper, alone, alone, alone. Who am I to argue?

I hadn’t planned to buy any art supplies for Christmas, but it happened. I’m excited after several months of pain from a shoulder impingement, to gear up a bit and start drawing and painting again. I still have pain but can manage 30 minutes a day as long as I wear a tendon cuff and don’t overdo it.

Sally Warner, in her book Making Room for Making Art, describes herself and others grabbing 10 to 15 minutes of art creation time a day as their lives allow, and creating wonderful art.

I’m with Sally.

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Weaving and Appliqué Books and DVD

Posted October 17, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

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One of the things about moving across the country is that when you reorganize and pare down the stuff, it clarifies what is really important to you.

I have missed using my rigid heddle weaving loom, and I never got the time to try to weave purse straps using tablet weaving, so I’d like to get back to that when my shoulder injury repairs itself.

I have Deborah Kemball’s previous book Beautiful Botanicals, and I liked this Euphoria Tapestry Quilts for some of the smaller projects she includes. I was thinking of maybe using some of these designs in a mixed embroidery/appliqué accent on the shawl collar of a dressing gown I am making myself.

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There are scant books on using a rigid heddle loom, but now and then a good one comes along. Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell I liked because she discusses using two heddles for doubling the sett of your woven piece which is something I have planned to do for a couple of years for some new tea towels. I have the kit and extra heddles from Ashford, but never got them attached to the loom, it too was deferred for home renovations and selling and moving house.

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I thought I might find some classes in my new area on tablet or card weaving, but there don’t seem to be any. I had woven two nice pieces of cloth to make purses some years ago, one in a lovely houndstooth pattern, and I wanted to weave my own bands to use as purse straps. I have the crochet cotton and the cards and shuttle/beater, and the spouse made me a surfboard style loom, but I couldn’t figure the process out from the book I bought.

This video is supposed to be very helpful for the confused and although he uses an Inkle loom for demonstrations, they can be adapted for my handmade loom.

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Tablet Weaving Made Easy by John Mullarkey is a 2-disc video class lasting 120 minutes that gets good reviews, particularly from people like me who find the whole process confusing when using the weaving cards.

Boy, these are quite inspiring!

 

Perle Cotton for Embroidered Nightgowns

Posted October 6, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework, Sewing

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I’m having difficulty embroidering and sewing due to a shoulder impingement and attendant tendinitis and nerve pain, but I started embroidering the bodice of a nightie, and I’m chipping away at it as I can.

The fabric is a softly mottled aqua flannelette that I bought from Connecting Threads two years ago. I am using a variegated green Perle cotton #12 from Presencia to outline the motifs in chain stitch and then I’ll fill the shapes in. The motifs are a combination of the Kate & Rose embroidery patterns Faraway Garden and Bewitching Botanicals. I’m really getting some mileage out of those patterns. I hope to do a small motif on each sleeve as well as embroidering the bodice.

embroiderednightie1

I bought some more Presencia perle cotton #12 threads from Connecting Threads during a recent sale and I bought two colourways of variegated DMC and Anchor floss which you can see surrounding the bodice that is currently being worked. BUT, I’ve always wanted to try the hand-dyed perle cotton threads from Lorraine at Colour Complements, so I ordered two skeins of her beautiful hand-dyed DMC perle cotton #12, just to try it.

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One of the nighties I’m making is plain white flannelette, and I wanted a variegated thread that really popped. Lorraine’s gorgeous blue, yellow, red, and orange colourway will absolutely pop on white fabric. I think I’m going to hand draw my own pattern up for this one using some motifs from adult colouring books as inspiration. I tend to get bored following patterns so I want to do my own exuberant drawings for this second embroidered nightgown.

I also plan to sew myself a mid-length dressing gown from a navy flannelette, and I thought the second variegated colourway from Colour Complements would be a nice jumping-off point for embroidering motifs on the shawl collar of the dressing gown.

I hope my hand and arm settle down soon so I can get something done.

 

 

 

Books, Bugs, Birds, Textiles, and Pre-Raphaelite Muses and Music

Posted October 4, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books, Needlework

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Assorted reflections from the past few months…

I read Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir of Nike and shoes and life which I found to be a page turner. It’s always interesting to hear the inside story of business.

shoedogbk

Generally I’ve been reading mysteries, but throughout the summer I have been rereading The Hare with Amber Eyes in an illustrated edition I purchased, and it was even better the second time. A family history as interesting and poignant as this will be something I revisit along the years.

harebk

A.S. Byatt has a new book called Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny which is a small but delightful read. She often cites Fiona MacCarthy’s excellent biography of Morris which I read from the library in early 2015, but I wanted to get my own used copy so I could read it again.

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I also thought I needed to read a proper biography of John Ruskin. He often crops up in art history but he was rather strange in his personal life which I always found off-putting, so I’m giving him a chance. I ordered them both from used bookstores and will forward to reading them.

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My library system had a book called Wives and Stunners:The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Muses by Henrietta Garnett, so I’ll try that for her information on Ruskin and the Brotherhood as well. One thing about these fellows, they often made fun of William Morris and drew caricatures of him, which has always disappointed me, since he had such a enormous work ethic. Rossetti of course had a long-term affair with Morris’s wife Jane which makes me think little of her, but perhaps this book will improve my opinion of her. I doubt it, but I’ll give her a chance.

wivesbk

I had a milestone birthday this summer, so bought myself used copies of two books I’ve had on my wish list for years. I love books on textiles, needlework, and quilting history, so it’s important to me to buy them when I find them as they are scarce.

I bought Toile De Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel and Sophie Rouard which is another gorgeous Thames & Hudson publication and contains huge amounts of fascinating information. I’ve only begun it but I am struck by the complicated process of making and printing cloth in pre-industrial times.

I became interested in the tools of needlework because of Gail Marsh’s excellent books on needlework history. I wanted more photographs and explanations of them so I bought a used copy of Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries by Nerylla Taunton.

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You could spend years studying the history of such things and still not know everything. I find it all inspiring and exciting.

I finally decided after listening to a much-loved recording of an Etude by Chopin with bird sounds, that I had to track down which etude it is. After 21 years it’s starting to bother me every time I hear this exquisite piece, and there is no information in the notes on the recording. Naturally, there are several recordings of the complete etudes, 24 etudes all told, and the recordings get various reviews. I settled on a good, solid one from RCA by John Browning.

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In Canada, Amazon.ca has raised their free shipping price to $35 CAD again after dropping it to $25 CAD when our dollar was stronger. So as well as Chopin, I got a good photographic reference on bugs from National Geographic and a book on drawing animals, birds, and insects. These books are: Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich and Drawing And Painting Birds, Marine Creatures and Insects by Jonathan Truss.

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I haven’t been able to draw for about six weeks due to a very painful shoulder impingement and tendinitis, but I have plans, and drawing projects to get to, and I hope my hand comes around soon so I can hold a pencil and paint again.

There is something about Fall and Winter that seems perfect for Art Nouveau and pre-World War I biographies. A fire in the grate, a book in the hand and mind, hot cups of jasmine tea, and warm blankets on my lap. Perfect!

Oh, and maybe some etudes by Chopin burbling in the background? Yes, I think that works.

 

 

Quit Bugging Me Maplelea

Posted September 23, 2016 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Dolls

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I can’t believe it. After asking to be taken off their mailing list nearly three years ago after this happened, I received a catalogue in the mail, forwarded from my old address.

I was not selling anything, it wasn’t a cold call.

I have one Maplelea doll, Saila, whom I like. She is currently packed away while I look for a storage cabinet for her and some other dolls. I have not bought anything from Maplelea since e-mailing their dismissive employees to suggest it would be great for them to provide some sewing patterns that fit their dolls.

AND I still refuse to buy anything from them. Whoever is designing their clothes lately has no sense of colour and no imagination. Each doll has a set colour palette which they use to design clothes, but it gets boring after a while. No imagination.

saila_bye

Oh, and you know, no one has really offered a good sewing pattern for Maplelea dolls. I saw one for nightwear which looked nice, but the fabric of the body showed, which ruins the illusion for me. After all this time, sewing patterns for these dolls really don’t exist. It would be nice to have a decent wardrobe-builder of a dress, that you could change or embellish to make more styles.

Sewing patterns for humans usually feature different views and sleeve lengths. Most doll patterns don’t do that which is short-sighted. Instead of a $5 pattern, someone with pattern drafting skills could release a multi-pattern, priced accordingly. I have several doll books with patterns but they don’t fit these Maplelea dolls and require endless adjustment.

I’m telling you, someone could make some money offering properly fitted sewing patterns for clothes that are specifically sized for these Maplelea dolls.