Archive for the ‘Books’ category

Books on Painting Water and Bird Photography

July 21, 2017

I want to do up a small watercolour and coloured pencil drawing of a sandpiper to represent a story from my father’s childhood. Now that he’s dead I’d like to get this done and framed. I was going to use Stonehenge paper because I want to do it on a toned surface with minimal background. Strathmore has a new toned mixed media paper that is heavyweight and can take watercolour better but it doesn’t seem to be in Canada yet, so I might wait a bit to see if it shows up in art supply stores in a few weeks, hopefully it won’t take months and months which is the usual way of distributing supplies here.

So for preliminaries I was looking for good photo references. There are several types of sandpipers here and sanderlings as well. Not knowing the particular species, I found a photo of a Western Sandpiper and a Sanderling in books by Glenn Bartley: Birds of British Columbia: A Photographic Journey, published in 2013, and Birds of Vancouver Island: A Photographic Journey, published in 2010 that will be useful.

BCBirdBooks

I like photographic bird books because you can so easily see the exact birds that might be around you. Even my field guide for birds can be confusing, so I loved these two books and see all kinds of references that might be useful for drawing some of my favourite birds.

The other two books I bought are (surprise!) watercolour and pen and ink books on techniques for drawing and painting water and weather, coastal scenes, rivers, rainy streets, rocks, spray, glittering light on water, all kinds of scenarios.

WaterBooks

The first is by Claudia Nice, Down by the Sea with Brush & Pen: Draw and Paint Beautiful Coastal Scenes. I have about five of Claudia’s books and they are excellent, and she uses different media. She really covers everything in this, from rough seas to coastal trees, even dogs and children playing at the beach.

The second is by Ron Hazell called The Artist’s Guide to Painting Water in Watercolor: 30 Techniques, and he too has some comprehensive scenes and much information on the way light behaves on water and how to paint that, how to paint reflections.

I just need to wait for the right paper.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Botanical Drawing and Painting Books and Sketchbooks

May 31, 2017

Botanical Drawing using Graphite and Coloured Pencils by Sue Vize which has a lovely mix of graphite and coloured pencil, one of my favourite approaches to botanicals.

The other one uses support boards for painting which is not something I’m interested in but he has some useful information on glazing and mixing with gouache. Botanical Painting with Gouache: a step-by-step guide by Simon Williams.

BotanicalBooks

I am still having trouble with my shoulder which makes it painful to draw but I am following a vegan eating plan and hoping that will promote healing. To dispel discouragement because I haven’t been able to work in my large Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook for the pretend trip to Chile, I ordered two smaller Stillman & Birn sketchbooks with the same heavier weight of paper for everyday sketching.

I got the wire bound 7 x 7-inch Beta paper which is slightly rougher than the Zeta paper but not as rough apparently as cold-press watercolour. Then I decided to try a softcover Zeta sketchbook in a smaller 8 x 10-inch size than the hardcover I have.

Sketchbooks_June2017

I really like these heavier weights of paper that Stillman & Birn offer. Curry’s in Canada has discontinued carrying these sketchbooks and local shops won’t carry them because of the price, but I mail ordered mine from Aboveground Art in Toronto, who have been very good to buy Faber-Castell supplies from, which I also find hard to hunt up.

Here’s to healing and feeling better!

 

 

A Fresh Round of Embroidery and Quilting Books

May 5, 2017

I saw a couple of embroidery and sewing books that seemed to have a fresh approach so bought three of them for my collection.

EmbBooks

1) Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs by Nancy Nicholson

I have often admired Nancy’s patterns on Etsy, but thought I’d get more patterns in her book so was pleased to finally buy it when it was published. It’s so nice to see books on hand embroidery coming out for new generations who want to pick up the craft.

2) Tilda Homemade & Happy by Tone Finnanger

She is quite prolific and I’ve seen lots of her designs around, but I liked some of her reindeer and pigs and sheep in this.

3) Zakka Embroidery: Simple One- and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts by Yumiko Higuchi

These are tiny motifs and I was interested in her ideas for small purses using purse frames and embroidery. I have several purse frames on hand so want to use them up. There are lots of small cross-stitch motifs around but not many for hand embroidery, so this looked good for my library.

I was able to buy a new sewing machine, the Janome 9400, and I’m hoping it will enable me to quilt about 12 to 14 quilt tops that are languishing here. I took all the quilts and quilt tops out of the Rubbermaid trunk they’d been stored in for two years while we were selling our old house and moving and they reeked of plastic.

I spent some weeks washing and airing them and bought a nice wooden blanket box to store them. As I was confronted with the old tops, some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, I felt the imperative to finish them. I cleaned up and reorganized my sewing area and now I have the fabric cupboard to deal with.

JJ_SewingStudio2a

There is another Rubbermaid container in there, so I’ll have another round of airing fabric, but I particularly wanted to get my fabrics and scraps organized by colour and sew up some simpler quilt patterns. I have been quilting since 1984 so I have many magazines and books on the subject, and I’ve given away many more but I liked the fresh look of these publications and many of the designs.

QuiltBooks

1) Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects – Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

2) No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes by Amanda Jean Nyberg

3) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

4) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

I am not in good health but things are improving, so I want ideas and projects and happier creative endeavours to look forward to. That should sort me out (pun)!

I Buy a Kindle Paperwhite

February 17, 2017

I was never that fussed about eReaders and eBooks, but I tried the FBReader app on a tablet and found I enjoyed reading the odd public domain book. My reading chair is right by a window and the tablet screen has a lot of glare and I was constantly turning the screen sideways to avoid glare, so I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and cover during a recent sale.

kindlepaperwhite

I also downloaded and installed the free Calibre open source software for managing eBooks and sideloading books from my laptop to the Kindle. The programmer Kovid Goyal had a great idea in this program, the only fault I find with it is that to add a website to the drop-down list of archives to search in the Get Books function, someone has to write a script. You can write and ask someone to do it, but I don’t want the fuss.

I tend to like thumbnails of book covers on the Kindle and if Calibre can’t find a cover when it downloads metadata, it’s easy enough to browse online manually for one or to make my own up in Photoshop. Here are a few covers I made, Number 17 is a rather lame ghost story and didn’t really need a cover as I deleted it after reading, but I needed a bit of fun on a slow day.

bookcovers

Skookum Chuck is a classic featuring the coast and sea of British Columbia, and is from Project Gutenberg Canada. I have really enjoyed reading it. The author, Stewart Edward White, is known for novels that feature landscape and nature and the outdoors. Strangely, this book is not mentioned on the list of his works on Wikipedia. Of course, it’s set in Canada, why would anyone mention it?

As well, I’ve got about 15 classic mysteries all downloaded and ready to read on the Kindle. I love that I can use Calibre to add metadata to downloaded books, and I particularly like to get a cover and cover blurb for each book. The ePub and mobi formats for eBooks are based on HTML, and I can convert all formats in Calibre to the native mobi format for the Kindle very easily and then add or edit fields and tags as I wish. It’s also very easy to plug the Kindle into my laptop and open Calibre to transfer files and I can remove the device from within Calibre.

The files on Project Gutenberg Canada are in HTML or text-only, so converting them is necessary and I have found a few gems on there that aren’t available anywhere else. I discovered that it’s often because of our copyright length regulations. With some exceptions Canadian copyright is Life +50 and in some other countries, including the United States, it is Life +70, so 50 years after the death of an author the copyright reverts to public domain in Canada. Generally, but copyright is always a bit tricky, so you have to check.

Some browbeating fink on a forum started badgering me about why I was using Calibre and why I needed metadata and how I “should” do what she wanted etc. There’s one jerk like this on every list or forum. I enjoy the program and find it useful. I put the fink on Ignore and have been blessedly peaceful ever since, puttering away downloading free eBooks and metadata, converting books, sideloading books, making covers, all the top experiences of metajoy.

As yet, I haven’t actually bought a book from Amazon for the Kindle although I’ve downloaded two reading samples of biographies. I’m still a bit iffy on purchasing eBooks from Amazon as I like to have non-fiction/reference books in hand and I usually refer to them frequently or reread them. I don’t find fiction books to be a good price on Amazon and prefer to buy them on the secondary market or order them from the public library.

I was very surprised at how easy it is to read on the Kindle. I have it set to Landscape mode for reading as I find that emulates a page in a real paperback best and is easiest on my eyes; my brain tends to flow better through the words. The little cover I bought is the Midnight Fish design by Fintie and apart from a slight plastic smell it’s very good and works well for protection and automatically puts the Kindle to sleep when I close the cover.

kindlecover_fintie

A good experience all around.

 

 

Books on Owls and Colour Mixing Recipes

January 23, 2017

I placed an order at an art supply shop to beef up my collection of Faber-Castell Polychromos coloured pencils. Although I have 60 colours, I was short on the warm and cool grey selections which are good for animal fur and feathers. I ended up getting 18 colours, so I’ll be up to 78 colours in total with this set. I initially bought a set of 24 pencils and then this will be my third order over several years to get the particular colours I find useful.

I was going to try the Caran d’Ache Luminance or Pablo coloured pencils but the cost is way too much. Besides, I like the oil-based Polychromos and want to stick with them. Then I was looking at the Caran d’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble pastel crayons and I realized I was just looking for the sake of looking. Back to reality.

I thought I’d also order a drafting template for small lettering. I got the Alvin Standard Lettering Guide TD112 that uses size: 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, which is pretty small, but makes neat and tidy text.

alvintd112lettering_sm

I threw in a couple of Faber-Castell PITT pens because no one here sells them. I bought a back-up Sepia Superfine pen and a new-to-me Sanguine colour in the Fine size. I love their sepia colour and I think Sanguine might look good for buildings and lettering.

I occasionally buy photographic books for drawing references. I have used my reptiles book so much I thought I’d get one on owls, and I liked the photos in this and the huge amount of information on global species of owls.

Owls of the World: A Photographic Guide by Heimo Mikeola looks terrific and it gets great reviews. He is originally from Finland and has spent 40 years researching and photographing owls; a noted expert who obviously knows his stuff judging by the sample pages I saw of this book.

owlsoftheworld

I dithered over this book because it’s better that people learn to mix their own colours when painting. I’m not too bad when mixing watercolour but in planning a large acrylic piece I wanted a reference for mixing particular colours, so I ordered the book 1500 Color Mixing Recipes by William F. Powell. This is one of those handy Walter Foster publications that have such good information.

colourmixingguide

I saw an excellent tutorial on YouTube for drawing rabbit fur with Polychromos coloured pencils so it got me all fired up. I still have a shoulder injury and tendinitis bothering me but I’m going to try doing small pictures at least. I’m sure a suitable owl with appear in the new book.

I also want to draw a sandpiper because of a story about a sandpiper from my Dad’s childhood, and due to his recent death I’ve been thinking about that. It’s a bit harder to find a large photo of a suitable bird but I’ll keep watch for one. I have some scraps of grey or cream Stonehenge paper that would do well for this.

 

 

Biographies and Art Technique Books

January 17, 2017

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.

noexcuses

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.

catsdogs_cp

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.

audubonbio

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

December 26, 2016

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

xmasbooks_sm

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.