Posted tagged ‘biographies’

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

October 4, 2016

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.

byattbk

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.

morris_ruskin

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.

toile_needletools

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.

chopin_etudes

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.

bugs_birds_insectsbk

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.

 

 

Boxes and Biographies

October 31, 2014

I have been trying to find some books on embroidering boxes so I can do up a box for the gorgeous Tarot of the Absurd. I have instructions for making boxes from illustration board in at least two of my bookbinding books, but I want some further ideas and instruction on fabric boxes with embroidery inserts or coverings.

The book Embroidered Boxes by Jane Lemon was first printed in 1980 and although re-printed with different coloured photographs for covers, the edition itself has never been updated, and is pretty stripped down with black and white illustrations. I bought a used copy of the 1984 edition for $1. I can’t go wrong.

EmbroideredBoxes1984

Decorative Boxes by Juliet Bawden discusses several decorative techniques including appliqué and embroidery so I felt it would be useful. Juliet is quite a prolific writer and has a number of interesting titles for crafts and sewing.

DecorativeBoxes_Bawden2

The last book is a more recent publication and covers cross stitch, embroidery, patchwork and the dreaded plastic canvas. While I have considered using plastic canvas as a support inside a fabric box, I don’t really like the way it looks when worked up in tent stitch, but Meg Evans in her book Hand-Stitched Boxes seems to have some workable ideas.

HandStitchedBoxes2

I once had a book by Mary Jo Hiney called Making Romantic Fabric-Covered Boxes, and the instructions were so convoluted that I gave the book away. I am hoping I can get somewhere with these other books as several of my card decks could use a nice box. I generally make cardstock tuckboxes for them but I wanted to increase my skills and make some boxes with lids to embellish. I can’t afford the fancy wooden ones where you put an embroidered insert in the lid, so I have to press on and try to find solutions to what I want. It gives me a way to practice embroidery yet make something useful.

I am not a natural at pattern drafting and figuring things out in sewing, I find it tedious, but if I can find basic instructions and adapt them for specific sizes I will be fine.

And lastly, I bought a used copy of Linda Lear’s biography Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, which I have been meaning to track down for some months. I have read shorter biographies but wanted something more comprehensive. I love biographies but now and then there are special people I want to revisit.

BeatrixPotterBio2

Oh boy, I’m definitely out of Christmas money now!

You can’t go wrong continually learning and doing.

 

 

Biographies Recently Read

February 10, 2012

I just read a couple of good books; one a biography and one an autobiography.

The first is I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg by Bill Morgan which I ordered on an inter-library loan. I raced through this one and found it fascinating.

I don’t respect the rampant alcoholism and drug addiction of the hip people of the time but I did hold some respect for Ginsberg, and reading this has increased my esteem of the man and his work. I remember seeing him protesting on various things on television and cringing at the way he seemed to hitch himself to causes, but the book explains his genuine interest in such things long after it became shameful to do so. I was also astounded to learn that he didn’t have much money due to his support of various organizations and friends. He could have been wealthy and comfortable and wasn’t. He was quite a genuine person.

And speaking of causes and not being politically correct, someone on one of my reading lists recommended Michael Moore’s new autobiography. He has written stories of his life and will continue to expand on this volume in one or two subsequent books. This was excellent and as many reviews state, you will come away knowing things you didn’t know about Michael Moore: Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life by Michael Moore.

I have been reading several biographies that I got on inter-library loan. I seem to be in mid-century modern mode lately, reading about some of the musicians and writers that became popular in the 1950s and 60s.

Frank O’Hara: Poet Among Painters by Marjorie Perloff

Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David Hajdu

Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley

All were interesting, though the Frank O’Hara biography was not well written and didn’t contain much biographical detail, but this seems to be the only book on him available. Incidentally, according to Allen Ginsberg’s voluminous journals, he and Frank had an encounter but they were both too drunk to do anything about it. Frank hung around painters more than he did writers but I suppose paths crossed at parties and such.

I am not sure where to explore next. I could read about scandalous Jane Digby or perhaps the Mitford sisters, or I could stick to music and read about Henry Mancini or Johnny Mercer, both musicians I respect. I might decide to read the abridged autobiography of Isaac Asimov. I have biographies of Oscar Wilde and Zelda Fitzgerald to read at home here but I am not in the mood.

If anyone has suggestions, please comment, I am always interested in book recommendations.

Update: One of my friends wrote to tell me about a biography of Edmund White she is reading.  I have never even heard of White but I see he has written a biography of 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. I have another biography of Rimbaud written by Graham Robb that I should read. Since I am reading about writers and musicians of the 1950-60s era, I find a lot of them were influenced by Rimbaud. Phil Ochs even named a cat Rimbaud. I have a book of poetry of Rimbaud’s but still need to get to this biography. It might be a good tie-in with some of the biographies mentioned in this post.

I Succumb to Oscar

November 18, 2008

I have wanted to read a particular biography of Oscar Wilde for years. I saw a paperback copy for $5 in a used bookstore once and kept dithering about buying it, and decided not to. Ever since I’ve wanted to read this book, so I bought a cheap used copy that’s on its way to me from ABE.

Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman
ISBN 0394759842

Along with the Shaw biography this will keep me busy over the winter.

I’ve also got the new biography, John Lennon : The Life by Philip Norman on reserve at the library.