|Product: Various soft pastels (Unison | Terry Ludwig | Diane Townsend) plus Conte crayons |
|Manufacturer / Distributor: Various small niche suppliers of soft pastels |
|Product Review by: Brian McGurgan BFA (Blog: Pastel on Paper)|
|Link to Product Review: Pastels|
|Target Audience: Pastel artists|
|Technical Details: |
|Summary: Informative review of four brands of pastels - each brand gets a relatively brief review but content is good |
|Think Again? |
|Suppliers: None listed in review |
Thursday, 31 December 2009
Sunday, 27 December 2009
|Title: Taking a Line for a Walk: 1100 Miles on Foot, Le Havre to Rome by Christopher Lambert |
|Synopsis: In the summer of 2000, Christopher Lambert drew a straight blue line between Le Havre and Rome on a map of Europe when eighteen months short of his 70th birthday. He then set off with his all leather Brasher walking boots, a small rucksack, a couple of pens, some watercolour pencils and a sketchbook journal. 1,075 miles and 71 walking days later he arrived in Rome having taken a page each day to sketch and write about what he saw on his trip. |
This is the hardback facsimile version of his sketchbook. As a concession to his handwriting, there is a thin typescript margin containing two lines of summary text about each day - as he says his writing gets a bit cramped at times!
|Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED This book is a joy for all those who sketch on their travels. It's both an inspiration to improve one's own sketches and a gentle reminder of how to slow down and reflect on life and the pleasures of our surroundings and all we encounter on our travels. If you find his writing a bit small I recommend a magnifier as the book is a facsimile which is the only way to experience 'as if' looking at the original book. |
|Think Again? |
|Who should buy this?: |
|Who should not buy this? |
|Author / (Publisher) Chris Lambert / The Antique Collectors Club (15 Sep 2004) |
Technical data: Current Publication Date: July 7, 2006 It would appear that the book may have been reprinted in 2006 and that the original publishers are no longer involved. The link at the top is to the amazon.com 2006 book. The link at the end is to the amazon.co.uk 2004 version.
Hardcover (with dust jacket) - 144 pages; ISBN-10: 1851494707 | ISBN-13: 978-1851494705
Paul Klee once explained that "a drawing is simply a line going for a walk".
For the Millennium he thought he'd like to try one of the pilgrim routes across Europe. Consequently, in July 2000 he set off carrying a pilgrim's passport - a letter of brotherly greetings in Latin from the Anglican Provost of Portsmouth Cathedral to Pope John Paul in the Vatican in Rome.
On his trip he averaged just over 15 miles each walking day overall, although this inevitably varied along the route across France, through Switzerland, down through northern Italy and the 'thigh' of Italy to Rome. En route - and along his straight line - he visited Honfleur, Fontainebleau Forest, the Canal de Bourgogne, Dijon, Lausanne and from there along the ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, through the Grand St. Bernard pass across the Alps to Aosta, Lucca and Siena before reaching Rome.
What particularly appealed to me about this book is his habit of doing daily sketches while travelling - a habit I developed on my two trips to the USA. I also identified with his approach to sketching. He uses pen and ink to sketch, followed by coloured pencils to indicate values and form and something of local hues. The book contains over 240 illustrations of a huge variety of 'views', buildings, people, flowers, insects and the butterfly which sat on his hand one day while he drew (see below - page 52 Col du Grand St Bernard)
The author is a former architect and it's evident that his working life enables him to take him scenes involving buildings with an ease which others can only aspire to. His eye takes in and quickly absorbs the key features of complicated architecture. I loved the way he tells himself off when he's done something overly complicated - giving himself injunctions to simplify. Overall, despite what he says below, his style is very pleasing - being loose and unfussy. Some of the very simplest sketches have the greatest impact.
"The sketches had priority - to the extent that I would often make myself late departing from a place because I just had to record it....I wanted to shake off my architectural topographical style and in a few flicks of the pen and pencils capture the essence of a thing or place, but it very rarely happened. Nevertheless these small drawings became my footsteps as the miles elapsed and the pages filled...."
His habit of sketching over meals is also one with which I'm very familiar. I even suspect, given the nature of his sketches, that we might share the same habit of table hopping to find the table which offers the 'right' view. Which is not always the best view but rather is the one which lends itself best to sketching.
His meditations on walking, his surroundings and the impact that a long walk has on an individual are both interesting and powerful reminders to reflect on life at something less than 4 miles an hour. It's a book which more than repays any attempt to read his handwriting - which is not so difficult once you get used to it. This is a book that I can particularly recommend to all those accustomed to travelling to many destinations at top speed and who may not be acquainted with the benefits and "the inevitability of gradualism"! ;)
In conclusion, I'd highly recommend this book for anybody wanting to keep a sketchbook journal of a trip. Those visiting places along this route will also get an insight into life outside a car and the rhythm of life which occurs when walking everyday on a very long walk.
"The illustrations have a wonderful vividness and the text has a gentle undercurrent of humour.......It's the kind of book that you can pick up time after time and feel yourself wandering through the byways of France and Italy, hearing the sounds and smelling the fragrance of the hedgerows and fields around and about, or imagining yourself sitting outside in a village square enjoying a glass of wine" Sir Chris BoningtonNote: This review was first published in my sketchbook blog Taking a line for a walk - from Le Havre to Rome (Wednesday, March 21, 2007) and is published again here with a new front end to provide a complete record of my book reviews on this blog
- Christopher Lambert: Taking a Line for a Walk: 1000 Miles on Foot - Le Havre to Rome
- More quotes by Paul Klee
Thursday, 10 December 2009
- leading art store blogs. I'm trying to keep this limited to leading art stores and/or blogs which are particularly good at explaining art materials rather than just annoucing their latest sale or unmissable offer!
- manufacturers of art material
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Synopsis: Written by two experts in botanical art and published as the catalogue of the inaugural exhibition of the The Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens, the first gallery in the world to be dedicated to year round exhibitions of botanical art. The book provides an overview of the richness and endurance of botanical art and the most significant artists from the 1600s through to contemporary artists.
Summary review: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
The book focuses on the botanical artworks in the exhibition in terms of their place in the history of botanical art and in relation to the plants they portray. Images are largely organised according to themes and so paintings completed many years apart are presented side by side. At the end of the book are biographies of all the artists whose work is reproduced in the book.
Who should buy this?:
Who should not buy this?
Author / (Publisher) Shirley Sherwood, Martyn Rix / Kew Publishing
This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It proved very popular on publication and I'm sure it will become a landmark publication over time.
This review was first published - in a different format - on Making A Mark on Monday, April 21, 2008 - see Treasures of Botanical Art - a recommended read. This post also includes a review of the exhibition and some of the images of the work on display.
- Dr Shirley Sherwood has been collecting contemporary botanical drawings since 1990. Her comprehensive collection from over two hundred artists, living in thirty different countries documents the emergence of a new wave of botanical artists and the renaissance of their art form. She holds a number of distinguished posts with leading organisations in the horticulural and botanical art worlds. She has written several books on botanical art (see below)
- Martyn Rix is the editor of Curtis's Botanical Magazine, which is the longest running botanical periodical in the world.
- Kew Publishing is the publishing house of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It produces over 20 new titles each year and aims to inspire and educate people about our work and to make available Kew’s unique heritage and resources, knowledge and cutting edge expertise to as wide an audience as possible throughout the world.
- Making A Mark - Kew opens the world's first dedicated botanical art gallery
- Botanical Art - Resources for Artists - many links of interest to botanical artists plus it contains a bookmark link to this book review and links to items about the new gallery and both botanical artists in history and contemporary botanical artists.
- Botanical Art - Art Book Reviews for Artists - book reviews of botanical art, first published on my blog Making A Mark
- Books by Shirley Sherwood
- Contemporary Botanical Artists: The Shirley Sherwood Collection by Shirley Sherwood, Victoria Matthews
- A Passion for Plants: Contemporary Botanical Masterworks by Shirley Sherwood
- New Flowering: 1000 Years of Botanical Art by Shirley Sherwood
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
|Title: Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist |
|Synopsis: This book has been described as the ultimate reference for fans of science fiction and fantasy illustration. Imaginative Realism links traditional techniques with contemporary visualisation. |
Award-winning fantasy artist and the creator of Dinotopia, James Gurney systematically examines and details practical methods for creating believable pictures of imaginary subjects. (Right click the Table of Contents on the right and open in a new tabe to see the contents page)
This is NOT a book about the use of digital tools. Instead the focus is on the use of plein-air studies, models photographed in costume, maquettes, models and tableaus.
He also demonstrates the use of thumbnail sketches, storyboards, charcoal comprehensive drawings, tone paper studies and a variety of approaches and techniques relevant to composition.
This vast number of topics are typically covered in double page spreads with dense but succinct text and relevant images at various stages of development. The book also includes a useful section on careers and a detailed glossary.
|Summary review: |
On publication this book became the #1 art instruction book on Amazon. A month after publication it holds on to the #1 slot in art books about Realism. The reason being that this book sets a very high standard for all art instruction books as it is jam packed full of useful content which is both very accessible and highly informative.
The bias is towards Gurney's normal fantasy art subject matter but the principles are applicable to all painters who create works which involve some element of imagined realism.
Many of the technical approaches he uses are also rooted in classical realism. This book reminded me of all the ways that artists who pre-date photography often worked - assembling finished paintings from studies, mock-ups and maquettes. I looked at the Degas maquettes in the Musée d'Orsay in a whole new light after reading this book
This book is so good I'd recommend that any aspiring fine artist buys it just for Chapter 11 which deals with composition. The approaches to developing a composition and the various devices discussed in the book are also ones which are important to the education of any artist wanting to paint in a realistic way. They also go way beyond what gets highlighted when composition gets discussed in most forums and books.
James manages to be is very informative about past practices of leading illustrators as well as providing very clear explanations about traditional concepts and his own particular techniques developed over many years in his very successful career as a creative artist. In doing so, he maintains a very accessible writing style of the type used by the very best teachers.
I suspect some will hope this book will be published as a hardback as I think this will become a standard reference book and be used for many years to come.
| Highlights |
|Think Again? |
|Who should buy this?: |
This is a MUST BUY who all those need to create imaginary realism - even for those working in digital format! Including:
|Who should not buy this? |
|Author / (Publisher): James Gurney / Andrews McMeel Publishing |
|Technical data: |
I've been a long-time follower and reader of James Gurney's blog Gurney Journey. I also regularly highlight his blog posts in my weekly Sunday post "Who's made a mark this week?" Indeed sometimes it feels like I'm featuring him every week! One of the reasons for that is James is so generous in sharing his expertise as an artist and illustrator.
I've known for some time that he had a book planned and consequently it was great to be able to get hold of it, read it and now write this review.
This long time artist and author produces what he wants to do the way he wants to do it. He's writing about what he knows, he writes from a position of many years expertise and he shares an absolutely amazing amount of content and material.
It's very important to note that, at a time when many publishers of art instruction books are finding yet more ways to regurgitate existing content that they've already paid for into yet another format or cover, James Gurney confounds all the myths about the publication of art books.
- He tackles complex topics - and renders them easy to understand.
- He creates a book which appeals to those starting out and those who are experienced in this field.
- He packs a huge amount of information into one book rather than delivering a publication which is very thin in content terms.
- He tackles traditional concepts without any sense of the 'same old same old'.
A lot of what is in this book I'd already read on Gurney Journey. This has given James the opportunity to refine some of his material as prior publication on his blog means he's already got a very good sense of what interests his readers and devotees. I really enjoyed seeing it all again in book form and there's something about having it all together in a logical sequence which I think creates an overall sum which is greater than the parts.
You should also read Charley Parker's review on Lines and Colors - Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist. This one will particularly appeal to the fantasy artists and illustrators reading this.
This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. If you find somebody to buy you a copy as a present for Christmas I guarantee you'll have read it before the New Year arrives! :)
- Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist by James Gurney
- This review and book are now included in my resource The Best Books about Drawing and Sketching