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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop

  • Title: Surface treatment Workshop
  • Author: Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson
  • Publisher: North Light Books
  • ISBN: 13: 978-1-4403-0824-6
  • ISBN: 10: 1-4403-0824-6

My Reason for Buying

I’m a fan of mixed media art and since I have collected more colours and mediums, I was looking for some inspiration as to how to get some of the cool effects I’ve seen people create. When I saw this book on Amazon and the sort of thing it contained, it looked ideal. I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

After an overview of the materials you will need to ‘play along’ the book breaks down into the following sections.

Techniques covers: Additive, Resist, Subtractive or combination.

  • Additive; meaning you are adding something to the surface
  • Subtractive; meaning you are removing parts or areas of earlier layers
  • Combination; meaning a combination of both the above.

Inspirational Projects: Step by step projects, featuring techniques learnt earlier in the book

Resources

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • At the start of the book there is useful information about archival quality of the techniques. Not everything shown in the book is intended to or will last for a substantial length of time. Each technique warns you of the archival quality so you know if you use it, whether it is a ‘keeper’ or not. VERY helpful, especially if you were creating art that you intent to gift/sell or put in a memory box.
  • You are also advised as to what kind of surface any technique will be suitable for.
  • Each technique is given a double page spread. The first page is a photographed step by step, with details for what tools and materials you will need, what surface it will work best on and its archival quality (How well it will last). As well as tips to make the technique your own. On the opposite page there are a number of finished examples, showing the technique used in a variety of ways, there is a brief description of what was used in each one.
  • Some of the techniques involve household items, so things you will have to hand
  • A variety of techniques to suit all skill levels and ideal for the adventurous, or those who want to be more adventurous but aren’t sure how.

Cons

  • There are a few things in there that I haven’t seen in the UK, (no idea what Rinse Aid is?) That said, there is a list of suppliers at the back of the book.

Value for Money

Excellent, like a recipe book for mixed media. If you aren’t keen on attending a workshop at an art store or can’t find a workshop that covers the techniques you are interested in, then this book will save you a fortune! Learn at your own pace and with the colours/materials that you like and enjoy.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, great for dipping into, or finding out how to use that pot of medium you either bought and just look at bewildered or have heard about but don’t know what to do with.

Summing up

This is a great book for those wanting to get more from their supplies and find new ways to use them. If you are a fan of mixed media then there are loads of techniques in here that will really inspire you. If you already use acrylic paints, then you are likely to have most of the core kit and can just add in a few mediums that tempt you, when you see what can be done with them.

The fact that the book explains the longevity of the technique, is really helpful. If you were creating a special project that you wanted to hand down through the family, this will help you choose which technique will stand the test of time. Not everything you want to make needs to last decades but if its nice to know if it would damage something precious if left next to it ;)

The techniques shown in the book, are suitable for paper-crafters, as well as for wall art and dimensional projects too. A great selection that will help you out of your comfort zone and into the FUN exciting world of mixing your media together.

If you like mad science experiments with your materials, just to see what will happen, you will love this book. If you like projects with layers of hidden colours, textures, and with dimension and want to add more of these to your own style, then this is the book for you.

Links

  • Surface Treatment Workshop on Amazon

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; Billy Showell’s book; A – Z of Flower Portraits.

A - Z of Flower Portraits Book by Billy Showell

A – Z of Flower Portraits Book by Billy Showell

  • Title: A-Z of Watercolour Flower Portraits
  • Author: Billy Showell
  • Publisher: Search Press
  • ISBN: 978-1-84448-452-2
  • Price: £17.99 (at time of writing)

My Reason for Buying

I wanted to improve my watercolour techniques, and especially colour mixing and blending. Since sketching trips have been difficult due to health issues, I decided the garden was full of flowers and would provide me with more opportunities to sketch. I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Composition
  • Materials and equipment
  • Techniques
  • The Flowers

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Plenty of techniques show step by step and photo descriptions at the start of the book
  • Finished paintings of the subjects are shown on the individual glower section
  • Colour mixes are shown next to the flowers and the colours used for the mixes are listed too
  • Smaller pictures of sections of the flower at different stages are shown, which helps you see how the layers progress
  • Process of the painting is described, but shortened as the description of the techniques them selves is just at the beginning.

Cons

  • Haven’t got any

Value for Money

Excellent, I’ve learnt a lot from this book. It’s an excellent colour reference for new flower painters.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally. I have the hard back version and recommend you get that if you can, as this is such a useful reference book. The hard back will stay open next to you more easily than a paper back.

Summing up

Although the only ‘photographs’ are in the techniques section at the start, each flower is shown completed and very clever partially completed pictures are also shown around the page too. I like to see how the layers build up and is often several layers in, before your flower will look like Billies. There is a description of the painting process next to each flower.

This is a beautiful book, a great reference guide for techniques and colour mixes but if you are just starting out and struggle to complete a painting before you subjects wilt, then I’m also enjoying learning to paint different flower/leaf and petal shapes by copying small sections of the images in the book.

Billy is an amazing artist and an excellent teacher too. There is also a DVD available separately that shows the complete process for three flowers; a narcissi, a hellebore and an anemone. This is available from the SAA (See link on my Art tab at the top of the blog). If you have never tried this style of painting before, get the DVD as well as it helps seeing the techniques in action and reinforces the process shown in the book.

A beautiful book and extremely helpful and informative. Highly recommended for anyone interested in paining flowers in watercolour.

Links

Do visit the authors website, where you can not only purchase the book and DVD but also find out about where she teaches.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter.

The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter

The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter

  • Title: The Pulse of Mixed Media
  • Author: Seth Apter
  • Publisher: North Light Books
  • ISBN: 13:978-1-4403-1070-6

My Reason for Buying

I discovered Seth Apter after taking an online class with Julie Prichard and visited his site. Seth is not only an amazing artist in his own right but also very empowering and encouraging to new artists too. I’ve taken part in several of his online collaboration projects and when he put a call out for people to take part in a survey for his new book, I jumped at the chance and submitted my answers to the questions he pose. I couldn’t wait to see what he book would become and was overjoyed to discover that something I submitted was to be included in the book. Now the book has been released in the UK and I’ve read it, here are my thoughts.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

  • Taking the Pulse
  • Spotlight Artists
  • Section One: The Artistic Ingredient
  • Section Two: Passion in Action
  • Section Three: Secrets Revealed
  • Over 100 Artists

Pros/Cons

Pros

This book is unlike any other art book I’ve seen and I love it. Often we create alone, not everyone is a member of an art club or community and this book is full of the thoughts, hopes, dreams and insecurities of REAL everyday artists. I love that there are famous names that I recognize from the mixed media online world and from Stampington fame, but also people I haven’t heard of.

There are links to websites or blogs of artists involved, so if you discover someone you would like to know more about you can visit their sites.

Each section has a series of questions and responses from the artists, either in writing or in artworks or both. I have to admit that I don’t understand assemblage art. I wouldn’t dis it, but I had no idea at the meanings and messages that people have behind that style of art. It was fascinating to learn more about different styles of art.

It was wonderful to hear the journeys that the artists have been on, that others have insecurities about their creations and to get to hear about the thoughts behind so many projects was amazing. Often books just give a photo a title and the artist’s name. You don’t get to hear the back story to what motivated them to create the piece or what they feel about it. You do in Seth’s book.

This isn’t a ‘how to’ book, but it has a wealth of inspiration, both from the art works included, and from the questions or prompts that Seth gave the artists.

Cons

I haven’t got any.

Value for Money

Excellent.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally, I have been inspired and encouraged by what I read in the book.

Summing up

This book is like Seth’s whole philosophy  enquiring, encouraging, engaging and empowering. I cannot think of a better gift to give an artist who likes this style of art or who wants to learn more about it.

Is this book for you? If you can say yes to any of the following questions then this book is for you

  • If you create alone and wonder if you are an artist
  • If you are curious about the world of mixed media and want to know more about it and the people who create it.
  • If you enjoy Seth Apter’s blog and the artists you find there.
  • In Seth’s words ‘If you want to know what makes a mixed media artist tic’

Then this book is for you.

The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter (Back Cover)

The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter (Back Cover)

Am I biased because I’m in the book? No, I bought my copy, just like I hope you will too.  I am biased however, because I love Seth’s work and his encouraging, empowering philosophy. He is an incredible artist but he hasn’t used that in a negative ‘I’m better than you’ way, he’s used it to encourage others to follow and artistic life. It might not be the easiest path, but it is very rewarding.

Seth I wish you had been my art teacher at school, I wouldn’t have wasted 20 years trying to unlearn the negative self talk and self-doubt the teacher I did have, gave me. I have finally moved past most of that and can now embrace art, enjoy the process and experiment to discover the results with different mediums. Sure it doesn’t always work out, but now that’s ok, I’m learning about the materials as long as I have learnt something when things don’t turn out as I expected then its a journey. Thank you for showing me that art isn’t just one style (as I was taught), that it can be so many different things to different people and every one is just as valid as the next. I might not like every art style I see, nor want to experiment with a certain style, but I am open to discovering new styles and the art world is so much bigger than I imagined. I have Seth Apter, Suzi Blu and Julie Prichard to thank for that, and to them I am forever grateful.

This is an amazing book, you need it.

Links

Do check out Seth Apter’s blog, its amazing. Every time I visit I want to get materials out and get painting, it always inspires me to create.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing; The Knitting Book published by DK.

The Knitting Book

The Knitting Book

  • Title:The Knitting Book; Yarns, Techniques, Stitches, Patterns
  • Author: Frederica Patmore and Vikki Haffenden
  • Publisher: DK
  • ISBN: 978-1-4053-6803-2
  • Price: RRP £25.00

My Reason for Buying

Although my late mother taught me the basics of knitting when I was little and I also have the Dummies Guide to knitting book as well. I bought this book for inspiration and information, being a novice newbie I wanted photos of how things would look knitted up. The Dummies Guide is good but has few photos.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

Tools and materials

  • Yarns, Knitting needles, Other equipment, Embellishments, Garment Care

Stitch Pattern Gallery

  • Knit and purl stitch patterns, In creasing and Decreasing, Increasing and Decreasing: Flower Patterns, Cable and Twist Stitch Patterns, Lace Stitch Patterns, Colourwork Patterns, Faux Colourwork Patterns, Edging Patterns, Medallions, Beading Stitch Patterns.

Techniques

  • Key Techniques, Preparing and Repairing, Following Stitch Patterns, Following a Pattern, Increases  and Decreases, Cables and Twists, I-Cord, Lace Knitting, Colourwork, Textural and Colour Effects, Structural Effects, Short Rows, Circular Knitting, Reverse, Twist Knit, and Tunisian, Finishing Details, Embellishments, Knitted Toys, Felted Knitting, Using Unusual Yarns

Projects

Stitch Patterns

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Superbly laid out, easy to use for reference
  • No prior knowledge of the subject needed
  • Covers a huge amount of topics
  • Projects to suit a wide range of knitters, kids toys and clothes, homewares, men’s gloves, women’s hats, socks scarves and shawls. Something for all ages.
  • Step by step photos of techniques, so you can see, as well as read, what you are meant to be doing.
  • The Stitch library shows photos of finished stitch samples, so you can see what each looks like, then the Pattern library gives instruction for how to knit them.
  • Fabulous resource for a general overview of knitting.

Cons

  • This is a big book, so not particularly portable.

As a result though, it makes a great coffee table book, best buy it in hard back as it will become a firm favorite for reference use. Short of adding a DVD in there to physically show you techniques in action, this couldn’t get any better.

Value for Money

SUPERB! As a reference book it is fantastic as so many topics are covered in one volume.

Would I buy it Again?

Totally!

Summing up

DK really ‘get it’, when they make reference books. The clear and simple layout means when you want to look up something in particular, you can get there fast. The step by step photos are clear and the instructions assume no prior knowledge of the subject and take you through all you need to become really advanced. They don’t talk to you as if you were a child, but neither do they bewilder you with terms to confuse you.

I love the stitch library, as you see just what stitch patterns will look like, the yarn section likewise has photos of different yarns knitted up, which when you are a newbie, is so helpful. Perhaps if you find a particular style that you like, you will want other books for a greater depth of that specifically, but as an all round reference book and to get you started in a new hobby, this book is a winner.

If you are a newbie and want to learn, this book is fantastic, if you have knitted a while and want to increase your pattern knowledge this book is for you too. There are some handy patterns in there, that would make up into nice gifts and plenty of inspiration. I have the sewing version of this book too, and this is just as good as that one is. A fantastic series, I’ll be on the look out to see if there are more in the range.

I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in knitting

Links

Highly worth the RRP, but we all like a bargain, and this book can also be found on Amazon ;)

  • Publisher
  • The Knitting Book on Amazon

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Winsor & Newton, Heavy weight wire O Sketch book

Winsor & Newton, Heavy weight wire O Sketch book

Product Details

  • Manufacturer/Brand; Winsor and Newton
  • Item number; 6679247
  • RRP at time of writing: £5

Reason For Buying

Needed a hard backed sketchbook, I wanted a wire binding as I find it hard to hold open the sewn bound books when on location. especially if it is a windy day!

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • A5; 14.8 cm x 21.0 cm.
  • 50 sheets
  • 170 gsm/ 80 lb weight paper
  • Heavy weight paper; good for pencil, ink, pen & ink and light washes of watercolour
  • Acid free
  • Great size, portable without being too bulky or heavy
  • Wire bound means you can fold extra pages out-of-the-way
  • Super smooth paper
  • Lovely for sketching, drawing and light washes of watercolour.

Cons

Not got any, this is my favorite sketchbook for location sketching.

Build Quality

Superb! Wipe clean cover, sturdy, robust and not too heavy. Have had mine years and it’s still in great condition.

Value for Money

Superb

Would I buy it Again?

Yes! Highly recommended for sketching.

Summing up

I love everything about this sketchbook. I can fold it back on itself so only have the page I’m working on, to hold onto. The hard covers are especially good  for field trips if you don’t want to carry a board with you. This sketchbook has a superb surface to create onto. Pencil and ink glide over the surface. You can watercolour onto it without much page warping, if you don’t put much water on. Perfect too for watercolour pencils.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;

Beading Design by Kim Gover

Beading Design by Kim Gover

  • Title: Beading Design with semi precious stones
  • Author: Kim Gover
  • Publisher: David and Charles
  • ISBN: 13:978-0-7153-3011-1    ISBN: 10:0-7153-3011-X
  • RRP £12.99

My Reason for Buying

I haven’t bought this yet.. the book I’m reviewing I found in the library. I wanted it as it had lots of information about different stone and what colours they were, as well as some really nice projects too.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

Introduction, About this book, Materials & Tools, Buying Gemstones

  • Chapter 1; The Stones
  • Chapter 2; The Directory; Projects selector, Necklaces, Bracelets, Earings, Matching sets, other accessories 
  • Chapter 3; Core Techniques
  • Resources 

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Very useful information about buying gemstones, in person as well as online
  • Stones are sorted by colour in the first chapter, Great if you are new and have a colour scheme in mind and need to know which gems come in those colours.
  • In the first chapter, each stone has the following information; Typical colours, Popular forms, Relative cost, combinations and facts.
  • Project selector has a many projects, with close up photos and including a list of beads and materials used
  • Core Techniques covers a selection of wire work for decoration, as fasting and as closures
  • Resource List; has links to online sires, retailers, books and magazines

Cons

Haven’t got any.

Value for Money

Excellent,  Great resource book if you want to use quality stones but have no prior knowledge or experience.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes. It’s definately going on my wish list of books I need to buy.

Summing up

The information about stones is fantastic, and suitable of all abilities. The projects section has no actual step by step photos of how projects are created, so prior knowledge, even at a basic level (or with a technique book next to you) will help you get more from this book if you are a complete novice. There is however a close up of each finished piece with a label next to the component parts and a full list of beads and materials used.

This book is ideal if you have made a few pieces before and are looking for new ideas, its great to use for inspiration and as a jumping off point for your own ideas.

I need more practice before I’m ready for the higher quality stones, but I’ll definitely get this book as there are some lovely designs in there and the stone list at the front will be really useful.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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Welcome Back

In today’s post I will be reviewing;  a few books collectivly. Dover Clip Art CD ROM books.

Dover Publications; Clip Art CDROMs & Books

Dover Publications; Clip Art CDROMs & Books

  • Publisher: Dover Books

My Reason for Buying

I’ve had these books for a while now. I wanted some oriental images for cards and book covers and it was getting very expensive to buy stamps. With the CD ROMs I have the option of resizing the image in a graphics package. Useful if I want to make a batch of similar cards/projects.

I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose ;)

Contents

These books contain the images that you will find on the CD ROM. When you put the CD into the computer you need to instal the reader for the images, but not the images themselves so it doesn’t take up too much space on your computer. Some of the books contain pre coloured images, others just black and white outlines. Refer to the copyright agreement in the front of the book to check what is and isn’t acceptable use of the images before you start using them.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Space saving; To get this many images in rubber stamps would take up an awful lots of space, the discs and books offer you lots of images on each disk and take up next to no space to store.
  • Cost effective; You get a lot of images on each disk, it would be a lot more expensive to buy stamps for each image.

The biggest advantage for me was the option of being able to print multiple images on a single sheet and to be able to resize the images too. You do need to take the jpeg that is on the desk into a graphic packgage or Word document to be able to do this. Straight from the disc you would get a single image on your page in the size the disk gives you.

Cons

Not a con as such, but if you do choose to enlarge the image in a graphics package, don’t over do it. If you increase the size of the image from the disc too much it will pixilate.

Value for Money

Excellent, these are a great visual resource. You can use them for all kinds of creative work. Simply print an idividual image to colour in, or use as a template to create on a range of surfaces. I’ve printed one of these off and traced a design onto a wooden blank to burn using Pyrography. Do check the small print for what is and isn’t acceptable use for the images before you create something for profit though.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I am building quite a collection of these books on a range of subjects.

Summing up

These books are great. The book gives you a visual reference for whats on the disc, which is nice as you can sit and browse through till you find an image you want to use then print off your favorite one. Once you open the image if you put it into something like Word you can alter the size, which is useful. I like these books and highly recommend you try them out.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

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