No Plot? No Problem! by Christ Baty

Filed under:Art,Writing — posted by Randolph on September 26, 2020 @ 8:31 am

This book walks a writer through the process of participating in the National Novel Writing Month each November. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel during the month.

The book does deliver on its promise. It discusses the process of getting started, strategies and psychology of each week, and a winding-down process when done. Each chapter includes a key take-away recap.

The book has a lot of good points and uses her style of humor to help drive them home. She uses stories of several past participants to illustrate her points, and adds inspirational quotes from a number of participants in the key chapters. However, the humor is used to excess, even getting a bit old at times, and the points are few. With fewer than 200 pages, there isn’t a lot of content in the book.

The book is an easy read, it is enjoyable and the points it makes are good. I believe it should make more points and fewer jokes.

Creating Celtic Animal Designs by Cari Buziak

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on July 10, 2020 @ 7:40 am

This book give basic instruction on the design of Celtic knots containing animals. It describes a few of the traditional animals, the symbols used and how the elements are put together. Then it discusses new animal designs using the same style.

Overall, the book is nice and has clear instructions. I felt that there was a lot of wasted space and duplicate material. The book is small, 122 pages, so it feels like they were just trying to fill it out.

For each animal discussed, the book contains a section on creating the animal, then a section on including that in a full pattern. The second part varies very little from animal to animal and could have been a more general section in itself.

Overall, I am happy with the book. It has some very nice pictures of the author’s knots. I did get it well-discounted and might have been frustrated paying the $16.95 cover price.

Leather Crafting published by Tandy Leather Company

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on February 17, 2020 @ 4:35 pm

This is a good primer for leather working. It talks you through selecting and preparing leather, discusses basic use and care for the primary tools, stitching, dyeing and antiquing.

It won’t replace classes or instruction, but will prepare you for them. This is a much better option than The ABCs of Leatherwork: http://books.randolphking.co m/?p=1641.

Painting Sunlight and Shadow with Pastels by Maggie Price

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on December 16, 2019 @ 5:52 pm

This book is an instructional text for pastels. It’s focus is an using light and shadow to create form, addressing different lighting and shadow conditions. The author specifically addresses the predominant sky conditions, sunny, cloudy and rain. She also talks about color under these conditions, reflections and shadows. In each, the changes of color are discussed addressing the conditions affecting the light color and intensity.

Each section starts with a detailed description of what is going on with the light and why. Then proceeds to a number of step-by-step painting instructions that you can work through.

In addition, the paintings used as reference are very good, after working through the book, it still serves as a nice book to flip through for the images.

A few of the work-through paintings are done by different artist, giving a fuller study than the author (presumably) could provide on her own.

Although some of the instruction was rather obvious, I still enjoyed reading through the comments and the example paintings.

New Grounds: The Manual for Non-Toxic Etching by Regina Held and Ray Maseman

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on January 16, 2018 @ 1:47 pm


New Grounds: The Manual for Non-Toxic Etching by Regina Held and Ray Maseman

This books is a text for a class taught by New Grounds. But it does stand on its own very well.

The book start off with a historical introduction, then chapters describing techniques to etch and print a plate. After that it goes on to describe different techniques to create and apply grounds: hardground, aquatint, spit bite, softground, crayon softground, liftground, Crisco liftground, color proofing, Chine Collé and finally curing the print. Each chapter goes into step-by-step details to create the ground, etching, timing considerations and finally some common problems and their solutions.

This is a great book for beginners as well as intermediate-level printers. Maybe advanced, I can’t speak to that.

The Color of Pixar by Tia Kratter

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on September 28, 2017 @ 3:52 pm


The Color of Pixar by Tia Kratter

I received this book as part of the Early reviewer program on LibraryThing. I was a little disappointed and also enjoyed it.

First, the images are very good. I enjoy seeing what people can do using the technology.

Then, the book has a nice layout. The cover is appealing and the pages are colored to the visible light spectrum. It is very nice.

But, there is no text discussing the images, techology, nor the artists. I was expecting that kind of information. Second, the images seem to be inserted at random, there is no organization by theme, techniques, film or artist.

Last, the book is a little small. These images demand more space, there is a lot of information in them and they would have a better appeal if they were larger.

Overall, I like to book. It is pleasing and can fill a few random minutes of your day.

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write About Anything by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong

Filed under:Art,Writing — posted by Randolph on August 25, 2017 @ 3:20 pm


Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write About Anything by  Prof. Dorsey Armstrong

This lecture series provides a guide for writing critiques. It is one of the Great Courses lectures series presented by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University.

The lectures focus primarily on organizing your thoughts and getting them on paper in a well-structured and readable form. She also encourages reading in as broad a spectrum as you can manage. Then a lesser emphasis on analysis, which, for me, felt like it came more from making your own thoughts clear and concise, then getting them in written form.

She speaks clearly and is well-organized. This makes it easy for her to get her points across. Her thoughts are reflected in the accompanying booklet. Although I felt it was too close, as it is often verbatim. Having read the book first, I felt like large portions of the lecture were redundant.

The material does a good job of covering the subject, and it felt adequately in-depth. In 24 lectures, each just shy of a half-hour, she covers a lot of ground. Although most of the lectures either discuss the subject matter abstractly, she does draw good examples from several works including fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. One lecture is devoted to grammar, which I felt was more of a sore point for her and, for me, felt like it should have been outside the scope of this lecture series.

I felt the lectures were good and well worth the time. I listed to several of them multiple times.

Art Techniques for Line & Wash by Paul Taggart

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on March 17, 2017 @ 9:44 am

Art Techniques for Line & Wash by Paul Taggart

This book looks at the quality of line and different washes, comparing different media and styles to generate lines. Then looking at different media for the washes including watercolor, ink and acrylic.

It includes media that serve both purposes, such as watercolor pencils, non-waterproof inks and washes over pastel.

I didn’t feel the book had a lot to offer, but it is a quick and easy read and has nice art. I think there are better books to learn about line quality from.

Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting by Ian Roberts

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on August 13, 2016 @ 8:00 am

Mastering Composition: Techniques and Principles to Dramatically Improve Your Painting by Ian Roberts

This is a wonderful book for learning composition. I felt that Ian Roberts broke the concepts down and explained them well. He discusses different compositional forms with examples and explains whey they work.

There are a lot of examples from his own work, discussing why it works and what some subtle changes could do to it.

The book includes a dvd. The technical quality of the DVD is poor, I had to turn the sound on my tv almost to maximum to hear it adequately, and the dvd buzzed in the player.

But after that, the content was excellent. He showed most of the pictures in the book, and showed them with alterations while discussing what these alterations do to the eye movement. Then he goes through the same video again without the voice so you can see and feel the effects yourself. The dvd is an excellent addition to the book.

Landscape Painting Essentials by Johannes Vloothuis

Filed under:Art — posted by Randolph on March 9, 2016 @ 10:25 am

Landscape Painting Essentials by Johannes Vloothuis

The author has studied many paintings to gather what he believes are the essential rules of composition. He presents these as simple rules and provides examples of their use. He also has several step-by-step painting examples that expand on the compositional instruction he’s providing.

The book is composed of seven chapters which collect different concepts based on the chapter heading. These include (roughly) how we see, abstract shapes, color theory, movement, simplify, shape repetition and depth. The top of each page is further color coded to help finding sections of the book.

Overall, the book is excellent. It is easy to read. The examples really help teach the subject and make the concepts stick, I feel just reading this book will improve my composition in both plein aire and working from reference material. I believe a second reading will help even further.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace