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"Listen to everyone. Ideas come from everywhere." Tom Peters

Art-Book Reviews by Nita Leland

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Visitors to Exploring Color & Creativity Web Site have asked me to save my mini book reviews when I put new ones up on the main page. So here they are, to give you a quick overview of books I've reviewed. The books are not sorted alphabetically, so browse through the pages to see what is here.

flying colors Flying Colors is one of the most moving and inspiring books I've read in years. It isn't a feel-good self-help book. It's the story of a remarkable group of artists who were lifted up to artistic achievement through the efforts of the artist/author, Tim Lefens. The transformative power of art and the determined efforts of this one man made an enormous difference in the lives of a group of profoundly disabled people, bringing them into the mainstream of life from an institutional doldrums. Please read this book and also my essay based on the book.

searching artist withinSearching for the Artist Within by Karlyn Holman is subtitled: An inspirational and visual guide for your journey through watercolor. This book is jam-packed with ideas to jump-start your creativity in watercolor. Holman has used the work and words of more than thirty watercolor painters to exemplify many different styles. The book is colorful and exciting, maybe a bit jumbled here and there, but nevertheless, a useful tool for artists at many different skill levels. Journaling, spirituality, design, techniques and mixed media are some of the many topics covered.

botanical illustrationEleanor Wunderlich's book, Botanical Illustration in Watercolor is a good introduction to many aspects of drawing and painting flowers, shrubs and trees, fruits and vegetables, weeds, seed pods and mushrooms. The book is lavishly illustrated with full-color reproductions of many plant subjects and detailed drawings and diagrams of how to proceed with their study and representation. Materials and techniques are discussed adequately, as well as suggestions for set-up in the botanical illustrator's studio. Presentation and business aspects are briefly mentioned. There is an extensive bibliography appended to the book.

draw horses Drawing and Painting Horses by Barbara Oelke strikes me as a useful book for equine artists. It begins with a summary of equine art traditions through many centuries of art. The book covers equine anatomy and motion with diagrams of skeletal structure and musculature and detailed drawings of legs, feet, head, eyes, ears and muzzle. Basic gaits are covered, as well. Information on painting media is rather slim, but there is a section on elements of composition and a simplified approach to drawing horses. The book concludes with a painting demonstration and a few tips for professional equine artists.

painting hot landscapes Painting Red Hot Landscapes That Sell! by Mike Svob is subtitled: A sure-fire way to stop boring and start selling everything you paint in oils. Svob's work is strong and colorful and his book contains a great many useful tips for artists on materials, design, values and edges. The emphasis on selling is too heavy-handed for me, though. The question "What makes these paintings bestsellers?" is repeated numerous times and becomes tiresome. However, there is a lot to learn from this book if you can get past that.

enduring visions Enduring Visions by Abby Remer is a collection of works showing women's artistic heritage around the world. From the sacred and secular to the political and traditional, Remer has researched women's art in Africa, the Arab world, Asia, the Caribbean, eastern Europe, Latin America, Oceania and the United States and Canada. The book is beautifully illustrated and very informative. The art work ranges from painting and sculpture to richly patterned fiber arts and painted eggs.

chinese paintingKwan Jung's Chinese Brush Painting Step-by-step. incorporates easy-to-follow instructions and demos for this ancient art. The illustrations lack the elegance of many examples I've seen of Oriental brush painting, but they are delightful, just the same, and very doable. I recommend that my watercolor students take a class in brush painting to learn brush control. This style of painting helps you to learn to paint more directly with less fussiness. I like the spiral binding that allows the book to lie flat on your drawing table while you work through the demos.

colored pencil explorations Colored Pencil Explorations. by Jane Gildow is a gorgeous book, and it delivers content, too. An interesting section in the beginning explains how colored pencils are made, followed by a discussion on how to buy them. Demos by Gildow and several other outstanding colored pencil artists show how to combine colored pencil effectively with pastels, watercolors and acrylics. The book concludes with a section of creative techniques. The author is a teacher and her instruction is clear and concise. Well done! Visit Janie's web site.

creative photographyJohn Carucci's book, The New Media Guide to Creative Photography. covers image capture and printing in the digital age with both digital and film cameras. In this helpful book, Carucci discusses equipment, but as you might expect, some of it is already out-of-date. However, the sections on composition and creative manipulation of images are timeless and well worth reading. A useful starter's guide for Photoshop is included. There are some used copies available at Amazon Marketplace. Find out-of-print and used books by searching for the title and clicking on the "Used and New" link.

oil pastelHere's a book that makes me want to find my unopened box of oil pastels and give them a whirl. John Elliot's Oil Pastel for the Serious Beginner is a clear explanation of the medium with excellent pages on making marks, blending and using solvents. There is information on using oil pastels with oil paints, water-soluble oils, acrylics, watercolor, gouache and collage, as well. Demonstrations of still-life painting, portraits and figures and the landscape are included. Oil pastel is a handy medium for doing on-location sketching or preparatory layouts for oil painting.

Be sure to check out my Awesome Book List page for hundreds of recommended books with direct links to for reviews and ordering.

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