Art Journal Courage
Published by North Light Books
When I reviewed Dina Wakley’s last book Art Journal Freedom, I loved its approach to surface design, composition and use of colour. This book is about facing your fears if you have trouble getting over hurdles in your approach to surface design.
This book is also like its predecessor in that it is a really inspirational book. It broaches common stumbling blocks in this kind of approach to design, and provides step-by-step tutorials on how to overcome them. They are fearless in their approach, but effective in their results.
Most of us will have the general assortment of tools and materials that are required for surface design and journaling. Pens, paper, inks, paints, stencils, stamps and baby wipes make up the core materials that are used in this book, and these basics will cover you for some of the exercises. The book starts with prompts and encouragements to give you an idea of what you could include in your designs. Here there is a good section on using your handwriting, with encouragement to practice if you feel your writing is not of a good enough standard. Practice is the key word here, with particular attention to drawing. The suggestion that people ‘can’t draw’ is refuted and the emphasis put on practice, even if you just start with one shape drawn again and again, day after day. Saying that, there is no pretension show here and a section (and further exercises) covers tracing, with Dina Wakley assuring us all that many artists use tracing as a method of getting started or ensuring the correct proportions and perspectives are achieved. No-one need feel under pressure to do without some assistance if it gets you moving onto the next stage.
Dina Wakley’s work often contains portraits or silhouettes and the use of yourself in your art is covered in several ways, and there is a great tutorial for creating a stencil of yourself which I followed easily. This is a good section for including figures, whether by using photos which are incorporated or painted over, or by tracing or cutting out figures.
It is a great book to follow on from Art Journal Freedom and I think it encourages the reader not to make excuses, but find ways of finding your artistic expression.
Originally published in June 2015 in Workshop on the Web
Art Journal Freedom by Dina Wakley
Published by North Light Books
If you love the freedom of style you see in Art Journalling but can never seem to replicate it in a successful way, it might be that your composition and colour choices are a bit off. This book acknowledges that this artform can be very much a means of personal expression, but it does all seem to go wrong, there is a way of rectifying those problems.
This is a pretty amazing book in terms of all the subjects it covers, the examples of work shown throughout and the wealth of knowledge that is imparted here. The book is split into 2 sections, dealing with Colour, and Composition. Each of these sections has 4 chapters each with a ‘Putting it all together’ chapter at the end.
It is incredibly informative, with in-depth explorations of each area. The Composition chapters are on Symmetry and Asymmettry, using white space as a way of creating a striking piece of work, how to work with dominant images, using the rule of thirds, and text. There is too much to list here, but any reader who is struggling with design and placement will really benefit from the tutorials given here.
In terms of colour, there is a look at how to use the colour wheel, creating a colour palette for different effects, using contrasting colours, inks, gel mediums, colours to create visual paths and also using black and white to compose work (rather than concentrate on colourful colours).
Overall, this is a book packed with incredibly useful information and filled with examples of the author’s work, of which there is a huge amount, and all used to illustrate the points being made. If you are looking to jazz up your sketchbooks, or experiment with Art Journalling, this would make a fantastic starting point, and one which the reader is unlikely to tire of.
Originally published in Workshop on the Web September 2013 issue.
Art at the Speed of Life by Pam Carriker
Published by Interweave Press
Life moves to fast for most of us. And being creative can fall further down the pecking order when there are more pressing chores to be done. But this book goes some of the way to making you rethink your priorities and fit in art every day.
The book is structured into 7 chapters and at the heart of it, is a Seven-Day Journal, one section in each chapter. In these, you are given instructions on making a journal of your own within the 7-day time span. Time is of the essence here, and each segment is short but effective (from making your Ten Minute Journal, to painting the pages and transferring images onto it and so on). There are also musings by other artists on how they find their time, and suggestions on how you can too. But in addition to the Journal project, there are also other projects for you to tackle – ‘Artist Spotlight Project’ and ‘Speed of Life Project’ including making toilet paper maché!
I liked the way that this book did not lecture you on making more time for yourself, but included real artists telling you how they achieved it, giving you food for thought about what you can achieve, and gave you small but effective projects that when tackled would give you a sense of achievement, but also scope to expand on. I’m glad I made the time to read it!