So you may have noticed my absence last month (or not). This is not due to ghostly activity, rather the sudden upheaval of my life thanks to my landlord/ Estate agents.
Our original landlord died last year and her estate was passed on to family members. Our little house was given to one of her relatives who decided he wanted to sell. That’s fine, totally his prerogative. However the estate agents who have been handling the estate are- not to put a too finer point on it- shit.
They claim they told us of his intentions (they didn’t), they claim they gave us the opportunity to secure our house for 12 months (they so didn’t) and they claim their communication was up to date (bollocks).
The next thing I heard I had to stay home as various potential landlords were paraded through my house to see if they wanted to buy it. I was told that it was ‘likely’ we’d be permitted to stay in the property. But a few of the people who came through asked how soon we’d be able to leave.
Rather than wait to be pushed we looked for a new place to live immediately and, thankfully, found a newly renovated place close by which wasn’t too much extra per month. We were given the go-ahead to move in and had two weeks to pack, transfer and set up all-new utilities.
My computer and craft stuff, as well as the majority of my books, have been in boxes for the entire month of October and so I’m just now getting around to writing reviews of books I’ve been reading.
I had intended to do Non-Stop Netgalley November in which I posted a review every single day of November of a Netgalley read to catch up on my percentage.
Instead, I have been opening boxes and dealing with insurance companies and energy companies and blah blah woof woof.
Here is the first set of Not-So Non-Stop Netgalley November posts.
Title: The Draw any Animal Book
Author: Robert Lambry
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication Date: 15th October 2019
In the 1920s and 30s, French artist Robert Lambry (1902–1934) created a series of charming step-by-step lessons for drawing animals for a weekly children’s paper. They were later compiled into a book Les Animaux Tels Qu’ils Sont (Animals as They Are) and now, almost 100 years later, these beautiful lineworks will guide you to drawing perfection.
I didn’t realise that these were serialised in a newspaper but after going through them I could see how this would work, especially for children.
Each drawing is, at maximum, five steps and very do-able. The end result is realistic in so far as there is very little actual detail but the outline is definitely there so you can tell what each animal was supposed to be.
It starts with the basic shapes of circle, squares and lines and you gradually fill in the outline. Many of the animals are drawn several times in different poses and from different angles so you really get a feel for what the animal is supposed to look like. And, thankfully, there isn’t a huge section at the start on what materials to use; you just get straight into the drawing.
I love the sheer variety of animals here. There are the usual elephant, bear and dogs and cats, but there are also some animals you wouldn’t typically get in a drawing book like locusts, auks, crickets and buffalo.
I loved it and would highly recommend it for kids who are starting drawing or for adults who want a comprehensive reference for line drawing animals.
Title: The Art of Watercolor lettering
Author: Kelly Klapstein
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication Date: 21st October 2019
Learn to letter beautifully with watercolour. (I’m British, as far as I’m concerned, colour has a ‘u’ in it.)
In this stunning follow-up to her first book, The Art of Brush Lettering, lettering expert Kelly Klapstein (popular on Instagram as @kellycreates) shares her secrets for mastering the essential techniques for creating lovely modern lettering and calligraphy with watercolour.
With The Art of Watercolor Lettering, you’ll learn how to master the medium—and how to go with the watercolour flow—to create one-of-a-kind lettered art and calligraphy that reflects your unique personal style.
I think I remember reviewing her first book and found it pretty but somewhat uninspiring. This one has slightly more heart in that there is a variety in her styles. it isn’t just simple calligraphy with paints but she shows you how to edge and adapt and mix the colours to make a beautiful array of effects. I also liked the section at the end for practising your strokes in different forms so you could have a couple of stylistic choices for your lettering.
The first 30 pages, however, cover what materials you will need and a rather odd paragraph about what watercolour paints actually are. If you have bought a book about how to watercolour letters, surely you already know what watercolour paints are?
Slight detour here
Which leads me to a rant I’ve been bottling up for some time. I hate how the first half of most craft books are ‘here are the materials you want to use’. Now I get it if this is a beginners guide to something or for someone starting out for the very first time. But most of these books are not for beginners, they are for intermediate, advanced or at least someone who has an inkling of what is involved. Take this one for instance.
If you are thinking about using watercolours in lettering you have either used watercolours before and want to expand into lettering or you’ve watched Youtube videos of someone doing it and thought you’d like to have a go. It’s rare to go into a shop, find a book called The Art of Watercolour lettering without knowing ANYTHING about watercolours, paints, and calligraphy (or hand-lettering as it’s called here) and buy it. By the same process if you have a book called ‘Papercrafts’, surely you KNOW you need paper. If you have bought a book about knitting patterns you must have some rudimentary knowledge of how to knit. Right? RIGHT?
So why do they take up to a third of the book telling you what you already know? Is it just me who thinks this? Am I alone here?
If you know nothing about watercolour or hand lettering buy it. It’s pretty.
Title: Crafting Cute Polymer Clay the Kawaii way
Author: Danielle Clark
Publisher: Rock Point
Publication Date: 26th Nov 2019
Let Dani Banani of the popular Etsy shop FunUsual Suspects show you how to make 50 kawaii creations out of inexpensive and easy-to-find polymer clay. Kawaii—the culture of cuteness, originating in Japan—is everywhere, and it’s time to join the cuteness revolution with these amazingly fun projects.
With information to get you started, including techniques on softening the clay, colour mixing, and baking, Crafting Cute will have you delightfully sculpting in no time.
After 2 pages (TWO PAGES PEOPLE, THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE) of materials. She gets right into the cute making of a pineapple charm. She tells you the dimensions and which exact colour to use to get the same effect as her and gives you a little box of possible alternatives for your charms e.g. make two to use as earrings, change the colours and the facial expression.
Each of the creations is very kawaii and look really simple to make. She has given a great deal of thought into which photographs to use so that each page looks simple, effective and just plain adorable.
I am definitely making the ‘when pigs fly’ mobile. And maybe the cactus charms. And the jellyfish planter. They are all so damn CUTE!!!!
Title: The Ultimate Fluid Pouring and Painting Project book
Author: Jane Monteith
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication Date: Nov 12th 2019
Discover and master the fun, creative, and colourful methods of fluid pouring and painting with 10 projects, customizable to your personal vision and open to endless variation.
Fluid pouring and painting can result in beautiful, organic, and abstract designs that can be captured on special papers, canvas and board substrates, used to make gorgeous lampshades, poured into moulds or dishes to create coasters, geodes, and agate slices, and can even be formed into vases, vessels, and bowls.
I do like the art form of fluid pouring, it’s very cathartic to watch as the paint slides out of the container and spreads leisurely across the paper like a slow-moving volcanic flow. It’s soothing, hypnotic and oddly beautiful as the colours merge and change.
However, by its very nature, it isn’t something that you can copy and reproduce or teach. It’s chaotic and creative and so I was sceptical about a book detailing how it’s done. Thankfully Jane Monteith recognises that and only offers advice on how to apply the blending solution and what colours to avoid to ensure your painting doesn’t become like mud. She says things like “Choose three colours,” and “Add a fully saturated second colour” which leaves the creative process entirely in your own hands but guided by a master.
Gorgeous book and very useful to anyone who wants to get into ink pouring. Just be aware that for later projects some heavier machinery is required, like a saw, sander and drill.
Title: Inspired Artist: Draw every Little Thing
Author: Flora Waycott
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Publication Date: October 1st 2019
Learn to draw and paint more than 100 of your favourite everyday items! Step-by-step projects and creative inspiration make it fun and easy.
The Inspired Artist series invites art hobbyists and casual art enthusiasts to have fun learning basic art concepts, relaxing into the creative process to make art in a playful, contemporary style. With Draw Every Little Thing, the first book in this new series, you can learn to draw and paint your favourite everyday items.
From learning to draw and paint plants, flowers, and bicycles to the neighbourhood café and the contents of the kitchen cabinet, this contemporary drawing book demonstrates just how easy it is to render the world around you with little more than a pencil, paper, and paint.
I thought this would be a great little book on how to make items look realistic but the book was very basic in giving any details. (Continue rant on exactly how much of the book to give to what materials to use.) The end results were a little cartoonish and basic but I really enjoyed the little projects sprinkled throughout; they gave good inspiration for things to draw.
The drawings reminded me a little of Kath Kidston or maybe even basic children’s books style illustrations. I think this would be a fun book if you wanted to head into that area but not if you wanted your drawings to look life-like or realistic.
Title: The Vlogger’s Handbook
Author: Shane Birley
Publisher: White Lion Publishing
Publication Date: 7th September 2019
This fun, comprehensive guide to vlogging delivers the skills and tips you need to get started, produce a professional look, develop your skill level, and cultivate your creativity.
With a fresh, stylish design and bite-sized text and project prompts, this is a no-nonsense approach to learning about vlogging. Includes sections on Setting up and uploading a vlog, Inspiration, How to storyboard a vlog, Lighting and props, Advanced video skills, Editing your vlog, Adding sounds and effects, Building an audience and making your vlog pay.
At first, I thought this was going to be very childish and not really relevant to me (Yes I am thinking of vlogging) but the chapter about safety really changed my mind.
It goes into real detail about how to avoid being doxxed and defrauded and has some great advice. Despite the childish drawings and set-type, it was really very informative without being too patronising and I am thinking about buying a copy for myself.
I think you should buy it for this paragraph alone.
Title: The Little Book of Drawing Dragons and Fantasy Characters
Author: Michael Dobrycki, Bob Berry, Cynthia Knox Meredith Dillman
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Publication Date: September 3rd 2019
Featuring drawing lessons, step-by-step projects, and open practice pages, The Little Book of Drawing Dragons & Fantasy Characters teaches beginning artists how to draw dragons, fairies, mythological beasts, and more.
I love drawing mythological beasts and figured this would be a great start. There were fantastic drawings to copy and I loved the linework. However, and this is a problem I find with many of these books, they give you steps 1-5 of how to draw the basic creature and then their next drawing is fully coloured in with shading and scales and your drawing looks nothing like the finished product. I would love to have a step by step on shading and making your drawing look realistic.
Also included is a VERY LARGE section on materials but I think I’ve given my opinion on that. There was a large variety of different types of dragon and other mythological creatures so I was happy with the choice.
I’d really like a more in-depth look at rendering scales, fur and other aspects to make it look more realistic but this was a very good beginners tool for drawing these creatures.
Title: How to embroider almost everything
Author: Wendi Grayz
Publisher: Quarry Books
Publication date: 22 October 2019
How to Embroider Almost Everything is an inspiring, fun, and sophisticated collection of 500+ stitch motifs from embroidery designer Wendi Gratz that offers a fresh new take on embroidery.
- Get a detailed checklist of everything you’ll need to embark on your stitch journey: threads, needles, fabric, and more.
- Find step-by-step tutorials for essential stitches and other techniques for creating the motifs, plus answers to common questions and invaluable tips and tricks.
- Explore an amazing 500+ modern motifs for almost everything, including people and pets, trees and flowers, everyday objects, food, home, and more. Either re-create the motifs exactly as shown using the accompanying templates and stitch guides, or give them your own creative spin by changing details and colours to suit your own style.
There are 126 pages in this book, minus the credits and ISBN stuff. 25 of them are about materials and how to sew.
Thankfully the rest of the book is very cute and informative, there are some lovely things to embroider especially the space creatures and the dinosaurs. They do all use one kind of thread which the author tells us is DMC6 strand but I suppose you could use a different type if you didn’t have access to that.
Cute and fun, I think the designs look easy as well as would work for beginners as well as the more advanced and, despite my annoyance at the Materials section it did give some handy hints on transferring your designs.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my Netgalley choices. Please feel free to comment on what you think of the INSANE amount of ‘what materials to use’ sections. Or tell me it’s all in my head.