Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reviewing "Sketching School" by Judy Martin

Good morning,

I was browsing the art shelves at a great little used book store, "The Used Book Emporium" in Longmont, Colorado. I was on a sketchbookbinge, and what should reveal itself on that shelf, but a copy of Sketching School by author Judy Martin.

It's dust jacket front promised 'complete with projects and a gallery of inspirational drawings. The back of the dust jacket followed up with 'let sketching school be your personal tutor, 40 specially designed projects, stepbystep instruction, sketching demonstrations by leading artists'. What's not to love about all that, right?

The book opens, and it's full of Stan Smith drawings (plus others) which is an auto-magnet. Of course, I purchase the book.

We return home to Iowa, perusing the visual content of the book on the way :). Back at home I decide I need to get into the text of the book as well. After all, it is a project book, designed to help me learn.

I've found the best way to do an instructional book is read the project and then DO IT, before moving on to the next. Hmmm. The problems begin. Where are those promised projects? Where is that stepbystep instruction? Ok, I did find a couple of 'sketching demonstrations by leading artists', but what about those '40 specially designed projects' the dust jacket print told me about? I tried to keep going, tried to find the 'meat' of the text, kept telling myself just keep working your way thorough it. The author's message will become clear shortly. Nope. Didn't happen.

If I were a betting woman (I'm not) I'd bet that this book was the result of a difference of opinion between author and editor. One of them thought it should be instructional, the other wanted it to be inspirational. So whoever wanted it to be inspirational kind of won. I will keep the book on my shelf because of the very inspirational Stan Smith sketches included in the book. Will I ever attempt to read the text again? Not any time soon.

Do I recommend you buy a copy? Only if you think your checkbook owes you some eye candy! I regretfully report the text of the book as 'not helpful'.

Later, Cooper

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review, "Bodyworks, A Visual Guide To Drawing The Figure

Hello and welcome to my journal blog.

Always at the focus of this blog is the ongoing investigation of what makes artists paint the way they do! And always a major influence at this artist's studio, is a good book.

Is the "s" not the curviest letter in the alphabet? Of course it is. And that's where "Bodyworks, A Visual Guide To Drawing The Figure" begins, with, think like an "S"!

Marbury Hill Brown is the author of this not too thick book, a nice,managable 112 pages.

Brown, with a sideview look, visually traces that "s" from the base of the skull, down the spine to the pelvis, out to the front of the upper thigh and down to the arch of the foot.

Mr. Brown attributes a lot of human figurative qualitites to this posture note:

1. Balance
2. Flexability
3. Mobility
4. Grace
5. Resiliency

Likening the s-curve in the figure to a spring, he encourages the reader to think of it as a cushion against the impact of movement, as it counters the downward pull of gravity.

An especially agreeable writing skill Brown possesses is the ability to give the human figure motion, with words, that describe both the action and the reaction. Everything has a reason in the big picture, which is a definite bonus for all the right brain-ers of the world.

Oh, and did I mention the drawings? :) Yeah, I was just saving the best for last. The marvelous drawings are the absolute essence of this book. I've already told you Brown puts balance, mobility, flexability, grace, and resiliency right up front in his book, in word. And then he follows that with page after page of visual examples in the form of wonderfully descriptive drawings. It would be perfectly acceptable :) to buy this book for the drawings alone---you may consider the text as a bonus!

I recommend this book to any artist interested in drawing the human figure, but especially to those who are captivated by posture and using body language to inform.

And because no blog post should ever be without color, here's a newly completed painting for you: Morning News.

Nice s-curve, huh? Details of Morning News are on my daily painting blog and also my website portfolio. So, enjoy the painting and enjoy the book!

Later, Cooper

Thursday, January 1, 2009

On Family Gatherings

Good morning and happy new year!

My friend Mary (yup, that's her link over there on the side bar) wrote on her blog about her extended family (the Moore's) gathering at Christmas time. It's a delightful education for those of you who don't know about large families. When we lived in Nebraska, we had the privilege of knowing Jack (now in his heavenly home) and Dorothy Moore, so seeing that family photo was special.

It's kind of like the extended family on my side, the Andersons. We are a crazy group of people, pretty much hell-bent on getting to Grandma's house at Christmas, no-matter-what. This year, my brother Dennis and his tractor, accompanied by Dennis's son Eric, met each carload of crazyAndersons at the highway, to plow a trail in through the snow drifts. When we all left on Sunday night, he had to do the whole procedure in reverse. (Dennis, you are an amazing brother) Bear in mind, a quarter mile of this trail was actually in a corn field. We'll call it a field road. One of those kind normally reserved for farm equipment. But a good time was had by all.

My parents have nineteen granchildren, Seven are married. Four are not old enough to be married. (!) That leaves eight out there in 'available land' and they like to keep the aunts hopeful and guessing! So you never know who's going to show up at the door.

One memorable year at Grandma and Grandpa's house, which,when the youngest grandchild, Aaron, was about six, reigns in the history book as the true record of how it goes. First, you need to know about Aaron. Actually, you need to know Aaron. If you googled 'delightful humans' you'd probably find him in the number one spot. It only takes about a five minute chat with him and all of a sudden you're just feeling better about everything in general. Anyway, back to the year Aaron was six-ish or so. The Anderson house was packed to the seams with people. The doorbell rang. Aaron, (still intrigued with door bells) ran to answer. He opens the door with "Hi, I'm Taylor, welcome to our family!" We still aren't sure why he decided to be Taylor at that moment, but we all agree the message was true: add one more person, and you still never have too many.

And because our Christmas cards are still in the box, with only 4 or 5 of them addressed, Merry Christmas!

Later, Karen