Moira Huntly’s Sketchbook Secrets, by Moira Huntly, will inspire you to carry sketching supplies all the time.
It’s an especially good book to read when you’re planning a trip, and want to keep an illustrated travel journal while you’re on the road.
Or, if you’re participating in an all-day sketching marathon (like a “sketchcrawl”), you may refer to this book often, as you prepare for the day.
I’ve looked at a lot of books about keeping a sketchbook. Some are great. Most show illustrations that make me say:
- Umm, I’m not that good at sketching… not even close. (And, as a lifelong artist, that’s saying a lot.)
- I don’t have hours to include those kinds of details. Hello, I’ll be traveling! (Or waiting in the car for one of my kids. Or going past the site in a bus and a cloud of dust.)
- Okay, so I go home with a cool travel journal. Then it collects dust on my bookshelf. Why bother?
Ms. Huntly deals with all of those issues.
Are you an intermediate artist, or a novice with some sketching experience? Ms. Huntly’s sketches range from really simple to oh-my-goodness.
Her simple ones are most like what I’ll include in my journals. Even better, she shows how little detailing (or color) you can include for effects that will make you pause and say, “Wow… did I really draw that…?”
Though this book offers few how-to instructions, Ms. Huntly does simplify the whole “horizon line” issue of perspective: Whatever’s at eye level is your horizon. Stuff above that slopes down to the horizon level; objects below that line will slope up.
So, the issue of details becomes a non-issue. Whether you’re scribbling some lines and shapes in pencil as you fly past a cool site in a tour bus, or sitting at some wonderful cafe with hours on your hands, you can sketch what you see.
In addition, the author includes notes with many of her sketches. She describes the problems she encountered, the decisions she had to make, and what she found frustrating… and how she dealt with them. In some cases, she shows sketches that didn’t really work, and she explains why.
She talks about things like the little boats in the foreground give a sense of scale to the towering skyscrapers in the background. I hadn’t thought about that. (And frankly, I tend to be terrible at sketching boats, so I’d have left them out… except that I now see the point of including some.)
Finally, if you’ve wondered what to do with all those great sketches when you get home, Ms. Huntly shows many examples of paintings and colored drawings she created from her own sketches.
They’re juicy, evocative, and rich with emotions and splendor. In many cases, she’s taken a mundane, everyday scene and turned it into something awe-inspiring.
So, if you’re a fine artist and you’d like an art journal that’s filled with great ideas for gallery work, I think this book will inspire you, to0.
- Lots of pictures in a variety of techniques and materials, simple to advanced.
- People, buildings and landscapes from several countries. You’ll glean lots of ideas for great subjects, even in your hometown.
- Awe-inspiring completed works, from detailed sketches to full-scale paintings.
- After a list of materials and some basic tips, this is not a how-to book. If you want step-by-step drawing instructions, this isn’t the book for you.
- No photos to compare what she was looking at to what she actually drew. So, you’ll have to guess at how much she added, left out, and rearranged. (She explains some of that in the text with her sketches.)
- A lot of the art is very professional. If you “can’t draw a straight line,” this book may collect dust on your shelf until you’ve built your confidence… and your skills.
If you’re already someone who sketches, this is an ideal (and inspiring) book to own. Before a trip, follow Ms. Huntly’s suggestions and inspiration to sketch around your hometown. You’ll soon identify the techniques, materials, and subjects that you enjoy most. You’re ready to create wonderful travel journals, and finished art inspired by them!
The Art Model’s Handbook, by Andrew Cahner is one of those books I look at and exclaim, “Why didn’t anyone write a book like this before..?”
If you use artist’s models in your studio, work as an artist’s model, or have ever thought of working as an artist’s model*… you need to own a copy of this book.
Yes, I usually say, “Read this book at your public library first, and see if you want to buy it.” However, this is the kind of book that you’ll refer to so often, you may as well buy a copy and save yourself multiple treks to the library.
This book is 141 pages of to-the-point information. There’s no fluff, and the author is knowledgeable, experienced, and addresses issues on both sides of the canvas (or sketchpad).
Author Andrew Cahner has left nothing out. He tackles the difficult aspects of nudity in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, he tells you the two things that every model must bring with him (or her), and then lists many items that will make your work easier and create a more professional environment.
Chapter by chapter, Cahner provides useful tips and the kind of information every artist — and artist’s model — needs to think about before, during and after a modeling session.
For example, the author provides some brilliant ways to research poses, so you don’t stand in front of the group, blink, and ask shakily, “Err… what do you want me to do?” (Likewise, if you’re working with models, these resources will avoid wasted time while the artists try to think of poses, and the model responds, “Okay, how about this?”.)
There’s even a list of useful links to find modeling work, online.
If there’s anything missing from this book — from either the model or artist’s standpoint — I can’t see it. And, I’m speaking as a third-generation artist who worked as an artist’s model during her college years.
I rarely give a book five stars, but — for this topic — I can’t think of any way the author could have improved the book. Every working artist and every classroom that uses models should have a copy of this book in their studios. When you have a question, the answer will be right there.
And, of course, every working model should own one as well.
I read many books about and for artists, and this one stands out as a brilliant idea, well executed and long overdue. It’s well-written and easy to read, but — even more importantly — it’s a useful reference that provides far more than just the basics.
*If you’re willing to sit still for 20 minutes at a time — with a roomful of people staring at you — this can be a fine career choice for people who need work or want extra income. Taking off your clothes is optional but will significantly increase your chances of getting work, but it’s not vital. (Portrait and other models are needed, too, but — for economy — classes often swap-out students in those roles.)
Even better, this book will explain the nuances of working in this field so you don’t feel like a total novice.
Herman the Jester and the ABC’s of Art, by Rafael Filion, is a tremendously useful book for teaching art theory to very young children.
It’s ideal as the basis of a daily or weekly art lesson. It’s also a great preparation for taking young children to art museums. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve seen, for that purpose.
Each letter of the alphabet is matched to an art-related word. The word — like the book — is in English, but it’s also provided in Spanish, German, and French. Each letter is also represented with Sign language. This expands the use of the book in any classroom setting.
The illustrations in the book are delightful. They aren’t too intimidating for young children, and will definitely appeal to them. They’re colorful and fun.
The brief definition of each art-related word will give teachers enough to work with, to teach effectively. They’re even more useful if the teacher spends a little time online or with art books, learning more about the subject to explain it in more depth.
I especially like that the book includes several complex art concepts, and it doesn’t “talk down” to children.
This kind of book is ideal for a homeschool group, teaching children at multiple grade levels.
For teaching a class, or reading to more than a very small group of children, larger illustrations will be helpful. The examples in the book are too small to be seen beyond the second row in a classroom setting.
However, many school and public libraries have excellent books to supplement what’s in “…The ABC’s of Art.” (Every book has its limits, and this one addresses that issue well.)
The price of the book reflects the full-color pages, but it may be a little price-y for a teacher or homeschooler who is taking this out of his or her personal budget.
However, this is a very useful book for a department, school library, or public library to purchase. It will be greatly appreciated by teachers.
As a starting point for a daily or weekly art theory lesson, this is a book that teachers have needed for a long time.
- Every page is in color, and has a lot of visual appeal.
- The terminology doesn’t “talk down” to children.
- Helpful tips make it easy for teachers to share this information without an art background.
- The price of this large paperback book isn’t competitive with some art books from larger publishers.
- Images of the art being described are small for students to see from a distance.
(Aside from the price, I had to look hard to make a second negative comment.)
If you are buying books for a public or school library, I think this is a must-buy. If you frequent your public or school library, recommend this book as a useful resource for teachers and parents.
With Glorious Glues! Art with Adhesives, art Teacher Paula Guhin has put together a wonderful little book that showcases the many uses of glue in art making.
The lessons are well written and easy to follow. Tips to evaluate the artwork are included at the end of each lesson. Both 2-D and 3-D projects are included.
A chapter with simple recipes for assorted pastes, paint and clay is included as well as a glossary of terms. Black and white photo are included throughout the book.
There are some great ideas presented here to encourage creativity and experimentation. She also inspires students to incorporate the elements of art into their work.
- The projects are low cost. Anyone can afford them.
- Most projects can be used for all ages. Older students can incorporate some of the techniques into more advanced art projects.
- The projects are fun and creative.
- Many of the projects, as written, are too easy for high school students.
- All of the illustrations are black and white.
The Decorated Page by Gwen Diehn is a great book for both scrapbookers and journalers who are interested in making the move to personalized art journaling.
I picked up this book out of an interest in making travel sketchbooks. I know that wasn’t the title, but the look of the cover and the back of the book intrigued me. As a mixed media artist who also has a history in scrapbooking, I’m always intersted in pulling the two together to make the lines between the two less firm. And Gwen Diehn, it seems, is also interested in softening some of those lines.
What makes this book good for someone who wants to move from scrapbooking into a more artistic format? Gwen spends a good amount of time discussing materials. Which materials she uses, those she prefers, and where you should spend your money, versus where you should save it. If only I had this in the beginning, I don’t think I’d have spent as much money on inexpensive low-pigment art supplies that didn’t get me where I wanted when I started. Live and learn!
For someone who is already involved in art journaling, this could be a good resource, as well. I found it a good way to hone some skills in how to use some of my supplies. I also found her discussions of different types of pages – starting with images or starting with text, for example, inspiring and I wanted to try them.
Often I’ll spend time skimming the book before a purchase and then it sits on my shelf until I get a chance to really focus on it. Often, that takes me several sittings. In this case, however, I was continuously interested in seeing what the author had to share with me. I sat and read it in one sitting. I came back with many ideas for my next journaling session.
Since I read this book, I have returned to it many times to see what else I could learn. This book is well worth the investment!
PROS: Gives information on everything from art materials to actual processes for creating pages. Good for everyone from beginner to advanced.
CONS: This book’s text is very dense. For some who have a lot of art supplies, you might question what you’ve bought and whether it will work. Gwen rmeinds you to experiment with what is best for you. Also, If you’re not prepared to sit down and read the text, you will end up missing a lot of good information.
Overall, this book as a great investment for anyone who wants to keep some sort of journal of their lives that includes some decorative or visual element, whether a scrapbook or a visual journal, this book is an excellent reference.
Learn more about this book at