Book Review: Watercolour for the Absolute Beginner

My First Still Life from Watercolour for the Absolute Beginner

In high school I had to choose between the music and the art track. Since my art career at that point had consisted mostly of C's and D's, choosing the music track was obvious. However, decades later I'm still trying to tell my inner artist that it's safe to come out now. After discovering some gorgeous watercolor journals and wanting to capture some of the spirit of my blooming garden, I decided to dig out my daughter's watercolors and give this medium a chance.For guidance I turned to Watercolour for the Absolute Beginner by Crawshaw, Finmark, and Waugh.

Learning how to work with shadows

Learning how to work with shadows

This book is really a compilation of three separate books. Alwyn Crawshaw begins by teaching the fundamentals of watercoloring. He covers different painting techniques, mixing colors, and adding shadows. From there he proceeds to apply the techniques to paint a series of different objects: fruits, vegetables, flowers, skies, landscapes and so forth. Sharon Finmark focuses on painting people and Trevor Waugh explains how to paint animals.

I'm still at the very beginning of the book (page 40 out of 224), but feel like I've already learned a lot. The instructions are fairly clear and I'm having fun mixing colors. The exercises change frequently enough to make this endeavor very interesting and engaging. Whenever I have trouble, I turn to YouTube videos for further explanation (I think washes need a lot of practice). Most importantly, this venture is serving as a confidence builder allowing me to move from copying exercises to documenting my surroundings. Sooner or later I will want to move on to an in person class so I can learn from peers and get some feedback on what I am doing. But as an introduction to this art, this book has been a great inspiration for me.

Are you learning a new skill this summer?

Book Review & Interview: the Right-Brain Business Plan

Hi everyone, today I wanted to talk a little about the "Right Brain Business Plan" which is a fabulous resource to all of you "right brainers" out there who are looking to start a business or are having a little challenge writing a business plan. Some of us "Creative types" avoid writing a formal business plan as the idea of huge word documents, boring excel spreadsheet and dare I say working out the money (Moola as the book refers to it as) scares us!

This book turns all of this around and using your right brain creative thinking style to work on creating a visual map for success. It will feed your creative side by taking you through each aspect of writing a plan for your business using vision boarding techniques, pictures, words and photos. There are lots of great worksheets to download full of color and fun and the book even makes spreadsheets exciting with the use of color and simple financial planning techniques.

Each chapter covers: * Using your creative intuition * How to use the right brain process * Crafting business values and vision * Looking at where your business fits into the big wide world * Marketing * managing the moola ($)! * Corralling your creative cohorts * Action planning * How to put it all together * Maintaining the magic and momentum *

“If you think of business planning as boring, well, you haven’t read this book yet. This is not business as usual… Jump right in!” – from the foreword by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity

 Jennifer Lee - Author of "The Right Brain Business Plan"

I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Lee, the author a few months ago, so wanted to share a few of her insights about the book.

1) Jenn, huge congratulations on the publication of your book. Can you tell us a little about the book and who would benefit from it?
Thanks, Louise. The Right-Brain Business Plan guides you through a fun, visual, and accessible process for completing all the standard sections of a business plan. The book includes colorful, illustrated play sheets, creative exercises, full-color photos of featured Right-Brain Business Plans, and success stories of fellow right-brain entrepreneurs. The book is for budding and seasoned business owners including artists, crafters, writers, photographers, coaches, consultants, therapists, yoga teachers, massage therapists, holistic health counselors, non-profit leaders, educators, and any creative soul wanting to turn their passion into profit.

2) How long would you say it took from the time you had the idea to publication?

I made my first Right-Brain Business Plan in November 2007 at my kitchen table during Art Every Day Month. I had no idea then that this idea it would turn into a book! I created my 9-page handwritten and illustrated e-book in the spring of 2008. And in 2009 I set out to write a book (a totally different one!), but publishers were more interested in The Right-Brain Business Plan concept so I sent out proposals for that and landed my book deal with New World Library in the fall of 2009. My manuscript was due to my publisher in April 2010 and then it went into production and was published in February 2011. So, long story short, it took a little more than three years to go from initial idea to book on bookshelf.

3) What right brain tools did you use to develop your ideas and the plan for the book?
I used many of the right-brain tools that I talk about in the book! I used a Levenger Circa notebook to organize all of my existing material by chapter before I even started writing. That made it easier to know I wasn’t starting from scratch and it already started to “feel” like a book. I used mind-maps and sticky notes to brainstorm and outline content for chapters. I also used my sticky note project plan to map out my tasks and milestones throughout the publishing process.

4) What do you think are the biggest challenges for right brainers in business? And how to overcome them?
One that I see is that many right-brainers in business can overlook the financial aspects of business. I encourage people to acknowledge that the numbers can actually be a pretty creative process. You can use your imagination to come up with new, innovative income streams. And you can always get support from an expert to help you figure out the nitty gritty calculations to make sure you’re going to turn a profit.

I’d say the other is not trusting themselves enough. They tend to keep thinking they need more information or training, when really they just need to take some action, find clients, and make offers.

5) What is your favorite right brain booster and left brain chill pill?
It’s hard to pick one, but a favorite right-brain booster is to gain a fresh perspective using images. I also have my collaged values cards on an easel on my desk and that helps me focus my energy for the week.

My favorite left-brain chill pill is to acknowledge my accomplishments when I’m beating myself about all the things I haven’t finished yet.

Grab the book from Amazon here. Connect with Jennifer and The Right Brain Business Plan below:
:: Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Flickr ::

Louise Gale - Your Creative Career Consultant for The New New Blog

Book Review: Applique Your Way by Kayte Terry

{NewNew} alumna Kayte Terry published her second book last fall entitled Applique Your Way. With this book she dives more deeply into an embellishment technique she introduced with her first book Complete Embellishment.

The Contents
As so often, the first part of the book covers different applique techniques such as making templates, hand-sewn applique, machine-sewn applique and reverse applique. The instructions are pretty straight forward. Kayte is an advocate of hand-sewn applique because she enjoys the meditative aspect of the craft and the way it connects her with centuries of women using the same technique, but she also provides simple steps for machine-sewn applique.

The remainder of the book is filled with 35 projects divided into the categories: Wearing, Decorating, and Giving. Kayte designed the majority of the projects, and she also highlights ideas by other crafters including the refashioned flower tea towel by {NewNew} member Kristen of Cakehouse. (See if you can find Kimm of Kimmchi modeling some of the projects.) The patterns and templates you may need are nicely folded away in an envelope at the back of the book. Unlike other crafting books I've used in the past, you will actually be able to refold and store these templates without having to deal with an exploding envelope.

Layout and Feel
The book with its beige paper and matte pictures has a vintage feel to it. Many of the pictures especially in the Giving and Decorating chapters highlight 1970's dishes, fabrics, and knickknacks. Two features that I love are the fact that the book is ring-bound, if you open to a page it will stay open, and that there's a handy elastic strap that holds it all together should you use it as a place to hold your inspiration materials.

My Project
Before I review a book I usually make one thing out of it first. In this case, I didn't follow instructions. Instead, I was inspired by the Doily Trivets (on the left) and used them as a launch pad for something slightly different. For my trivet (on the right), I folded up a piece of felt and basically cut it into a snowflake. I then embellished it further with a few random embroidery stitches. For the padding I used some felted sweater remnants, stitched the whole thing together, and voila a square trivet.

For some ideas or to share your own projects, check out the Applique Your Way Flickr group.


Book Review: 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse by Garth Johnson

Book Review:

by Lorina Pellach-Ladrillono
of The Original Beadscarf

1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse by Garth Johnson
pub. date: Nov 2009 / 320 pages

'Inspirations' might be a better word than 'Ideas' for the title of this book. I would imagine that most crafters, myself included, have experienced what would be akin to writer's block. One flip through Garth Johnson's '1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse' could inspire at least several weekends of creative energy.

Inside this beautifully curated and photographed book are images of items whose parts would have likely found their way to a landfill. Instead, they have been fished out of a junk drawer of extra castaways and recycled/ repurposed into jewelry, objects d' art, bags, couture dresses, clocks and even furniture.

Amazingly, no parts or refuse are rejected!

The impressive collection includes playing cards transformed into butterflies and attached to pearl necklaces; single bud flower vases created from empty toothpaste tubes and Full scale art installations. Fabric, glass, even ice is recycled! Postcards in place of wallpaper; Tea carton wallpaper and furniture; Bottlecap mosaics to mimic famous paintings; a sugar packet table cloth in a pretty flower motif; money chandelier made of US $1; and most striking, if not downright gruesome-, jewelry made entirely of dismembered Barbie doll parts- again, no part spared!

As I thumb through 1000 Ideas, I couldn't help but notice the works of many crafty colleagues I know featured from TheNewNew and beyond.

Although the works included in this book are mostly from USA, there are also adaptations from Canada, New Zealand Germany, Finland, UK, Spain, Australia, Israel and Sweden to name a few.
So next time you are feeling crafty but can’t seem to get going, pick up this book, grab that remnant you’ve been saving for ‘making something someday’, and get inspired.

Be warned though: I have a feeling this book may just spawn a new generation of crafters!

Design It Yourself -- A Comparative Book Review

This Christmas, two books from the D.I.Y series edited by Ellen Lupton found their way into my household: The D.I.Y Deck and D.I.Y. Kids. Both were published in 2007 and were designed to follow up on the successful initial book of the series D.I.Y. Design It Yourself published in 2006.

Design and Layout

The design of the D.I.Y Deck is interesting because it is a collection of 25 cards reminiscent of recipe cards with each featuring a particular project. The card set is subdivided into the categories Invitations, Housewares, Totes, Stickers, Shirts, and Gifts. Handling the cards is kind of fun; you can sit on the floor and spread them around to sort through projects you might want to attempt. Some of the cards have more than one page, though, which makes it easy to miss the flip side pictures. All the projects are rated by cost and time required to complete them.

D.I.Y. Kids follows the traditional book layout. Its main categories are Graphics, Toys, Home, and Fashion. Within these areas you find a wealth of cool ideas, and suggestions. Pop-up cards, book art, book plates, doll clothes, stuffed animals, architectural models, magnetic games, decoupage purses, fashion design, reverse applique, graffiti furniture,... you get the idea. I don't know if it's because this book is marketed towards kids instead of stodgy grown ups, but the projects and ideas are a lot more inspiring than those of the adult D.I.Y. Deck. As with the adult set, for each project D.I.Y. Kids includes an estimate of the cost and time required to complete a project and how much help and mess may be involved in creating a masterpiece.

The Craft-Off
For this review Liz (7) and I teamed up to test the "books" in a craft-off. Liz followed the instructions for pixel icons in the D.I.Y. Kids book, while I sorted through the Deck to decide on a project that could incorporate her work. Judging by the proliferation of pixel icons on my desktop, the instructions in the Kids book were very clear. If anyone is in the market for 1 inch stickers of bunnies, let me know. The instructions for the clock re-design were also straightforward. Hints like "the clock has to be made from two distinct pieces of plastic" and "keep the clock hands in order to make it easier to reassemble the clock" may seem obvious, but were very much appreciated.

Here is the merger of our efforts. My husband brought this kitchen clock into our marriage. I hope he appreciates the re-design.

In the final analysis. D.I.Y. Kids is the better value with more interesting, creative ideas that easily translate into a D.I.Y. adult world.