Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 2 Book Review and Giveaway

 Having kept a writing journal on and off since grammar school, I am well-versed in the advantages of keeping those little snippets of inspiration together in some kind of book form.  I have been art-journaling for a couple of years and I was really excited when two of my favorite artists, Sue Bleiweiss and Melanie Testa, both released art journaling books.  Even though the subject is ostensibly the same, the books are very different.


Sue's book, The Sketchbook Challenge, springs from the Sketchbook Challenge blog, an idea that came from a "resolution to keep a better, more consistent sketchbook."  It uses monthly themes as challenges to inspire ideas "to move visual concepts and brainstorms off the pages of your sketchbook and into finished pieces of art."



One of the real strengths of this book is the many contributing artists who illustrate over and over that there is no wrong way to keep a sketchbook.  From the many how-to techniques and tips interspersed throughout and the wonderful photos and informative writing by the artists, this is an inspiring work.  It is sized a bit smaller than many art books and with its rounded corners, it is perfect for tucking in a bag and taking along.  However, with the small size, comes my only real negative criticism: some of the print is tiny -- especially the captions.  I would have liked larger photos of some of the techniques also.


Melanie's book, Dreaming from the Journal Page, is a big, bold work of art.  The photos are large and colorful.  It's more of a how-to-use all of the tools available to the art journalist.  Melanie offers extensive information on paper, pens, pencils, paints and more.  She provides exercises for getting warmed up and exercises in drawing.  My favorite part is the "Triple Technique Challenges" where several techniques are combined as "a means to layer and deepen your journal practice."  I've been playing around seriously with watercolors since reading the chapters on paint and color.  However, this book also suffers from tiny print -- again, my only negative criticism.

I am finding that these books actually work together in my personal little art journaling/sketchbook world.  Both are informative and inspiring and I am delighted to have them together.

Melanie and Sue have agreed to give away a copy of each of their books to readers of this blog and Sue will also throw in a Strathmore 5x8 mixed media sketchbook.  The winners will be chosen from the comments on this post.



I am giving away a hard-bound plain paper sketchbook (in my favorite size of 5 1/2 by 8 inches) with a cover hand-made by me.  I have a blog post on my personal blog (here) outlining in exhaustive detail the making of this cover.  I was inspired by both of the books above.

Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite art book or medium is and I will send this journal to one lucky person.  Make sure to leave an email if you're a no-reply commenter.

Tune in tomorrow to see Beth Berman's review and giveaway!




53 comments:

  1. Karen, great reviews, and I love your journal! I would especially love to get a copy of Melanie's book, as she was my teacher 5 years ago and I consider her to be a friend and mentor. But I am also intrigued by Sue's book, since I rerecently began following the Sketchbook Challenge blog.
    My favorite medium is fabric dye, but I am interested in all things creative, so please add me to your drawing!

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  2. 'there is no wrong way to keep a sketchbook'. I love that phrase especially since I came across a course which followed a different line of thinking. Would love to read more of Sue's book.

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  3. Inspiration... how I need that lately. Thank you so much for the opportunity !

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  4. I've never been able to be consistent with a sketchbook, I start but never keep going. Maybe with the help of a good book I could get it together and keep going.

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  5. I already have Sue's book which I love and I would consider it my current favourite!
    I don't know Melanie's work so I'd love to win a copy of her book!
    I enjoyed your post about the making of your journal cover and was intrigued by the decolourant spray you used - I've never heard of it before! would you recommend it??

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  6. Either of those books would help me mark those pristine white pages of the sketchbooks I have on my shelf. My favourite book in the past year has been Art + Quilt by Lyric Kinnard.

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  7. The name of your blog brought me here asi, too, love to "set things on fire!" Sue's book is brilliant; I love getting tips from many different artists in one book. I also followed their website. I love your journal cover, so unique! Glad there are others out there you follow the call of the flame! Please add me to your drawing.

    Deborah
    disdocent@aol.com

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  8. I am still working into sketching, either book would be good for me. My favorite medium is fabric. I have done a bit of hand dyeing, but I do feel it is still art to put together commercially printed fabrics. Lovely journal cover!

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  9. I should love to get Sues book, because I have taking classes with her and she is a super instructor!
    This year I have got the most inspiration out of Rayna Gillmans book Create your own free-form quilts.
    Gunilla in Sweden

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  10. Nice work.
    Love that hand made journal.

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  11. I didn't know about Melanie's book so thanks for making me aware. With gratitude, Karen

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  12. Sue's book would be so lovely to have, it sounds just like what I need to have my inconsistent journaling morph into my art exploration workbook. But then I got to Melanie's book, I really like her work and think her's would be the one to have. So I guess either one would be super fine.

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  13. Karen, I enjoyed your blog post about the journal cover and use of deCoulourant. I recently bought some but haven't used it yet, will have to give it a try, the construction of the journal cover went together so easy. I could be inspired to make my journal so special that I would keep it up more consistently. Art can only improve if I do. Thanks for the post and the chance at the giveaway.

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  14. Beautiful cover you made! I have Sue Bleiweiss book already, lucky me, so I would like a chance to win Melanie's book. :-)

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  15. EVERY art book is my favorite - it just depends which one is my hand at the moment. Right now I have to say that Gennine Zlatnik's "Making An Impression" is my favorite - so many good tips!
    I love hand crafted books - and one by you would be very special!

    Thanks for offering the giveaway!

    xxoo

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  16. There are so many artbooks in very many different ways. It is hard to choose. Shortly I have discovered sketchbooks. A lovely way to experiment. Wish I had done this before! You can find a link to my blog on Beth's blog.
    gr. Marjolijn

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  17. Great review! I'm familiar with Melanie Testa's work! I would love to win one of these books, but will for sure purchase it if I don't!

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  18. My favorite medium is mixed media. So much you can imply with so much!

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  19. Another two beautiful books in the giveaway. I always have trouble keeping my sketchbook. Maybe one of the books can help me to get better results ...

    Christel

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  20. I've been ogling both books for some time. What a great opportunity. Thank You. Congratulations to Sue and Melanie on the publication of these two great books!

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  21. I own Sue Bleiweiss's book, and it's wonderful! Would love to add Melanie's book to my collection. Another book I've been inspired by lately is The New Creative Artist by Nita Leland. Love your journal cover! Thanks for sharing your process!

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  22. I would love to win The Sketchbook Challenge!

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  23. thank you for your reveiw of books newly available to fabric bent folks,like me.i never seem to tire of paintng fabric as a start and seeing where that leads me. thanks for making these wonderful books available so generously.

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  24. I really like both Sue's and Melanie's work so I would live a chance to win either book. My medium is fabric and I love to dye, paint and print it for use in my art quilts.

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  25. Would love to have Mellie's book, have longed to start a journal as a keepsake for my daughter. Best, Ani
    (playdoll2 @ gmail.com) close up the spaces).

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  26. well right now I'm really into a book called 1001 paintings to see before you die - I love it because its chronological - has all the important info on the paintings and you can see how art progressed over the ages - all in a hand held book!

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  27. I love you journal and the books sound really interesting.
    Thank you for the chance to win.

    Susan Parker jdprkr@pacbell.net

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  28. I've read Sue's book and I highly recommend it, too! I haven't read Melanie's, but you've got me interested. I'll add it to my list.

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  29. I love that you are sharing with us.
    I would love to have these in my stack of go-to books~

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  30. There is NO artbook that I don't like. I learn everyday.
    http://ineke-rens.blogspot.com

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  31. I have Dreaming from the Journal Page and like it. Tis true that we can learn something from all. Your art journal is wonderful. Here is hoping...

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  32. I have to have a favourite? Really? It depends on my mood, the time available and the weather conditions (so,e art is best made outside)! I'm really motivated by each new edition of Cloth Paper Scissors but there are never enough hours in the day!

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  33. Would love a chance to have Sue's book. I've heard some great things about it. My favorite medium is fabric manipulated in stitch and paint.

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  34. Would love a chance to have Sue's book. I've heard some great things about it. My favorite medium is fabric manipulated in stitch and paint. Thanks, Barbara Fox

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  35. Thank you for the opportunity to win one of these inspiring book.
    The SketchBook Challenge would be my first choice, as I find the cover images of the accordion fold papers intriguing.
    Paper is my passion, but I am working to do my surface design treatments on cloth.
    Thanks again!
    Marcella
    TheArtIncubator@gmail.com

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  36. I couldn't say what my favorite art book is - it depends on my mood! I love Melanie's first book and would love to have these two new ones on journaling. I have not mastered journaling yet and would love the guidance!
    Thanks, Penny Simmons penny@simmonsconsulting.com

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  37. These sound like great books! I would love to win either one. :)

    Linda

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  38. My medium is textiles and I love to dye my own and make all kinds of marks. My favorite book I purchased this year is a used copy of Julie Caprara's book "Exploring Colour".

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  39. Both of these books sound amazing. My current work is in fabric and quilting, but I feel the need to stretch myself & try new skills.

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  40. The sketchbook is lovely. What a great give-aways.

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  41. would love to win any other these

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  42. Fiber is my medium of choice!

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  43. Thanks for the review. I think about doing an art journal but so far have lacked the discipline. My favorite medium is fabric.

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  44. Great reviews of what seems to be two great books. You can never have too many journals, so I would LOVE to get your journal!

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  45. My favorite medium is fiber/cloth...and when it comes to what to do/apply to it...anything goes!

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  46. I have Sue Bleiweiss's book but I have not seen Melanie Testa's book.

    I did enjoy Sue's book and follow the sketchbook challenge although I have never submitted a picture. I am to shy to do that. lol

    My current favorite book would be hard to pick. My plan is to try to go through my books and develop a practice of not just reading them but using them as a text book and doing the exercises. A busy new year ahead.

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  47. One of my great regrets in life is not having kept a journal. In another lifetime, I was lucky enough to travel with artists in watercolor. I wish I had notes from Russia and Japan and so many other places.

    Thanks.

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  48. I have one sketchbook and I flip flop from watercolors to acrylics to soft pastels to permanent markers, all in the same book. That wasn't the original plan though, LOL.

    That is a lovely cover you made for the sketch book.

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  49. My favourite medium is yarn, but I'm definitely interested in and inspired by other ones.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

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  50. I would love a hand made journal
    Pkgczarina@aol.com

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We would love to hear from you and even better have some links to your work!