Review: Artist’s Sketchbook

Product DetailsFor the amateur artist, working from real life may provide a significant challenge. With so many changing variables in a real life situation, working from a photograph seems far less stressful. In her latest book, however, Cathy Johnson not only makes “on the spot” sketching seem possible for the average artist, but strongly preferable.

In Artist’s Sketchbook, Johnson addresses technical aspects of sketching from real life, including supply considerations and issues unique to a variety of different environs. She also provides exercises and informative step-by-step demonstrations throughout the book. Nevertheless, her approach to “on the spot” art is what makes this book so valuable. Johnson explains that working from real life provides a depth and freshness to the end result, which may not be possible with a photograph. This result is unsurprising, as Johnson recommends seeking subjects that speak to the artist’s heart and bringing a deep, abiding curiosity to object or locale. For readers, sketching from real life becomes not a formidable challenge, but a creative opportunity for capturing the beauty of our everyday lives. Those artists who think sketching from real life beyond their ability may suddenly find themselves grabbing their sketch kit and heading for the door.

(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of book for Manhattan Book Review.)

Creative Check-In

So, it’s been a while. Seems like it’s time to try this again.

Last semester was horrid, and I finally gave up all hope of a creative life beyond book reviews and blogging. Due to some scheduling shifts, this semester holds renewed promise, however.

Knitting: I’ve put this on hold for the time being. It’s just too hard to get myself motivated to start a new pattern. I’m sure the urge will arise eventually. Just not now.

Piano: I’ve also put this on hold for reasons I will explain in a moment.

Cooking: I’m doing plenty of this during the cold winter since I can’t seem to keep the boys full, but I can’t say it’s terribly creative at the moment.

Painting: I just begun reading a wonderful book by Cathy Johnson called Artist’s Journal Workshop. I’m leaving with a friend for a weekend in the mountains, and I’ve already packed my paints and supplies and this book.

Now, this is an area where I seem to be making some headway. I’ve resurrected my blogs after the fiasco of December illnesses. I am slowly catching up on the ten reviews that are terribly late. Best of all, I feel that once I finish the reviews, I now have some room in my life for creative writing. I’ve rejoined the SCBWI and my writing groups. I’ve pulled out my old poems and children’s stories for editing and am itching to start something new.

Outdoors & Exercise:
This is an area that has changed considerably. In December, I received the results of my annual physical. I have a currently mild issue which can be deterred by a careful diet and daily exercise. As a result, I have decided to forgo activities like piano practice to focus on my health. My new best friend is an elliptical parked in my great room. I am truly enjoying our 30 minutes together each day. Actually, I’m enjoying it so much, I’m toying with adding short, alternating yoga, balance ball, pilates and weight workouts. However, all of this goes out the window on weekends if I have the opportunity to go hiking or biking with the family or take a riding lesson.

So, that’s where things stand creatively at the moment.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an important meeting with my elliptical.