Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Easy Origami Fold-a-Day 2018 Calendar Review & GIVEAWAY

I love day-to-day activity and craft calendars. They're like a little treat every day! Starting January 1, 2018 I'll be folding my way through the year with the Easy Origami Fold-a-Day 2018 Calendar released July 11, 2017 from Andrews McMeel Publishing. I can hardly wait! It's a boxed calendar featuring the origami designs and folding diagrams of Jeff Cole. There are origami instructions for hundreds of models - one for every day of the week. Saturday and Sunday are combined onto a single page. The folds progress in difficulty. I folded some of the designs from January and February and found the directions clear, including February 12th's Note-Holding Heart (below). The essential origami symbols and bases are on 5 tabbed cards for easy reference. The colorful 6" x 6" folding paper comes in a variety of attractive patterns. It has a magazine-like quality. It did not tear while being folded. The date is top center. Some holidays are shown. To use, lay the box flat on your desk or convert to an easel-style desk calendar by following the instructions. Even the cardboard packaging folds! There are also fun projects for what to do with your origami creations. Take a break each day and unfold your mind. Get your copy below!

Calendar: 640 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (July 11 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1449482626
Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.1 x 16.8 cm
Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.6 x 6.6 inches

Step-by-step instructions for February 12th's Note-Holding Heart.

A Note-Holding Heart I folded with paper from the calendar.

The Origami Fold-a-Day 2018 Calendar is available at Andrews McMeel Publishing. Check out their unique catalog at Andrew McMeel Publishing. Andrews McMeel Publishing has generously offered to giveaway a copy! One winner will be selected at random. Open until November 1, 2017. Prize includes shipping. Canada & the USA only. Good luck!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Color for Calm All Year Long 2018 Review & GIVEAWAY

Expressing creativity daily is a great stress reliever. On August 1, 2017 Rock Point Publishing released Color for Calm All Year Long 2018. It's a boxed calendar featuring the delightful illustrations of Canadian artist Carrie Stephens. Included are 5 double-sided colored pencils that neatly and conveniently attach to the back of the calendar base. There are 10 colors in total - yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, light blue, green, light green, purple and light purple. The easel style, tear-off calendar pad lays flat or stands for display. Color your way through the year. There are over 300 relaxing coloring templates - one for each day of the week. Saturday and Sunday are combined onto a single page. All pages have blank reverses. The smaller sized pages are perfect for coloring daily. The bottom right corner of the page houses the date in the following format - JANUARY  1  MONDAY. It's slightly over-sized for easy reading. The holidays are shown in a smaller font - New Year's Day. Take a break each day to color and emerge refreshed. Get your copy below! 

Color for Calm 2018
Calendar: 316 pages
Publisher: Rock Point; Box edition (Aug. 1 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1631063510
Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.4 x 15.2 cm
Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.8 x 6 inches

Photos I took of my copy of this attractive calendar coloring kit.

Color for Calm All Year Long 2018 is available worldwide at Rock Point Gift & Stationery. Check our their unique catalog at Rock Point Gift & Stationery. Rock Point Gift & Stationery is a division of the Quarto Publishing Group USA. Quarto has generously offered to giveaway a copy of the Color for Calm All Year Long 2018! One winner will be selected at random. Open until October 22, 2017. Canadian and USA addresses only. Good luck!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Draw Color & Sticker Creative Lettering Sketchbook Review & GIVEAWAY

Are you interested in lettering? Here's a FUN creative lettering activity book with a variety of drawing, coloring and stickering exercises! The 64 page paperback was released July 1, 2017 from Quarry Publishing - Draw Color & Sticker Creative Lettering Sketchbook: An Imaginative Illustration Journal by Marissa Giambrone. There are more than 60 letter journaling practice pages, all on good quality uncoated stock paper - plus 500 awesome stickers. Simply follow the prompts, making the pages your own by adding a personal touch to the unfinished illustrations. Use your preferred medium - pencil, colored pencils, markers, even watercolor. Creative lettering is an enviable and useful skill. Start practicing and you’ll be on your way to creating unique and personalized text for any occasion - for example gift tags, labels, cards, invitations, party banners, even hand-lettered art. This book is part of the exciting Draw Color & Sticker series. Get your copy below!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Classic Sketchbook: Botanicals Review & GIVEAWAY

I'm learning more about using colored pencils with the Classic Sketchbook: Botanicals: Secrets of Observational Drawing by Valerie Baines. This 112 page paperback was released Jan. 1, 2017 from Rockport Publishers. It's a beautiful 8.5" x 10" workbook about botanical illustration with colored pencils. Colored pencil art is becoming very popular. The author, a noted British botanical artist, guides you through 48 practical exercises, helping you to observe, select colors and draw. You add the colored pencils. The author lists 20 colors she finds most useful for botanical work. An exquisite collection of works by classic botanical artists serves as both inspiration and study. Valerie emphasizes analyzing these to gain a better understanding of values, composition, color etc. The floras are listed seasonally. For each plant: read the lesson notes, study the masterworks and draw. A demo sketch gets you started. Would you like to improve your colored pencil artwork? Get your copy below!

Tools and Materials
Sketchbook Opener

Pussy Willow
Spring Flowers

Lily of the Valley
Still Life with Flowers and Strawberries
Striped Tulip
Three Tulips

Still Life with Tulip, Melon and Flowers
Three "Broken" Tulips
Apple Blossom

Bearded Iris
Summer Flower Studies
Poppy: Pavot

Belladonna Lily

Rosa Gallica
Branch of Roses
Still Life with Roses
Pink Rose with Buds
Bengal Rose

Eglantera Rose
Old-Fashioned Roses
Yellow Rose
Peony and Double Poppy

Cape Blue Water Lily
Water Lily
Morning Glory

Yellow Chrysanthemum
Autumn Leaves
Oak Leaves and Acorns

Stone Pinecone
Eastern Pinecone
European Holly

About the Artist

Page 4 & 5. Tulips, Cornflower and Anemone. Nicolas Robert (1614-1685) French.

Image result for Classic Sketchbook: Botanicals
Page 8 & 9. Tools, material and tips.

Page 38 & 39. Scarlet Strawberry. William Hooker (1779-1832) British.

Page 78 & 79. Dandelion. William Kilburn (1745-1818) Irish.

Page 24, violets by classic artist for study. Page 25, lesson notes, palette and demo sketch. My 5 color palette is set out and I've begun working on the demo sketch.

Classic Sketchbook: Botanicals is available worldwide at Rockport Publishing, a division of the Quarto Publishing Group USA. Check out their unique catalog at Rockport Publishing. Quarto has generously offered to giveaway a copy! One winner will be selected at random. Open until October 6, 2017. Prize includes cost of shipping. Canadian and USA addresses only. Good luck!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Art of Painting in Pastel Review & GIVEAWAY

I'm reading a brand new copy of The Art of Painting in Pastel by Leonard Richmond and J. Littlejohns. This art instruction book was first published over 100 years ago and is still sought after today. It's about the fundamentals of painting in pastel. This new 9 x 11",  118 page paperback was released May 17, 2017 from Dover Publications. It contains the following bibliographical note, "This Dover edition, first published in 2017, is a slightly altered unabridged republication of the work originally published as Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons Ltd., London c 1917." Leonard Richmond (1889 - 1965), a British artist and author, wrote a series of very popular art instruction books with co-author J. Littlejohns. The frontispiece titled "Bricklayers" and introduction are by distinguished muralist Frank Brangwyn (1867 –1956), an Anglo-Welsh artist. He states "... there is, as Messrs. Richmond and Littlejohns so ably point out in the following pages, practically no limit to its powers as a means of artistic expression." Like the 1930 edition it includes 15 black and white illustrations and 39 tipped-in color illustrations. This book is suitable for students of art and artists. Get your copy below!


The Three Methods
Still Life
Landscape (continued)
Landscape (concluded)
The Preservation of Pastels

Hilly Districts
Flat Districts
Hints of Arrangement
Hints of Arrangement
Further Suggestion on Composition

"Bricklayers" by Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A. -  Frontispiece

Blue China Pot, Shell, Etc.
Jug, Glass and Apples 
Dolls, Monkey, and Golliwog
Books, Bowl, and Flowers

White Marguerites
Blue Cornflowers
Scarlet Poppies 
Hydrangeas (Plain Background)
Hydrangeas (Ornate Background)

An Elm
Shadow Cast on White Wall 1
Shadow Cast on White Wall 2 
Shadow Cast on White Wall 3

Elm Trees 1
Elm Trees 2
Trees and Water 1
Trees and Water 2
Sunshine 1
Sunshine 2
A White Canal Bridge
Old Houses, Folkestone
Study of Straw in Sunlight and Shadow, with Farm Buildings
A Breezy Day at Watchet, Somerset
Chalk Cliffs on South Coast
Canal Barges at Brentford
The Quarry

Her Ladyship
E. J. H.
The Jovial Philosopher
The Volendam Fisherman
The Professor
The Green Shawl
The Dutch Baby
The Vermillion God

Excerpt from pages 20 and 21, image and accompanying text.
Chapter 3. Flowers. 
Scarlet Poppies.
J. Littlejohns Pastel 1927.

     "The main purpose of this example is to indicate the importance of the toned paper as a modifying factor.
     The strongest crimsons and vermilions were used unsparingly but the result is not garish, because of the counteracting influence of the dull, dark paper left between most of the strokes  less in the brighter parts than in the shadows.
     Note that, while the general contour of each petal is curved, the strokes are frankly straight, serving to give that crispness which is so characteristic of this flower."

Out of print no more!

The Art of Painting in Pastel is available worldwide at Dover Publications. Dover, Great Books, Variety & Value Since 1941. Check out their catalog at Dover Publications. Dover has generously offered to giveaway a copy! One winner will be selected at random. Open until September 25, 2017. Canada & USA. Good luck!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Learn to Paint in Watercolor with 50 Paintings Review & GIVEAWAY

Scottish artist Wil Freeborn has created a complete course on how to watercolor in his new book Learn to Paint in Watercolor with 50 Paintings: Pick Up the Skills, Put On the Paint, Hang Up Your Art. It's a 144 page Flexibound – released February 1, 2017 from Publisher: Quarry Books. Following an overview of the basics Wil leads 50 painting exercises incorporating the fundamentals of watercolor painting. His book is centered around the idea of painting what is in your environment. The exercises are cleanly laid out by objective, material, color palette and demo. Wil shares his creative process with step-by-step commentary and photographs. The subject matter includes simple still lifes, landscapes, cityscapes, animals and figures, portraits, people. Wil favors a 2B pencil, size 6, 8 and 12 round brushes, a 14" x 10" watercolor block and watercolor pans though he encourages you to find what works best for you. This how-to art book is packed with material that will help newer painters discover the unique properties of painting with watercolor. Get your copy below!

Welcome to my world

Chapter 1: Getting started
Basic Kit
Choosing your colors
Color mixing
Color, light, and atmosphere
How to keep a sketch book
Hints and tips

Chapter 2: Simple still lifes
Lively washes
Backgrounds for still lifes
Working with a minimal palette
Arranging a simple still life
Basic drawing for watercolor
Classic subjects, new approaches
Compose as you go
Watercolor with pen and ink
Sight sizing
Quick watercolor sketch
Hard edges

Chapter 3: Landscapes
Creating dynamic contrast
Washes for atmosphere
Simple wash with gradation
Creating a sense of distance
Masking areas of white paper
Bright colors in landscapes
Ideas for composition
Bold shapes
Finding interesting shapes
Pure texture and subtle washes
Working with one color
Reserving colors
Telling stories
Abstract patterns

Chapter 4: Cityscapes
Simplifying what you see
Exploring granulation
Sparkling sunlight
Symmetry and proportion
Painting multiple buildings
Perspective for beginners
Building up a complex scene
Finding your interpretation
Introducing a sense of scale

Chapter 5: Animals
Grouping subjects
Editing out
Expressive brushwork
Painting a museum specimen
Painting live animals
Working from photos
Three-color washes
Painting a marine subject
Landscapes with wildlife

Chapter 6: Figures, portraits, people
Adding figures to landscapes
Simplifying people
Painting quickly in situ
Capturing movement 
Mixing media

Stretching paper


Excerpt from Chapter 5: Animals. Bunnies - Grouping subjects

Watercolour block, 355 x 254mm (14 x 10in) 
2B pencil
Size 8 and 6 round brushes
6mm (1⁄4in) flat brush

Colour palette
Yellow Ochre
Cerulean Blue
Alizarin Crimson
Quinacridone Magenta
Burnt Umber

When you group a few subjects together, they can make interesting and dynamic compositions. Observe how animals relate to each other when they’re resting or at ease, whether it’s dogs, cats or even – as in this case – bunnies. The opposing curves of the animals’ bodies in this composition reminded me of a traditional Chinese yin-yang symbol.

1. Draw the pair of rabbits, keeping your lines light as always. Remember that the rabbits are three-dimensional objects, and think about where their forms curve away from you. This can be difficult, but it might help to check the shape of your own hand or arm for reference.

2. Use the larger brush to apply the main wash, a diluted mix of Yellow Ochre with a touch of Cerulean Blue and Alizarin Crimson. Cover the whole paper with this wash, except for the parts where the sunlight hits the rabbits’ bodies – leave these parts white.

3. When light passes through a thin part of your body, such as your ears (or your fingers if you hold them up to the sun), it glows with a bright pink radiance. This effect is called subsurface scattering, and it’s one of my favourite light effects. You can see it here in these rabbits’ ears. For their ears, use the smaller brush to apply a wash of Quinacridone Magenta. While it is still wet, drop a deeper Magenta mixture into it and it will spread really nicely.


4. Now start painting the rabbits’ bodies, using a flat brush and the same wash as in step 2, remembering to leave the highlighted parts unpainted. A flat brush can change the appearance of your washes. For example, if you want to accentuate flat areas of colour a flat brush can help. Apply the colour in layers to add more depth and slowly build up the forms. Deepen the tones as you work by adding touches of Cerulean Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Umber to your original wash. Paint the eyes with a wash of Indigo and Burnt Umber, leaving a tiny spot for the highlights.

5. Keep adding depth to the washes to increase the sense of three-dimensional form. For the shadows under the rabbits, use a wash of Indigo with a touch of Alizarin Crimson. Don’t try to control your application of the paint too much – allow it to pool and form edges naturally. This will contribute to the character of your painting and create a lovely, loose effect.

Learn to Paint in Watercolor with 50 Paintings is available worldwide at Quarry Books, a division of the Quarto Publishing Group USA. Check out their unique catalog at Quarry Books. Quarto has generously offered to giveaway a copy! One winner will be selected at random. Open until September 17, 2017. Prize includes shipping. Canada & the USA only. Good luck!

Photo I took of Wil's watercolor painting travel kit on page 13.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Busy Family Calendar 2018 Review & GIVEAWAY x 2

Planning your family's time? Juggling schedules? This engaging calendar allows you to effectively stay on top of a busy family schedule. Plus, every month you get to uncover a delightful new scene featuring the seasonal art work of artist and illustrator Allison Cole! The calendar spans 17 months - August 2017 through December 2018 - just in time for back-to-school! The large monthly format makes it easy to see at-a-glance. The Sunday-to-Saturday grids allow you to organize and keep track of up to 5 family members. Over 300 colorful stickers make it fun and easy. The handy storage pocket holds stuff like invitations, forms, appointment cards and notices. A grommet-reinforced hole ensures tear-free hanging. It's never too early to simplify and coordinate your family's schedule. Get your copy below!

Busy Family Calendar 2018 by Allison Cole 
Adorable Stickers and Big Grids to keep track of your Busy Family! 

Format: Calendar, 24 Pages
ISBN: 9781631063411
Publisher: Rock Point Gift & Stationery
Wal edition (August 1, 2017)
Product Dimensions: 30.5 x 0.6 x 32.1 cm
Product Dimensions: 12 x 0.2 x 12.6 inches

My copy of this sweet calendar. August 2017. Notice how vibrant the colors are!

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The Busy Family Calendar 2018 is available worldwide at Rock Point Gift & Stationery. Check our their unique catalog at Rock Point Gift & Stationery. Rock Point Gift & Stationery is a division of the Quarto Publishing Group USA. Quarto has generously offered to giveaway 2 copies of the Busy Family Calendar 2018! Two winners will be selected at random. Open until September 7, 2017. Canadian and USA addresses only. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Art of Drawing Dangles Review & GIVEAWAY

I'm learning how to dangle with this gorgeous new workbook – The Art of Drawing Dangles by Olivia A. Kneibler. It's a 144 page paperback from Race Point Publishing. The authors smashing book cover shows what's possible with dangle art! Inside she shares how to do it with over 50 dangle exercises. The exercises include a traceable guideline to get you started and room on quality paper to practice. Begin with the alphabet, put the letters together to form words, then add charms and/or mandalas, and you're dangling! Whether you like to doodle, draw, design or craft, dangles are a unique way to add flair to your letters and artwork. Get your copy below!


What is a Dangle?
Dangle Letters
Dangle Words
Dangle Shapes and Mandalas
Everyday Dangles
Charming Projects 
Charm Directory
Color Gallery: Letters and Words

About the Author 

The Art of Drawing Dangles is available worldwide at Race Point Publishing. Check out their unique catalog at Race Point Publishing. Race Point Publishing is a division of the Quarto Publishing Group USA. Quarto has generously offered to giveaway a copy of The Art of Drawing Dangles! One winner will be selected at random. Open until August 31, 2017. Canadian and USA addresses only. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Alice in Wonderland Designs Coloring Book Review & GIVEAWAY

Alice in Wonderland Designs Coloring Book by Marty Noble is a 64 page Paperback released May 17, 2017 from Dover Publications. This detailed adult coloring book is inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel. The 1865 novel tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world. It is still popular today 152 years later. Creative Haven® - a bestselling series of coloring books for adults from Dover Publications - has teamed up with Marty Noble a New York Times bestselling coloring book artist to create this coloring book. This issue contains 31 original illustrations for you to color using your own colored pencils and/or fine markers. The pages are on good quality 8" x 11" paper, single-sided and perforated so you can easily tear out, share, display and even frame your works-of-art. Excellent value. Get your copy below!

Alice and the Cheshire Cat

The Mad Hatter and friends.

Sitting down to color Alice. I find it very relaxing.

Alice in Wonderland Designs Coloring Book is available worldwide at Dover Publications. Dover, Great Books, Variety & Value Since 1941. Check out their catalog at Dover Publications. Dover has generously offered to giveaway a copy! One winner will be selected at random. Open until August 23, 2017. Canada & USA. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Blippo Surprise Stationery Bag Review & GIVEAWAY WORLDWIDE

A surprise arrives! What could it be?

It's a Surprise Stationery Bag from the Blippo Kawaii Shop! It's 1 of 6 Fukubukuro Lucky Bags available worldwide. Fukubukuro, meaning "lucky bag" or "mystery bag", is popular in Japan. It's a grab-bag of goodies sold for a substantial discount. The Surprise Stationery Bag has a retail value of $35 US but sells for just $16.90 US including shipping. It's filled with an assortment of 15 cute and practical stationery items  perfect for back-to-school. The fukubukuro concept is spreading and evolving.

My exclusive pink blippo bag is filled with hundreds of stickers, 3 magnetic bookmarks, 9 decorative tapes, 8 pencils, 2 sharpeners, 4 erasers, 6 highlighters, sticky notes, a pen, note pad, and 3D Panda Card. All are licensed merchandise. I love mystery surprises! Get yours below!

All 6 Fukubukuro Lucky Bag's are available worldwide at the Blippo Kawaii Shop. Blippo has generously offered to giveaway a Surprise Stationery Bag. One winner will be selected at random. Open until August 16, 2017. WORLDWIDE. Good luck!

Handmade by Deb Blippo Giveaway

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cut & Create Paper Mosaics KIT Review & GIVEAWAY

Cut & Create Paper Mosaics: Craft MOSAIC-BY-NUMBER Artworks with Paper Tiles, Scissors, and Glue by Chiharu Rosenberg is a 32 page Paperback – released May 15, 2017 from Race Point Publishing. The author, a skilled mosaic artist, guides you through 9 stunning paper mosaic-by-number projects. You just add scissors and glue. The beautifully assembled kit includes: 9 pre-printed project templates on card stock, 35 sheets of paper - solid colored and patterned, and a 32 page instruction book. Book and supplies are neatly housed in a folder type kit with a Velcro pocket. You cut and glue the clearly marked paper tiles as per the instructions. The projects graduate in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and advanced, culminating in the gorgeous Cherry Blossoms cover! With this mosaic activity book you can explore mosaic craft without the tools of traditional mosaic artists. Some may find an X-ACTO knife, standard hole punch, tweezers and envelopes handy.  Get your copy below!