Monday, July 16, 2018

Winslow Homer and the Camera by Frank H. Goodyear, Dana E. Byrd

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Winslow Homer and the Camera: Photography and the Art of Painting
by Frank H. Goodyear, Dana E. Byrd


ISBN-13: 9780300214550
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press
Released: July 10, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
One of the greatest American painters of the 19th century, Winslow Homer (1836–1910) also maintained a deep engagement with photography throughout his career. Focusing on the important, yet often-overlooked, role that photography played in Homer’s art, this volume exposes Homer’s own experiments with the camera (he first bought one in 1882). It also explores how the medium of photography and the larger visual economy influenced his work as a painter, watercolorist, and printmaker at a moment when new print technologies inundated the public with images.

Frank Goodyear and Dana Byrd demonstrate that photography offered Homer new ways of seeing and representing the world, from his early commercial engravings sourced from contemporary photographs to the complex relationship between his late-career paintings of life in the Bahamas, Florida, and Cuba and the emergent trend of tourist photography. The authors argue that Homer’s understanding of the camera’s ability to create an image that is simultaneously accurate and capable of deception was vitally important to his artistic practice in all media. Richly illustrated and full of exciting new discoveries, Winslow Homer and the Camera is a long-overdue examination of the ways in which photography shaped the vision of one of America’s most original painters.


My Review:
Winslow Homer and the Camera is basically two essays about Winslow Homer. The first was by Frank Goodyear, who looked at Homer's entire career with a focus on what influenced his artwork and especially at how photography influenced his art. The second essay was by Dana Byrd, who looked at how Homer captured the Bahamas, Cuba, and Florida in his art during his vacations in 1884-1886. She compared and contrasted his art with others who were painting or photographing these areas at that time. There were pages of pictures along with each essay showing the photographs and artwork that were mentioned in the essays.

The essays were informative and will probably be of most interest to fans of Homer's artwork. I was curious about how photography influenced American artwork at that time, and now I know as much as I care to. However, the authors assumed a previous knowledge of Homer's overall body of artwork, which I didn't have. While I could follow the specific references since pictures were provided, I couldn't fully appreciate their comments about his work in general.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty by Mimi Matthews

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A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty
by Mimi Matthews


ISBN-13: 9781526705044
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword History
Released: July 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
What did a Victorian lady wear for a walk in the park? How did she style her hair for an evening at the theatre? And what products might she have used to soothe a sunburn or treat an unsightly blemish? Mimi Matthews answers these questions and more as she takes readers on a decade-by-decade journey through Victorian fashion and beauty history.

Women's clothing changed dramatically during the course of the Victorian era. Necklines rose, waistlines dropped, and Gothic severity gave way to flounces, frills, and an abundance of trimmings. Sleeves ballooned up and skirts billowed out. The crinoline morphed into the bustle and steam-moulded corsets cinched women's waists ever tighter.

As fashion was evolving, so too were trends in ladies' hair care and cosmetics. An era which began by prizing natural, barefaced beauty ended with women purchasing lip and cheek rouge, false hairpieces and pomades, and fashionable perfumes made with expensive spice oils and animal essences.

Using research from nineteenth century beauty books, fashion magazines, and lady's journals, Mimi Matthews brings the intricacies of a Victorian lady's toilette into modern day focus. In the process, she gives readers a glimpse of the social issues that influenced women's clothing and the societal outrage that was an all too frequent response to those bold females who used fashion and beauty as a means of asserting their individuality and independence.


My Review:
A Victorian Lady's Guide to Fashion and Beauty provides an overview of women's fashion in England between 1840 to 1900. The author used information and quotes from 19th century beauty books, fashion magazines, and lady's journals. She also included some fashion plates. I'm not familiar with the fashion terms of the period. I would have enjoyed more illustrations or more detailed descriptions for commonly used words describing parts of the dress or accessories, but I still found the book very interesting and informative.

The first part of the book described the fashionable dress styles (and their underpinnings), hats, shoes, cloaks, gloves, jewelry, and such during each decade and how the fashions changed. The author also talked about how changes in society and technology caused changes in fashions.

Then the author discussed the various dresses that were worn: the morning dress, walking dress, afternoon dress, dinner dress, evening dress or ball gown. She talked about changes in riding habits, seaside holiday dresses, bathing costumes, sports wear (for lawn tennis, golf, and cycling), wedding dresses, maternity dress, and mourning dresses during the Victorian period. She also described beauty advice and attitudes, from soap and cold creams for the face to hair care and hairstyles to cosmetic usage (face powder, cheek rouge, lip rouge, perfumes, etc.).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Complete Book of Arts Crafts, Grades K - 4 by Thinking Kids

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The Complete Book of Arts Crafts, Grades K - 4
by Thinking Kids


ISBN-13: 9781483826929
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Thinking Kids
Released: July 27, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The Complete Book of Arts & Crafts for kindergarten to fourth grade helps your child explore creative outlets in the following areas: painting, sculpting, drama, handmade toys, mixed materials, and holiday projects. This standards-based activity book builds a solid foundation in fun, hands-on learning! Filled with fun projects and detailed instructions, The Complete Book of Arts & Crafts engages children as they develop important creative skills. This child-friendly workbook promotes independent study by offering exciting and artistic projects.

Each comprehensive workbook engages children with full-color photographs and illustrations that hold their attention while they learn important concepts for success.


My Review:
The Complete Book of Arts Crafts, Grades K - 4 contains art and craft projects for grades kindergarten through 4th grade. The book "supports current state standards" according to a seal on the cover. Each project has a page that briefly describes what you're going to make and what you will need. Most of the things you need are easy to find around the house, like a cardboard roll, wax paper, rubber bands, crayons or markers, and scissors. The next page or two describes in simple steps how to make the project and has illustrations of the process.

The art projects use tempura or watercolor paint, markers, or pencils. The book includes several recipes for finger paint, air-drying or oven-drying clay, kid-safe playdough, and bubble solution for blowing bubbles. The book includes projects like: Tie-dying. Making musical instruments like a drum, kazoo, shakers, tambourine, etc. Making puppets of various sorts and costume masks. Making homemade toys and games, like a spider, a pine cone owl, or a tic-tac-toe board. Using pasta or yarn in making art. A pine cone bird feeder, bulletin board, treasure box, plate mirror, and pop-up cards. Making holiday-related crafts, like a felt wreath, snowman puppet, or craft stick snowflake. The projects are pretty easy to do, with some being easier than others for the younger kids.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Father of the Modern Circus 'Billy Buttons' by Steve Ward

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Father of the Modern Circus 'Billy Buttons'
by Steve Ward


ISBN-13: 9781526706874
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Pen and Sword History
Released: June 29, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The ‘modern’ circus was founded by Philip Astley. In April 1768, he pegged out a circular ride on the banks of the river Thames and gave performances of trick riding to a paying audience. He was an accomplished horseman, a military hero and an instinctive showman. Above all, he was an entrepreneur who realised that people would pay good money to be entertained. He created the comic character of Billy Buttons, and other acts were added to his performances: clowns, rope dancers, tumblers and strongmen. The circus, as we might recognise it today, was born.

From his early days as an apprentice cabinetmaker and his military exploits in the 15th Dragoons to the trials and tribulations of establishing himself as a respected performer and his international successes in France and Ireland, this book gives a detailed account of the larger than life figure that was Philip Astley.


My Review:
Father of the Modern Circus 'Billy Buttons' is basically a biography about Philip Astley. The author started with a chapter about how the skills we think of as circus skills have been around for thousands of years. They were used to entertain in courts and at fairs. He then talked about the birth and marriage records he found for Philip Astley and about his military service. Not much is known about his personal life, though.

Most of the book covered 1768 to 1801 and focused on the start and development of his circus. The author quoted the newspaper articles, court records, and advertisements that he found about Astley and then commented on the various entertainments at his shows, the legal battles he faced, etc. The author also talked about Astley's competitors and how things developed into what is typical of a modern circus. Overall, I'd recommend this book to circus fans. The entertainments were usually referred to rather than described in detail, so it may be more enlightening if you've seen similar acts.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Paint Watercolor Flowers by Birgit O'Connor

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Paint Watercolor Flowers
by Birgit O'Connor


ISBN-13: 9781440349966
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: North Light Books
Released: June 26, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Sunflowers, orchids, daffodils, lilies...your brush can bring these and more to life with Paint Watercolor Flowers. Master watercolorist Birgit O'Connor guides you every step of the way, from selecting essential watercolor supplies, to practicing basic painting techniques, to capturing the unique details of a variety of flowers, to showing them off in striking, color-rich compositions. Learn how to paint nine different flowers, with each demonstration covering important concepts you need for successful results. Friendly, easy-to-follow instructions make flower painting fun and doable for any artist, whether you are new to the medium or simply want to try a subject you haven't painted before.

Detailed instruction on color, value, creating shadows, composition and more
3 negative painting demonstrations
9 start-to-finish flower painting demonstrations exploring topics such as creating backgrounds, layering color, values in white flowers, values in colored flowers and much more
Learn to play with gorgeous color and water effects, expressing yourself with the unparalleled beauty of nature's bouquet


My Review:
Paint Watercolor Flowers teaches beginners how to use watercolor plus how to paint flowers. I wish I had this book back when I first decided to try watercolor because it would have saved me a great deal of frustration. The author not only covered the different watercolor tools and materials, but she explained their characteristics so that the reader can understand why certain materials are more suited to different styles of painting. The text clearly explained the information, and the pictures clearly demonstrated the information or technique. The steps in the demonstrations were clearly explained so that you can successfully follow them. Overall, I'd highly recommend this useful book.

The author started by talking about the various tools and materials. She then talked about watercolor techniques and troubleshooting tips, color theory, and composition (including how to use pictures of flowers to create or inspire a composition). She included 9 step-by-step flower demonstrations, each building upon skills practiced in the previous demonstrations. She's an excellent art teacher.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Brush Pen Illustration by Sho Ito

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Brush Pen Illustration
by Sho Ito


ISBN-13:
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: Quarry Books
Released: June 26, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Brush pens are a unique medium that comes in hundreds of colors and produces a beautiful, soft, watercolor effect which has had lettering artists buzzing. Now, though, illustrators in all walks of art are incorporating brush pens' into their repertoire as a simple way to include color and motion into their art.

Brush pens' style is reminiscent of Chinese brush painting and drawing. They offer a gentle, paint-like quality that replicate watercolor paints without having use paint and brushes. Brush Pen Illustration shows you how to draw things in 2-4 easy steps. Apples, zebras, penguins, flowers, this book shows you how to draw everything under the sun with fun and colorful brush pens.


My Review:
Brush Pen Illustration is a step-by-step drawing book that uses brush pens. The author started by briefly talking about brush pens and paper and then explained some brush pen techniques. Most of the book was 2-4 step demonstrations on how to draw over 200 everyday things, like food (vegetables, fruit, sweets, meals), animals (dogs, cats, and other animals), flowers, zodiac signs, and more.

The objects and animals were drawn with a Chinese brush painting look. The book was also Asian-oriented, so the author choose to demonstrate foods like sushi, which may not be of interest to everyone. During the step-by-step part, the focus was on what strokes to do in what order, so each stroke was numbered.

I now have a better feel for how to create the Chinese brush painting look, and the animal and flower drawings were of interest to me. However, while there's enough instruction to allow you to jump into creating his demonstration objects, I had been expecting a little more discussion about what to look for in brush pens and on using the techniques.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman

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The Royal Art of Poison
by Eleanor Herman


ISBN-13: 9781250140869
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: June 12, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Hugely entertaining, a work of pop history that traces the use of poison in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder


My Review:
The Royal Art of Poison is about how royals and famous people died in the Middle Ages to the present day from many different causes but blamed an enemy using poison. Sometimes they were correct. The author looked at how people died from poorly cooked food, diseases and filthy living conditions, medications and cosmetics containing poisons, or doctors using excessive bleeding, purging, and other treatments. The author also talked about the various antidotes and preventive methods used by royals to avoid being poisoned.

Then she looked at more than 17 specific, famous people who died under suspicion of poisoning--from Henry VII of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1313 to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821 plus a list of poisonings in Russia and elsewhere in more recent times. She provided a brief biography of the person, a detailed and gory description of their death as recorded at the time, what the people at the time concluded was the cause of death, and a modern forensic analysis of cause of death. When the conclusion was poisoning, she didn't attempt to guess who did it unless someone confessed to it. Overall, the writing style and information kept my interest, but the details of the deaths were a bit gory for me (though necessary for the forensic analysis).


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.