The Urban Sketching Handbook: Working with Color by Shari Blaukopf

If you know your watercolor basics (but hey, ipad + procreate is a popular option too) and want to sketch outdoors, but struggle to get things looking nice, like “why can’t I get perspective right?”, “how can I draw people?”, “it doesn’t have the same mood” etc, then I would recommend you to check out The Urban Sketching Handbook series. They have several books focusing on different aspects of urban sketching and, in this case, color.

First chapters have brief explanations on materials, how to choose your colors, watercolor techniques (washes, glazing, wet on wet, splattering, dry brush), skies, mixing greens for trees and shrubs and mixing darks and shadows.

The following chapters explore color and value, limited colors (1 or 3 color palettes), color relationships (how to express moods with color/ color temperature), neutral colors, how to catch the mood and atmosphere of a place, using expressive colors and using other media (like pens, gouache, pastel or even ipad). Each chapter consists of inspiring watercolor artworks by different artists + their personal tips related to the chapter in question.

At the end of the handbook, there’s a nice art challenge list to get you started and experimenting. What I loved the most about this book, is that it’s mainly filled with tips from different artists. It’s inspirational and specially useful for intermediate artists.

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Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts by Michelle Brown

Do you remember the illuminated bookmark I made several months ago?. Okay, it’s this one:

Illumination is the art of decorating text with all kinds of ornaments or images. Think about medieval manuscripts and the popular Book of hours (which is not just one book, but how this type of religious manuscripts were called).

If you are familiar with it and wish to have more in depth knowledge about techniques, processes, materials, nomenclature and styles used for making illuminated manuscripts, then Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts can satisfy your curiosity. This is a revised edition of a book first published in 1994. Think of it as an “anatomy guide” full with terms, easy to read explanations and beautiful images. It also feels like a dictionary to accompany your studies.

It is a technical book, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the casual reader. However, explanations are easy to understand and you don’t need to be an scholar or researcher to benefit from it. If you are an autodidact, this book would be perfect to help you understand many terms you might encounter in other related texts. Anyone trying to gain a deeper understanding of illuminated manuscripts can benefit from it.

At this point, my interest is general and only focused on the artistic side of illumination. If I was to specialize on medieval illustration and try to recreate this wonderful style accurately, then I would definitely rely on this book because of its good balance between text and images plus modern explanations.

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The end of hiatus

Book Blogging Tales #1 by MIssHoneybug -
"The end of hiatus"
Optimistic: "It's okay, let's pick up from where we left" "better late than never".
Pessimistic: "No one will remember me. Do I even have followers?. Does anyone care?"
Story teller: "As you might have noticed, I went away for 6 months. Truth is, during that time I found a job, had exams, got new puppy, moved to new apartment, had to take care of blablablbla....".
Existentialist: "To blog or not to blog... Why do I blog? What is life?".
Procrastinator: "I need a special post for my comeback... I'll get to it...later".
Goner: "...".

Did you identify with any of these types? I think I’m an optimist with a hint of procrastinator (perfectionist actually, but those two go hand in hand sometimes).

Yes, I’m back. Life happens, but then you just stand up and keep reading!.

For all the authors who have contacted me during the past several months, thank you for your patience! I’ll be answering back little by little.

For all my readers, I have so many stories to tell you! about books, blogging, art and life. I missed you.

Miss Honeybug with heart

The Art of Visual Notetaking by Emily Mills

The Art of Visual Notetaking: An Interactive Guide to Visual Communication and Sketchnoting is a 128 pages workbook that teaches you how to take notes incorporating visually pleasing elements like simple drawings, fun lettering, symbols and even colors.

Probably many of us have done this to some extend, we hear certain words from a lecture and start doodling them all over the page. The difference here is, when you take visual notes, those doodles are sequentially organized like a road map and make sense!.

Now, why would you need a book when you already know how to doodle?. Well, it’s not the same to make a couple of doodles during a 1hr conference than to mindfully pick the most important points, doodle them and make them look good and understandable.

In this book, Emily explains all you need to know to start visual notetaking. To name a few, the importance of creating visual content, types of visual notes, tools, lettering styles, drawing basics, composition, listening cues, layouts, visual library, etc. There is plenty of space after each lesson so that you can practice right away.

Personally, I would have loved to see more examples in different styles and about more interesting subjects. The information provided is great for those without experience at all, but it lacks the eye-candy that entices you to try it. Which I would consider specially important to get beginners and casual readers (not those who already made their mind to learn this skill) excited about learning.

Would recommend this book to anyone interested about taking visually pleasing notes, but specially for those whose job requires to take notes and present them to others. Sketchnoting, as it is also called, can be a job by itself. So, I would also recommend it for artists, designers, assistants, journalists and those interested in broadening their professional skills.

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Out of the Woods: A Journey Through Depression and Anxiety by Brent Williams

This book’s title already tells a lot about its content, but the “how it is told” is what doesn’t show and deserves more attention. It makes it, in my opinion, a top choice when looking, for the first time, for books about anxiety and depression.

First of all, it it a graphic novel illustrated bt Korkut Öztekin where the main character is the author of this book and the story is his own journey. The combination of text and images helps explain this serious and complex subject in a friendly and approachable way. Specially good for sufferers, as images are easier to digest than a typical book.

I really liked the illustrator’s style and approach. 700 watercolor illustrations with a color palette that resembles our MC’s mental state. Muted colors dominate the beginning of the story, when our MC feels at his worst, and as his mind begins to heal and strengthen, those colors slightly change towards more pleasing, brighter tones.

What I liked the most about this autobiographical story is that it doesn’t go into too specific details, yet gives us a very complete image of this illness. I would compare it to a first-aid kit, it has a bit of everything you might need to know at first. The story show us what happens inside his head as well as outside in his everyday life. It also tells about the different options for treating these conditions; from pills to alternative solutions. It’s very neutral approach, it doesn’t entice the reader to try one or another, it simply shows the options and what worked and didn’t work for the author. I really appreciate how unbiased it felt.

It is a great read for those trying to understand people with anxiety and depression and specially good for those who suffer from it. It feels like a fellow friend telling you about his journey, without reservations. You can feel identified with the author’s experiences and even realize things you didn’t think would be related to depression or anxiety. A very important read in this time and age where these conditions are suffered by many.

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The Organic Painter by Carne Griffiths

Coffee, tea, alcohol, flame, ice, etc. In this book, you will explore non conventional and easily accessible ways to create art and unwind your creativity. If the title gave you the idea of pesticide free painting, nope, this is not that kind of organic.

What I liked the most about this book, is that it explains in detail the process Carne Griffiths uses for creating his amazing paintings. The way he combines inks and tea to create a free-form organic splatters, and then how he combines it with pencil and ink drawings, it’s almost magical. I like how it looks messy and random but at the same time precise and organized.

You can check out his website to get a better idea of what I’m talking about. If you like his tea and ink creations and want to try it as well, then this book is totally for you.

This is definitely great for those who like to create art in a more spontaneous and loose style. It is also perfect for stimulating creativity and developing your mark making skills. In my case, I loved it because he uses unconventional materials and I’m all about experimentation! So for those free souls that anything in their home can potentially become a tool for mass creation, this is your thing.

Couldn’t resist and had to try it before posting my review. Let me tell you, It was FUN, it made my brain work in mysterious ways. I added my own style to it and voilá. Not bad for my first try, don’t you think? 😀
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Sweet Remedies by Dawn Combs

Sweet Remedies by Dawn Combs book review (book cover image)

Hi friends! This was indeed a sweeeet book. I keep (more or less constantly) a low-carb diet because carbs make me super tired! I get food coma, sleepy and difficult to think clearly after having a pasta carbonara. I use way less sugar than before (spoiler: tea tastes way better without sugar, once you get used to it, and everything tastes sweeter than before, sometimes disgustingly so).

So you may ask, why did you request a book about sweet remedies?. Because I use honey as body nourishment, as a substance full of nutrients and healthy benefits. I was just interested about other ways to prepare honey and this book went way beyond my expectations.

I really liked how it is presented. First there’s Dawn’s story and how, as it is usually the case, a health issue (in this case infertility) paved the way towards what now is a honeybee farm where she and her husband make use of their herb garden and honey to prepare honey spreads, syrups, honey boosters, etc. In this book, she shares recipes and techniques learned throughout her 13 years of experience.

The book is divided into 3 parts. The first part explains how honey is made, properties, history, healing qualities and instructions for making herbal honey preparations (infused honey, oxymels, electuaries, pills,etc). Really liked that it explains how to choose or grow herbs and honey and a guide to suitable plants for each preparation, in order to get the best benefits from each.

The second part is about recipes. Lots and lots of recipes for different kinds of ailments or as health boosters. What I specially like is that each recipe comes with Dawn’s commentary and an explanation of how each herb contributes or affects in the preparation. For example, The Pain Relief Honey Spread recipe includes wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) and explains how this herb is an opiate-level pain killer without the side effects. I really love that it’s not just instructions, but clear explanations on how each ingredient aids with the body or interacts with other substances.

The third and last part put a smile on my face. It’s about helping the bees and becoming a beekeeper. Sustainability is another great aspect this book focuses on, from explaining the importance of growing your own herbs and making sure you are not depleting plant sources, to instructions for making a bee fountain and supporting the bee community. Loved this book!.

Miss Honeybug drawing
  • Good for those interested in natural remedies.
  • Lot’s of recipes for all kinds of ailments or as a health boost.
  • Dawn Combs studied with Rosemary Gladstar.
  • If you are interested about starting your own beefarm and making your own honey remedies.

*I requested an eArc from Storey Publishing and will buy a paper copy because this is gold.

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Creative Watercolor by Ana Victoria Calderon

Book cover

Hello friends! Today’s book review is about watercolors for the very beginners. Like, the very beginners who just bought their set of watercolors, brush and paper (please, medium quality, nothing too cheap meant for kids. The future you will thank you for that).

Actually, even better if you haven’t bought anything yet, as this book explains really well the tools you will need and the different options you can choose from. For example, pros vs.cons of tube, pan and liquid watercolors along with recommended brands.

This is a project-based book with step by step instructions and plenty of images that will guide you through the process. It has a section for warm-ups and basic techniques to get you started. Once you are comfortable with with the basics, you can try the projects from the next sections.

Projects consist of simple stylized objects (modern watercolors approach, no realism here) which makes them easy to complete. They are grouped in “flowers and foliage”, “butterflies and other critters”, “fruits, veggies and nuts” and “lettering”. It gives plenty of sample alphabets to choose from. With all the lessons learned in this book, you should be able to create more elaborate watercolor projects and beautiful illustrations, greeting cards or any other crafty project. A fun way to get you started into this popular media.

Drawing of Miss Honeybug
  • Good for beginners.
  • For the weekend hobbyist and as art therapy.
  • Projects suitable to enjoy with kids.
  • If you want to add modern watercolors to your crafts or designs.

*I requested an eArc from Quarto Publishing Group so that I can drool, I mean, review this book.

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Blog updates chat: Perfectionism and Procrastination

Decorative watercolor image: Ball creature with cute eyes smiling, looking straight at you through a keyhole. Some trees and more ball creatures on the background.

Hello sweeties, how are you?. It’s been a while since the last time I talked to you. I’m perfectly fine, maybe even better than the last time I made a post! So the reason I haven’t posted is something very common indeed: Perfectionism and Procrastination. Today I want to tell you how they can hinder your growth and what can you do about it.

We all know that perfection doesn’t exist, yet we strive for it. Sometimes, it leads us to disappointment and feelings of “not being good enough”. Other times, it paralyzes us.

Have you heard the term “Analysis paralysis”? That’s what happens when we over-analyze a situation, making it more complex than what it really is. As a result, we end up with so many variables that it’s impossible to make a decision. In the end, no choice is ever made. Nothing happens.

I believe procrastination is the side-kick of perfectionism. When we start thinking about all the blurry steps we need to take to achieve something, we feel overwhelmed. It’s like saying: “I don’t think I have what it takes (insert blurry list of unreal requirements) to do X today” and then we start doing the dishes while pretending the deadline doesn’t exist.

So, over the past weeks I have been thinking (and reading) about how to tackle both issues at once, here is my first aid kit:

  1. Create habits
    • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a good read
    • Start small, but be consistent. Consistency is THE key.
  2. Organize
    • When overwhelmed by tasks, take a breath and do an Eisenhower Matrix (Urgent vs. Important)
    • Keep a wall calendar where you can clearly see your tasks (DIY erasable calendar)
    • Set your priorities straight, instead of saying “I don’t have time to do X”, make time for it!. I recommend Laura Vanderkam’s TED talk.
  3. Motivate yourself
    • Our brain resists change, that’s a fact, but we can coerce it to cooperate if we bribe it!. Set tiny goals at first and give yourself a reward right away after finishing your task. Tiny goals, tiny rewards. Long goals, small “milestone” rewards and big one at the end
  4. Just do it!
    • It actually works. I have seen it in arts and sports as well. When you are in front of a white page, it’s scary and your brain tells you you’ll mess it up. What I have learned is: FAIL ON PURPOSE. Write a few crappy paragrahs with typos and usnaihd blahe. Just keep writing, realize that imperfection is part of the process, and edit later.

That’s it! I started applying these steps to my Instagram account where I share mostly art. It has worked amazingly well, so I will start applying them to my baby blog which I love so much and neglected in pursue of a perfect child. I have so many books I need to share with you!! So. many. awesome. books. Be prepared 😉

Take care and have a wonderful day!

The New Color Mixing Companion by Josie Lewis

The New Color Mixing Companion:
Explore and Create Fresh and Vibrant Color Palettes with Paint, Collage, and Mixed Media–With Templates for Painting Your Own Color Patterns
by Josie Lewis

Keywords: non-fiction, arts and crafts, watercolor, acrylic, collage, paper, hobbies, how-to, color, beginners and intermediate, step-by-step, visual, projects

*Paperback, 160 pages
Published December 4th 2018
by Quarry Books

This book is all about colorful projects and having fun while learning how to mix colors in beautiful ways. It has a clear introduction to color theory and mixing techniques. I got specially interested about the “mother method” to achieve harmonious color shifts.

Projects include acrylic, collage and watercolor. Each one comes with a bit of theory or art history, skill level, skills learned, materials, time to complete and (my favorite) mess level. Step-by-step instructions and process photos make it suitable for beginners but this is definitely a great book for more advanced artists was well.

I appreciate the uplifting mood this book has. In between projects there are bits of information for artists: talent, failure, flow neuroscience and Lewis’ emotional and inspiring story about her art journey. The dash of humor and playfulness in each lesson matches the vibrant rainbow colors from the projects. My favorite one was “The Classic Schmear”.

“Watercolor, I shake my fist at you! (But I love you, never leave me)”

-Josie Lewis, The New Color Mixing Companion

I loved everything about this book, I just wished the “mother method” was further explained. There’s only a couple of lines explaining how to create it without process pictures and it can be confusing, specially for beginners. If you like rainbow colored projects and are ready to paint or cut repetitive shapes to create beautiful patterns, this is absolutely for you.

*I got my copy from the publisher, that doesn’t affect my review.

Watercolor painting: dark circles that, when they overlap, change to vibrant colors.

This is inspired by one of the techniques from the book. Probably because all projects were so colorful, I chose the only one who had mostly gray tones, haha!! oh, the irony.

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