31 August 2017

A review of Mark Crilley's book, Manga Art

Manga Art, by Mark Crilley, is not what I expected it to be. I thought it was going to be a how-to book on drawing manga, and since I've checked out one artist's take on that, I was interested in seeing how a different artist would approach it.

This is not a how to draw book. Although Mark Crilley is an art teacher, and has YouTube videos teaching drawing techniques, this book is a collection of artwork by him for him (and us), where he got to explore his art and style. I loved it! Reading this book was like going to see a special exhibit in a museum. And getting to stop and look at all the pictures, for as long as you want. And reading the little plaques next to the display. As a mother with young children, that's a pretty awesome experience. One of the rules of childhood seems to be: If you can't climb on it, it's not worthwhile. Which means I don't really do museums right now.

Except I feel like I did. I got to see this huge collection of art. Have a little "discussion" about what art means with Mr. Crilley. Take time just staring at something beautiful. It sounds neurotic, but it was totally a much needed mommy break - that and I really loved the artwork.

My favorite piece was called Glomp!

Image result for mark crilley glomp

It looks a lot like this. Which is basically how I feel when I see my husband.

The book was divided into five different segments: Characters, Japan, Science Fiction, Conceptual Art, and Styleplay. Each picture has an explanation about why Crilley chose to do the particular piece, and how he did it, and maybe ways it challenged him as an artist. My favorite section was Styleplay, and it was fun seeing if I recognized which artist Mr. Crilley was emulating. Some were unmistakable, like an homage to the creator of Calvin and Hobbes entitled The Watterson Tree. Some were just styles in general, like "looser brushstrokes". I really enjoyed reading Manga Art and I would recommend it to people interested in that art form, even if you just checked it out from the library.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. This is my honest opinion about the book. 

08 August 2017

To refugees coming to America

Dear Stranger,

Welcome to America! May you enjoy every freedom this country has to offer. May you be welcomed by those you come amongst, and may you find many helpful people to see you through your transition to a new homeland. I am so sorry you were forced from your homeland. I can't imagine the pain and terror you have experienced. I am so sorry you were forced to leave loved ones and possessions. I know from my limited ability to speak a foreign language that it can be so hard to express yourself, yet people will be judging you by those limited expressions. You are brave and you are strong.

There are people who will view you as a threat to their safety, their jobs, their tax dollars, their way of life. These people can be quite vocal. Some of them will be very rude. Please don't judge all of us by those unkind individuals. We are happy to have you. We hope you will feel welcome in our homeland for as long as you care to stay. We pray for those you were forced to leave behind, that their lives will be protected, and that peace will return to their land. We are so grateful for the good that you will contribute to our society. We are grateful for the opportunity we have to learn from you. Welcome to America, and, we hope, welcome home.

14 July 2017

A review of David Chelsea's book, Perspective in Action

How you feel about David Chelsea's book Perspective in Action, is a matter of...perspective. And my perspective is that of an amateur artist who's always had a little bit of difficulty with perspective and proportion. If you're coming from a similar perspective, this book is not for you. This book is highly technical.

Image result for perspective in action

It went over my head. I should have been a little bit clued in by the tagline on the cover "Creative exercises depicting spatial representation from the Renaissance to the Digital Age.", but I wasn't. I figured by "exercises" it meant fifteen - forty-five minute drawing exercises meant to hone one's skills and help improve one's understanding of perspective. This is not the case. This book is for hardcore prospective perspective acolytes. This book is for people who's careers depend on their perspective ;)

Here's one of the suggestions I decided not to follow through on:

"If you would like the sharpest possible image, follow the equation below to determine the best diameter pinhole for the distance between pinhole and wall surface. Since my bathroom is 6 feet deep, the optimum pinhole width is approximately 1.5 mm."

...actually, I'm going to have to stop with that example, because I can't figure out how to blog the equation. Meh. Suffice it to say, it was higher math and I wasn't interested.

So in the end, I wasn't actually qualified to review this book. Overall impressions: Highly techinical, and if you actually took the time to do the exercises described you would be spending an enormous amount of time and effort on it, and I think maybe the real purpose is for the perspective buffs out there to follow along philosophically speaking, nodding their heads and murmuring, "I see..." The author occasionally made remarks I found humorous. On two occasions the artist used nude illustrations to demonstrate a point that seemed more naked than nude - there was no point to the illustration choice, any other image would have done, so I wasn't a fan of that.

Maybe this is a really great book, but I'm never going to know. I do have a lot of respect for the technical skill and knowledge that went into this.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. This is my honest opinion about the book. 

23 May 2017

A review of Matthew Paul Turner's book, When God Made You, illustrated by David Catrow

People say not to judge books by their covers. This can be true. I bought one of my very favorite books used on Amazon once, and it came with a truly horrific cover. It's actually off-putting. The irony is, the reason that I checked the book out of the library when I first discovered it was because of its different, appealing and interesting cover. I find that I can usually tell if I'm going to like a book by its cover.

Matthew Paul Turner and David Catrow's book, When God Made You, is no exception. You can tell right when you look at it that when God made you it was a happy thing, and that you should be very glad to be you.

The pictures and words in this book really flow together, and Mr. Catrow does an amazing job expressing exuberance and joy and delight. It's almost abstract, but you understand the sentiment. As you can conceive from the front cover, there is a real sense of soaring in the book, even literally depicted. The words are descriptive, and convey the powerful truth that we are known and loved by God. It's a fun reinforcement for children that God made us on purpose, exactly how we are.

Really the only issue I have with this book is that the rhymes don't always flow in a way that feels natural to me. It can make for an occasional hiccup in the reading.

What child, or adult, doesn't need to remember that they are God's? To borrow Mr. Turner's words:

" 'Cause when God made you
and the world oohed and aahed,
in heaven they called you an image of God."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I know that I will be reading it to my children many times in the future.

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I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. This is my honest opinion about the book. 

11 May 2017

A review of Karen Salmansohn's book, Open When...Letters to Lift Your Spirits

Everyone likes getting things in the mail. My father once remarked that he even enjoys getting bills, because it means he's alive...or something to that effect; it was a long time ago. Karen Salmansohn's book, Open when...letters to lift your spirits, is like getting twelve letters all at once. And owing to some clever paper folding, you literally get to open them. It's a fun format.
Image result for karen salmansohn open when
Image Source: http://notsalmon.com/shop/open-when/

Now it just so happened that when I got this book, I was having a "bad day" and "need[ed] to find [my] happy place," letters number one and number two. I read the letters and thought, "Oh bother. I don't feel like being told to perform mental exercises right now." But I kept reading through the other letters (What can I say? I'm impatient. My amended title to Open When is Open When You Feel Like It. Honestly, I feel like the book is worth a read straight through.); by the end of it I was smiling and wanted to show the book to my best friend. So, sometimes the letter you should be opening isn't the letter you think you should be opening (There's a metaphor for life here.).

I enjoyed this book, and I enjoyed the art. It's a watercolory, peaceful, fun sort of thing. My favorite letter is the last letter, "Open when...you want to smile," but I won't go into details, because that would spoil the fun. It's a good note to end on though.

My daughters enjoyed the book too. My two year old even carried it around with her for a few days, because it was her book. So there's an art review from a toddler for you.

The book can get a little bit preachy-advicey at times, but I think that's mostly when you read it in a bad mood - ironically. Don't read it when you're Really Mad...just sort of mad, then you can practice before you try any of the mental exercises. And don't worry that it is going to be a long read, the picture above gives you a really good idea of how the pages go. Overall I enjoyed this book, and it's one I plan on keeping...or at least, one my daughter plans on keeping.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. This is my honest opinion about the book. 

07 March 2017

A review of Adam Weber's book, Talking With God

I decided to read Talking With God, by Adam Weber, because I felt like I needed to focus more on prayer, and I wanted to have a fresh perspective on it. The fact that it was written by someone not of my faith, but still a fellow Christian, made me hopeful that I could gain some new insights that would help me build my testimony of prayer.
Reading this book definitely made me remember the many blessings God has given me, and the solace I have found in prayer, and the times when my prayers have been answered more abundantly than I could have hoped. It also reminded me of how much being able to talk to my Heavenly Father has made it possible for me to trust God to see me through hard times and situations - even when they're caused by my own foolishness.
This book could be a little rambling at times, but the layout was simple and easy to follow. Much of the book was anecdotal, but there were a lot of scriptures to back up the author's points. The footnotes threw me off for a little bit, because they were really just side notes, and really not critical to the book (other than scripture references), like foot note 1 in Chapter 2. Easter Bunny: 1. Another year, I got a Salt-N-Pepa CD. Awesome. (p. 189). I do have to admit though, that is the first time I've read every foot note in a book. It can read a bit like a memoir at times, but the author has a light touch of humor, and his experiences he shares are always used to illustrate his point.
I was never bored while I was reading the book. It didn't drag. It was a well-paced sermon on prayer. The book challenged the reader to do a couple of different things, and while I usually skip over challenges, I did a few of these. At one point, Reverend Weber suggested praying for someone, then letting that person know that you were praying for them, and what you had prayed for them. It was a little out of my comfort zone - although I've definitely told people having a hard time that I would pray for them - but, I decided to go for it (I forget which page this challenge is on, by the way). I don't think I'm going to adopt this as a new practice, but I did have a good experience. I was able to communicate to a friend that I care, and that I have a testimony that God cares.
I felt like this book lacked a little bit of the reverence I have for my Heavenly Father. I understand, as Reverend Weber was demonstrating his point throughout that Jesus and Heavenly Father are our friends, but I would have loved to have seen a touch more deference.
Overall, I'm glad I read this book. Not only did it give me the opportunity to think over my relationship with Heavenly Father, but it reminded me that God answers the prayers of all of His children, and that He is happy anytime one of His children comes to Him in prayer.
I recommend this book to those who are looking for a beginning or review perspective on prayer.
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I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. This is my honest opinion about the book. 

26 February 2017

To people who are feeling burned out.

Dear Fatigued Stranger,

I'm feeling it too. Like a wind-up toy losing power. Like a gerbil in a wheel. Like a playlist on repeat. You get the point. We're tired of the daily grind, and we feel like we can't keep going, but we have to: for work, for our kids, for our family, friends, spouses, random acquaintances or strangers asking us to support a cause. There are so many demands.

If you're feeling like a fire going out, it's time to bank the fire. Keep it low but alive. A man who has my deepest respect used an airplane analogy (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/of-things-that-matter-most?lang=eng): when we fly through turbulence, we sometimes think we should proceed full speed ahead and get it over with, but we really lessen the turbulence by slowing down. So just keep it simple. Don't do anything extra.

A friend needed my help last week. And I said no. This might have made me a terrible friend. Jesus gave us a phenomenal example of service and sacrifice. Shouldn't I have said yes to my friend? And I say "No." You cannot give what you do not have. If you ask me for a golden elephant the size of my head, I can wish and wish and wish I could give it to you, but I don't have one.

Say no to people. There may come a genuine emergency, and you cannot say no, but these are exceedingly rare. Say no to being busy and running around frantically. Realize that there are some essential things in life that cannot be ignored, but these also are not as numerous as we think.

So just wait. The time will come to say yes. The time will come to do more. I have lived long enough to know that somehow we'll get more firewood from somewhere - even if that takes awhile.

But for now, be still. Know that God is God.