Category Archives: Art & Design

Child of Non-Fiction


Litercurious Book Review

TitleOil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes: Learn
to Paint Step by Step (How to Draw & Paint)
AuthorMartin Clarke
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised
ed. edition (March 3, 2020)
ISBN # 10/131633228460 / 978-1633228467


Martin Clarke, is a fine artist who specializes in seascapes and views. See more details by clicking on his name above


Clarke’s Oil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes is written in the style of a self-help manual come tutorial. It hails from the renowned publisher Walter Foster. Whilst it is diminutive with only 40 pages in total, the information packed inside in conjunction with the attractive color plates and illustrations make it a jewel.


<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">If you have read enough Walter Foster books, the format will be familiar and welcome. As always, it is written and illustrated with ease of use built in. Within the pages are five quick and easy tutorials complete with methods to help improve your skills. There are step-by-step directions and plenty of ancillary information to assist the aspiring artist even further. If you have read enough Walter Foster books, the format will be familiar and welcome. As always, it is written and illustrated with ease of use built in. Within the pages are five quick and easy tutorials complete with methods to help improve your skills. There are step-by-step directions and plenty of ancillary information to assist the aspiring artist even further.

There is a brief introduction to color theory, brush techniques, and recommended palettes. Whilst it appears at first sight to be a tutorial best used by those new to painting in oil, the methods and advice enclosed would be helpful to even those of an intermediate level of expertise. 


Sometimes less really is more. This is for those with the need for a quick to understand but highly accessible and informative read.


I would like to thank Martin Clarke, Net Galley, and Walter Foster Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Oil Painting: Oceans & Seascapes: Learn to Paint Step by Step.


Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Art of Basic Drawing 
AuthorWilliam F. Powell, Michael Butkus, et. al.
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised
ed. edition (March 3, 2020)
ISBN# 10 /131633228320 / 978-1633228320


William F. Powell and Michael Butkus, et. al. are the accomplished authors, artists, and writers of a plethora of publications. Together the authors have created a splendid tutorial for all those who want to increase their skills and abilities.


The Art of Basic Drawing provides a guided tutorial, style self-help book based on Quarto’s Walter Foster imprint style. Although it is described as basic, there are techniques described within the pages that will appeal to those with an intermediate skill level. For this reason I believe most artists or aspiring artist will benefit from the valuable information in this print.


This book is skillfully illustrated and resplendent with invaluable insights as well as tips, tricks, and techniques. The magnificent tutorials enclosed will guide you through methods to improve your skill-set and assist you in producing more satisfying results from your efforts.

This artists manifesto is attractively presented and most important easy to follow in step-by-step instructions. The presentation gives the viewer confidence to try out the techniques in the comfort of their own home or studio.

The structure of the book allows the reader to move from chapter to chapter or section to section with equal ease, whilst maintaining full comprehension. The phased sequence transports the beginner through the drawing methods: from getting started, to how to approach still life subjects, followed by animals, landscapes and people.


The Art of Basic Drawing made a considerable impression on me, and it reminded me of the depiction and style of more traditional artists of previous decades. It has the feel of a quality product written and published by those who possess genuine experience and love for the subject. For the price of a night out at the cinema you could have this manual that will give you a lifetime of pleasure. I heartily recommended this book for both beginners and intermediate artists.


Walter Foster Publishing is one of the most recognized names in art instruction. The timeless drawing and painting techniques found in Walter Foster titles have assisted people around the world discover their creative talents. Walter Foster Publishing has developed a full library of titles for the modern artist: from traditional pencil sketching; to acrylic, oil, and watercolor painting; to mixed media, hand lettering, and DIY crafting.



I would like to thank the authors William F. Powell and Michael Butkus, Netgalley, and Walter Foster Publishing for affording the opportunity to review The Art of Basic Drawing.


TitleOil & Acrylic: Flowers: Learn to paint
step by step (How to Draw & Paint) 
AuthorMarcia Baldwin
PublisherWalter Foster Publishing; Revised ed.
edition (March 3, 2020)
ISBN# 10 /131633228487 / 978-1633228481


Marcia Baldwin MFA., BFA., is a lettered professional fine artist in Florida. She hosts her own art studio where she practices her skills in oil painting. As well as oil painting she has worked as an advertising designer, an art teacher, an art consultant, and now as an author.


Artists who have limited expertise and practical knowledge may find this work helpful.  Those just wishing to learn the basics of oil and acrylic painting could benefit from some or all of the tricks, tips or techniques explained within. 


Baldwin has produced a useful introduction to oil and acrylic painting for those early in their painting adventure. The book is concise at only 40 pages and colorfully illustrated with botanical subjects. The layout and format is necessarily precise. Contents include the following:

  • Tools and Materials
  • Painting Techniques
  • Color Basics
  • Working from photos
  • Working from sketches
  • Creating Textures
  • Under painting
  • Taking artistic liberties
  • Creating texture and 
  • Enhancing backgrounds

The book is easy to negotiate, and the tips easily aid the comprehensible tuition. Baldwin uses painting in the abstraction method to illustrate her manual. Painting the abstraction begins with the largest shapes of the subject moving to the smallest fine detail in stages. 


In conclusion, this book is an attractive yet brief sojourn into oil and acrylic painting for new students of art. The color plates are enhanced by the brief but helpful dialogue and tips. The illustrations were colorful and vividly depicted, although cartoonish. 

My only disappointment is the absence of any index or reference section made the book feel as though it ended prematurely. In its favor, it left me wanting more. 


My sincere thanks go to Marcia Baldwin, NetGalley, and, Walter Foster Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Oil & Acrylic: Flowers: Learn to paint step by step (How to Draw & Paint)


Litercurious Book Review

TitleJust Draw Botanicals
AuthorHelen Birch
PublisherWhite Lion Publishing (March 3, 2020)
ISBN #10 /#130711251320 / 978-0711251328     


Helen Birch is the collator of this unique compendium of magnificent literary work of art. She lives in Manchester, United Kingdom. You can find her blog here and here. Her Pinterest page can be found here, and her Twitter is located here.


This is suitable for any epicurean of exceptional artistic expertise.


This work is far more than a coffee table book. It is of Gallery quality in its presentation and content. The publication consists of a corollary of disparate international artists, united in their ability to illustrate 90 plants and flowers to an extraordinary level.

The book has full-page spreads of incredibly detailed botanical subjects, from a broad range of subjects. The professional expertise shines through on page after page. This level of artistic skill requires many thousands of hours of practical and theoretical application; with each painting requiring days or weeks of work to complete.

Whilst this is not a training manual for aspiring artists, it would make for an invaluable tool for anyone wanting to attain a higher competency in their craft.

The artistic styles and objects vary throughout the literature, thereby presenting a diverse and interesting presentation across the book. The author includes descriptions of each piece and suggested methods should the reader wish to attempt a similar subject. The format of the display pages has illustrations on one page and the previously mentioned tips and information on the other.

The fulcrum of the work is the Gallery. Alongside the gallery is a student to professional resource where there is some guidance on how to get started in botanical painting. The author includes reference pages and bibliographies for further study.


This is a stunning treasure of skill and ability created by a collection of global painters. It would increase the beauty and visual value of any bookcase or home library. Just Draw Botanicals has elevated the standard of botanical drawing compositions exceedingly high, forsaking many others.


My sincere thanks go to Helen Birch, NetGalley, and White Lion Publishing for affording me the opportunity to review Just Draw Botanicals.

Life Drawing For Artists – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleLife Drawing for Artists: Understanding
Figure Drawing Through Poses, Postures,
and Lighting
AuthorChris Legaspi
PublisherRockport Publishers (December 24, 2019)
FormatPaperback, Kindle
Language: English
ISBN-10/ISBN-131631598015 / 978-1631598012


Christopher Legaspi has taught at some of the top art schools in America, including the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood and the New Masters Academy.

His design and drawing classes are some of the most popular and exciting classes offered. Along with his classroom experience, he’s held workshops and lectured at the world-renowned Art Center College of Design, the Concept Design Academy, and LucasArts in Singapore.

If you would like to find out more, you can read all about the author on his own blog page by clicking here. You can find his portfolio here. He has a blog that you can visit here.


Artists who are committed to improving their life study skills, and students who are still finding their favorite subjects to draw will find this book essential. In addition, any amateur artist who wants to see improvements in their work through study may benefit from the years of knowledge and experience contained within the 176 pages of this magnificent book.


In Life Drawing for Artists, Legaspi informs us of his technical approach to life drawing. As any professional artist will know, life drawing is best done with an actual artist’s model in good lighting. The costs of employing a live model can be prohibitive and this is where books like Legaspi’s come in to their own.

The author starts where all art creation begins, with the materials and tools. Chris goes on to discuss how important quick sketches are to capturing the moment. Quick sketching is a conventional method used in every place where art is taught. The brevity of producing drawings in limited time forces the artist to make hard decisions quickly. This method forces the artist to identify the lines, shapes and forms of the body often without allowing the pencil to leave the page for the greatest speed.

In later passages Legaspi refers to the various elements that make up the body arms, legs, head and torso. Most important for those learning life drawing is how to assess the proportions of the body correctly. Learning the anatomical proportions is central to the improvement in any artist’s work. He further explains poses and positions that are more esthetically pleasing to the eye. The perspective of the body and how to achieve the correct depiction I believe will remain a favorite of many readers.

The reader is left in no doubt that Chris Legaspi is a practiced and professional lecturer in art and design. His experience is palpable as you traverse the pages and are confronted with page after page of pure artists gold.


Life Drawing for Artists is in every way a university level course. The author takes the student on a journey similar to a class in academia. You get to choose how quickly you move forward. You have time to consider, assess, and control your own learning rate. The pages are replete with helpful and useful information from an expert with many years of experience in the industry.

In this text you will find many techniques to aid in improving your skills and take them to the next level. Among these techniques are: Increased knowledge of the human body and its structures, methods to develop exciting poses, a focus on drawing methods and how to enhance them, and how to use basic forms and shapes to aid in sketching methods.


My sincere thanks go to Chris Legaspi, NetGalley, and Rockport Publishers, for affording me the opportunity to review Life Drawing for Artists: Understanding Figure Drawing Through Poses, Postures, and Lighting.

The Urban Sketching Handbook

Litercurious Book Review

TitleThe Urban Sketching Handbook:
101 Sketching Tips
AuthorStephanie Bower
PublisherQuarto Publishing Group (Nov. 3, 2019)
FormatKindle, Flexibound
Language English
ISBN-10/ISBN-131631597655 / 978-1631597657


Stephenie Bower is the author of The Urban Sketching Handbook. If you would like to find out more, you can read all about the author on her own blog page by clicking here.


Anyone with an interest in learning the fashionable new trend in artistic expression known as Urban Sketching will find this text an invaluable addition to their knowledge base. Whilst the work is intended for artists looking to engage in urban sketching and painting, other artist could benefit from the many and varied tips, tricks and techniques. This book is great if you have been considering taking up urban sketching and didn’t quite know what to expect or how to start. This text would also be useful as a reference for any aspiring the artist from beginner to intermediate level.


Urban Sketching has grown in recent years and now has a strong global following. This type of art has seen increased participation and is a popular hobby for aspiring and accomplished artists worldwide. Amateurs and professional artists participate together in the enjoyment of the architecture of the built environment.

Bower’s manual is the answer to many uninitiated urban sketchers looking to get a foot hold on the tools, tips and techniques necessary to become competent; or just to have fun and make new friends whist painting or sketching.

The text is brief and concise at only 112 pages, but within these pages you will discover 101 tips to aid in improving your artwork. The book is filled with beautiful illustrations by a variety of artists including the authors own works. It is written in a style that is easily accessible to those who like to read a little or who wish to jump from section to section. Whichever method the reader chooses to peruse this book, it is still comprehendible.  The book is comprehensive enough to be useful to intermediate artists and basic enough to inform even the most primary beginner.

Amongst the tips included are: the use of coloring; different painting methods, the variety and uses of brushes, how shading can enhance any work, how different line widths add interest to your work and the use of methods for perspective.

Bower’s book is inspiring and esthetically pleasing. A great book to have in your artist’s reference library.


If you were looking for an art theory book based on urban sketching and painting look no further. The text is full of utility, and this tiny book is jam packed with skills, techniques, and tools to get you started in the new and exciting world of urban sketching. Beautifully illustrated throughout and with helpful dialogue to assist the reader for Improving their creative skills. Bower’s work leaves the reader believing that they too, with time and application, can become as accomplished as those artists featured within the book.


My sincere thanks go to the Author, NetGalley, and the Publisher, for affording me the opportunity to review The Urban Sketching Handbook: 101 Sketching Tips.

Manet and Modern Beauty – REVIEW

Litercurious Book Review

TitleManet and Modern Beauty: The Artist’s Last Years
EditorsScott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom (Ed.)
PublisherGetty Publications 1st Edition (25 Jun, 2019)
ISBN #1606066048 ISBN #-13 (978-1606066041)     

The editors of this work should be proud. They have managed to create a work of art that Édouard Manet would have considered a fitting epitaph. The publication is dripping with beautifully reproduced works by the brilliant and talented Manet.

Who is the Target Audience?

This book is a must have for anyone who enjoys the Impressionist period of Modern Art. I would especially recommend this volume to students of art history or those with a love of the Impressionist Movement. There is so much information in the book that it could reasonably be considered as an encyclopedia of the artist and his works.


The contents are arranged in an organized fashion with accompanying high-quality photographic images of Édouard Manet’s paintings, sketches, personal letters, and more; much more. The Editors include a useful chronology dating from 1876 until Manet’s death in 1882. You can expect to learn about his background, his years at the Salon (Portrait of Antonin Proust, 1880. Cat. 22). We also learn details of his personal challenges experienced shortly before his tragic death. It is evident from Manet’s works included herein that Velasquez was one of his major influences. I believe that is most evident in Manet’s oil painting on canvas entitled A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1881. The Editors have made it easy to reference the illuminations.

The aspect of the book I enjoyed the most is the personal letters which Manet illustrated with wonderful watercolor sketches. Sketches that elevate an otherwise mundane note to a whole new level (See the Chapter entitled: Manet’s Little Nothings). After reading this “Manet Encyclopedia” I have a more complete understanding of the man and his work. I found the Chapter on Manet’s methods and Materials to be interesting and educational; as any artist would. By viewing the artists’ palette, we can see the insight for the paintings he created. There are close up images of individual brushstrokes revealing some of his methods in applying oil paint; an aspect that I found to be very helpful. I adored the summary of pigments detailed in a table complete with abbreviations, techniques employed, and references. There is even a color chart detailing individual colors that Manet used in his palette. Keep a look out for the Chapter on Manet’s private selection of personal letters 1878-83, for a genuine insight into the mind of the artist. It’s appropriate that the chapter of personal letters is followed by Plates that include a Portrait of Édouard Manet, 1867 (painted by Henri Fantin-L’atour) See Cat. 1. The Plates are resplendent with painting after painting. I laughed when I saw his painting of a brioche with a rose in it. This image in particular speaks of the artist’s outlook on life. I have yet to see a better painting of Irises in watercolor than the one contained in this tome.


The book concludes with a Catalogue of the Exhibition – 1866. Manet was at the height of his power as is evident from the contents of the catalogue. The Editors generously provide us high-quality images of the paintings from the 1866 exhibition.
This is the seminal work in my opinion of the late years of Édouard Manet and is a fitting epitaph to the great artist. I have no compunction in recommending this work of editorial art to you.


My sincere thanks go to: NetGalley, and J. Paul Getty Museum for affording me the opportunity to review “Manet and Modern Beauty.”