art

Watercolor the Easy Way


Author: Sarah Berrenson
Publisher: Better Day Books
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-0-7643-5982-8
Pages: 128
Price: $24.99

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Watercolor painting can be an enjoyable pastime, if you know what you’re doing. But if you haven’t picked up a paint brush in years and art classes aren’t available or affordable, Watercolor the Easy Way will help guide you.

First, we learn the basics: supplies, color palette and mixing, brush and water techniques. Then we try these out in fifty different motifs. Each exercise provides a line drawn outline for us to copy, along with the color palette and brushes to use, and step by step instructions. The book is printed on sturdy paper that easily props open to study while working.

If you’ve wanted to learn watercolor painting but felt too intimidated to try it, Watercolor the Easy Way would be a great introduction to the art. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children, crafts, creativity

Proggy Menagerie


Author: Hayley Smith
Publisher: Good Books
Genre: Crafts
ISBN: 978-1-68099-337-0
Pages: 128
Price: $14.99

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Have you ever imagined making your own soft and snuggly rag rug animals? This process isn’t as hard as it might seem. Using simple supplies like fleece and burlap, you can build adorable critters. Proggy Menagerie will show you how.

In this unique craft book, you’ll learn how to make woodland creatures (fox, badger, hedgehog, squirrel), farmyard favorites (lamb, pig, bat, duck), perfect pets (kitten, puppy, bunny, tortoise), feathered friends (parrot, owl, robin, penguin), and water babies (clown fish, seal, turtle, frog). The creation of each animal is demonstrated with pictures and written instructions explaining each of the steps. Reduced-size patterns (with instructions for enlarging) are provided for cutting the pieces to be assembled.

Although I didn’t attempt one of these adorable proggy animals, I felt confident in reading the detailed instructions that I could have easily created them. Children will need an adult’s assistance in assembling these, but will easily grasp the proggy technique. I highly recommend Proggy Menagerie.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, art, children, nature

Paint by Sticker Kids: Beautiful Bugs


Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Genre: Children / Art/ Nature
ISBN: 978-1-5235-0295-0
Pages: 34
Price: 9.95

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Creating images of bugs has never been easier with Paint by Sticker Kids: Beautiful Bugs. Each bug design contains numbered stickers that kids can peel and stick in the designated spot on the diagram. Designs are printed on perforated card stock with colorful backgrounds, suitable for displaying their sticker bug creations.

Some of the featured bugs include: ladybug, spider, beetles, firefly, and butterflies, as well as many other interesting creatures. The age range listed for this book is K-6, but younger children may need some adult assistance to make sure the stickers end up in the right place. Tweezers are recommended for proper placement, and stickers are not removable.

Each design is a puzzle which can only be revealed by proper placement of the stickers, so kids will enjoy the act of creating a beautiful bug. I highly recommend this enjoyable nature activity book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, Christian

My Faith Journey: 52 Week Guided Devotional with Scripture


Author & Illustrator: Robin Pickens
Publisher: Quiet Fox Designs
Genre: Christian / Creativity
ISBN: 978-1-64178-002-5
Pages: 128
Price: $14.99

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Bible journaling has become very popular, as folks discover the joy of adding their own inspired art to Scripture. But if coloring in your Bible doesn’t appeal to you, My Faith Journey might be a perfect fit.

Each of the two-page spreads in this 52-week journal is designed to be completed in a week. A question opens the week as a prompt, with space below for making notes. The opposite page is a Bible verse or segment with illustration in pen and ink, which is meant to be colored.

Creating meaningful art can be difficult and time-consuming, but there is so much joy in adding color to God’s word. Spending time in prayer with this journal would be perfect for artistically challenged folks who want to experience Bible journaling in a non-intimidating manner. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, tween

Notebook Doodles Amazing Me!


Author & Illustrator: Jess Volinski
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0339-6
Pages: 80
Price: $7.99

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It’s fun for kids to explore the things they enjoy, and what better way to do this than with art? In Amazing ME!, Jess Volinski guides kids through various activities designed to help them discover more about themselves. Worksheets ask them to fill in things like personality traits, family members, descriptions of their rooms, and things they find funny. Each of these sheets have ample space for doodling and artwork that goes along with the lists.

In addition to these black and white line drawings and spaces to fill in, Volinski includes information on how to create a pleasing palette using the color wheel. Sample colored designs provide inspiration for kids to create their own masterpieces, and several color wheel diagrams help them choose the right colors to create mood or harmony.

Volinski’s designs begin as beautiful artwork and are just waiting for kids to add their personal touch to bring them to life. I highly recommend these coloring books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, children, history

The Historical Heroines Coloring Book


Author: Elizabeth Lorayne
Illustrator: Kendra Shedenhelm
Publisher: White Wave Press
Genre: Women’s History / Coloring Book
ISBN: 978-0-9979098-9-0
Pages: 80
Price: $14.93

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, women made significant contributions to the math and sciences community. But they lived in a society where their roles were limited by their gender, and their achievements were often discounted or credited to the men they worked with.

The Historical Heroines Coloring Book introduces kids to some of these pioneering women through one-page summaries of their lives and accomplishments. An accompanying coloring page shows each woman in action in her field of science.

In the introduction, author Elizabeth Lorayne proclaims, “My hope is that through coloring these illustrations of strong, brilliant, hard-working women scientists, you will feel inspired to go forth and seize your own dreams and that you will in turn continue the circle of empowering yourself and others.” After reading this interesting and inspiring book, I believe she has achieved her goal.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art

Colorful Creations: Butterfly Mandalas


Author & Illustrator: Jess Volinski
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art / Creativity
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0261-0
Pages: 80
Price: $9.99

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Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore, and Jess Volinski takes her Colorful Creations series to a new level of artwork. Butterfly Mandalas is filled with mystical mandalas combined with beautiful butterflies for us to fill in with crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Inspirational messages accompany this unique artwork. But in addition to these black and white line drawings, Volinski includes information on how to create a pleasing palette using the color wheel. Sample colored designs provide inspiration for our own masterpieces, and several color wheel diagrams help us choose the right colors to create mood or harmony.

Volinski’s designs begin as beautiful artwork and are just waiting for us to add our own personal touch to bring them to life. I highly recommend these adult coloring books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art

Colorful Creations: Positively Inspired


Author & Illustrator: Jess Volinski
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art / Creativity
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0260-3
Pages: 80
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
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Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore, and Jess Volinski takes her Colorful Creations series to a new level of artwork. Positively Inspired is filled with beautiful designs coupled with positive messages for us to fill in with crayons, markers, or colored pencils. But in addition to these black and white line drawings, Volinski includes information on how to create a pleasing palette using the color wheel. Sample colored designs provide inspiration for our own masterpieces, and several color wheel diagrams help us choose the right colors to create mood or harmony.

Volinski’s designs begin as beautiful artwork and are just waiting for us to add our own personal touch to bring them to life. I highly recommend these adult coloring books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

art, Christian

Complete Guide to Bible Journaling


Authors: Joanne Fink and Regina Yoder
Publisher: Design Originals
Genre: Art / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4972-0272-6
Pages: 176
Price: $19.99

Joanne Fink’s website
Regina Yoder’s website
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At one time, Bibles were illuminated by professional artists who added beautiful artwork to hand-copied books. Since the modern printing age, Bibles have been mass-produced with little to no illustration. But God’s Word comes alive when accompanied by carefully crafted art, and Complete Guide to Bible Journaling shows us how to do this ourselves.

Adding artwork to our own Bibles might be a scary proposition, but it doesn’t have to be perfect – it only needs to come from the heart. The choice of medium can include colored pencils, markers, stickers, and even paint. Instructions for each of these techniques, as well as templates are provided. In addition to sharing their own work and techniques, many of the artists featured in this book share the reasons why they were drawn to Bible journaling and how it’s changed their lives.

Special journaling Bibles are available, but even if you don’t have one, you can still use these techniques. And if it really makes you uncomfortable to draw or write in your Bible, you can use this guide for outside-the-Bible artwork. This book is a wonderful resource on learning to immerse yourself in God’s Word through art. I highly recommend it.

art, meditation

Dot to Dot NYC

Dot to Dot NYC
Author: Narae Kim
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Genre: Art / Meditation
ISBN: 978-1-57687-815-6
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

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Have you fallen in love with adult coloring books? Have you started eyeing your kids’ connect-the-dots books, thinking of how much fun it might be to do one, yourself? And once it’s completed, it would be great to give it some color.

Dot to Dot NYC is the adult connect-the-dots book you’ve been waiting for. This unique art-meditation book contains 23 hidden pictures, just waiting for a few moments of your time alone with a pencil and your imagination. Since each design has several hundred dots to connect, each group of one hundred is printed in a different color, making it easier to find them. However, those who have difficulty with small print will need to break out the reading glasses to see the tiny numbers. It would spoil the fun if I told you what’s pictured, but these completed images are well-known landmarks from around New York City.

Dot to Dot NYC captures the spirit of the Big Apple in a fun and creative way. This unique book would make a great gift.

Reviewer: Alice Berger