Monday, October 20, 2014

Sketchbook Skool Has Started AGAIN!!

YAAAAAAY! I've missed having assignments, homework and new ideas being thrown at me. The last three months have been tough so being able to start learning and doing art again is such a relief. This time the course is called "Seeing" and the teachers are Danny Gregory, Koosje Koene, Liz Steele, Brenda Swenson, Cathy Johnson and Andrea Joseph. The basic course outline is to teach us to see our environment and the beauty around us more accurately and also to try and find our own style within our way of seeing and drawing the world. I was so excited to see that Andrea Joseph was teaching one of the six weeks of classes, I've been following her blog and art for years.

So, this, the first week of Skool, we have Danny up trying to get us to find the bliss in drawing. Try to find the nirvana in the minute details of something. He chose toast. Yep, I said toast, lol. The assignment was to go get a good piece of bread, artisanal if you can, and toast it. No butter, he says. Now, sit down and draw your toast. See the craggy holes, the interesting color differentiations, the unique shapes and undulations within the walls of the toast. He wanted us to try to get to that blissful place where time falls away and all you're doing is drawing what you see. 

He was right, I got right in there. Time fell away. Mom had gone to visit my uncle in the nursing home (that's one of the tough things from the last three months, his severe diagnosis of two kinds of rare Alzheimer's) and when she got home I couldn't believe two hours had gone by. My toast was cold but I was warm and toasty (pun intended, lol). I took another half an hour to add more shadows then I photographed my beautiful gluten free bagel. I was quite concerned when I watched last semester's students draw their toast. I didn't think my GF bagel would have enough personality. I mean, you take gluten away and you don't get as much leavening so the bread doesn't have as much "personality". But, I put it in for a good toasting and got a great landscape. I present the puuurtiest bagel I ever did see. I gotta say. LOL. Isn't she gorgeous? And gluten free too!!



Toodaloo everybody. I gotta go find something complicated yet with personality. Danny drew his bike. I don't have one of them!!! ERG... Now what?
Best,




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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #128

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: "The Killer Next Door" By Alex Marwood

I was privileged to be able to review "The Killer Next Door" by Alex Marwood. This is her second book, the first, Edgar Award winner "Wicked Girls" was given a glowing review from Stephen King. After reading the synopsis of "The Killer Next Door" I was seriously intrigued to get into it.

An old mansion has been broken up into six suites and the six renters all have secrets they want to keep. 23 Beulah Grove is the kind of rooming house where there are no credit checks, no background searches and no rental agreements. The landlord has power over whether you stay but you get to keep your secrets. The story opens with the revelation that one of the residents is a killer. The author then takes us back in time to let us meet the residents of Beulah Grove.

The premise of this thriller is really exciting and the author develops the characters so well you find yourself hoping they get out of this alive. The women were especially well developed and I would have loved to learn a little more about the men in this book. Ms. Marwood is an excellent writer, she's easy to read and her prose flow like water off a slick surface. My one complaint is that there is just too much unimportant detail which can be easily skipped by the reader but does lesson the enjoyability of the book. The mystery is slowed and the thrilling rush to an ending is kept hostage by just too many words that could easily be cut by a good editor. This book has great characters, well fleshed out (no pun intended, lol) and the author's excellent narrative skills made me want to finish the book.

I can understand why many reviewers have loved Alex Marwood's writing and I'm betting that "Wicked Girls" was even better than "The Killer Next Door". It makes me wish I had read her debut novel first, maybe I would have enjoyed this one even more. Although I'm only giving this mystery/thriller a three star rating, I have great hope that her next book has fewer long flowing descriptions and even more amazing characters. I know that would make for a near perfect read.
Best,




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Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #127

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #126

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #125

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #124

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: "The Unforgivable Fix" by T.E. Woods

"The Unforgivable Fix" by T. E. Woods  was a really good book. It was a little different than I thought it would be after reading the synopsis. This is the third book in the series of "Fixer" books and after reading this one, I'd recommend reading them in order, which I didn't do! I think the story would be even more improved if I'd known the back history of the character called "The Fixer". 

The series is based around the main character called "The Fixer". When you cannot get justice anywhere else and you have nowhere else to turn, you contact the fixer and she will analyze your situation and decide if you deserve help. The Fixer's brand of help is murder. "Never a doubt. Never a mistake. Always for justice. Never for revenge." The Fixer only does one job a year and always only once in each Country. There are never any traces of what happened or any police investigations.

In this, the third installation, I learned early that long time police detective Mort Grant figured out who The Fixer was and let her go in the interest of his own personally held beliefs in justice. But now, Detective Grant's daughter is in mortal danger and the only person Grant knows who can keep his daughter safe is The Fixer. Allie Grant has gotten herself into a real pickle. For the last four years she's been the girlfriend of a notorious drug lord and now his enemies are coming for Allie.

As the above synopsis suggests, I thought this would be a very fast paced book. I was surprised to find it not so much a head long run  for answers but instead a psychological cat and mouse game. The tension built at a good pace but this book didn't have the chases I thought it would. As I said, it was a psychological thriller, which was a lovely relief from the many books that are overwhelmingly fast paced. DOn't get me wrong, T.E. Woods built fantastic tension because your really wanted everything to work out for all involved. I have to give this a high four out of five stars. I wish I could use half stars as this is really an eighty five percenter. It was well worth the time and was actually a very fast read. I found that I could, in fact, put it down when I should go to bed but I also picked it up the moment I had a second to read another chapter. I think anyone would love this book, I just suggest starting with the first in the series ("The Fixer: A Justice Novel"). If I had, I think I would be giving this a five star!
Best,




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Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #123

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

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Best,




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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: "Made For You" by Melissa Marr

"Made For You" by Melissa Marr is a wonderfully easy book to enjoy. It's been dubbed a "contemporary YA novel" that  "is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder." I, however, would say it's an easy to read and enjoyable mystery with a tiny bit of paranormal thrown in to make it interesting. The term Young Adult (YA) can sometimes be confusing. I guarantee adults will enjoy this book, I certainly did and I didn't feel like it was somehow "dumbed down" or less enjoyable because young adults would also love it.

The mysterious story centers around our main character, Eva Cooper-Tilling. She is a smart, privileged, wealthy seventeen year old who is remarkably unspoiled by her upbringing and circumstances. Eva is wonderfully self assured and self reliant, as the reader, you root for her to rise above the harrowing mess she finds herself embroiled in. 

Eva lives in Jessup, a small Southern town that relies on status to keep everyone in their place. If you're from the right side of the tracks so to speak, you are worthy to be in the popular group. Eva finds these rules endlessly boring, tedious and stifling. She admits that her friends can sometimes be callus and status climbing but she's loyal to them and blames the small town for making it's young adults bow to duty, parentage, wealth and status.

Author: Melissa Marr
The mystery starts when someone runs Eva over, leaving her on the side of the road, broken, battered and with a serious head injury. When Eva awakens in the hospital after several touch-and-go days of unconsciousness, she finds she has an unusual new skill. When others touch her, she can see their deaths. Eva, because of her brain injury, is unsure what to make of her new visions. The Police question whether the accident was indeed an accident. Maybe someone deliberately tried to kill Eva. So starts the headlong rush to find out just what happened to Eva and weather there is in fact a Killer in her small North Carolina town.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found the addition of Eva's visions easy to accept as they were so well written. I certainly am not surprised that the book was so enjoyable as Melissa Marr is "the New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series." I loved trying to figure out who was obsessed with Eva. I found myself wishing there were more pages in the book when it ended as I loved the characters so much, I wanted them to continue. I think that's a really good sign, when you miss the characters you just read about. The one extra detail that made me want to read "Made For You" was that it was based on true events that happened to the author. Melissa Marr was inspired by her own "harrowing experiences with a real-life stalker".


I have to give this book a five out of five. No book is ever perfect but this nudges itself out of the fours and into the fives by being just so easily accessible and smooth to read. I look forward to more Mellissa Mar novels. Let's hope she continues to write mysteries along with the paranormal books she also writes.

HarperCollins is publishing this book on September 16th so check it out then!
Best,




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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #122

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Oh To Be In Paris In The Springtime...

I have to admit I have two places I want to go. Really, only two places in the world that I dream about visiting. One is Hawaii. I've already done a  couple of drawings about that. You can see the posts here and here. The other place I've always wanted to see is Paris. I want to go for all the usual reasons that any artist wants to go Paris. I want to walk along the Seine and soak up the ambiance. I want to drink coffee in little coffee shops and watch all the other Parisians eat croissant. (Darn, I've gotta be gluten free!) I also want to stop anytime I see something noteworthy and draw it in my Moleskine. That's my dream.
You Are HereEifel Tower
That's what inspired this painting that took up two pages in my big Moleskine. Can't you just imagine yourself sitting on the sidewalk, under that awning, drinking a spectacular cuppa? Seriously, I bet I could fill a whole 8" x 5.5" Moleskine of beautiful and iconic places, scenes and architecture from all over the city. I'd so love to visit the Louvre. Can't you just see yourself walking down those amazing hallways and seeing some of the most spectacular pieces of art ever made? I truly dream of doing that. Now, has anyone got an extra $10 000 dollars? Hehehe.

I'll keep dreaming and wishing and crossing my fingers. Have any of you been to Paris? Tell me about it, where's the best place to people watch and have a great cup of coffee? Did you paint while you were there? Maybe if I get the paint set I want for Christmas it'll give Santa a hint to include a ticket to Paris so I can break in my new travel palette. Ahhh, if wishes were fishes...

(Click to Enlarge)
Later Alligator!


Best,




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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: "The Secret Place" by Tana French

"The Secret Place" by Tana French is the latest book that I've been reading. I have to say, it's really not up my alley, so to speak. I've tried to analyze why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Mainly, I think it's because Tana French is an english-style writer. For many of you, that's not a bad thing. But I found that with other books who's authors were from across the pond I was similarly unsatisfied with. This made me think that it just may be me. With some analysis, that's generally the conclusion I came to.

Although it was never diagnosed, I know I have a mild form of dyslexia. My brain, early on, figured out how to rearrange the letters to get the words right, without any conscious help from me. I think reading non-North American authors makes my brain stutter a little, making reading just that much less enjoyable. Reading a page always takes me more time than others but if I'm unused to the cadence of the author's style, if she's foreign, then it takes even more time for my brain to acclimate. This makes reading just less enjoyable and more work.

For you, my readers, this translates to the following. If you find yourself liking English or foreign type authors, then you'll probably like this novel. Let's just get that out of the way, the mystery of this book rocks. You don't know who did it, you are kept guessing throughout the book and you're given both red herrings and also little clues that keep the interest there and simmering. Also, Tana French's take on how teen girls talk and act, I think, is spot on. Some reviewers thought the speech patterns and weird words were just too over the top. But I found it reminded me of when I was their age. In the early eighties I tried to add "valley girl" lexicon to my speech, trying to be unique and different from the grown ups. We all, at that age, think we have a handle on what's NEW and BETTER and no one can tell us different. Tana French's writing easily brings all those memories back. She also handles the relationships between girls and also between girls and boys expertly. It came off as so beautifully real. The angst, the need to be liked, to not be the teased girl and to either stay under the radar or to want the opposite, to be the star. All of that is handled so expertly and I have to give kudos to the author.

I didn't, however, like how bitter the main police detective was. But again, I'm tending to put that down to the foreign writer thing again. Prejudice is different in every country. Canada has different prejudices than the US and we express them differently. I just find the classist attitudes off putting in this book. Otherwise it was very enjoyable and kept my interest.

I'm giving this book three stars out of five. If you like authors from the UK though, you should probably add a star to my review. You'll find yourself liking this book if you've also enjoyed other authors from the UK. 

Best,




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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #121

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Artist's Play Room #120

Please scroll down for the newest Artist's Play Room Linky and enter your wonderful, creative artwork throughout this upcoming week.

If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

Best,




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