drawing, painting & knitting book reviews

Several years back I was receiving a lot of books on a pretty regular basis from different publishers to review.  I noticed that over the last couple of years publishers are less generous with sending review copies which is disappointing (but understandable due o the rising cost of publishing expenses) because I really enjoy reading, evaluating and then writing and sharing reviews.   So color me happy to have received these few new books to review and share with you here on my blog…


Draw Buildings and Cities in 15 Minutes: Amaze Your Friends With Your Drawing Skills (Draw in 15 Minutes) by Matthew Brehm

Although the title of this book is a bit misleading inside it’s comprehensive guide to learning how to sketch your urban surroundings quickly and effectively.   It won’t teach you to draw in 15 minutes but once you work your way through it, you’ll have learned how to make the most of a 15 minute sketching window.  The book begins with an brief overview of the materials that you’ll need: pencils, sketchbooks, paper, erasers etc and then moves right into fundamental drawing skills. The fundamental section covers topics such as attitude/posture, seeing/observing, measuring methods, making marks, graded tones and more. The next section, Beginning the Drawing walks through how to begin, the page layout, compositing and perspective. The next two sections cover common challenges and strategies (structure and value, window alignment, reflections etc) and light and shade (developing contrast, value and distance, drawing at night and more) with each topic clearly explained. The entourage section is loaded with some very helpful tips and strategies for deciding what to include and exclude from your drawings such as people, vehicles, signage as well as trees and bushes.

The entire book is done in black and white – you won’t find any color photographs in this book and justifiably so since it’s a book on drawing and not photography. All of the illustrations and images appear to be hand drawn and not computer generated (although I couldn’t find evidence to confirm that) which not only adds to the charm of the book but also helps the reader visualize what different sketching approaches will look like.  See the book on Amazon here.

If you are Bored with Watercolor Read This Book by Veronica Ballart Lilja

When you think of watercolor, most will conjure up images of soft pastel, flowing 51WIWKViuVL._SX382_BO1,204,203,200_imagery that while beautiful can in some cases read as boring and flat. But author Veronica Ballart Lilja has quite a different approach to working with watercolor that results in bold, modern, contemporary imagery with a level of visual excitement not usually experienced with watercolors. Her approach is fresh and bright and the results are stunning. The book begins with a brief 34 page introduction to the color wheel, types of paint, brushes and other tools. Then it moves into the fun stuff – mixing watercolors with other media such as colored pencil, inks, charcoal and even hand embroidery! The author covers several ways to create textures using a variety of objects and then uses them in collages and silhouettes. Each technique is illustrated with easy to read and understand written steps and beautiful clear photographs. The last section of the book is focused on step by step tutorials that you can follow to create beautiful watercolor pieces in subjects such as food (I am in love with the apple tutorial), still life, fashion, city scapes and animals: the abstract blue bird is whimsical and unexpected and the geometric style deer head turns those textured watercolor papers that you created in the texture section into a work of art.

If you are looking for a way to break away from the ordinary and expected with watercolors then you will love this book. It’s a new fresh perspective and approach to working with watercolors.  See the book on Amazon here.

Slow Knitting: a journey from sheep to skein to stitch by Hannah Thiessen

Before I even opened this book I knew it was going to be a special read.  The weight of the hardcover binding, the gorgeous cover photo that conveys the texture of the yarns so beautifully and the title all seem to say this is a book that is meant to be savored slowly indexand thoughtfully with a cup of tea, glass of wine or whatever your beverage of choice is and the time of year it is.  And I was right! Following in the steps of the slow stitching, food, living, quilting etc movements Slow Knitting is all about taking a break from the quick and easy and knit it in a hurry approach.  It’s about exchanging the quantity over quality with one that encourages the knitter to consider and understand the sources and environmental impact of the yarn chosen and choosing projects thoughtfully and fearlessly without making promises to deadlines.  It encourages the knitter to experiment with new techniques and materials without worry about the burden of perfection.

Broken down into five sections: Source Carefully, Produce Thoughtfully, Think Environmentally, Experiment Fearlessly and Explore Openly each section includes a profiles of two yarn types and makers (Green Mountain Spinnery, Brooklyn Tweed, Bare Naked Woods and mYak to name just a few) and two patterns with an essay at the end of each section that includes information about additional yarn suppliers.  10 patterns (cowls, sweaters, hat & mitts, shawls) that showcase each of the profiled yarn makers are included.  The book is illustrated with gorgeous full color photographs on nice heavyweight paper.  This is not a book that you will put on a bookshelf – it’s one that you will leave on the coffee table so that you can pick it up and flip through it to enjoy the beautiful photography.   See the book on Amazon here.


Have a book you’d like me to review?  Email me at


2 thoughts on “drawing, painting & knitting book reviews

  1. Thanks for these reviews! I’ve been playing with water colour on stretched canvas — blended with textile and stitch — but still in the genre of landscapes. I’m intrigued by “If you are bored” to explore more ideas. And…as a ‘process knitter’ and novice spinner…well, I just had to put “Slow Knitting” on my Christmas wish list!


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