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Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey is one of the finest pen and ink illustrators to grace this earth.  Not only is he a fine artist, he is perhaps an even better author; infusing humor with morbid darkness that always comes close to crossing the line but never quite takes us there.  He is wickedly clever combining both of his talents, letting his written word reveal bits of the story and always allowing the accompanying penned illustrations to add further texture to the storytelling into ones imagination.

His most recognized work is “The Gashlycrumb Tinies”; a poem which follows 26 unlucky children through the alphabet, each one with an untimely ending.

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.  B is for Basil assaulted by bears.  C is for Clara who wasted away.

It does sound awful indeed, but what Mr. Gorey is able to do is keep the reader engaged by illustrating the images right before the traumatic act. “E is for earnet who choked on a peach”.  ”How dreadful” you think to yourself, but the image is a smiling well-to-do young man sitting at his table about to eat a fresh, ripe, juicy peach.  you then think, “Oh this poor boy… he has no idea whats about to happen.”  Then you quickly turn the next page to see what happens to “F”.

Gorey on Amazon.com

 

Moleskine Cahier EXTRA Large Plain Notebook

 

I just picked up a set of these Moleskine Cahier notebooks over the weekend and I really like them.  They come as a set of 3 notebooks with plain eggshell paper and a heavy duty cardboard cover with stitching  on the spine.  They are around 7.5 x 10 inches and each contain 120 pages.

What I like best about these notebooks is that they can be opened up completely flat on a desk and give you a nice smooth surface to work on compared to other sketchbooks.  The paper is of high quality and they hold ink very well and pencil tips travel across the pages with ease without wandering.

I would only use these books for sketching though, because the covers are NOT imitation leather. They have paper covers. Granted, it’s a thicker, almost paper-board paper, but it’s still paper.  They may not hold up down the road from being carried everywhere, or from having anything dropped/spilled on them.

I bought these to be a “sketchbook substitute”.  I have one in my book bag, one in my living room coffee table drawer and one in my truck.  You wont be scared of drawing because of the price of the notebooks, knowing you have a few more laying around somewhere.

Moleskine on Amazon.com

Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design

This book has been fantastic so far.  I would recommend it for any web designer who has experience with the basic web standards and wants to craft a more forward thinking design process.  The book of course, is another well written, clearly illustrated volume that steps you through the process and reasoning behind crafting well written and semantic CSS for accessible and usable web design.

The video is about an hour long and provides a pleasant overview of the material covered in the book. Topics include workflow practices, graceful browser degradation (Bulletproofing) and notably; progressive enhancement using CSS3 properties. If you’ve attended one of the author’s speaking engagements within the last few years the material may be familiar. Mr. Cederholm presents the concepts in a thoughtful and entertaining manner. There is not a lot of information contained in this DVD but the ideas are clear and the advice is sound. If you are looking for deep instruction I would not recommend the DVD as a stand alone purchase. It’s a nice companion to the book. Handcrafted CSS on Amazon.com

2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market

This is an essential resource for any author or illustrator hoping to get their first book published.  The book is republished every year with new, updated contact information and articles.  The articles contained are brief (4-8 pages) on subjects ranging from:

  • tips on submission procedures
  • manuscript formats
  • writing query letters
  • agent information
  • self promotion, portfolio, postcards, websites
  • money matters, contracts, payments
  • book signings

The articles are helpful and insightful however, not the strength of the book.  The real “bread and butter” is the contact information of 1000+ editors, agents, art directors, organizations and clubs, conferences and workshops, awards and grants.  The information includes fax numbers, phone numbers, addresses, emails and names of those who are in positions to get your work purchased and published.

Since the market is flooded with submissions and there is competition of thousands of fellow writers and illustrators this book also includes each publishers guidelines, a look at their catalogs and the past titles and the market which they typically publish for (non fiction, fiction, illustrated, young adult poetry).  This allows you to hone your craft and make sure you’re not wasting your time submitting to publishers and agents that aren’t in your targeted market.

A must have! 2010 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market on Amazon.com

The Art of The Incredibles

It isn’t often that artists let us into their personal process of creating art.  I love how Pixar releases these books with every film they make.  The pages are lavishly illustrated featuring concept and character sketches, storyboards, and lighting studies.  You are going to find a huge spectrum of media in this book, everything from collages, pastels, digital art, intricate color paintings, to the simplest pencil sketch on a napkin. The Art of The Incredibles on Amazon.com

Color Mixing Swatch Book

This book is a valuable tool in any artists arsenal of reference material.  I feel that color is one of the hardest aspects to master as an artist.  I dont know how many times ive looked back at a finished piece and thought “this isnt bad… however, if only I painted this womans dress blue it would have made it so much better.”

Unfortunately I often feel that the majority of artists view color as an afterthought in their creative process.  Its just natural to spend our time making sure our figures have believable weighted gestures, our objects have the right perspective and our composition is flawless.  Once satisfied, color is quickly added with a little shading here and there and then we call it a day.

To make sure we steer clear of this, its helpful to once in a while be reminded of how wonderful color is.  Michael Wilcox’s book is a great tool to reference throughout your creative endeavors.  The contents of the book are pages and pages of color swatches from different combinations of 12 colors.

Gradually mix color A with color B and show the 8 colors between the two.  Tints of each color are created by thinning the paint to allow the white background to show.  The final color swatch shows a range of hues that are obtainable from the two original colors.

Any brand of paint can be used but from experience different makes tend to vary in color.  One manufacturers cadium yellow light might be brighter and more orange than another’s.  Also remember, you do get what you pay for.  Inferior, low quality colors tend to not give even layers or blend with ease due to excess filler.  Higher quality paints do add a certain richness, ease of use and control. Color Mixing Swatch Book on Amazon.com

Staedtler Pigment Liner Sketch Pens

 

Staedtler pens are the only ones that I use when I need a good black line in my artwork.  I do have a nice set of Rapidograph pens that I have worked with, but I find the Staedtler pens superior for my needs.  When I was working with my Rapidograph pens I had a problem with walking away from a project for a week and coming back to it to find the pen nibs dried out and clogged.  I could feel my creative energy dwindle as I spent 20 minutes cleaning and refilling my pens.  The Staedtler pens allow you to just put the cap back on and come back at your liking without worrying about the previous mentioned matters.

This pack comes with 5 various line widths, from 0.05mm to 0.7mm.  They dry REALLY quick on the paper so you never have to worry about any wandering hands accidentally smearing an almost completed masterpiece.  The ink used is acid free for archival purposes and it will not smear under watercolor washes, which is a big selling point for me.  My current pen set I have used for well over 2 years and they are starting to finally lose their brilliance.  I just received my new set in the mail last week and I cant wait to put them to use!  Try them out and let me know how they work for you… Staedtler pens on Amazon.com