Thursday, March 8, 2012

Doodles Unleashed: a book review

I confess, I haven't done a book review since August, 2010. At one time, I was reviewing a book about every two to three months. But here it is over a year and a half later, so a book review is long overdue.

My art friend Kathy left this book with me the last time she was in town (several weeks ago). She told me she bought it on a whim and thought it would be a great book to teach her how to make some new faces. Kathy didn't realize the book would be mostly doodles, so she was very disappointed.

I, on the other hand, had NO expectations, and NO burning desire to own this book, because doodles are a four letter word in my book. I simply don't doodle. I don't zentangle, I don't make little swirls. I don't keep drawing the same pattern over and over as I talk on the phone. I try not to grip a pen or pencil any more than I absolutely have to. I can't say this enough: I don't doodle.

HOWEVER, I have never

been able to review a book at the same time it was being passed around during an online book tour. So, I felt I needed to do it justice and ignore the fact I don't doodle. After all, I completed a couple of Traci's free lessons during the Strathmore classes. I also enjoyed watching the videos, although I was unable to access the "downloadable instructions." So, if for no other reason, I was eager to dive into this new book written by Traci Bautista and published by North Light Books, 2012.

There are only three chapters in this book, but each has several projects. Now I realize I have the most horrible camera in the world, BUT this was one book that was hard to read due to the various font styles Traci chose. Just look at the font in the promo photo above and you will see how much of the book is illustrated.

The page on the right was a preview of what was to come, and I was quite familiar with Traci's work. I was hoping for something new and unusual. We shall see!

As with most books of this type, this one began with the requisite materials and tools needed for creating your art. Like many artists, Traci has her recommendations, but she also advocates using found objects, and anything you can find at the dollar and thrift stores. My kind of shopping! For that, I give her a solid thumb up.

Chapter ONE was all about where we find doodle inspiration. I quickly passed through that chapter, not interested in where one would look for or find doodle love.

Chapter TWO: Organic Backgrounds. Now we're talking. I am willing to learn a new background any and every day of the week. I was ready. I was pumped!

First came "Surfaces and Backgrounds."

Next up was "Repetitive Patterns." Didn't I try this during the Strathmore class? Could this really be a background? If you look at it that way, I guess so.

Another background technique, according to Traci, is to photocopy, then cut up your own art and turn it into backgrounds. I hate to say this, but her stuff looked busy enough the first time around, much less cut up and revamped. And there's no way I could get something like that out of my inkjet printer, so a photocopy would be exactly what I would need.

The examples of the use of stencils and masks reminds me of the snowman wall hanging I made while taking Traci's free class. I do like how she used a silk flower petal as a mask in the upper right side of the completed piece.

This is an exercise in what Traci calls her "Collage Canvases," pieces that are built up using old photocopies, papers, cardboard, and photos. In the exercise above, she uses modeling paste to build up the background and keeps the palette neutral.

Traci also gives a nod to digital art, where she includes examples of merged layers and exercises to stretch your imagination. I'm not sure I would use these as backgrounds, but that's the chapter all these techniques are filed under.

Here is where Traci gets into dollar as well as thrift store finds. She even suggests what to use.

More of Traci's collage paper techniques are shown here, this time emphasizing the doodling tool.

Now we get to the reason my friend Kathy bought the book in the first place. She said she thought it was all going to be about drawing faces, but I personally like Kathy's faces better than the ones I see in this book. And since I can't draw a realistic face, I know I could NEVER draw a stylized one.

I guess art really IS in the eye of the beholder, since I simply can't wrap my head around these faces. This one just creeps me out. To me, it looks like a lady who has put on too much makeup and is now crying it all away. Of course, I can just hear those of you who love this kind of art, telling me I need my head examined.

One thing I DO like is graffiti. If done tastefully and with respect, it can make a powerful statement. In fact, I am considering finding graffiti in my own town and photographing it. Of course, that presupposes I have a decent camera to capture the art.

I must have looked at that above image a dozen times, and even more as I was sizing, cropping, and uploading it to Photoshop. And yet, looking at just the right angle, at this very moment, I finally saw the woman represented in the image on the right side of the page.

This page really and truly interested me. I had no idea as I looked at it, that each letter was created on a full size sheet of watercolor paper (9" X 12").

Here Traci explains how she got the look of each letter using various tools and techniques. For those of you who love to doodle, and/or love alphabets, this book is worth the price for these few pages alone!

The final page is all about the author. What I really like about this book is also what I don't care for. Traci Bautista is the sole author of this book. She doesn't rely on any "guest" artists. This book is ALL her doing, her ideas, her doodles, her art. I like that because there are times when guest artists seem more involved and make better art than the named artist (the artist whose name is on the cover of the book). Not so with Traci's book.

But ultimately, I didn't really care for the fonts chosen for this book. I have to blame that on Traci, because she must have had input on all that font. It all looks so "her." Some of it was difficult to read. The black fonts were quite easy to read, but some of the paler type was a bit more difficult, especially in low light. And some of it reminded me of that new bubble type font Blogger is using for Word Verification!

I did like Traci's easy going style and understandable instructions. I didn't get lost in her instructions once (and that is saying something, since I often have to read instructions several times to make sense of them). All in all, I would have to recommend this book IF and ONLY IF (that's a math term, by the way) you like to doodle. Although I don't believe I learned anything truly new, I enjoyed skimming the book and reading about a few backgrounds in detail. I hate to admit that many of Traci's doodles look the same to me, but I don't claim to understand the subtle complexities of doodling. Again, I can't really be as supportive of, or enthusiastic about, this book as someone who loves to doodle. But for all you doodlers, it will probably be a fun book to add to your collection and keep on your art bookshelf.

17 thoughtful remarks:

Helen said...

What a thorough and interesting review! I do doodle, but completely randomly. from what I can see in your photos, some of these seem less like what I would call doodles and more like "proper" paintings... I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder indeed!
Thanks for this post.

Ann B said...

Thanks for the review Elizabeth, was hoping you would do one when I saw the book on your desk and now I know that I don't 'need' this book. Love your description of the girl with the runny eye make-up - a laugh out loud moment.

Ana Cristina Caldatto said...

grata por compartilhar sua visão!

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

Yesterday, I had NO idea that this book wasn't meant to be part of your new project! I really enjoy the way you stayed honest about what's in the book and and does (or doesn't) appeal to your own tastes while staying positive about the book! I too like artsy fonts, but ONLY when I can read them! Have a bright and beautiful day, my friend!

Monica said...

Nice to see an honest review. the scrapbook and stamping crowd gushes over any book and every book they review. I completed TB's4 weeks on Strathmore and at that time felt she has said it all. No intention of buying book and experience tells me if you had her first book this is a rehash of that if you have followed her in the magazines CPS and Stampington publications you have it all. Books on doodling crease me up. I quit doodles after retiring as they were a tool to handle management meetings!

elle said...

yes, thanks, Elizabeth. Some of these books start where I would be ending! oh, well. I am being choosier on my books which is hard for one like me who adores books and insists there is something in every book that I 'need'. But often when I'm done, I'm kinda left with a sinking feeling that I've not got my money's worth.

Karenliz said...

Thank you for your honest book review. I took Traci's Strathmore class and I guess I just don't doodle to that extent. I doodle on post-it notes and might incorporate that in on of my are journals but thats it. I can't make a face to save my life. I saw this book in the store but I thought I learned it all watching her videos. Thanks for your review! Can't wait until the next one.

voodoo vixen said...

Great review... guess I won't be rushing online to purchase that one either, as doodling kind of passed me by when it was the rage to do it on everything. I think I am too ocd to doodle, which is why I struggle with art journalling type stuff!!

peggy gatto said...

What a thorough review. I found it interesting as I am not a doodler and actually find it hard to doooooooooodle. I do enjoy seeing her work and did do her class. Got some ideas that I will use and others, never. But, I always learn something!!!

Ann B said...

Thanks for visiting Elizabeth. The reason you can't see the similarities in my and Jo's 'card' is that there aren't any (she says smiling). You were looking at Jo's WOYWW post where there is an easel card when the calendar file was in her earlier post here -
Very clever girl our Jo - she not only demoed a card and the file last Saturday, she also showed us a wonderful double concertina book thingy that I'm now working on - all this and altered books as well!!!
Don't know what happened about the link to the statue but if you Google Trafalgar square rocking horse I'm sure it will come up.


Shelinwa said...

Hey poppin in to check on you Great review. Looks like you have been busy.


olive said...

yes it truly is a great book....... full of colour, big & bold. I bet you do 'doodle' but dont realise it. great review. xxx

Halle said...

Great review. I've gotten her other book out from the library before. Was interesting to browse through but wouldn't buy. I'll likely see if the local library has this one as well.

Marlynn said...

Yes, Harley, the Rat, and I live. I know hard to believe. But I finally posted and set up my mobile phone to be able to post on the "road" - will experiment with that. Loved you post to the last blog entry and without thinking sent you an email. Oops. Anyway, maybe I'm back for now. Obviously not playing tennis tonight. Hugs to you and Bleubeard and Wendy!

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Enjoyed the book review!
I took and on-line class from Traci and read, but didn't do any projects in her Strathmore class.
I really like her work! For me, the problem with taking a class from someone, like Traci, who has such a strong style is you are only learning to make paintings that look like someone elses.
That being said, I did learn how to make some fun backgrounds in the class I took and she does encourage you to loosen up.

Terrie said...

I also took Traci's class and after trying a couple of her 'lessons', decided that her style really isn't for me. Her style is SO busy and full of color and shapes that I can't focus and when I tried it, I ended up with a hot mess. What I did learn from it is a couple of new tools, but I'll use them in my own way.... BTW, none of the photos are showing up in your post, somehow they've dropped out.

see you there! said...

Great review. I doodle already and in my own fashion. I think the book (or her classes) might be useful to those who haven't really explored pens,ink and color. Sometimes the hardest step is getting something on the blank page. She seems good at that.