Thursday, December 26, 2013

My final ARC book review

Darcy's ARC, or Artful Readers Club has now come to an end with our December creations.  Darcy can be found at Art and Sole.  Thanks for being such a great host for the past 12 months, Darcy.  I confess, I'm glad I saved this book review for last.

Kaleidoscope: Ideas & Projects to Spark Your Creativity
 by Suzanne Simanaitis

  • ISBN-13: 9781581808797
  • Publisher: F+W Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 7.98 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.47 (d)
I'd like to begin by saying how many good things I've heard about this book, until my friend Kathy gave it to me.  She hated it!  So of course, I was anxious to see why.  It didn't take me long to understand her dislike of it.

This is what the book looked like on my craft room table.  I thought the collaged images were quite well done and was anxious to learn ways to improve my composition skills.

It didn't take long and I realized how difficult it was to read even the first pages.  You can see in this small space I photographed, there are three different fonts and one of those fonts has two different sizes.

That continued in the table of contents.

Now I like bits of change, but this was difficult to take.  Be aware this is a close up of the TOC, which you are seeing through my viewfinder, not as it would normally look on your table or in your hand.  The font was quite small, even though I don't need glasses to read.  And the titles were quite light relative to the page numbers.

Again, the different fonts and a distracting background made reading difficult.  This was one book I was really, really, really ready to skip over.

One thing I liked was the author's take on using magazine images in collages.  You have probably noticed I also use a lot of magazine and junk mail images in my art.  I never buy images, and am not one to print them for use in my altered books.

There were over 30 artists who created art and/or wrote articles for this book.

Suddenly the background turned black and the font turned white.

Some fonts were especially hard to read, like the one chosen for "Selecting a Color Scheme," seen on the right.

Next came the red font over a green background,
which was somehow supposed to be associated with making a crown honoring Frida. Mother Nature (see last sentence in red above) might not be consistent, but font in books should be!  And the colors on these two pages set my teeth ajar.

When I first saw this two page spread, I thought it was created by Michelle Ward.

I thought I might learn something here, but it was just a rehash of things I had learned years before I started making collages.

I thought I should read this entry, since I need to purge a few things, too.

However, upon closer inspection, this was not so much about purging as it was about your design habits.  And the author didn't bother giving much advice about HOW to purge, only that she DID purge.

I did appreciate that she sorted by "sale, keep, and trash."  I would have skipped the sale items and donated them, since I've learned that garage sales are just not worth the cost and time involved.  Besides, you can write off the donation on your taxes, and you can never recoup your losses that come from garage sales.  Garage sales bring out the worst people who want the best bargains.  If you price something for twenty-five cents, there will be some who want it for even LESS.  I know some of you are nodding now.

Again, this was aimed at decorating more than setting up a real studio.  For example, there was no thought about the TYPE of studio appropriate for the individual.  Some people need a wet studio, some only need a small cubby with a few writing pens and tablets or journals.

Most organizers (and yes, I consider myself one) believe in zones.  If you don't have zones, you have chaos.  And the zones must make sense to you, too.  That's why I can't come into your space and set up your area to look like mine.  It would never work!

Here the artist/author used various magazine images to imagine a tranquil space or spaces.

This artist/author asked you to imagine your new space

by first creating a collage of your dream space, then showing the final project.  WOW, even my computer is newer than hers!!

This seems too ethereal (or perhaps esoteric) for the way I might envision a new dedicated art space. I suspect I really AM too literal (see #2 above) about my work spaces, since I have been known to get out my tape measure and jot down dimensions of walls, furniture, etc., on graph paper before doing anything else.

Again, this is more about decorating your space than making it functional.  It was certainly time to move on.

This gal showed, through use of her own photos, how she uses her bed to make art in the winter.

The next section was on Imagination, and it focused on board books.

Being a mixed media artist, I've created several board books.   This might be a new concept for some, but I got nothing out of it.

I've tried covering a board book with gesso before, but found you should remove the glossy paper first.  It's harder, but the book (and your art) will last longer.

I've never made a real abstract collage before, but I decided to accept the "assignment" "Home for the Soul."

By now I'm sure you can tell I did NOT like this book.  I had a hard time with the various fonts that changed as I turned the pages.  I also had trouble with contrast.  It took a lot of effort to get through this book because of that.  The small font on the decorative backgrounds made it difficult to read in many places.  I didn't bother photographing any more of the chapter that used red font on green backgrounds.  That was actually jarring for me.  I don't care how young you are or how good your eyesight, it is definitely not easy for anyone to read. I can see how my older friend Kathy had trouble with it.

Although the stand-alone artwork was stunning and I actually DID enjoy most of it, there was too much hodge-podge.  For example, even though each chapter began with artwork that had artist credits for the work, you had to guess who did what as they were all layered together in no specific order.  I suspect the fact it was in Zine (or article) format was part of why I wasn't happy with it. 

There was also too much angst for my taste, as well as ethereal thinking.  All that talk filled pages, but it didn't encourage me to make art.  I couldn't get through this book fast enough.  In fact, I found myself skipping entire paragraphs when the talk was less about art and more about subjective feelings. Subjective feelings are fine when talking to a good friend, but NOT so when you buy an art book.  I'm less about personal feelings and more about learning new techniques.  It was obvious I learned nothing new.

Had my art gotten stagnant or had I hit a dry spell, this book would NOT have sparked my creativity.  Had I bought this book and wanted to learn new techniques, I would have been very disappointed.  Please don't even consider buying this book, unless you want to explore your inner self awareness and see a few bits of art along the way.

But Darcy and all my ARC friends expect some type of art, especially after I took so many photos.  Below is what I made from the "assignment" "Home for the Soul."  And yes, this is my first ever true (said laughing) abstract.

On the right I represent myself in a skirt and leggings.  In the middle is my top, as disjointed as I felt after reading this book.  On the left are areas for Bleubeard to romp, hide, and play. Size of the piece is 8" X 10" (20.32 cm X 25.4 cm) and it is painted on canvas board using acrylic paint, some metallic, some not.

Thanks to all the ARC reviewers I have met over these past 12 months.  I've really learned a LOT from you, and have totally enjoyed all the art.  It's been a fun adventure and I am sure we will all cross paths again (as some of us do already).  And I want to thank Darcy for hosting this event.  I finally read 12 books I might never have gotten around to reading had she not encouraged and hosted this challenge.  I hope to see you in 2014.

16 thoughtful remarks:

Vicki Miller said...

How disappointing for you elizabeth, I know how you feel about fonts, though as my eyes are definitely not what they used to be. Congrats on completing the 12 months.

Halle said...

I've checked that book out from the library as well and gotten nothing from it. I do have to say I like your assignment though.

see you there! said...

Thanks for the review, not a book I'll bother with. The one good thing is you tried something abstract and I quite like it.


Dianne said...

I have a house full of company right now, but yes absolutely share photos of the envelope book if you'd like. I will be back when I have more time to enjoy your book review and beautiful photos!

Janet said...

It may be the last review of the year but you went out in a blaze of glory! Most interesting read and I loved your artwork.

Janet xx

~*~Patty S said...

Interesting review Elizabeth...
I guess the one good thing that came out of it all was your original and different piece of abstract art :)

Happy last weekend of December to ya...


Craftymoose Crafts said...

Despite not liking the book, you managed to create a piece of art inspired or at least suggested by it.

I would have been frustrated with all the font changes & "dirty" backgrounds.

Thanks for sharing the review.

Nan G said...

I too would have had a difficult time with all the font/background changes. Did the publisher think that was art? Who knows. I do like your abstract piece at the end. And that you included Bleubeard in the art piece! :) hugs

Corrine at said...

Too bad they had all those typefaces. That would have made me crazy too....Love your true abstract. Cute leggings. xox

PetraB said...

What a thorough assessment! Thank you for sharing it. I am glad I did not buy it as I was tempted a little while ago.

dawn said...

Hello, I'm finally here to catch up! WOW, how sad that this book wasn't any good or helpful. I didn't like all the colors and fonts either. Way to go on following it thru with pictures and your AWESOME ABSTRACT ART!! OMG, that is so cool, love the description of it. Great job on it and the colors for it too.
That's great you got to read 12 books this year too.
Thanks for the heads up on this book!

Thank you for the visit today, excited to see what your word will be!! I can say that you don't need any classes, I can see how creative and smart and awesome you are already.
I started off by taking a scrapbook class and it was wonderful, I LOVE the teacher and still keep in touch with her and would love to meet her one day. I'm forever thankful for her and all she did for me. She also art journals and that is how I started by seeing hers and joining Julie Balazar 30 day art journaling class, LOOOVE HER TOO!!I'm thankful for the classes I have taken because of the sweetest ladies I've met thru them, so very lucky I am. The teachers have been so awesome too. This year I took a few Junelee Jacobson classes, she is an angel and sketches beautifully. I don't have anyone here that wants to do these things and I don't want to place an ad for a ART FRIEND, haha so this is a nice way to learn and meet others.
Sorry this comment is so long.
I'm thankful I met you and it was thru our friendship with Kristin and thank goodness her SOC is FREE, YAY, I love those kind of classes too. Thankful for your T On Tuesday, YAY!!
Anyhow, it's nice to share these new things with you and happy to follow you along in 2014! Thanks for being supportive and excited about my plans. HUGS!
p.s. I just have to say I met Susan and Tracey who join as for T some weeks thru these classes and as you know they are pretty special. Can you believe the snowman art Susan made me, it's still sitting here making me happy! Ok, I'm done rambling now:)

Magaly Guerrero said...

Wow. Just looking at the picture made me a tad dizzy. Just too much. My eyes didn't like all the font changes and the color feast.

But I love your abstract. The part on the far right made me think of a wooden soldier! ;-D

Read you soon!!!

abby j said...

Brilliant, bright colors throughout the book...
inticing...too bad the fonts were difficult. Great review and love your inspired piece of art. It's a perfect outgrowth of your read!
Happy holidays, Elizabeth!

Christine said...

What an extraordinary book, such a mixture - I'm with Darcy, would have given up!
You are to be congratulated on staying the 12 months, well done you!!
All the best for 2014

Dawn said...

Awe Elizabeth, I have this book too and I have to say I TOTALLY AGREE with your round-up of it. It is incredibly disjointed and in my opinion not at all user-friendly. I'm sure there are some fun morsels in among the confusion but I could not get on with the lay-out well enough to want to make the effort to find them!!!!!!!!
I hope you and Bleubeard had a fab Christmas and I hope that 2014 brings you joy and inspiration aplenty. Huge hugs my lovely x x x x

Prudence said...

I love your blog! The book would have gabbed me as the title and cover art is intreging Art inspired, is more brillant! I love the colour blocking! I would love to red about the process!
Thank you for visiting me! And I will post for you on FB if you wish! I hope you visit me again! Happy New Year!