Hi everyone.This is my (slightly late) review of the book I chose and the art it inspired for the February meeting of the Artful Readers Club. Here we go...
A bit of pre-review waffle. I'm going to say firstly that I'm a huge fan of Flora Bowley's painting style. I discovered her a year or so ago when I got an email about a workshop she was part of. I have thought for ages that I would absolutely love to take one of her workshops... but they don't come cheap. Even the online ones run into three figures so, at the moment, it's something I just can't do. Imagine my excitement when I heard she was bringing out a book. I couldn't wait - I thought it would be like a condensed version of one of her workshops. When it came out, on to my wishlist it went and I started reading through the reviews (I always do.) The majority were hugely complimentary - but I don't always trust the 5 star reviews. I find some can come across a bit blinkered - especially if the writers are very obviously fans of the person who wrote the book. This goes for fiction as well as technique books. (Sorry if that offends anyone but I can't afford to buy the amount of books I'd like so this is how I sift through the reviews and decide where to spend my hard saved pennies.) So I always start with the 1 and 2 star reviews - sometimes these even convince me that actually, what you disagree with, makes me want to read the book. However - these reviews this time were saying this wasn't a technique book, it wasn't a condensed workshop, and that it was peppered with lifestyle photographs and loads of blethering about yoga... with a few tiny pictures of Flora's art thrown in. Hands up now - I hate this sort of thing. Lifestyle yapping and banging on about releasing your inner wotsits are the quickest turn offs for me in a technique book. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! Why can't I just be a person that wants to paint? Why does there have to be all this soul searching crap with it? Why? Why dammit?
So I stropped a bit. And huffed a bit. And didn't buy the book.
But I kept going back and reading the reviews. Then a friend bought the book and said - you know what? There is a bit of blether (or words to that effect) but it's still inspiring... so I huffed a bit more. And after a few months of huffing and stropping... I bought the book. And this is what I thought...
There is A LOT of blether and waffle about yoga and dancing around with loaded paint brushes and singing and dancing some more... and being brave and dancing is being brave and blah de blah... really skin crawly, teeth on edge stuff for me personally. BUT. The technique bits were actually pretty OK... even if they didn't really start till page 40... but I found that I do most of them already. I did like seeing how Flora paints, there's a couple of pages at the back that I wish she had dedicated larger photos to and spread over more pages, where she goes from blank canvas to finished piece and I found that fascinating. The book is peppered with beautiful, beautiful art work. I have to disagree with other low star reviewers on that - it's a stunning looking book and there are some gorgeous large images of paintings I hadn't previously seen. Which I enjoyed poring over. I just found it really hard going with the flowery reading. Hence my late review - I kept putting it down and walking away.
Thing is - I think this actually probably is a condensed version of what you might expect at a Flora Workshop. I was wrong about that. I think she specialises in teaching you to not just let go as an artist but also techniques to free yourself up better as well - you can expect yoga position tips and stretching exercises in the book. Unfortunately, that's all wasted on me. However in that respect I don't feel I wasted my money in spending just over a tenner on this book. It has stopped me from saving up the three figures for a workshop that I just don't think would be my cup of tea.
Still a huge fan of Flora Bowley's work... but I think my Being Bold, Letting Go and Unfolding... is just done a different way is all.
Sarah shared this link with me when she knew I was reading this book. Like her, I just love watching others paint and I thought I'd share with you :)
Flora Bowley * Brave Intuitive Painting from Zipporah on Vimeo.
You'll be pleased to know the book wont sit gathering dust on my shelf. My 12 year old is a new Flora Bowley fan and I have been trying to drill into her - after a few nasty comments at school from kids who said her art wasn't art because it wasn't realistic - that what she creates is art. So she has snagged this book to drool over the pictures :)
So what did I do arty wise? The one thing I did take away from this book was to walk away. I have a temper and many, many started bits of art end up ripped up in a rage. I walked away from this many, many times - didn't do most of the exercises Flora recommends but did step back, move it around the house to look at it in different lights, turned it upside down etc. I think I like it now. Not totally convinced it's finished but - it's in my journal so I can come back to it at some point if I want to. It's going to have a quote or just words on it I think... not sure what yet.
|The pages I started off with already had some ripped up paper and excess ink on them|
|Then I used some of my little one's left over paint - waste not want not. Just that stuff you get in the big squidgy bottles that the schools use.|
|Started randomly slathering that all over|
|Bit worried when it got to this stage... let it dry and left for a few days|
|Starting piling on my acrylic paints...|
|...and a bit more...|
|Finished (for now) pages.|
I've gone with a short one this time to allow me to play catch up - Jez, I'll do the collage book in April. I promise :)
Thank you for stopping by :)