Silver Crow Project

Artful Readers Club - Brave Intuitive Painting

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. 
Right side

Left side
My March book will be:

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 :)


  1. I love your reviews, and this one made me smile. I can't do all that soul searching "crap" either.... but it it works for some, well, that's fine! Loved the film, especially the time lapse bit at the end. Your painting looks good too, and I'll be interested to see what, if anything you do to it next! Let's be bold and brave together...!

  2. Thank you for an honest review....I too hate all that "touchy feely"..."find yourself"...."release your inner goddess" stuff .
    I do, however, love your's bright and bold.
    Hugs xx

  3. Forst your artwork. A good way to do it, taking time, and it was worth it. The floating circles could be bubbles of steam from you boiling over, but actually I think they are your own inspiration bubbling up, with the confidence that you can do it without her.
    Really useful review for me. I have 'looked inside' on Amazon and read the reviews and fely just as you did about finding the inner you - can't stand it. But I tried to see past it, but not enough to buy it. Thanks to your review I can buy something else .... The collage one perhaps.
    As for art not being realistic, remind her that everyone said that about Van Gough, Nd Turner, snd Monet. Perhaps if she let you post one of her paintings we could all let her know what real artists think, not people with closed minds.

  4. GREAT review, Carmen! I love that your book reviews are so honest. I've done some of those inner goddess classes but could never really get into it. I signed up for a year's course (a whole frigging year) and a month into it I knew that it wasn't going to be for me. Lots of 'releasing' and 'allowing' and fluffy stuff like that. I thought it was going to be much more inspirational than that :( As you so rightly say, I just want to do arting!

    I'm loving your finished (for now) pages!

    Thank goodness your 12 year old artist has you for a mother and will encourage her style of artwork - she's learning young that there are a lot of haters out there :(


  5. Those finished pages are amazing. xx

  6. :D....loving your honest down to earth approach to this review. I know lots of Flora fans who would be screaming curses at you right now, but I can't see how stretching exercises and ballet help with painting either :D...grief I barely have time to paint as it is. I do like to use my art to express my emotions...but ai don't HAVE to. Love the piece you came up with in the end. I start on messy pages like you, but have never come up with anything as soft and interesting as you did :D XXX

  7. You already know what I thought of the book - very similar to what you thought. I'm still giggling at the page on "flocking" :)

    Her art is lovely though, as is yours! Really cool layered page.

    And since when did art have to be representational? Kids can be nasty but hopefully the school's art teacher has a wider view....

  8. I think Flora would be sincerely grateful for your honest account/opinion of her book. Actually you did describe her brilliantly, she is very much about yoga, dancing, freeing up and I don't think she makes any apology for that - it's just the way she is and I guess you either love it or you don't. I'm really glad you enjoyed her book on one level - even if you didn't appreciate the 'frilly bits'. I love your art inspired by the book - it really is very much Flora's style.

  9. I love your review, it's honest and explains why you had issues with it which although didn't appeal to you may well appeal to others which is a positive plus the biggest positive it inspired offspring to appreciate what they create - always a positive! Love what you created off to watch the video now

  10. I'm not sure what is happening to me....I'm am so into yoga and art right now, I'd love to take a course that had both together.
    Weird, right?!

    ...but, I have to admit...her messy style makes me cringe a little....all those drips all over the wall...dipping directly into the open tub *gasp*, it's like eating right out of the peanut butter jar! I just can't handle it....haha!

    She must go through buckets of white paint!

    1. Not weird at all Cameron. I totally respect that everyone is into different things :)

  11. Oh, and I wanted to tell you I liked the evolution of your pages!

  12. I was actually a little disappointed with Flora's book. Not what I expected so I took her online workshop instead. Much better. :) I might go back to the book now to see if it's any better seeing it with more insight. You were brave with your journal pages. I haven't even set up my easel. :))

  13. Love your review. I am a fan of Flora's work as well and took her first workshop. I was disappointed with the book when I first saw it as well, though it is now on my to-do list to go over the book again to see if I was hard on it.

    I don't mind some inner self stuff, but I also like some substance to the art books I buy, if I wanted pretty pictures I could just peruse the internet.

    Loved watching your page progress. Realistic art??? They can grab a camera for that! Go you been so encouraging and supportive.

  14. Oh, your pages are gorgeous! ♥
    I love the little video, I didn't know Flora was such a messy painter. I have done some challenge of her work once in a mixed media online group, just can't remember what/where it exactly was...
    I have this book on my wish-list and I guess it will just stay there a bit longer. I'm not convinced I need this book right now! :)
    Big hugs for your girl! She has to stay unique and believe in her own Art. What comes from the heart is Best! No matter what anyone else tells her...

  15. Oh Carmen, I think you are ace :) I sooo love your honesty and the book review...
    Apparently even if I dug a hole it would have to be "deep!" , so I love all that deep and meaning full stuff..but what you have written in some ways really echoes what I have been feeling lately about the whole ecourses/seminars/books thing.....that looking for the illuminating answer or technique just doesn't exist in those of other people's, but comes from working out your own. And actually we ARE doing this anyway, but somehow when a book/course presents itself we immediately doubt our selves.
    Or maybe thats just me?!
    I have yet to find a crafty ecourse/book that hasn't been slightly dissappointing, which I think must mean I have such lofty expectations...or again is it because we need to just work our own way out?...
    Anyhoos I absolutely love your pages...circles are my fave..and those colours are SUPER! Big hugs to you xx

  16. I love this review lol - I too am not a fan of art and healing/inner self/inner goddess etc etc stuff. I just do it coz I like it :) The end result of your artwork is fab - you should be pleased with it. x

  17. Thanks for steering me to your review of Flora's book... I find I agree with you about it and even though it has lovely photos of her art, I gain more from watching how paintings evolve and knowing specific techniques that then I can make as mine. As you saw on my blog I tried to do that but it is not completely "me"... I like your grungier take on it all. I am enjoying what you are doing on your own pages!

  18. Your review was spot's not a technique book but I'm one of those who can get into the feel good stuff (must be my upbringing...well maybe not). Anyway I'd read most of the book by the time I read your review and, despite wanting there to be more to take in, do I actually liked reading and looking at her work. It was the part I was looking forward to about her painting style tha disappointed somewhat, I just found it hard to take her "add spots with your fingers, now a few small lines with your brush" approach and apply it to my artwork. I collect pretty art books for my bookshelf and it will def go in that section. Not, however, a good candidate for my overused, dog-eared art and bookbinding resources section.


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