Tag Archives: art

New art and a new reading challenge

I got a new stretched canvas for my office. The office is the only place in the house that I let myself put anything I choose on the walls, theme, coordination or quality be damned. If I like it, I’ll have it.

Not to suggest that this Icanvas print isn’t quality of a sort, but the rest of the house tends to run toward large, heavily framed prints. It’s not a great photo, but Mizuki by Audrey Kawasaki is what’s above the bed for example:

Though I’ve shrunk it so it doesn’t compete for attention with the canvas that is the point of this post, that frame is almost 30×30 inches (please never let it fall on us in our sleep). So, an unframed whimsical print of science fiction books is a departure from the norm. But I so loved it when I saw it that I insta-bought it, even though I didn’t really have a place for it. (In fact, I wish I’d bought the bigger size.)

After I moved Kawasaki’s Where I Rest out of place (this* one –>), I sat staring at the books and telling my husband how happy I was to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included among such giants as Asimov and Le Guin. But also how I was distressed that Martha Well’s All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries) isn’t included. It 100% deserves to be. In fact, once noticed, its absence sapped a little of my love of the print away. I mean, look, I even tweeted at Icanvas about it.

Hey @icanvas_art, if you’re going to include #Binti and #thelongwaytoasmallangryplanet in this stack of classic sci-fi (which I totally agree with) you gotta get #Murderbot in there too! I’d even buy a second copy. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/aaEuuR7Pzu — @rbnsnzsr

This led me to a second thought. If I was so happy to see Binti and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet included, and was desperate to get Murderbot added, why no excitement for The Martian? It was published in 2014, so it’s basically just as contemporary as the others. Part of it might have been that it’s written by a man and I’m always rooting to see women included. But Dune, by Frank Herbert, is one of my all-time favorite books (even if it by a man). So I decided it wasn’t the gender issue. It was simply that I haven’t read it!

All of the books included here are well known, familiar to me, science fiction. Suddenly I had to stop and think how many of them I love by virtue of being sci-fi cannon and how many I had actually read. Before that very moment I’d have told you of course I’ve read all the classics. But once I was really thinking about it, I realized that couldn’t be true. I hadn’t read The Martian, for example. So, off to Goodreads and my reading list I went. And shock followed.

I started Left to right:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: a favorite, read
  • The Martian Chronicles: Ray freaking-Bradbury, NOT READ
  • Brave New World: read in high school
  • Binti: started this whole process, obviously read
  • The Martian: NOT READ
  • The Left Hand of Darkness: read it last year when Le Guin died
  • The Diamond Age: What!? owned but NOT READ
  • Solaris: also NOT READ
  • The Foundation Trilogy: thank god, read the whole series
  • The Time Machine: Wells. freaking Wells, and NOT READ
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: NOT READ
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: read
  • Hyperion: read
  • Neuromancer: read and loved
  • Dawn: by Octavia Butler! NOT READ
  • Dune: a favorite, read
  • Starship Troopers: read
  • Ender’s Game: read
  • Childhood Ends: NOT READ

Eight—almost half of the books—I discovered that I’ve not read. This is a travesty that cannot be allowed to stand. I mean, for one, If I’m going to hang the picture on my wall (even if just my office wall), I should be able to point to it and know I’ve read them all, but also I’m a sci-fi/fantasy junkie and THEY’RE SCI-FI CLASSICS. How did I let this happen? Obviously, I’m going to fix it. It’s July. I have five months until the end of the year, and by that point I will have read these eight books that I have somehow grievously neglected in my life.

I don’t think I’ll bother coming back and linking reviews here. But I am setting it as an official reading challenge for myself. I do so love to have a plan. Wish me happy reading.


*
Yes, I'm totally vain enough that I spread out those two in the back so they could be seen, and there is another on the wall above. They'd been stacked together to be re-hung. I have a new one at the framer's (and a small one waiting to be framed by me) and I'm going to make a collage wall of them. I'll add a picture when it's done. But, though you can probably guess Kawasaki is my husband and my favorite artist, she's not the point of this post. But once I'd posted one, I just ran with it. 

Review of Manga Art: Inspiration and Techniques from an Expert Illustrator, by Mark Crilley

I requested a copy of Mark Crilley‘s Manga Art from Blogging for Books.

Description from Goodreads:
The world of manga (Japanese comics) has captured the imagination of artists, both aspiring and professional alike. Now best-selling artist and art instructor Mark Crilley presents the most complete look yet at the variety of creative options available in the world of manga. Crilley fills each chapter with gorgeous, original artwork created with a variety of tools (pencils, colored pencils, digital art, pen and ink, and more) and in a variety of manga-inspired styles. He pairs each piece with information on the materials used and the inspiration that led to its creation. Manga Art provides readers a one-of-a-kind chance to hear from one of the leading artists in the field of manga instruction, as he reveals the unlimited possibilities of manga and the creative secrets behind over 100 pieces of original, never-before-seen artwork.

Review:
I got this for my 10-year-old daughter who is a budding artist and enjoyer of anime. (I’ve worked hard to instill in her my love of manga, but anime is as close as we’ve gotten so far. I’ll take it, baby steps.) I left the book with her for quite a long time before sitting her down and asking her opinion of it. I knew she liked it, since I’d seen her several times flipping through it, probably getting ideas. But wanted her words about whether she’d found it helpful in learning to recreate the pictures in it.

She informed me that it did not. And to be wholly fair, the book isn’t intended to be instructional. At least not in the way I’d assumed when I gave it to her. The book doesn’t do much to break down bodies or show the reader how to draw the pictures it contains. What it does instead is present examples of a variety of manga art style. Because there is a difference between common Shojo styles and Shonen styles, for example.

My daughter appreciated being able to see the differences, though she’s not quite old enough or experienced enough to have recognize all of them. It will be a handy reference guide going forward when she wants to create different feels in her drawing.

I can see this book doing well for artists looking for reference material, but I can also see it being a winner with manga/anime fans, especially those old enough to have a coffee table. It would make a pretty, conversation starting, coffee table book.