Wednesday, 16 October 2013

On books, drawing and cats


I wanted to tell you about a few books that we've been enjoying lately. I chose 20 Ways to Draw a Tree from the '20 ways to draw...' series for my daughter's birthday and a few weekends ago we finally sat down and got the chance to use it. My husband and son were both out playing football and Nell was sleeping, so the house was deliciously quiet and we lost two happy hours to companionable drawing.


It's the most wonderful book, where each page is filled with twenty ways to draw something - this book  has a nature focus, so it includes, amongst many others, pages of leaves, seed heads, flowers, birds, mushrooms and feathers. We enjoyed opening the book at a random page and each picking which example of a shell or owl we were going to attempt to draw. My daughter's page of random items from nature is above, while mine is below. I chose the book because, as well as being lovely, stylistically the drawings in it are very similar to how my daughter naturally draws: tiny, detailed, careful, so I knew she'd love it. For me, I wished it had a few more examples of things that were drawn with more shading, rather than focusing solely on line drawings, but it's an amazing reference for attempting to get the shape of things right, which is something I usually struggle with.


There are a lot of books in the same series, each by a different illustrator, and we quite want them all. I noticed a new one popping up recently entitled 20 Ways to Draw a Dress, which looks fantastic too, albeit in a slightly more bonkers way than the other books in the series. Do you have any of the other books in this series?

 
The next book is one that my daughter chose for a friend's birthday - it was a hard one to give away, and I took a few photos of it before it went.


Like the 20 Ways to Draw books, Secret Garden is a colouring book that has the same detailed line-drawing style and the pages are filled with intricate drawings. I think in some ways I can imagine using this book more as drawing inspiration than a colouring book.




While on the subject of drawing, pet artist, Katie, has recently set herself the project of drawing 300 cats from Instagram (the tag is #logacat if you use Instagram and would like to see them all). Last week she was inviting people to tag her with pictures of their cats and in return she'd draw a cat portrait for them. A most exciting prospect, so I tagged her with a picture of our tabby cat and Katie drew this for me: 


I love it. Although one person commented that the cat looks like she's saying: 'Bugger off, human' in this photo. 


It's only in retrospect that I wonder if she was perhaps wishing to console us over our childhood cat's glares, but my mother had always told me and my sister that when a cat narrowed its eyes at you and opened and closed them several times while staring intently at you, that it was their way of conveying fondness - a feline expression of 'I love you!' Has anyone else heard of this? So when I took this photo I had assumed the cat had been telling me that she loved me and I saw it as a really sweet facial expression...it came as a surprise that it would look like a malevolent glare to others...but now every time the cats blink at me in this intense way I feel oddly paranoid that they're trying to will me to leave them alone. 


Anyway, Katie is currently working her way through 300 cats of Instagram and I love seeing the drawings appear, but even more how they look as a collective group. You might be able to spot some cats you know in there - some stitcher's pets feel as instantly recognisable to me as my own. If you'd like to follow Katie on Instagram, she goes by the name of @afternoonan or you can visit her Etsy shop.   


Finally, the above drawing is also by my daughter, which she drew just before the summer. As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of the books of zentangles which I'd seen on Amazon - there are so many - does any one have one that they'd recommend?

The house has felt oddly quiet this week as my son has been on holiday with his school, but he's arriving home this evening and the teachers' strike in England will mean that he has a day to recuperate (and I will have a day with him to do cosy things like watching the Brady Bunch box set) before he returns to school. My daughter and I have saved last night's Bake-Off to watch with him on iPlayer and so I'll be spending today studiously trying to avoid seeing who was knocked out (we are really hoping Ruby or Kimberly will win). 

In other news, my husband told me last night that we are about to have the coldest winter in England for over 100 years with massive amounts of snow (I'm assuming that he's heard this from an official source, rather than that he's dabbling in a new hobby of weather prediction). While this will be horribly impractical, in theory it makes me very happy due to it being pre-Christmas, thus making the whole of November and December feel extra specially Christmassy. However, I think that there may be a need to stock up on certain sewing essentials to avoid being snowed in for weeks on end and left with an English paper piecing project being brought to a sudden stop by a shortage of Sewline fabric glue refills (yes, I know that in an emergency one could revert to the traditional method of thread basting, but once you've allowed yourself to try the glue I'm not sure there's any going back...it would feel akin to being forced to wring clothes out in a mangle, rather than using the washing machine's spin cycle). 

Florence x

Ps. Some of the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links - it means that if you buy the book after clicking on my link they give me a tiny cut of the profits (it doesn't increase the price for the buyer...it just means Amazon share their profits with me). If you'd rather this didn't happen, simply open Amazon in a new tab and type the book title in independently.

35 comments:

  1. Love those books, even forgot I had bought the secret garden one and squirreled it away for a gift! I heard the same thing too about cats looking at you like that, in relation to people who hate cats and attract them the most. Because they stare at them with their eyes narrowed and they think they are being friendly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I may have expressed it wrongly when I'd said 'narrowed eyes' - it's more of a very slow, intense blink...but with no eyelids...if you see what I mean.

      Delete
  2. beautiful books! I love the idea of your husband as a weather sage, my father had a patient that used to do weather forecasts for the local tv station all based on old folklaw. He was right more often than Michael Fish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds really interesting (although slightly eccentric) I wonder if he knew about the 1987 storm?

      Delete
  3. Olivia has some really good Zentangle books - her favourites are Zentangle Basics by Suzanne McNEill, and Time to Zentangle with Colors (sic.) by Marie Browning. Olivia really loves zentangle, and has a rather large zentangle inspiration board set up on Pinterest with even more ideas and examples!

    We have Let's Draw Happy People by Sachiko Umoto, which is so sweet, and much used.

    The other drawing book of the moment, which I'm sure would be up your daughter's street too, is Craft-a-Doodle by Jenny Doh.

    Nancy x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy - thank you! That's so helpful! And Craft-a-doodle looks amazing and has gone straight onto my wishlist for her. Jenny Doh has written an incredible amount of books, hasn't she!

      Delete
  4. What wonderful books. I have a boy who loves detailed little drawings too, so I'm adding these to my Amazon wish list in readiness for that day in December that I will not name until late November at the earliest. A friend just introduced me to Zentangles, and I love the concept. I see an arty winter ahead of us, especially if it's a cold, snowy one. Such a lovely post with recommendations that are right up my street, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. November at the earliest! Sorry, although I'm so pleased you like the recommendations. x

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no, where is this weather doom information from?! Hopefully a highly unreliable source!
      Hope it's not a spoiler to say I'm rooting for one of the other bakers because I know her (as I'm shamelessly telling everyone!), but they're all pretty brilliant in the semi-final, you'll have fun watching it later.
      I think Eloise Renouf has a Cloud 9 fabric collection on the way.
      I'd say cats definitely do a narrow-eyed blinky effect that's pure adoration (accompanied by lots of purring). But I suspect they might also be doing more of a I-can-barely-open-my-eyes-to-glare-at-you-because-I'm-napping sort of thing from time to time... x

      Delete
    2. Do you really? Which one is she - Becca or Frances? I'm guessing Frances as she's still in?
      Is she your friend who made the amazing cake last year that she entered into a competition?

      You're right - she does indeed have a fabric collection on the way - I hadn't made the link between the names...curiously!



      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for the shout out! I love what you say about cats glares/lovey stares. My cat does that and I also think she is saying that she loves me. If I do it back to her, she starts purring loudly usually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're really welcome, Katie! Your work is gorgeous and I love that you blink back at your cat, because I do too!

      Delete
  7. Hello, beautiful blog, am trying to tear myself away to do some housework, but your archives are too tempting....
    I have heard that about cats too. Apparently that's why they always choose people who don't like cats to sit on , as humans do actually narrow their eyes slightly when they look at someone they don't like! I have tried it on occasion and it sometimes works! I prefer to think that cats are superior beings who just like annoying anti-cat people! Penny L in soggy Dorset

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for allowing me to interfere with your housework - that's lovely! I hope Dorset is now less soggy, but I suspect not. x

      Delete
  8. The drawings are so lovely! I really like the look of Secret Garden colouring book, I find colouring quite therapeutic. Our cat looks at me in the way you described and it feels like she is saying 'I love you!' not 'Go away!' I hope I'm right!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. By the way, I thought you'd like to know that the link to your shop on the sidebar (when you click on the little 'made by florence' picture) doesn't go to your shop but a different site when I click it. Not sure if this is my computer or your host site playing up?

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for mentioning it - I've just forgotten to remove it as I no longer have the shop!

      Delete
  9. I love these books - perfect for my drawing/colouring crazy girls. Thanks for the links :)

    http://asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always was told when cats slow blink at you they are showing love. Our cat's bugger off look is what we call "owl-ears", when she turns her ears and looks like an owl - just step back!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ohhhhh, I love the book. Straight on to my Amazon wish list. Wouldn't they make lovely black line drawings on gift tags or mini cards?
    I have heard exactly that about kitties and the old eye narrowing business. If you do it to them they will do it back (or perhaps I really am turning into the crazy cat lady my friends warned me about!) ;-D

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have that book! I saw it in Waterstones, looked on Amazon and found that it was sold out and hoped like mad when I went back to Waterstones it would still be there. It was! I think it is a lovely book and my attention was really grabbed by it.

    You and your daughter both put me to shame. I have hardly done anything with it. I think your daughters drawings are stunningly good anyway and especially so for her age. Yours are pretty darn good too! I looked at 20 ways to draw a cat but I didn't like it - different author but I was going to check out another one by the same author that drew the tree one.

    I love the little cat picture you were drawn. She does look a little cross but I do admire the style. Very pretty. Both your cats are little beauties.

    I also looked through the secret garden, but decided I wouldn't enjoy colouring so much especially as it is so intricate. I thought the pictures were just lovely though. Craft a doodle is on my list though as someone else has mentioned. There are some great books around that I wish I had access to as a child. I loved art as was reasonably good at it but didn't have much direction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree - I'd been less taken by the drawings in the cat book.

      My friend sent me some photos of the colouring her daughter had done in the book and it looks beautiful with lots of shading, as well as simple colouring!

      Delete
  13. Twenty Ways to Draw a Tree is going straight on my list of things to buy on behalf of Father Christmas this year - my eldest and middle sons would love it (and I need an excuse to get it for myself too!). I read about the Ed Emberley drawing books on a blog a couple of years ago, not sure if it was yours or not, and they have been a great success with the boys too. As far as Zentangles go, I'm slightly ashamed to say that there are so many lovely images available for inspiration if you search Google that we haven't ever needed a book, but I might need to do something about that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Ed Emberley has been mentioned a lot here - we love his books, although have used them less this year.

      That's a really good idea about searching for images on Google, although I'm ashamed to say that I love actually owning a book and having the ideas all neatly packaged up in one place!

      So pleased you like the look of some of the books. x

      Delete
  14. Thank you so for the weather warning! I obviously am taking this information to be that it will snow imminently and so must order fabric and wool delights to see me through! Hmmm, our dear Miss Ethel (kit) has a similar look at times though I don't believe she would ever want anyone to leave her alone, yet it does make her look a little grumpy...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So pleased/guilty to have facilitated a shopping trip!

      Miss Ethel is a lovely name for a cat.

      Delete
  15. I always heard the same thing, that a cat looking at you and blinking its eyes a little bit - sort of languorously - is a sign of affection. Let's keep thinking that!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hello Florence I have been reading your blog many times before in the past and for some reason I lost it! Sorry. However I managed to find it again and am so glad that I did. I am new to sewing and crochet and in May started my own blog to encourage me on my creative journey. Blogland is a wonderful place and I have met so many creative and inspirational people like yourself who have helped me along my way. I am still in the baby steps for sewing but have some of your patterns which I bought a while ago but didn't have the courage to have a go at - now that has changed and I am trying to sew as much as I can and it is working, I am getting better. I hope you don't mind but I have put you as one of my favourite blogs on my website - do pop over and see it when you have time. I am doing a giveaway on November 1st of a lovely Sophie Tilley dolly bobbin which my lovely husband has painted for me and I am currently dressing her in beautiful ribbons. Thank you for inspiring me in the past - have a great weekend, lots of love
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck with your blog and congratulations on diving into some sewing! And of course I don't mind - I'm flattered. x

      Delete
  17. Florence I forgot to give you my blog......
    crochetknittingsewing.blogspot.com

    Dorothy's Room

    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have heard that the SLOW blink is kitty affection, or at least a sign of calm acceptance. Kitty LOVE!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am really enjoying reading your posts. I am interested on stitching and embroidery, after reading some of your most recent posts I think I will have to give quilting a go! Thanks!
    Beccy www.beccyandbuttonthecat.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...