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musings of a noob...follow along in my continuing education of; digital photography, post-processing and technology
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Two book reviews

Posted 07-20-2010 at 08:08 AM by Nasturtium
Updated 07-20-2010 at 08:50 AM by Nasturtium

Book reviews

Digital Art Revolution
creating fine art with Photoshop by Scott Ligon

Most books I've read on Photoshop so far have been from the photographer's, retoucher or illustrator's perspective. This is the first one I've come across that was from the artist's viewpoint.

The book provided me with some much needed direction. He lays out some basic guidelines and then says one shouldn't limit themselves in any way with the 'new art'. He also touched on things that hadn't occurred to me like audio and animation.

I found his arguments against copying natural media compelling. I agree that, “We who work in digital media are extremely fortunate our golden age is now! ..the possibilities are vast and unknown.”

I thought his constant directive to partially erase things would be developing a bad habit. Much better to mask so you can go back and undo later. I felt like he missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate the new puppet warp tool in chapter five.

He explained why we find texture so interesting. And offers some very good advice on creating a body of work from your own voice. I found all this extremely useful.


I don't understand why he chose only one style of work as illustrations.

Where are the brilliant stars I know? Like;

Mattijs Fransen
Martin Grohs
Martine Roch
Maggie Taylor
Erik Johansson
Claudia McKinney

He doesn't have to worry about me copying any of the art in his book – my composites are about delight and beauty – which I'm afraid I didn't get from this book's artwork.

The next book covers the purpose of art.


Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery translated from the original French by Alison Anderson

I can highly recommend this book with the caveat to stop at page 310. I suspect the editor rushed her to finish and that is why everything after page 291 feels 'tacked on'. I would have preferred an ambivalent ending than one where the characters lose their eloquence and act irrationally.

It's hard to believe this is a translation. Which makes me very curious about Alison Anderson's original writing. The prose is wonderfully metaphorical and poetic.

This book is all about how art (in this case literature ) can lift us out of our dreary daily lives to a beautiful transcendent place. The 'zone' or bliss or 'flow' or whatever you want to call it. Again and again in graceful swoops Ms. Barbery describes the indescribable.

Here are some of my favorite passages from the book;

I despise this false lucidity that comes with age.

...there's nothing to understand. desperately need Art. You seek to reconnect with your spiritual illusions, and you wish fervently that something might rescue you from your biological destiny, so that all poetry and grandeur will not be cast out from the world.

Ah, sweet, impromptu moment, lifting the veil of melancholy...In a split second of eternity, everything is changed, transfigured. ... the forward rush of life is crystallised in a brilliant jewel of a moment that knows neither plan nor future, human destiny is rescued from the pale succession of days, glows with light at last and, surpassing, time warms my tranquil heart.

To the rich, therefore, falls the burden of Beauty.

For where can one find more noble-distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature?

...pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.

“Maybe we're all sick, with too much of everything.”

There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature . . . yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are – vile parasites squirming on the face of the earth and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honour this beauty that owes us nothing.

Television distracts us from the onerous necessity of finding projects to construct in the vacuity of our frivolous lives: by beguiling our eyes, television releases our mind from the great work of making meaning.

I was not yet seven years old, but I already knew that the measured drift of the little cottony particles foreshadowed what the heart would feel in moments of great joy.

...a teenager who pretends to be an adult is still a teenager. If you imagine that getting high at a party and sleeping around is going to propel you into a state of full adulthood, that's like thinking that dressing up as an Indian is going to make you an indian.

What is the purpose of art?` carve from time an emotional aperture that cannot be reduced to animal logic.

...he combines a sort of of childish enthusiasm and candour with the attentiveness and kindliness of an old sage. I am not accustomed to such a relationship with the world; it seems to me that he views it with indulgence and curiosity, ...

... it is crazy how people think that though they understand nature they can live without it.

... we are not gods creating a world with our own thoughts, ...

If you want to heal
Heal others
And smile or weep
At this happy reversal of fate
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  1. Old Comment
    CJ Swartz's Avatar
    Thanks for the link to kunst van Mattijn Franssen's work - I've just started looking at it, but enjoy his sense of humor (or sense of the absurd), and his inclusion of the cat in each of his works. In his work, "Escaping the Madness", the cat is already on the other side of the brink - this man knows his cats. His compositions look good also. (smile)
    Posted 07-26-2010 at 02:46 PM by CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Oh great! Another wonderful distraction from real life. I'm excited to have found your blog from your Flickr profile. I appreciate both these recommendations and very much enjoy your senses of beauty and humour. I'll looking forward to seeing what you post next.
    Posted 07-27-2010 at 09:28 AM by MissusK MissusK is offline

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