Tag Archives: art

The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein

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The Masterpiecers by Olivia Wildenstein, e-book, 646 pages, published in 2016.

Nineteen year-old, artistic quilter, Ivy has scored a heavily fought for spot on the reality TV show, The Masterpiecers, where eight contestants battle against each other in various art-related tasks. The prize, one hundred thousand dollars, but more importantly, automatic entry to The Masterpiecers art school. For Ivy, this is an incredible opportunity, but she must leave behind her twin sister, Aster, to attend the competition in New York. Aster is in gaol after killing a man with her car, claiming it was self-defense, but not everything in her story adds up.

The story is told from the alternating views of the twins; Ivy as she arrives in New York and begins to compete on the show, and Aster, from the gaol, where she has been granted special privileges to watch her sister’s show. I am not a big fan of reality TV, so the premise of this book was a little hard for me to get on board with. I was nonplussed for the first section of the story, and dismayed by the first task the contestants had to complete; it was more torture than performance art. At that point I was actually thinking of giving the book up as not being my thing. However, it greatly improved from there. As the girls’ stories began to unfold, and discrepancies became obvious, the story became much more intriguing, and soon I was flying through the book to see what else would happen. There were a lot of questions that I wanted answers for, which spurred me on to keep reading.

The plot was quite complicated, with twists and mysteries, which made it interesting and exciting. It was also well written, and the characters were vividly described. However, I found the setting a little vexatious. I don’t much care for reality TV, nor do I follow the lives of celebrities, so I was a little out of my comfort zone. I now know more than I ever wanted to know about the preparations, hair, makeup and manipulations that go on behind the scenes of that sort of show! Everyone seemed so vapid, just concerned with playing an angle and getting ahead no matter the cost to others. So the majority of the characters were rather dislikable.

I did like the twins, though Ivy and Aster were very different people. Ivy was talented, ambitious and organised, though I found her a little cold. Aster was less sophisticated, yet completely dedicated to Ivy. She worked two jobs to support them, while Ivy worked on her quilts. And while I think Ivy did love Aster, she didn’t seem to trust her. I think they had quite a complicated relationship, especially when it came to their mother. I’ve still got plenty of questions!

The Masterpiecers is the first book in the Masterful series. This explains why I still have so many questions, but I’m undecided as to whether I will read the second book. I really liked the fast pace, the subterfuge, the conflict, the mystery; these elements combined to make a great story, I’m just not sure that I liked the characters enough to continue the series.

The Masterpiecers is suitable for middle to upper high school students and beyond.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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Christmas Stamping

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xmasstamping

We cracked out the Christmas glitter paint and foam Christmas stamps to make some festive art.

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Foam stamps.

Usually I would put the paint onto sponges so that the stamps don’t get overloaded with paint. Unfortunately we were out of sponges, so some of the pictures were a bit gloopy, but they still look nice. And importantly the kids had fun!

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Diary of Anna the Girl Witch by Max Candee

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diaryannacoverDiary of Anna the Girl Witch by Max Candee and illustrated by Raquel Barros, e-book, 117 pages, published by Helvetic House in 2016.

Anna Sophia has lived in an orphanage since she was six. Her early years were spent in the care of Uncle Misha in the wilds of Serbia but she knows nothing about her birth parents or her family. On the night of Anna’s thirteenth birthday she is given some small clues about her heritage, including a carved hand that can come alive! Oh, and she’s a witch with developing powers that she must learn to control. Learning about herself is not the only thing on Anna’s mind though, her best friend was adopted by a rich couple nearby, and now she is acting very strangely. Anna decides to get to the bottom of things, but she may be facing more danger than she could have imagined!

I was captivated by this story from the first couple of chapters. The plot was interesting, engaging and flowed smoothly. I knocked it over quite quickly, enjoying the action and magic. The story was a little dark, but very good. It was short enough not to be intimidating for younger readers, but due to the themes of child slavery and kidnap, it may suit more mature readers, or require some adult guidance. I think it would best suit upper primary school and lower high school students.

I was surprised by the lack of surprise and fear form Anna’s friends when some of her powers were displayed. Instead of being scared or awed, Jean-Sebastien just thought it made her kind of cool in a weird way. I don’t think that’s the sort of reaction that most people would make on discovering their friend can perform magic.

There were some illustrations throughout the book. These were done as mostly black and white line drawings, with just a small part of each picture coloured. This really drew the eye to the coloured object, emphasising it. I liked this touch.

Anna was an interesting character. Each chapter began with a diary entry written by Anna, and then the story was continued from Anna’a first person perspective. I felt like I got to know her better with the addition of the diary entries. She was kind and protective of her friends, and I liked her. She developed much more awareness of herself through the story, learning about her past and about her capabilities. She also learns an important lesson about remaining kind and good, and not letting revenge or malice cloud her heart. This is a lesson we can all take on board.

Squire, the animated hand, was a little creepy! Who enchants a carved fist? He was very helpful for Anna though, and I’m sure he makes a good companion for a witch. He’s much easier to hide than a cat or a toad. I was glad he couldn’t talk though, that would have taken it too far!

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch finishes with and ending designed to lead onto a sequel. I was left wanting to read the next book soon; it promises to be an exciting series.

 

*I obtained this book as a digital copy from Netgalley. I did not receive any other remuneration, and this is an honest review composed entirely of my own opinions.

Aside

As a book reviewer I do get books in the post (and I am excited every single time one arrives!), but today I got something a little different. I got my first ever marketing pack for a book that I am currently reading for review. I was so super excited!

The book is Deathcat Sally by P.S. Brooks, and so far I am really enjoying it. Hopefully I will have the review up by next week (children willing!). It’s about Sally and Zachary, a teenage girl and a cat that find themselves joined together after a car accident that nearly killed them both. Not only do they have to deal with this unexpected predicament, every time they fall asleep they enter No Man’s Land, a dreamscape that is all too real, and all too scary. IMG_7571

The author, P.S. Brooks is also an illustrator, and has done the book cover, illustrations and marketing material himself. And his work is lovely! I was sent some of his Deathcat Sally art in the form of bookmarks, badges and a little booklet providing background for the book. I have put some of the art up on my library wall (well it will be my library when it has finished its life as a playroom!). The cat stickers and little cat figure that was in the marketing pack disappeared very quickly to my 6 year old’s bedroom. IMG_7560

I have also been perusing his other artwork and I have fallen in love with it! It is whimsical and gorgeous and I want some! I like so many his pictures I can’t decide on a favourite, but it’s close between Origin of a Starfish and Dance of the Stars. What’s your favourite? Have a look for yourself at P.S. Brooks Illustrator & Writer!

Now that I’ve shared my excitement, I’m off to continue reading 🙂

Exciting Mail

Roller Painting

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Paintings hanging up to dry.

Paintings hanging up to dry.

We ran out of wrapping paper, so we broke out our little foam rollers, paint and a roll of plain brown paper and got down to having some fun.

Rolling paint onto the paper.

Rolling paint onto the paper.

We used blue, purple, green and pink paint. I tried for one roller per colour, but the kids quickly put the rollers in all the colours…

A used the pink paint to make a heart, while L made long green and blue stripes. The boys dabbed the paint here and there, rolling all the colours together, and rolling paint onto themselves. Luckily I had stripped them down to just their undies in preparation for such an event!

 

 

 

 

Making a heart.

Making a heart.

Painting stripes.

Painting stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

Fun with rollers.

Fun with rollers.

Painting with Cotton Buds

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During a morning at playgroup the boys did some cute little paintings using cotton buds (also called q-tips or cotton tips). Later, we tried it at home.

Painting with a cotton bud.

Painting with a cotton bud.

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Paint on the tray.

I had cotton buds in the bathroom, so we got out enough to have one cotton bud for each paint colour. We put a blob of paint on a plastic take-away container lid, and the boys got started painting.

They had lots of fun spreading the paint with the cotton buds. After a while T1 also used his fingers to add some paint to his page, but mostly they stuck with the cotton buds.

Once they had finished, I threw the used cotton buds out, and washed off the paint trays. This was a cheap, simple and fun activity to do with my toddlers.

T2's painting.

T2’s painting.

T1's painting.

T1’s painting.

Punch Lines “Humerus” Art by George D. Wachob

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IMG_5450Punch Lines “Humerus” Art by George D. Wachob, paperback collection of artworks, 64 pages, published in 2015.

This is a collection of individual drawings. Each piece of art represents a pun, phrase or name. They are fairly simple coloured drawings, one to each page. The actual names of the artworks are located at the back of the book to give the reader a chance to work out the pun for themselves.

I looked at this book with my husband, as he is a big fan of puns. We went from page to page trying to work out what each picture represented. It was obvious what some of the art was, while others had us stumped. Even after reading the name of the artwork, there were a couple that I still didn’t get. I think it’s possible that some of the puns just don’t translate well across the seas. We laughed at some, and groaned at others, but there were only a few that I really really liked, such as brain waves and false teeth. My husband liked the pigeon ‘toad’ and the airplane hanger. I reckon some of these pictures would be awesome as printed t-shirts.

Punch Lines “Humerus” Art is good for some light entertainment with a bit of brain stretching too. Whilst there isn’t anything expressly unsuitable for children in the book, I thought that the artwork would be too complicated for many children, and would be better suited to teenagers and adults.

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions and those of my husband.

Felt Pictures

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Felt shapes.

Felt shapes.

I found a felt board among the puzzles, but couldn’t locate the bag of felt pieces that went with it, so we made our own. I used several different colours of felt, and cut them into basic shapes, such as squares, circles and triangles. A took the felt board to make her pictures, while L used a plain piece of black felt as her background. Felt sticks to felt, so the shapes will stick to any piece of felt, L just laid her piece of the floor so that it was flat.

A adding grass to her house picture.

A adding grass to her house picture.

Adding a sunset.

Adding a sunset.

A made some pictures of houses and a city, with blue sky and green grass, and of course a wonderful yellow sun. L used her black background to create a lovely night picture and a volcano picture. She cut up some more felt to suit her design, as she wanted little pieces of white to create the ash for her volcano.

We had a lot of fun making our felt piece pictures, and it was simple and fairly cheap to set up. We have stored the felt pieces in a zip-lock bag to use next time we feel like making felt pictures.

L's volcano.

L’s volcano.

Hand-print Bookmarks

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IMG_4472For Mother’s Day this year we made bookmarks using the hand-prints of the kids. I found some old scrapbooking papers that had pink or blue heart patterns on them to use as our base for the hand-prints.

Using the paint pad.

Using the paint pad.

A's hand-prints.

A’s hand-prints.

Each child chose the background paper to use, and the colour of paint for their hand-print. Predictably A chose pink on pink for her bookmarks. L used the rainbow paint pad for her hand-prints on the back on the blue paper.  Unfortunately the rainbow paint didn’t come out as clearly as the other paint, but L liked it as it was. The boys used blue paint on blue paper. Using paint pads for hand-prints makes it easy to get a good amount of paint on the hand, and is much less messy than using conventional paint.

Hand-prints.

Hand-prints.

After the hand-prints were dry, I carefully cut around each hand. The kids wrote some lovely messages on the back of one of their hands using a marker. A pushed down her marker quite hard, and the ink is visible through the hand-print. She also drew a lot of love hearts! I love it because it is so unique.

Writing a message on the back of the hand-print.

Writing a message on the back of the hand-print.

To finish the bookmarks I laminated the hand-prints. I arranged the hand-prints so that A’s hands and Baby T’s hands were together to make a bigger bookmark each, while L’s hand-print was big enough as one. I also did a single print of my hand to make a bookmark for my mum. Once laminated, I carefully cut around the hand-prints so that there was a small amount of plastic laminate around each one. The kids were happy with their bookmarks.

One of the boy's bookmarks.

One of the boy’s bookmarks.

A hand-print bookmark in my latest read.

A hand-print bookmark in my latest read.

Secret Messages

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Crayons, wax and oil pastels are great at repelling water coulour paint. This property makes them a good choice for writing secret messages. White is the best colour to use on white paper as it is hard to see the writing before adding the paint! Unfortunately A chose to use a white oil pastel and our paper was more of a beige colour (blank newspaper print), so the messages weren’t quite as secret as they might have been 🙂

My message for L and A.

My message for L and A.

A wrote out all of the sight words that she is currently working on in white oil pastel. L drew a picture and wrote messages. Then the kids used their water colour paints to bring the messages to life.

Writing her sight words.

Writing her sight words.

Painting on the water colours.

Painting on the water colours.

We had fun writing messages to eachother, which were then ‘discovered’ by adding paint. This is also a great activity for practicing spelling words as well as sight words.

A word 'discovered'.

A word ‘discovered’.

Words appearing through the paint.

Words appearing through the paint.