It's a mixed bag this month. As always, we round up the best new art books: there's a love letter to the Arctic by an artist who has undertaken several expeditions to paint its wildlife, people, and places; there's a book about art and magic and advertising; and there's another that teaches you the techniques of the 'Famous Artists School’.
Fancy having a crack at Chinese brush painting? We've got that covered, too. We're exploring the art of the old American west and street art from New York City in the 1980s. Plus, we've got some nice gear to smarten up your workspace. And we've also got a cool new product from the PANTONE Living range.
The new book in the 'Special Subjects' series offers everything you need to get into Chinese brush painting. Artist Monika Cilmi is your guide. She helps you to pick the right brush, learn basic techniques, brushstrokes and composition, as you practice painting birds, flowers, and traditional landscapes.
Cilmi also shows you how incorporate these traditional methods into your own artistic approach, whatever that may be.
These top-rated Chinese brushes, made of wood and wolf hair, come in three sizes. They hold a lot of water, handle ink well, and are nicely balanced. We’d recommend them as a good entry-level brush, but they are also capable of tackling more advanced projects. Plus, they’re very affordable, so you don't need to spend a ton of money to make a start in traditional Chinese writing and painting.
The Famous Artists School is an art correspondence course founded in 1948 by Albert Dorne, Norman Rockwell, and other members of the New York Society of Illustrators. This book is based on the course, and takes you through the processes of these artists. Each chapter takes you through lessons and exercises in classic drawing technique.
There's also a ton of pieces taken from Norman Rockwell Museum and the Golden Age of Illustration, but particularly interesting are the before-and-after examples of student work.
This month's oh-man-I-wish-could-go-to-that exhibition takes place at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg. Keith Haring: Posters features 100 posters that show how the American artist and activist's style developed over his short career. It features work in support of human rights, tolerance, education and AIDS awareness, as well as stuff Haring sold in his New York Pop Shop. The exhibition is a cool retrospective on the work of one of the late 20th century’s most influential artists.
This new book explores the facts and fictions of the American west, the 'story of nation-building, triumphs, failures and fantasies.' It features art by American west artists like Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington, but also works by modern artists such as Andy Warhol and Kent Monkman.
The book looks at the Western in film too, from early works by John Ford and Sergio Leone, to recent productions by Quentin Tarantino and Joel and Ethan Coen, all the while exploring the genre's impact on art, culture, and society.
This new art travel set from Snapdragon has a travel diary with alternating blank and lined pages so you can keep a written and illustrated journal of your travels. The Scottish brand also includes an eraser, pencils, a pencil sharpener, and a pencil case to keep them all in, stackable watercolour paints and watercolour postcards, and lead holder and spare leads – everything you need to take your art on the road.
During the ‘golden age of magic' – between the late 19th and early 20th centuries – magicians fought an advertising war. Devils, demons, skulls, skeletons, and glamorous assistants, pictured on elaborately designed posters, were used to pull in an audiences. This book contains 250 of those posters.
Experts look at the social context in which the posters were created and the artists employed to create them. It's a fascinating look at the early days of art and advertising, and how the two overlap.
The new PANTONE Living range has a loads of cool lifestyle stuff that you don't really need, but you do really, really want. Made from impact-resistant material, with a stainless steel screw-top, this is a tough, long-lasting water bottle. It's good for the environment and all that, but mainly it just looks dead smart. And, obviously, the bottles come a range of colours – Black 419 being our favourite.
Bespoke & Oak Co. – a British company based in the Forest of Bowland – has a new range that includes some cool stuff to smarten your studio. This handmade solid oak pen/pencil holder comes with a personalised message on the bottom. There's also ton of matching gear, so, if you’re so inclined, you can completely oak-ify your workspace with everything from oak stationery to oak iMac stands.
Coming off the back of several expeditions, this book by David Bellamy is a love letter to his 'beloved Arctic.' The artist writes beautifully about his travels in the region, sharing the challenges of painting outdoors in one of the toughest environments on Earth. It's illustrated with Bellamy's atmospheric watercolour sketches and paintings, each one showing his love for the people, places, and wildlife of the Arctic Circle.