Tuesday, October 31, 2017

It's Halloween!: All about Star Wars & Reeves Watercolor

Well, hello. How are you doing? Today is Halloween—a.k.a. the end of the month—November is literally tomorrow. But, where’s the graphic? Why a full post? Well, typically I only post a picture on days like Halloween or Christmas, and it’s become something of a trend on Our Thoughts Precisely. However, this year, I wanted to do something a little different. So to break that trend I’m going to do an art supply review instead, which is why I saved my reeves watercolor review for Halloween. As always, a full list of supplies used will be down at the bottom of the post.
Name: Reeves Watercolor Paint
Source: Purchased
Set: 18 count
ml/fl oz.: 10ml; 0.34 fl oz.

More info...
  • Good color strenth
  • Transparent finish
Colors: Chinese White, lemon yellow, medium yellow, orange, flesh tint, brilliant red, crimson, violet, phthalo blue, ultramarine, permanent green light, sap green, viridian hue, yellow orcher, burnt sienna, burnt umber, payne's gray, and ivory black.
Today, I’m going to be talking about Reeves Watercolor paint. When I did the review for Canson watercolor paper, I used these paints, which reminded me that I hadn’t really written specifically about them in any kind of review, general thoughts, or whatever. So, I’m finally going to do that.

What I’m working on…
  • Padme Amidala fan art
Some things to know...
  • This paint does have a slight chemical odor. 
  • This paint does separate in the tube, but once everything is mixed it works perfectly fine.
  • When setting up a pallet, keep in mind that this paint can experience some cracking. That’s what happened to me, but I don’t mind since I haven’t had any cracking on my actual paintings and don't really care how messy my folding pallet is or isn't
Here's what this particular set looks like. It's pretty basic, nothing fancy.

I actually like Reeves Watercolor. For a set of 18 colors, the price isn’t very high, and the paint quality is better than say something you would find at the $5 price point. To talk more in-depth about these paints, I’m going to kind of discuss my recent fan art of Padme Amidala—a.k.a., the whole reason why I was so excited to share this post on the blog.

Normally, I try to do original art, because it challenges me more than something that I have a clear reference for. However, I was in the mood to draw one of my favorite outfits from the Star Wars franchise: Padme’s Throne Room Gown from The Phantom Menace. I mean, I like this outfit so much that when I was a kid I actually dressed up as Padme for Halloween. Yes, this outfit in particular. I've always liked the color choices and style of this outfit. The colors are so vivid, which gave me the opportunity to really test how far I could go with the paint. I layered a lot in order to achieve the color you see in the final picture. And, oh gosh, this painting basically took me two days from start to finish—that includes the initial sketch in my sketchbook, transferring it to watercolor paper, and etc.. The effort was worth it because I’m happy with the result.

All paint takes a little trial and error to really see if it suites your style. I’ve exclusively used Reeves Watercolor for months and like it a lot. It’s easy to use, and the range of basic, straight from the tube, colors offers a wide enough range of choices that I sometimes paint without mixing. In this case, I did mix the colors to get the shades I wanted.

Some other good points…

This paint doesn’t have a chalky finish that rubs away when you touch it. I honestly hate that about some cheaper brands of paint. As you can see in the picture, I can touch the dried paint without any problems (as long as my my skin is dry, otherwise the paint would reactivate). To finish my fan art of Padme, I used colored pencil and white gel pen.

Will I continue using these paints?

The answer to that is a definite yes. Eventually, I do want to try different, more expensive paints. That being said, Reeves watercolor works perfectly fine for what I'm trying to do: improve.

Finished painting…

Hop on over to Adri's blog, Toile, Think, Go, where she is reviewing some of the seasonal candy corn: It’s Halloween, Now Let's Talk About Candy Corn. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got movies to watch. Happy Halloween!
Full List of Supplies…

Canson Watercolor Paper
Reeves Watercolor
Pigma Graphic Pen
Pigma Micron 02
Artist's Loft Colored Pencils
Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen (white)

Review: Draw 50: Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey

35272546Title: Draw 50: Sea Creatures
Author: Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey
Source/Format: Blogging from Books; Paperback
More Details: How-to; Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill; July 25, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Part of the best-selling Draw 50 series this step-by-step guide to drawing various fish, sharks, oysters, bottlenose dolphins, crabs, polar bears, coral, and other ocean life is for artists of all levels. In this new installment of Lee J. Ames's beloved Draw 50 series, readers will find easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual lessons on sketching and rendering all kinds of sea and ocean-dwelling creatures. Animals and plants from in and near the water featured in the book include clownfish, whale sharks, sea otters, dolphins, turtles and more...
When it comes to drawing books, I don’t typically reach for ones that are specifically how-to or step by step. I like reading about the technical aspect instead. However, my goal is to improve on certain parts of my drawing skills that I consider to be weaker than others. So, when I saw Draw 50: Sea Creatures I couldn’t resist.

My first impression of this book is that it was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I’m not too familiar with Step-by-step books, but from the description I expected this one to be a little thicker, page wise anyway. Also, the examples of the process did not have any text to offer further explanation. However, that wasn’t necessarily needed because the steps are pretty straightforward.

To get a good feel for how well this book works, I broke out my new sketchbook and drew five of the creatures in pencil. I tried to follow as many steps as I could. At some points, I did find myself skipping to the last step. However, that was mainly because I’m not a total beginner and didn’t end up needing the skipped steps to get to the finished drawing. That being said, Draw 50: Sea Creatures is good for beginners. The steps are simple visual examples that could be helpful with learning the basics of sea creatures. Even I found this book to be a good exercise. I also liked the fact that there was a pretty good mixture of creatures to draw like conch shells, blue claw crabs, pelicans, lionfish, narwhals, puffins, and sharks—just to name a few.

Overall, Draw 50: Sea Creatures was better than I thought it would be. I’m keeping this one on my shelf, because I have a feeling that I’m going to end up getting a lot of use out of this book. (Actual rating 4.5 out of 5)
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review. 
About Lee J. Ames...

Lee J. Ames began his career at the Walt Disney Studies, working on films such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and at Dowling College on Long Island, New York. An avid worker, Ames directed his own advertising agency, illustrated for several magazines, and illustrated approximately 150 books that range from picture books to postgraduate texts. He resided in Dix Hills, Long Island, with his wife, Jocelyn, until his death in June 2011...

About Erin Harvey...

Erin Harvey is an artist who works primarily in pencils, charcoals, oils, and pen and ink. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, Ben, and their two children. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

ARC Review: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of NightTitle: Beasts Made of Night
Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; October 31, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life...
Beasts Made of Night is another one of the books I was looking forward to. This was a highly entertaining book. It had an interesting system of magic with clear consequences and was set against the gritty and dangerous setting of Kos. I'm not going to lie, I was a total fan of this one. It did move at a slower pace, but some of the best young adult/fantasy novels I've read so far this year, have been like that—i.e. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. In the case of Beasts Made of Night, this was due in part to the character arcs. The characters go through a lot of learning and training, and some parts of the book felt very day-to-day with exception of sin-eating. The ability of the aki was probably my favorite part of Beasts Made of Night, aside from the sin-beasts. Sin is at the heart of the story, and it was an interesting choice to take something—a decision that a person makes or an act that a person commits—and turn it into something that is alive enough to do harm. Not just that, but to make others carry that guilt like it was their own.

Beasts Made of Night is now one of my favorite books of 2017. There’s nothing about a sequel on the Goodreads page yet. I hope there will be, because this book felt more like a beginning with such a promising story and set of characters. Needless to say, I look forward to reading Onyebuchi’s next book.
 This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review. 
About the author...

Tochi Onyebuchi is a writer based in Connecticut. He holds a MFA in Screenwriting from Tisch and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s and Ideomancer, among other places. Beasts Made of Night is his debut...

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Friday 56 (117) & Book Beginnings: Presence by Amy Cuddy

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
25066556Synopsis from Goodreads...

Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret. By accessing our personal power, we can achieve "presence," the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves. As Harvard professor Amy Cuddy's revolutionary book reveals, we don't need to embark on a grand spiritual quest or complete an inner transformation to harness the power of presence. Instead, we need to nudge ourselves, moment by moment, by tweaking our body language, behavior, and mind-set in our day-to-day lives. Amy Cuddy has galvanized tens of millions of viewers around the world with her TED talk about "power poses." Now she presents the enthralling science underlying these and many other fascinating body-mind effects, and teaches us how to use simple techniques to liberate ourselves from fear in high-pressure moments, perform at our best, and connect with and empower others to do the same. Brilliantly researched, impassioned, and accessible, Presence is filled with stories of individuals who learned how to flourish during the stressful moments that once terrified them. Every reader will learn how to approach their biggest challenges with confidence instead of dread, and to leave them with satisfaction instead of regret...
Beginnings: "I'm sitting at the counter in my favorite Boston bookstore cafe, laptop open, writing."

56: "I am a lover of live music. I'm not willing to disclose the number of hours I've spent at concerts--from the tiniest bars to the biggest stadiums, from the most obscure indie bands to rock legends--but it's a lot."
Comments: Presence  by Amy Cuddy is another one of the books I checked out from the library. It's also my latest nonfiction read. Overall, the book presented some interesting ideas.

What are you reading this week? 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thought Corner: Sakura Pigma Micron Pens

Name: Sakura Pigma Pens
Source: Purchased
Set: 8 count

More info...
  • Archival quality ink: is waterproof, chemical resistant, fade resistant, bleed free, quick drying, and pH neutral.
  • Ideal for sketching, inking, and illustration.
  • Includes 6 Pigma Micron, 1 Pigma Brush, and 1 Pigma Graphic

Today, I’m going to be talking about the Sakura Pigma Micron pen set that I bought. This is actually my first set of pens with archival quality ink, which is one of the reasons I’m so excited to talk about them. I’ve just used ballpoint pens, markers, and more recently Papermate Felt Tip Pens. So, I was ready to make the switch to fine liners.

A full list of the supplies I used for the painting will be down at the bottom of the post…

What I’m working on…
  • A witch based off of a sketch from my sketchbook
Some things to know…
  • The ink is waterproof (more on that later)
  • These pens do not have an odor to them.
  • Does not bleed when applied to paper
  • Dries quickly
This is essentially what these look like. I had the choice of getting a smaller set, but choose to get the eight count since it had all the sizes I was looking for in fine liner pens.
Here's a quick swatch. As you can see, the sizes range from very thin to thicker darker lines. I personally prefer the look of thinner lines, but its nice to have the option to change that up when I want to. I also really like the brush pen.
Starting with the sketch…

The piece I’m talking about today is based off of a sketch of a witch from my sketchbook. I’d always planned to eventually turn it into a painting, and I figured that October was a good time to work on this one because of Halloween. Also, it gave me the perfect opportunity to test out these pens. I love these pens. It was definitely worth the price. They’re easy to use, and when I did a swatch of the pens I didn’t experience any dryness, which has happened to me on occasion with markers.

For this painting in particular, I wanted to keep the lines fairly thin because they weren’t that important to the overall piece. I used the 01 pen to ink the majority of the sketch. And the 1 graphic pen along the hat, eyes, and circle to darken the lines.

Next, I got to test out my favorite feature of these pens: they’re waterproof. I do a lot of watercolor painting, which is the reason why I originally looked into getting a set of these pens. Let me tell you, it’s awesome having these to use whenever I want to add a little more detail to my pieces before I begin painting. I love the fact that the ink dried quickly and it doesn’t smudge or bleed even when a lot of water was applied on top of it.

I pretty much just used some colored pencil to really get the color of the hair where I wanted it. I was pretty happy with how it looked at this point, but I later used some gel pen in order to really define some of the details I lost while adding color. I like the finished  painting more with the gel pen so the colors aren't just dark-on-dark-on dark.

Finished Painting


I like these pens. I’m going to be able to get a good amount of use out of these pens, not just for paintings, but also inking sketches. These pens can be a little expensive, but if you get them from somewhere like Michaels, you can use coupons and easily get a good deal on them.
Full list of supplies used…

Sakura Pigma Micron pens
Reeves Watercolor Paint
Canson Watercolor Paper
Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pen
Artist's Loft Colored pencil

Monday, October 16, 2017

Finally Fall Book Tag

I haven’t done a book tag in a very long time, and recently I’ve seen the Finally Fall Book Tag going around. I figured that it would be the perfect time to participate in it since its officially fall and October. Sorry summer, but I'm ready for cooler weather.

Before I get started, I have to get to the fine print for this post. This tag is created by Alina @ Tall Tales over on youtube. Check out her channel HERE and visit the original tag video HERE...
In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting! 

I have two books for this answer: A Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. The world within these books is awesome—layered with mythology, magic, mystery, and politics—and the setting is part of what makes the books so good.

Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief. 

I also have two books for this questions. The first is The Reader by Traci Chee. There is a bittersweet note to this story. The characters deal with a lot of things like grief, betrayal, and loss. The Reader is a gorgeous tale, and I’m looking forward to the sequel, The Speaker. The second book is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas—this one pretty much speaks for itself. 

Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new. 

I’m going to go with Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym. I might have mentioned this book before during Music Monday, but the review is posted on a different blog. That being said, this is a memoir written by Min Kym about her life. Gone is a candid account of Min kym’s experience. It also illustrated the kind of care an instrument like a violin requires.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of. 

Hmm, this question is a little hard. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any families or friend groups I’d want to be a part of. Actually, I’d join one of the houses from Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings. To date, this book has one of the more unique uses of the fallen-angle trope that I’ve seen. It’s still a cool story and one I’d like to eventually reread before getting the sequel. 

The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines! 

I was actually quite surprised by how many of the books on my shelf didn’t have fall colored spines, and I ended up having to just pick some at random. I still had some trouble finding enough books to even make this stack...

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story. 

This is an easy choice for me: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. I was late to the party. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because I have read The Bone Witch and loved the story.

The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read. 

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi—which comes out October 31st, just in time for Halloween—isn’t necessarily creepy like that. However, the business of eating someone else’s sin and taking on the burden of their guilt, well, in my book that’s suitably creepy.

The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day. 

I really can’t think of any other book beside The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis. There’s a lot of chocolate involved.

Fall (luckily, it’s my favourite season) returns every year: name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

There are actually a lot of books I would like to reread. One of them is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It’s been a couple of years since I initially read Ancillary Justice, and I recall enjoying the story.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”! Spread the autumn appreciation and tag some people!

I’ll tag anyone who wants to participate.
This tag reminded me of how much fun these types of post can be. If you have any book tag recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Friday 56 (116) & Book Beginnings: The Creeps: A Deep Dark Fears Collection by Fran Krause

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE
Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.
33897635Synopsis from Goodreads...

A follow-up to the New York Times best-selling Deep Dark Fears: a second volume of comics based on people’s quirky, spooky, hilarious, and terrifying fears... 

Illustrator, animator, teacher, and comic artist Fran Krause has touched a collective nerve with his wildly popular web comic series–and subsequent New York Times best-selling book–Deep Dark Fears. Here he brings readers more of the creepy, funny, and idiosyncratic fears they love illustrated in comic form–such as the fear that your pets will tell other animals all your embarrassing secrets, or that someone uses your house while you’re not home–as well as two longer comic short-stories about ghosts...

Beginnings: "Oh, hello! Thanks for picking up this book. It's kinda scary. We should probably prepare a bit before we read it."

56: "Sometimes I can't help but worry that any one of the random strangers I pass might be my soul mate, and I'm missing our only chance to ever meet."
Comments: My beginning is from the introduction, and my 56 is from Fear #56 because...well, the pages aren't numbered. Anyway, I received this book earlier in the week for review. I really enjoyed this collection of comics, and found it to be kind of fitting to read in October. I mean, today is Friday the 13th...

What spooky books, comics, or short stories have you read so far in October?

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