Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Alternative Art Journals

I won this book in a giveaway at Lost Coast Post over a year ago, and I thought it was time that I reviewed it myself.  Alternative Art Journals: Explore Innovative Approaches to Collecting Your Creativity by Margaret Peot is a book that explores art journaling beyond the confines of the traditional bound journal.  Peot describes several non-traditional approaches to art journaling and offers detailed tutorials on specific techniques and projects as part of each approach.  Some of my favourites include a card set journal completed during the course of a year (one card per week), tag journals, shoeboxes where you collect items during the week and place them in your journal afterwards (drawing or photographing them if they won't actually fit inside your journal), accordion-fold journals, and journals that include three-dimensional objects and are built inside boxes.  Many of the examples expand the boundaries of what a "journal" is.  I know that I definitely have some ideas of what makes a journal, and I'm not sure that I would consider all of the examples in this book to actually be journals.  Nonetheless, they still look like fun projects, and that's not really a complaint about the book, but more of an observation about some of my own preconceptions.

One of my favourite parts about Alternative Art Journals is that it is very well illustrated. Each page is filled with gorgeous examples of Peot's work.  She favours muted earthy colours, rich textures, and images of birds, butterflies, and eggs.  I absolutely love her style, because it is close to what I want my own style to one day be, but if you prefer brighter, more contrasting colours, then you might not like her style as much as I do.  Of course, that doesn't mean you still can't learn from her techniques, but you might enjoy the book less.

Probably my main complaint about this book is that it feels a bit too short.  As I said before, it's filled with images and illustrations, but that means there's a bit less text.  This is not a major problem; I think it's mainly because I was enjoying this book so much that I was disappointed to see it end so soon.

I think Alternative Art Journals has become one of my new favourite books on art journaling, along with The Decorated Journal by Gwen Diehn and Raw Art Journaling by Quinn McDonald.  However, unlike those books, Alternative Art Journals is probably one that I would recommend to someone who has already been keeping an art journal for a while and who is interested in exploring different techniques and approaches.  If you're a complete beginner, you'd probably be better off starting with one of those other titles, because I think Alternative Art Journals might prove a bit overwhelming and Peot does assume that her readers will already have some familiarity with basic art journaling supplies.

Although it is short, there is a lot in this book - a lot of techniques, a lot of potential projects, a lot of things that I've never seen anywhere else.  I haven't been working in my art journal very much this year, but Alternative Art Journals is a book that makes me feel excited about art journaling again.  I love to just flip through it and feel inspired and full of ideas for new projects to try.  And that, I think, is a good thing...

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