Monday, 18 June 2018

Book Review - Anna Mason's Watercolour World

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Search Press(UK) (27 Mar. 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-178221- 347-5
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 1.6 x 28.7 cm

Anna Mason's Watercolour World - Front Cover

Image from the design 'Peonies'  taken from Anna Mason's Watercolour World

Book Review *****

My post, last week, was a book review of a title from the Paint in 30 Minutes series from the same publisher as this book Anna Mason's Watercolour World by all of which presents a number of Watercolour painting projects with step-by-step instructions. However, this book is a different kettle of fish because the objective and the approaches are not the same. Therefore, it depends what your purpose is and what you are aiming to achieve before deciding how's best to spend your money.

With this title you'll be working at creating designs like Mason's that are realism pieces. Mason is an award winning botanical artist who paints from photography. The photographic tips provided will be useful if you've never staged settings or produced shots of lifestyle quality. As a long time blogger my photography isn't too bad (that's my Peony above enhanced with a filter), it is merely a shot from my mobile phone, but I've learned a couple of new things I can do with my PowerShot camera from Mason's tip sharing.

For me, it's Mason's fruits and flowers are particularly impressive, and the wonderful full colour photographic presentation in the book shows everything off to its upmost best.  

There is an element of the cathartic in regard to painting for personal or psychological healing and there are shots of Mason in a garden setting looking relaxed and taking time out with a cuppa to help channel through that message. This is forgiven however, as Anna Mason seems entirely personable and it is nice to 'meet' her; and because the book is quite comprehensive in what it offers overall.

I haven't tried any of the projects as yet, but it was surprising for me that a spark of interest was shown from my non-arty family members when they flicked through the pages. Therefore, I'd recommend  this is a nice book to own for the beginner or for those who are more advanced in this art form.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ready to paint in 30 minutes' in Watercolour - Book Reviews

Click on the following link below to read my latest book review on Amazon of Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes: Trees & Woodlands in Watercolour

The link below is a previously published post here at Not Compulsory where two guest writers reviewed titles from the same 'Ready to Paint...' series by publisher Search Press but by two different authors:

Not Compulsory: Two 'Ready to paint in 30 minutes' in Watercolour ...: Pic 1 Pic 2 Pic 3 Ready to Paint in 30 Minutes – Flowers in Watercolour   Author Ann Mortimer  (Search Press ISBN 978-...

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Rolling Stones in Pictures - No Filter Tour, Coventry 2018

Sharing with you my concert photography from The Rolling Stones - No Filter Tour. 
This memorable music event took place at The Ricoh Arena, Coventry UK on Saturday 02 June 2018

See below a Video published by the author on YouTube of 'Miss You' (includes an excellent bass guitar solo). Enjoy it!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

New in Fiction - Charles Dickens Classics

How do you review anything arts related that is firmly fixed and established in the public psyche? There's no detailing that needs withholding, there's nothing deep within or broadly over viewed that academic study or generations of people haven't already explored, acknowledged and appreciated.

Yet critics (when subjects appears in new transitions) are reviewing classic works all the time: a new adaptation for film, stage or TV for example; a new song version perhaps, or when acknowledging something that has been awarded a recent accreditation. 

Illustration © Hablot Knight Browne from The Folio Society edition of A Tale of Two Cities


The Charles Dickens collection by The Folio Society are reproductions of the 1937 Nonesuch texts. They include illustrations. A Tale of Two Cities for example, features original illustrations by artist and illustrator Hablot Knight Browne (1815 – 1882) known by the pen name, Phiz (see above).

Three available, NEW are A Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist with introductions by novelists Hilary Mantel and Peter Ackroyd respectively, and they join Great Expectations to form the  collection as at spring 2018. Each title is a lotta book! The pages are super quality and the text is Arno and not too small. The bindings are nineteenth century pattern designs, in heritage colours. Illustrations are black and white. Size 9 ½ x 6 ¼ inches in a cloth slipcase.

Any of the above will make wonderful keepsakes or gifts and I'm going to stick my neck out with a suggestion for Father's Day and stress that Steppenwolf - a sci-fi storybook classic by Herman Hesse (1877-1962) is another new edition by The Folio Society and presented just as uniquely.

A post shared by The Folio Society (@foliosociety) on

Monday, 14 May 2018


Monkeying around with reading: This September 2018 School Starters  in England will receive a free book as part of BookTrust’s Time to Read campaign.

Now in its third year, the Time to Read campaign from the UK’s largest children’s reading charity encourages families to make time to read together, share stories every day and find the fun in reading.

This funny and empowering picture book tells the tale of a little monkey in a big troop, in an even bigger jungle. Monkey has enough of missing out, of being too small for big adventures, so she bravely heads off all alone to climb to the top of the tallest tree in the jungle. Written and illustrated by the renowned Marta Alt├ęs, Little Monkey (Pan Macmillan) shows us that the world is a big, wild and wonderful place where anything is possible.

BookTrust Chief Executive Diana Gerald said: “Children are more likely to read if they’re having fun with stories and we couldn’t think of a more colourful, enjoyable and entertaining book. At BookTrust we want to ensure all children have access to books and enjoy the adventure and escapism that comes with getting lost in a good book. Little Monkey is beautifully illustrated and brilliant to read aloud.”
A panel of experts chose Little Monkey because of its fun, detailed illustrations and great message that no matter how small you are, or how big the world seems, you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. It’s perfect for reading together and the challenges Monkey faces of being too small and not wanting to miss out are easily relatable for little children.

Friday, 11 May 2018

STAGE REVIEW : The Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers

Established in 1994, Scottish based Mugenkyo is the longest-established professional taiko group in Europe. Japanese themes and Japanese culture have really impacted worldwide in recent times and this group have international reputation for introducing this distinctive Japanese art form to audiences across the continent. Educationally there's some cool opportunities on offer, the team run a variety of courses and workshops from their base and HQ. Keep in touch by following Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on Facebook 


The souls of the sextet who practice and perform this Japanese art form are totally encompassed by it. 

The performances display a level of technicality in regard to timing and coordination and are hugely energetic; each piece performed requiring sustained body stamina. The arm strength displayed to pound and angle strike using drum sticks with timpani type ends is challenging, or when chig-ga-chigging away using the tips, or the long length sides of sticks, or extended in length sticks, whichever the case-the talent is always impressive. Playing the giant drum in particular (due to its elevated positioning) is a skill not to be sneezed at. 

The drums are impressive looking instruments and the reverberating sound and the drum rhythms achieved really drive the pieces with real intensity. Reviewer enjoyed the modern composition, TODOROKI and its martial arts-inspired choreography and PHOENIX too (with gong strikes) which was the last on the night's programme performed prior to the encore. Fabulous!

The drum playing is the main attraction of course, but all the musicality in the show is spot-on. The masked performance of CHRONOS is one of the highlights. Though the effort to be entertainingly funny halfway through the second set does not add anything other than make the serious expressions, with faces set in concentration, be a little more personable. Something else that was spot-on however, is the sound quality; a real credit to the technical team at The Belgrade last night.

The scenery and effects are sharp and attentive. It would be hard not to enjoy such a display .Think Eastern Asian mystique and reverence, with Celtic influence, and off set it with Cozy Powell when he's Dancing with the Devil and you're some way in knowing what's in store.  

Review by Debra Hall, Theatre Critic - who attended the Mugenkyo concert at  The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on 10 May 2018 7.30pm

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Downloadable Craft Projects

There's a new website that has come to my attention called  20 TO MAKE where you can find easy-to-make individual projects in PDF formats.

Individual projects are taken from the bestselling craft series 
Twenty to Make  published by award winning, Search Press Books in hard copy books for over ten years.

There's stitching, knitting and crochet patterns; sugar and paper crafts - and pages of 'other crafts'. Click on the link in the first paragraph to browse.

Note: There is currently a buy 2 get 1 free offer on all patterns. Over 600 patterns to choose from.

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