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Deep In The Dark With The Art

Matteo Urella’s Deep In The Dark With The Art is a non-fiction, collaborative work filled with the voices of various creatives who have been inspired by 90s hip-hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. This work is a celebration of urban music and culture, and the impact that this particular Staten Island-based group has had on generations of artists and hip-hop enthusiasts. With explanations behind iconic pieces of album art coupled with anecdotal stories, this text evokes a heady nostalgia for the rap scene as it was when the Wu-Tang Clan first broke into the mainstream.

Packed with dynamic illustrations and interesting trivia, Deep In The Dark With The Art will likely be a hit with hip-hop and art fans alike. From painstakingly hand-drawn images to digital pieces that were cutting edge at the time, this book explores the potent influence that Wu-Tang’s music had on those enlisted to create their album art. Even for those previously ambivalent towards or unaware of the group, the devotion pouring out of this book towards the Wu-Tang Clan is infectious.

I felt that, at times, the glimpses into the artistic process could be slightly more in-depth. I found this book to be most entertaining when read in individual sections, rather than in long sittings because, while unique and insightful, each segment is not necessarily connected to the one proceeding it. While the book is not written with a narrative structure, it is an enjoyable tabletop read because it is visually and linguistically striking.

Deep In The Dark With The Art makes one thing clear; the Wu-Tang mythos still carries an undeniable power and ability to inspire lifelong loyalty in its fans.

Pages: 238 | ISBN: 1735206903

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A Messenger Of New Ideas

Marin Darmonkow Author Interview

Art is a wordless picture book that tells the story of a circus performer through a series of vivid and evocative line drawings. Why was this an important book for you to publish?

As you know, sometimes questions are more complicated than the answers. One of the reasons, and perhaps the main one, is very personal and it will remain personal. The second reason is that I wanted to create a publication where the artist is elevated to the stars as a messenger of new ideas and the audience of royalty is turned into mere spectators.

Each art piece is seemingly simple but culminates into pieces that are very expressive. Which part piece was your favorite?

My favourite piece is the impossible act of tightrope walking where gravity is dismissed. I also like the spread with the Royal audience – it contains 100-150 individuals and believe it or not I spent many hours crafting the facial features of each of these characters, their clothes, jewelry, crowns, and even personalized chairs.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from this story?

Impossible things exist because no one has ever tried to make them possible. You can find the answer on the cover of Art’s folder that he left on the stage: Do what you dream.

When and where will this book be available?

I plan to launch the e-book version in August and the book trailer is currently on YouTube and Goodreads. The title will be available on all major online book retailers – Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Plus, Payhip, Magicblox, and others. Unfortunately, given the essentially wordless nature of the title, an audio version won’t be produced. I am currently working on the hardcover edition. My goal is to make the publication as unique as possible – it will require special paper and ink as it must be a real piece of art to deserve its title: ART.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Art is autistic and artistic. Art has just one friend – his teddy bear. Art does not speak but he makes art. Art that dismisses gravity.

The publication crowns the artist and turns royalty into a mere audience. The sophisticated illustrations inspire readers to express their emotions, verbalize their feelings and create their own story.

The Antidote to Shocking Twists

Sheila McGraw Author Interview

Sketchy Characters follows a young woman that ends up homeless and jobless due to a hurricane, becoming entangled with a missing friend and a murder mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Marilyn is the manager of an apartment complex and a part-time artists’ model. She is single and has no family; however, she has close friends, especially Fran. For my purposes I wanted the protagonist, Marilyn, to be completely unencumbered but forced to fend for herself. The hurricane accomplishes this by taking her home, job, car, and scattering many of her friends far away as they flee the rising water. Fran also goes missing and the hurricane initially appears to be to blame. Marilyn’s single, unencumbered status gives her flexibility to react to circumstances quickly without the considerations of a spouse, kids, a house, etc. It also creates internal conflict because she needs to find a way to support herself and she begins to question her life more, namely what she wants from it. From that point forward it was off to the races and the plot picked up momentum.

There is a lot going on in this novel for Marilyn. How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

Certainly, they can be the same thing. Every plot twist, whether shocking or not, should propel the story forward, otherwise the shock and the twist is simply gratuitous and doesn’t belong in the book. Which is not to say that story development must gain momentum through shocking plot twists, as obviously there are many other ways to advance a plot, but a bit of a shock judiciously applied keeps a mystery-lover reading—it’s a waker-upper. Of course, shock can become tiresome if the book is simply a repetitive, crazy rollercoaster ride. For me, the antidote to shocking twists is humor, especially when a character recognizes the shock and comments on it in a wry way. Plus I love a good sprinkling of funny observations, sarcastic dialogue, and the odd joke, throughout.

A life drawing by Sheila McGraw, Prismacolor pencils on paper, 2008

Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into your character’s life?

I’ve lived in Houston since 2006, which is where the story is set, and I experienced Hurricanes Ike and Harvey up close and personal. (I included Ike and Harvey in the book’s Acknowledgements as a joke.) The devastation done by hurricanes could be called indescribable, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to draw on those experiences and give describing a hurricane a shot. Weather plays a big part in writing a novel and having grown up in Toronto, I also felt at home describing the snowy scene in Detroit.

Also, the protagonist is an artists’ model and she and her friends are artists. I too am an artist and I’ve been on both sides of the easel—long ago as a model and throughout my life as a life drawing aficionado. I paint and draw in oils, watercolor, pencil, and pastels. I also illustrate children’s books and the covers of my novels. The illustrations for the children’s book Love You Forever, is the art for which I’m most well-known.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently working on two books. One is middle-grade fiction set in New York City, which will have many black and white illustrations. The other is another Houston-based mystery novel. Hopefully both will be out within a year and I’ll be back in touch with Literary Titan for your outstanding reviews.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A devastating hurricane.
A frantic search for a missing friend.
A brutal double murder…

When chaos blows up Marilyn’s life, and she’s forced to go on the run from ruthless killers, she can’t dodge a cast of sketchy characters that ooze into her orbit. There’s a crooked lawyer and his wealthy clients, an internet scammer, a pair of suspicious hipsters, and a serial killer targeting the artists at Marilyn’s life-drawing group. Throw a couple of good friends and a sexy and protective detective in the mix, and it’s not all bad. Even so, it’s survival of the smartest and most resilient. As the action moves full speed, and the twists and turns keep coming, Marilyn must tackle the circumstances of her new, near-impossible normal.

From an Oval

Izzy wants to draw a dog to be his friend and to play with. However, he soon discovers that the oval he drew to start his dog had a different idea about what it will become. When Izzy threw a ball for the oval animal instead of chasing after it, they said Baa Baa and ate a whole in the paper. Izzy became frustrated and told the animal no, you are a dog, but it insisted it was going to be a sheep no matter what Izzy wanted. In the end, Izzy accepts the sheep, and they learn how to have fun together.

From an Oval, written by Najah A. Jabbar, is a creative children’s book that captures the magic of a child’s imagination. The antics of the oval animal as it struggles to be heard is an excellent comparison for children. Kids often want to have some control over their situation, so the sheep is a relatable character. They will understand the animal’s frustration about not being seen for who they are and the desire to be themselves. They will also learn to be accepting of those around them even when they are different from what they anticipate.

Bringing this story to life are the playful illustrations by DeNeal Fletcher. The whimsical images give personality to the oval sheep. The sketch-like drawings are done in a manner that children will be able to see themselves creating, turning their own shapes into new animal best friends.

From an Oval in the From a Shape Izzy Book Series is a magical picture book that preschool and kindergarten children will enjoy and be entertained by. Young kids will see how imagination can lead to creativity and exploring new ideas. This would also be an excellent book for art teachers to use to introduce draw to elementary-age students.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09SKC2DF2

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Art is a wordless picture book that speaks volumes with its stark line drawings. Calling it a line drawing is a disservice to the art pieces themselves because, when the lines come together, they transcend the descriptor and culminate into vivid yet dark pieces that are magnificently evocative.

The story follows a circus performer, and his teddy bear. We start off in the performers home and follow them to the circus tent where they will put on a show for royalty. I’m explaining what happened in a single sentence but the author conveys this simple one line event with eight marvelous art pieces. Each one drawn in simple lines but that betrays the complexity and beauty of the pieces. I was mesmerized by each one. With no words throughout the story, I was left lingering on each page for a few minutes, following the lines, understanding the image and picking out the nuances. I was absolutely captivated.

We get to the circus and we see an audience filled with royalty. The line drawings accomplish much complexity in these scenes while keeping the art style consistent. I was blown away but the crowds in these scenes because every person in the crowd is unique and can exist in its own space and seemed to have their own backstory.

Then we move onto the performance. What starts as a normal circus act slowly evolves into a surreal performance that I liken to what one would see at a Cirque Du Soleil show. Each dream-like performance expertly utilizes the artists unique style in dramatic new ways that was stirring. What I appreciated most was the attention to specific details in each piece. Not that every detail was provided, but instead the details that are provided bring the readers focus to where the action and emotion is.

Art is a mesmerizing wordless picture book that will inspire the imagination of both children and adults with its brilliant and expressive imagery.

Pages: 28

Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs

You may never understand the beauty of photography until you read Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs by Carl-Evert Jonsson. Carl-Evert Jonsson writes extensively on photography, focusing on Japanese paper for the digital printing of photographs. The author is intentional in his explanations and describes every detail for those not familiar with Washi.

The images in Carl-Evert Jonsson’s book tell a compelling story. The pictures are stunning, distinct, and aesthetically pleasing. The photos are classed into four groups; Places, Persons, Varia, and Mixed. Each of these categories tells a unique story that the reader connects with. I loved going through the images under Persons as one can see the different features in humans and how individual people are. Images of places are striking because of the locations the author drew his inspiration from. Varia and Mixed pictures are also eye-catching and impactful.

One of the best things about this book is that the author uses few words in the description and leaves the reader to form an opinion on the images without being influenced. Under the Mixed category, the image displaying the Notre Dame de Paris and the Vehicle. Brown ochre, primary blue was my favorite. Varia had a lot of impressive figures, but the image displayed Egg oil x1. Underneath: yellow ochre subjects were my best. The sense of illusion when one looks at the picture is satisfying. It feels authentic for a minute, then one feels a certain sense of imagination the next minute.

Carl-Evert Jonsson shares a personal touch throughout the book. Anyone reading this book will appreciate the author more as they keep flipping the pages. I loved reading the preface as the author gives a little background information about himself and the book. Carl-Evert Jonsson’s story is fascinating and increases one’s interest in photography. The author also enlightens the reader on techniques for digitally printing photographs on Japanese paper in the introduction. The short text was helpful, especially to readers that may not have been familiar with different photography techniques. The modest way of expounding on concepts and creativity displayed by the author is inspiring enough for one to delve into photography and related subjects.

Using Japanese Paper for Digital Printing of Photographs is a captivating book that photography students, lovers of nature, and individuals who fancy capturing objects and printing them will love. Any photography enthusiast will appreciate this work, especially the content under Places and Persons. Every image under this category was unique in its own way.

Pages: 54 | ASIN : B0998MKMTD

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American’s Misconceptions

John A O’Connor Author Interview

White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism explores issues facing America and provides thought-provoking commentary using art. What inspired you to write this book?

I have previously stated that, “Years ago, noted art critic Robert Hughes lamented the fact that America had never had a Goya. That notion apparently remained in my subconscious because by 2013, I realized that my art was focused more and more on revealing the lies and misconceptions that were abundant in American history.

In addition to that motivation, my education includes minors in mathematics, foreign language and art history. And, my professional background goes well beyond teaching classes in art and art history. I have also taught in the University of Florida College of Engineering, created and taught in the Master of Business Administration degree program in UF’s College of Business Administration, and taught Art Law at UF for fifteen years along with Distinguished Service Professor of Law, E. L. Roy Hunt. And, for more than ten years, I worked with Professor of Medicine, Dr. James Cerda studying and writing about the health hazards affecting actors, artists, dancers, and musicians. I was also made quite aware of all of the issues beyond the arts that face our society through my founding of the nation’s first arts policy center, the multidisciplinary UF Center for the Arts and Public Policy and its many subsequent diverse programs.”

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The book primarily deals with American’s misconceptions of their country’s history––especially in the areas of politics, law, and journalism.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

Far too many people today, and Americans in particular, have no real sense of history––theirs or their country’s. I hope that the reader of this book will finally begin to rethink what he or she really knows about the United States. This issue has become far more important in the 2020s than, perhaps, ever before. Both the text and the plates provide a new and different way of approaching this objective.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I began working on White Lies Matter Two: Myth America in April 2021. I hope that it will not take eight years to complete as the first book did, and I am enough of an optimist at almost eighty-two years of age to think that I can complete it by December 2022.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Artist/art professor John A. O’Connor characterizes his series White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism as “a history of American hypocrisy.” Using the image of the slate as a consistent base, White Lies Matter ranges across historical and contemporary America, touching down at flashpoints of inequality, misunderstanding, and conflict. From the gradual decay of national institutions to more immediate political crises, O’Connor’s project traverses a list of illegalities and cover-ups, oppressions and suppressions, tracing links between individuals and institutions in positions of influence. It begins with Christopher Columbus and the First Thanksgiving-mythologies that crumble very easily by now-and moves on through the contradictory and belated embedding of religion in the nation’s founding documents, to the calamitous installation of Donald Trump as its 45th president. White Lies Matter: Decoding American Deceptionalism reveals the deceptions, lies, and cynicism of America and the “fake news” and “alt- facts” that permeate contemporary society. Note: Michael Wilson is a New York-based writer and editor and the author of How to Read Contemporary Art: Experiencing the Art of the 21st Century (New York: Abrams, 2013).

Trusting One’s Creative Voice

Lis Bensley
Lis Bensley Author Interview

The Glimpse follow a rising artist who becomes pregnant and is determined to be a good mother and a good artist while facing the harsh realities of a male dominated world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

This book hit a number of curiosities. I’ve always been drawn to the Abstract Expressionist movement and wanted to delve into what this era was like for a woman artist. It was considered taboo to have a child if one wanted to be successful. Also, I was interested in exploring what happens to someone who is successful early in a movement, then disappears. What happened and why?

Liza Baker is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I modeled Liza loosely on Joan Mitchell, my favorite painter from the Abstract Expressionist times. Like Joan, Liza is a very talented artist, fiercely devoted to her work. She also has a troubled relationship with her father whom she never could please. Mitchell’s biggest regret was that she never had a child. Liza did and she longed to be a good mother, even as she was desperate to re-establish her early success. Problems in pursuing both were inevitable.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Difficult mother/daughter relationships (as most are) and how hard it is for women artists working in a male dominated arena, especially if they choose to be mothers. Also the value of persistence and trusting one’s creative voice.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

This next is quite different. It’s about a boy who survives a punitive childhood (adopted by Christian fundamentalists) by becoming one of the first Christian ventriloquists. I’m titling it Raised in Captivity. Won’t be out for a bit as I write around a full time job.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Liza Baker, a rising star in the burgeoning Abstract Expressionist era, finds herself sidelined when she gets pregnant, and decides to have the child. Yet, against conventional wisdom, she’s convinced she can have a successful career and be a good mother to her daughter, Rouge.

She takes a job teaching at a college and comes up against the harsh realities of the male-dominated art world. Unable to build a successful career, she watches as her former lover, whose work resembles hers, skyrocket to fame. Liza develops a drinking problem and often brings home artist lovers she’s met in the city. When Rouge meets Ben Fuller, one of Liza’s discarded lovers who subsequently fosters Rouge talent in photography, the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship takes on the added charge of a competition between the two, one that Liza tries to sabotage.

THE GLIMPSE is a moving, unsentimental tale of the charged New York art world of the 1950s and the relationship between a mother and daughter as they grapple with their relationship that becomes pivotal to their artwork.
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