Book Review: Urban Watercolor Sketching

Urban Watercolor Sketching coverThe complete title of the North American edition of this book is Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color by Felix Scheinberger.  And if the recent flood of books about urban sketching and art journaling isn’t an indication that what we do has hit the mainstream, the title of this book most certainly let’s us know that “urban sketching” has become a marketing tool, like ‘new and improved.’

Why do I say that?  Because the only place that urban sketching is mentioned in this book is on the cover.  The author never references either urban sketching or storytelling.  Mr. Scheinberger wrote a book that would be better titled “Watercolor Sketching: The Effective Use of Watercolor in Sketching.”  And lest you think I’m faulting the author, the book was written in German and the original title translates to Watercolor for Illustrators (I think).  It ain’t his fault.  The sad thing is that I suspect the book would appeal to a wider audience if they’d put that on the cover rather than tried to fool people into thinking it an urban sketching book.

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The book does a segment on each of the primaries and their compliments.

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There are sections on how to use glazes.

Enough with the grousing over publisher folly.  This is a REALLY GOOD BOOK!  Felix Scheinberger is an illustrator of children’s books and his loose style, with both pen and watercolor are wonderful to behold.  The emphasis of the book is on color and its use.  It’s not a step-wise approach to watercolor techniques, but more of a mental toolkit for how to view and use watercolors.

In addition to discussions of color itself, Scheinberger talks about making decisions about color combination, using color sparingly, creating harmonies, atmosphere, and composition.  His discussion of materials assumes the use of single sheet or blocks of watercolor paper so brush talk revolves around that sort of presentation rather than small sketchbooks.  There is no discussion of pencil/pen, which allows him more space to discuss color philosophy and decisions.

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Color harmony is an important theme in this book

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The other main theme of the book is how to loosen up the use of watercolors and use it sparingly.

The name of this book may be way off base but if you’re an urban sketcher you’ll still find much that will float your boat.  Scheinberger’s style is very loose but he turns his art towards urban landscapes quite often so his advice applies to these subjects.  I never sketch outside of a sketchbook and yet I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Book Review: An Excuse To Draw

CoverTommy Kane is a well-known urban sketcher who is not only an excellent pen driver but also a funny guy who happens to be a friend of Danny Gregory, the guy whose books got me into sketching.  I don’t put much stock in the degrees of separation thing but I have to confess that I feel somehow connected to both of these guys even though I’ve never met either of them.

So when An Excuse to Draw by Tommy Kane was released I went to buy it.  To be honest, I saw it as just another in what has become a flood of ‘sketchbooks’ being released by urban sketchers around the world.  I’d love to own them all but I just can’t afford it; there are too many of them.  And when I found the price tag on Tommy’s book was $32 (from the Book Depository), the high price put me off, even if it was Tommy Kane.

Lucky for me, though, I reconsidered.  I succumbed in a moment of weakness and I’m glad I did.  Yes, it’s “just another sketchbook” but once you have it in hand you realize that it’s not your average sketchbook book.


pages2Kane’s publisher took the high road on this 216 page book.  This is a beautifully bound hardcover.  Definitely a book you want in your living room.  The paper stock is heavier than typical and every page is full-color.  Many of the sketches are full-page so it’s possible to see all the detail that is the cornerstone of Tommy Kane sketches.

The sketches themselves, well they speak for themselves.  The book covers eight years of Tommy’s sketching life and represent his traveling ways and the sketches are organized by country.   This is one sketchbook that I know will improve my own sketching.  If sketching is your thing, you’ll love An Excuse to Draw.  The back cover says “to be continued” and I won’t hesitate if Tommy produces another of these gems.


Book Highlight: The Temple by Heather Marie Adkins

This is the original cover of Heather Marie Adkins’ paranormal romance novel.  I first saw it discussed on Facebook, checked out the description and decided to give it a try.

Adkin’s Description

Vale Avari has a mysterious past and a laundry list of super-powers, but that’s nothing compared to what she finds upon moving from small town U.S.A to jolly-good England.

A chance dart throw lands her in Quicksilver, an off-the-map place with a big problem – people are dying, and word is, it’s supernatural.

At her new place of employment, a temple dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess, Vale learns something even more shocking – women guards are disappearing at an alarmingly patterned rate; women who possess special gifts like her own.

Supernatural powers aside, Vale isn’t ready to believe in the Wild Hunt as the culprit, and she’s determined to prove the deaths are acts of human violence.

Plagued by a brute with a history of domestic violence and lusting after a dark-eyed man with a secret, Vale has a limited amount of time to discover the killer before he strikes again. In the process, she’ll learn things aren’t always what they seem and the supernatural might not be so extraordinary after all.

The Hunt could ride for her.


This is the current cover of The Temple, drawn by Heather Adkins’ little sister, Sheridan.  What caught my eye in the description was that her main character, Vale, had super-powers.  In spite of my guy genes, (translation: I don’t read romances of any kind), I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  While there is some romance it definitely leans more towards a paranormal mystery.

I don’t know what Ms. Adkin’s plans are but this book could serve as the beginning of a series featuring Vale and some of her friends.  In any case, here’s the short review I wrote and posted on Amazon and GoodReads.

My Review

I don’t read romance novels. It’s a guy thing. But I picked up The Temple because of a discussion of the book elsewhere. The author’s imagination and ability to write wonderful descriptions combine to produce a story that, while there is romance, there is also adventure, a dose of fantasy and a splash of humor. I really enjoyed it.