Monday, September 17, 2012

Book review - Dreaming from the journal page / Melanie Testa



Title: Dreaming from the journal page - transforming the sketchbook to art
Author: Melanie Testa
Info: 128 p. - 2012
Rating: 7.5 / 10







Notes:
I already have an enormous amount of books on art journaling, but I keep on buying more as long as the publishers keep on supplying more. Not all of them are of equal quality and not all of them bring something new to the table. Still I keep buying them, because I love art journaling and any new work will still inspire me even if maybe the content does not always offer new information. I guess you could say I'm an art journal book collector and I'm not ashamed to say I will probably be buying many more.

All that said it is always pleasant to see something new in a book on art journaling and I think if there is one real positive thing I'd like to state about Melanie Testa's Dreaming from the journal page it's that she shows some techniques and ideas I'd never seen in other journaling books. I'd say that's a big plus for the book to begin with. Examples of techniques I'd not seen before: soy wax resists, working with a ruling pen or how about information on dyeing fabric. In a journaling book! I think that's pretty cool.

Testa's book can best be viewed as a treasure trove of techniques that we as journalers can use to our heart's content. She gives examples of the single techniques and later on in the book also examples of how to combine two or more techniques into an interesting journal page. And her pages certainly are interesting, or should I say dreamy? I think Melanie Testa may make some of the most beautiful journal spreads I've ever seen.

This however does lead me to some ... no not negative...some lesser points. You can read this book front to back, but you still will not really know how Testa comes to her own beautiful journal pages. I think this is a missed opportunity. She does quickly show several spreads and talks of the techniques used, but it's like a shorthand style of explaining without real show and tell. I would have loved to see more of how her  pages come together, how the layering really works.

Also, and this is not really a critique but simply something you might want to know, this book is not really aimed at people who are looking for the more psychological therapeutic part of journaling. This is a very much materials and experiment oriented book, not so much about expressing ones feelings or working through emotions or with prompts and stuff like that. I don't mind that at all and the techniques certainly can be used for the more emotional part of journaling, but keep in mind that Testa uses her journal mostly as an instrument for her art. It's very much an artist's journal, with the emphasis on the development of art more than on 'real' journaling.

I think to appreciate this book you must see it as a toolbox where you get to sample materials and techniques and see some beautiful examples of how Testa herself uses them. Nothing more, nothing less and quite well executed, and with some techniques I have not seen in other journaling books. All in all I liked it a lot.


10 comments:

  1. It sounds like an amazing book. I also love finding out about new techniques and new ways of creating art.

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  2. Thank you for the book review Caatje.... this particular book is on my wishlist... I almost ordered it the other day... but didn't when I read some reviews that said exactly what you have just said... very little explanation of how she created her pages... but now... reading this... I think I will add it to my shopping cart...lol...
    thank you...

    Hugs
    Jenny x

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    1. I know I'm glad I bought it. Hope you will enjoy it too.

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  3. I love Melanie's work. I do know that she recently went through a bout of cancer that took quite a toll on her life. Being the overcomer that she is...she's not let it get her down. She may have concentrated on only the artistic approach...and not the emotional approach because she's still feeling so raw from the battle. Either way, I'll be looking for this book in the States also.

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    1. I know about that and she's amazing in how she deals with it all. I love the article she wrote about not having reconstructive surgery. I have no idea if it affected the book. Like I said, it wasn't criticism, just a fact about the book.

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  4. I came back to leave my reply to your comment on my blog - Thanks so much Caatje. I wish you could too! I don't mind you saying that at all!!! :) We leave tomorrow. Excited!!!

    And to say that I hope I didn't sound...I don't know...in any way negative...about your awesome book review in the comment above. I think you always have a well rounded opinion.

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    1. LOL, I didn't take it as negative at all. No worries. Have a good time in the States, hope your workshop is a hit.

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  5. Thanks for the review, Caatje. I've definitely heard some mixed reviews of the book, and was interested to hear your "take" on it.

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    1. You never really can tell until you see a book yourself, but reading reviews can at least help you a little when making a selection. The more viewpoints the better.

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