Beautiful LEGO – Photos and insights from some of the LEGO world’s top artists – #bookreview

Beautiful LEGO

Mike Doyle
(No Starch Press – paperback, Kindle)

Wow! That’s one of the best words to describe the snap-together works of art that can be created using LEGO plastic bricks. Mike Doyle’s excellent new LEGO art book offers some 400 color pictures of everything from a rotary-dial telephone to a Thanksgiving turkey, plus robots, space weapons and a magnificent, futuristic city, constructed by some of the world’s top artists in the LEGO building community. (LEGO®, incidentally, is a trademark of the LEGO Group.)

In his book, Doyle asks several of his fellow artists a key question–Why LEGO?–and gets an intriguing array of answers and insights to accompany the photographs of their creations. Doyle himself says: “It is a medium that offers instant gratification. No matter how large a project is, at the end of the day, I can look at the section I’ve built in its finished state. LEGO is a one-step process; there’s no gluey mess, sanding, or painting to worry about. I just build. This gives me the opportunity, after each session, to assess visually how the piece is working as a whole.”

His book’s eye-catching cover shows a six-foot-tall model titled “Contact,” a movie-like cityscape that took Doyle some 600 hours and 200,000 LEGO bricks to assemble.

Another artist, Arthur Gugick, explains how he constructs LEGO models of landmark buildings such as Big Ben, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and Notre Dame, after determining the proper scale for each structure. “It often depends upon the scale of a particular element,” he says. “The White House’s scale depended on the scale of the windows. Notre Dame’s scale depended on the scale of the buttresses.” Gugick sometimes has to resort to mathematics and even to writing software while creating his models. “The Roman Coliseum is an ellipse with a width-to-length ratio of 6:7. There is no formula for the circumference of an ellipse like there is for a circle,” he notes. “To find the circumference, I use the arc length formula from calculus. The Dome of the Rock,” he adds, “required a bit of trigonometry. To build the dome accurately, I wrote some software that easily allowed me to build any dome shape.”

Beautiful LEGO is, indeed, a beautiful book, one that will give fans of the plastic bricks many ideas for future projects–and no doubt a few bouts of artistic envy to accompany the inspirations.

Si Dunn

Daily Decadence: The Art of Sensual Living – Make your day go better with a little wine, art, food & love – #bookreview

Daily Decadence: The Art of Sensual Living
Sherri Dobay
(Flying Archer Press, paperback, Kindle)

You might quibble with a few of the food and wine pairings in this entertaining book on sensual living. But there is no denying Sherri Dobay’s bright, cajoling spirit. She wants us to try harder to make unfettered time for ourselves each day and use it to enjoy a bit of decadence. And she makes it difficult to say No, too busy.

“All around,” she writes, “there are fabulous things ready to indulge in if you simply stop, open your eyes and yourself to touch, taste, feel—celebrate—something each day.”

She notes: “The world is on the fast track to efficiency (and ulcers) thanks to technology and the ability to work 24/7. It’s no surprise that it drains us and leaves us empty, unfulfilled and lost as we lose the ability to pause and enjoy life on a daily basis.”

Daily Decadence is full of ideas, tips, recipes, wine suggestions, and sensual essays intended to inspire and encourage you to take some time each day to indulge yourself—whether alone or in the company of someone you love.

You can make pleasant differences in your life, she says, even when you can invite just “five minutes of celebration into your packed day.”

So can a conscious effort to bring more simplicity into each day. “Simplicity is truly decadent,” she emphasizes. “What clutter can you clear from your life to make way for more living?”

— Si Dunn

Two New Nature & Landscape Photography Books: Art & How-to – #nature #photography #bookreview

If you like nature and landscape photography and have the desire to give it a try, these two fine new books from Rocky Nook can both inspire and instruct. The books also could make good Christmas gifts for a budding nature or landscape photographer in your family.

Plateaus and Canyons: Impressions of the American Southwest
By Bruce Barnbaum
(Rocky Nook, paperback, list price $44.95)

In Plateaus and Canyons, veteran photographer Bruce Barnbaum presents 95 large-format color images from the rugged Colorado Plateau that is part of four Southwestern states.

Barnbaum is widely known as an artistic practitioner of black-and-white photography. But in this elegant collection, he has captured fine images that blend amazing colors and subtleties of light, both in deep canyons and on jagged, multi-level plateau surfaces that definitely are not flat.

Each photo is accompanied by a short essay by Barnbaum, discussing how he came across the opportunity to capture the image and why it attracted him.

For example, in a remote area known as Phillips Wash, “[t]he twisted branches of an old, fallen, silvered juniper caught my eye…[t]he nearly colorless wood against the soft tans and golds of the sandstone rocks created a wonderfully compelling array of forms.”

 #

Nature and Landscape Photography: 71 Tips from the Top
By Martin Borg
(Rocky Nook, paperback, list price $19.95; Kindle edition, list price $9.99)

This book contains many very good landscape and nature images, as well. But the concise accompanying text focuses on how to use important photographic composition techniques in the field.

Some of these include seeking  elevated vantage points, using the “Golden Ratio” in compositions, properly staging water reflections, making longer exposures to capture the effect of wind moving tree leaves and grasses, and challenging the basic rules of composition – after you have learned them.

The book’s author, a Swedish photojournalist, views nature as “an endless source of fascinating images.” He adds: “Images of nature affect us deeply; they appeal to our roots.”

Si Dunn