March 10, 2017

Art Book Review & Road Test: The Painting Workbook by Alena Hennessy.

Art book review time! Today I'm reviewing The Painting Workbook by Alena Hennessy.

*This post contains affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).

First of all, I can't believe I'd never heard of this artist before. I thought I was fully immersed and up to date with all this arty stuff online. But when I saw some images of a fellow artist friend's work on her instagram that she had completed whilst taking one of Alena Hennessy's online art courses, I immediately googled Alena and I was so happy with what I discovered. (Surely I have seen her work around, and just not known who she was? Surely!)

Art Book, Art book review

When I first got my hands on this book I couldn't stop to read any of the information as the pictures were so beautiful it teased me to just look through the whole book first! The first thing that jumps out at me is her colours. They are bright and bold, which is what I like to use too.

Once you've got that out of your system, you can focus on the information and 52 prompts given in the book. I love that they are prompts so that you can take some inspiration or guidance from them but create your own individual & original artwork. 

Some of Alena's breathtaking art...



Just so amazing and beautiful.

As the title suggests this book is about creating art/ paintings. It goes through materials and tools and the uses and applications of different paints, mediums, surfaces and extra things you might like to use whilst creating art. Then, some basic techniques, colour theory and other thoughts regarding creating art are discussed before moving onto the prompts. Some of the prompts are followed by mini workshops, where she goes through a certain technique in more detail. 

This is not a how-to-draw book, but a book full of prompts that Alena has outlined with an explanation for each on how you might get started. You can use the prompts to push your own boundaries, try something you've never tried before (like paint a picture with a minimal colour palette for example) or use it to help get out of a creative slump. Or just for plain fun!

I think regardless of if you were wanting to get some prompts to start painting, the simple act of just flicking through this book is inspiring enough for me and just makes me want to paint anyway!

I decided to try a bit of 'finger painting' and 'paint with prints'. You know, I never finger paint. Maybe I have with my kids but not on my own personal artwork. 

So I took out a half finished painting, one that has been sitting around in my studio for a while and I added some components from some of my old unusable prints.

 ...And then dipped my finger in some paint.

Find your flow, art, painting



Very fun and liberating! I added some splodgy marks here and there.


Other prompts I focussed on during this painting from Alena's book were 'repetition' (which I added in the form of repeating patterns), 'add some script', 'layering' (always!), 'draw on top', and 'found objects'. I used some bits and pieces from my mosaic stash :). 


Mixed media original painting by Jules Madden
My finished "prompted" artwork 

I really love this book and was so happy to discover the gold that is Alena Hennessy's work and teachings. It's the kind of book that will happily live on my coffee table just for the pleasure of reading through it to kickstart some inspiration, or just as valuable accompanying me in the studio.

I do think this book could be used as a fantastic tool for kicking some creative block. Just start with a prompt and hopefully the flow will return. And with 52 prompts there is one that's sure to spark some inspiration.

If you'd like to know more check out Alena's The Painting Workbook here or visit her website here.

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

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