Favorite Drawing and Lettering Books

I love books, and I love giving books as gifts.  Every year I find myself looking for some good books that encourage my children in some form of art or drawing, especially for those days when we have a little down time.  With all we know about the relaxing effects of coloring and drawing, I like to provide books and pens to encourage my children to explore this hobby.  Some of my favorite Sunday afternoons include sitting around the table together, lettering and sketching and encouraging one another as we create.  Today I’m sharing a few of the books I’ve gifted to my children recently.   All of them have been used enthusiastically in many after-school art sessions, and have improved both their skills and confidence.  So, here are my  favorite drawing and lettering books:

Hand Lettering 101 is a lovely book that focuses on calligraphy-style lettering.  The spiral binding is sturdy and allows the book to lay flat for easy use.  I can’t get over how pretty it is!  My 15 year old daughter loves her copy and often practices her lettering with this book.  Hand Lettering, Creative Alphabets for Any Ocassion is a fun book that encourages creativity in creating different kinds of letters and fonts.  There are a lot of ideas to explore in this book.  It reminds me of the many hours I spent as a girl trying to find new ways/styles for alphabet letters.  I would have loved to have this book!  We are having a lot of fun with it.

How to Draw Modern Florals is another gorgeous book.  The beauty of the line drawings are equal to the beauty of the book.  My thirteen year old daughter has been practicing often using this book as a prompt, and you can see her drawings to the right of the book.  I have loved watching her practice and grow in confidence and skill.  I am so glad we added this to our library!

20 Ways to Draw Everything is a drawing book I purchased on a whim, but which has been the most fun of them all.  There are 135 different themes or objects in the book, and each one is drawn in different ways by the team of authors.  I have been delighted to watch my children explore different ways of sketching based on the drawings in the book.  When they see twenty different sketches of a hedgehog, suddenly there isn’t only one right way to do it, and suddenly their version can be as good as one of the drawings they’re looking at.  This book gives permission to try, and my kids have done exactly that.  This book has kept my youngest daughter busy for hours, and when she gets it out everyone soon wants to draw with her.  (I love her little hedgehogs!)  This is a book that will get my boys sketching with us.

Imagine a Forest has been my personal favorite.  I am enjoying practicing some folk art, something I’ve never done before.  Dinara Mirtalipova’s illustrations are lovely and I try to practice for just a few minutes every morning.  I would love to someday draw florals like this!  It’s a beautiful book.

I strongly believe in encouraging my children to sketch and draw and try to write beautifully.  I want their practice to be a fun experience for them, so I also invested in a box of Tombow dual brush markers, and what a difference it made!  Using a good instrument makes all the difference when drawing or writing.  The black markers have been instant favorites, and Tombow also makes sets of colors.  These markers, together with a selection of beautiful how-to books, expose my children to a variety of styles and invite them to get drawing and discover/develop their own unique style!

Speaking of unique style, I must also include a favorite chapter book series in this blog post.  These aren’t how-to or art books, but they are the all-time favorite chapter books in my house.  We now own several copies of this series because so many of my children want them in their personal libraries.  One of my daughters has literally read the hardback covers off of her books, they have nourished her soul and been read that much!  My youngest two daughters are currently reading the series and it couldn’t make me happier.  The Penderwicks are a family of girls whose personalities and adventures are endearing and unforgettable.  We fell in love with this family when the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy was published in 2005, and we’ve eagerly watched for every subsequent book to be released.  I can’t count the number of times I have recommended these books, and I’m so thrilled to share that a final installment of this classic series, The Penderwicks at Last,  will be released in May and is now available for pre-order!  Lots of celebrating happened in my kitchen the day I shared that news.  🙂

So there you have it, our current list of favorite drawing and lettering books to encourage this creative hobby in our home.  We use these on quiet afternoons, cozy winter days, summer afternoons, or any day when life slows down.  There are a lot of them out there; do you have any favorites?



Felt Flower Winter Wreath

Winter never really showed up in Utah this year, except for a few days of cold and snow.  In some ways I haven’t minded much; I much prefer driving on clear roads and I don’t relish cleaning up coats, boots, hats, gloves, and scarves all the time.  But I also find myself watching the top of Mt. Timpanogos with some worry; there’s not enough snow on those mountains and it will probably be a dry summer.  Yet Mother Nature does her thing, and there are bulbs pushing their way up in my yard.  I’m excited for my drab, brown landscape to become beautiful again.  Inside, however, I hung this lovely felt flower winter wreath and it’s brought flowers and beauty to my sewing room all winter long.

felt floral wreath

I first saw the tutorial for this felt project on the Purl Soho blog years ago, but it took me a while to start it and even longer to finish.  I really love it.  There is something so lovely about the creamy white flowers against the pale taupe background, and neon thread gives it an unexpected element of surprise and sophistication.

closeup of neon thread detail on wool felt flowers

The tutorial was easy to follow.  The flowers were simple and easy to make, and I enjoyed sewing them into place.  One change I made was to find a piece of wool felt in a local shop for the background instead of piecing squares together.  Again, that neon thread!  I never liked neon when it was in style, but this thread really makes me happy.  (It inspired the neon matchstick quilting on this quilt!)  I added some tabs to the top for hanging with a wood dowel.

felt flower winter wreath from Purl Soho tutorial

This project also triggered an interest in adding felt to quilts, which is something I hope to try.  I have found a couple of patterns I would like to make, and am slowly building a small stash of colored felt.  This project, however, is perfect in delicate neutrals.  I have moved it from place to place in my house when I’m in the mood for change and it looks beautiful everywhere.

white wool felt flowers sewn into wreath

If this felt flower winter wreath is a project you’re interested in, you can find the free tutorial here, along with supplies for making your own.  It measures approximately 24″ square.  It is a great size for a handwork project, and not difficult to make.

white wool felt wreath sewn with neon thread

Welcome spring!
Love, Jennifer

Scrappy Friendship Quilt Top

I’ve named this my Scrappy Friendship quilt.  It’s a description of how it was made, but it also describes friendships.  We all want to offer our best – all the time – and often we do.  Yet sometimes all we have to contribute are scraps, and true friendship accepts scraps and turns them into something beautiful.  We shouldn’t withhold our offering because we don’t think it’s good enough; friendship is offering and accepting what we have, knowing it will be helpful and appreciated.  Scrap quilts are the same, and so it is with this one.

I have one friend who likes collaborative quilting projects.  She got a half dozen of us together to pool our scraps and sew some quilts.

For our collaborative scrap project, we each brought 24 squares of fabric, 5″ square, to use as the beginning of the block.  Some of us brought solid fabric scraps; some of us prints.  We set up our sewing machines in one room and each of us took someone’s stack of 5″ squares.  We pulled a scrap from our own bag without worrying about matching or coordinating, and sewed it to one side of the square.  Trim and press, and pass the blocks to the next person.  In this way, we added to each other’s squares to make an improv block that was unique.

We devoted two different evenings to our blocks, and then each of us took our blocks home, decided on the final size of the blocks, and finished the quilt.  This meant trimming a little or adding a few more strips, and in my case, making one more block so I could have a 5×5 layout.  I had my blocks finish at 15″ square for a 75″ quilt.  If you’re looking for a fun sewing project to do with friends, I recommend this idea.  It’s also a great way to force yourself to try some improv and not worry about contolling the outcome, which is a good practice in creativity.

When I see these blocks I see my friends.  I see their styles and tastes, and I think about how much they push me to be better.  They do it for me in my quilting, and they do it for me in life.  I am grateful to have a quilt with all of our fabric scraps thrown together.


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