A bright, graceful, close-up view of nature.

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A LITTLE BOOK OF LOVING AWARENESS

In this debut inspirational art book, a painter combines thought-provoking quotes with opulent depictions of the beauty of plants and animals.

Although Linden describes herself in a preface as “a painter, not a writer,” she introduces this work with a series of mini-essays that are engagingly personal as they reveal her process. In “On early inspiration,” she recalls a summer camp experience in which counselors “would line all us little folk up in a row, on top of a small hill overlooking the lake” to recite the Sufi poem “Look to This Day.” The inspiration she gained from intoning the “ancient exhortation” exerted a lifelong influence on her art, she says. “My studio” and “Painting process” describe the artist’s work space (“Canvasses…piled high, some on walls, some littering the floor…a profusion of color, enough to brighten the dullest day”) and how she approaches her art, which she defines as a holistic, healing practice through which “Painting becomes meditation.” In other sections, Linden examines the roles of flowers in lore, medicine, and cuisine. It’s a welcome introduction that makes this collection of carefully chosen quotes and meticulous artwork feel vivid and warm. Linden’s paintings depict oversized flowers and some animals, expressively drawn and vibrantly colored. Some owe a debt to Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, which Linden indirectly acknowledges by including an O’Keefe quote about her own artistic philosophy. The author’s work does not, however, seem derivative. From the achingly sensuous “Cattleya Orchids” to the stylized angularity of “Garden of Earthly Delights,” she approaches her floral subjects with keen observation and affection, and the results bear repeated examination. The quotes interspersed among the pictures, at irregular intervals, come from widely varied sources, including Pablo Picasso, Lewis Carroll, and the Bible, and generally promote optimism and courage. All in all, Linden’s so-called “little book” is an affirming and satisfying meditation.

A bright, graceful, close-up view of nature.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9374-4

Page Count: 72

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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