Book Review: Cookbooks and Watercolors

Today on Book Smart we’re taking a look at two new books. One will color your palate and the other your palette.

Famous Dishes from Around the World Platos Famosos

Famous Dishes from Around the World: Healthy, Tasty, and Affordable

Due to be released in May 2019, this cookbook, released by Moonstone Press at $14.95 and edited by Stephanie Maze and Karin Kinney shows a lot of promise. I was attracted to the wide range of recipes that are perfect for any beginning cook. The recipes are clearly written and are in fact bilingual — one page in English and the other in Spanish. This could have excellent use in teaching Spanish to English-speaking students, English to bilingual Spanish speaking students, or even in explaining to a staff member what to make for dinner.

However, at only 84 pages, including a blank page for notes, a forward, table of contents and index, this is one of the shortest cookbooks I’ve encountered. Even moreso considering the recipes are repeated in two languages. This means the pages of recipes number less than 40. What there are of the recipes are clearly written with excellent photography of the finished dish. Unfortunately, there are no step by step photos for any of the recipes which would be a welcome addition.

I think this book has enormous potential but is in fact only half a book. I would advise the author to triple the number of pages at the very least. She has picked a good range of dishes for the beginner to intermediate cook, things most families would enjoy. I also like that she often includes variations — for instance in the Heuvos Rancheros she gives options for poached or fried eggs. Again, tremendous potential, but not quite a full book. Still, it might be the right length if used in a classroom setting.

A Field Guide to Color by Lisa Solomon

A Field Guide to Color: A Watercolor Workbook

Lisa Solomon’s color workbook is an excellent reference for the watercolorist. It explains the color wheel, differences between monochrome and full color, and how to manipulate shade and hue. The explanations are divided by  exercises which emphasize each lesson. Due to be released in August 2019 at $27.95 from Roost Books, it is a good book for the serious watercolor student.

However, the book’s blurb is a bit misleading:

Play with paint, get creative with color, and discover your personal palette–a joyful, interactive workbook for creativity, self-expression, and deepening your understanding of how color works.

Color is one of the most profound ways we have to express ourselves. In this lively workbook for artists, graphic designers, hobbyists, and creators of all types, you will journal your way through fresh and enriching ways to develop a more personal connection to color in your art and life. Using watercolors, gouache, or any other water-based medium, dive into color theory and explore your personal style while playing with a balanced blend of experiments and color meditations. Discover a personal color wheel while exploring tints and shades. Experiment with color mixing while you make as many of one color as you can – and then name them all (honeydew green, avocado green, mint ice cream…). Through playful prompts and inspiring examples, and with lots of room for painting, this book will guide you to a new or expanded relationship with color and deepen your understanding of what color can do for you.

This book does not do this as well as other books out there. If advertised solely as a book to help watercolor or water-based medium artists, I think it is worth the price. But for most people the watery hues will not, in my opinion, meet the expectations it sets out.

Further, I have only seen a digital edition of this book. I caution readers to check out the type of paper it is printed on. If it is traditional paper, the workbook exercises will be difficult to do. If it is printed on watercolor acceptable paper, then it will be worth every penny of the price.

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