An Artist’s Alphabet

An Artist’s Alphabet
Norman Messenger
Walker Studio

This is really way beyond a mere alphabet book: it’s a stunningly beautiful art book, extraordinarily clever, playful, sophisticated and nigh on irreverent where the ABC is concerned, being based more on the shape and form of letters than their sound quality.

There are some surreal offerings, letters inspired by works of art such as Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa. (C for curves maybe); mythology,



landscape features including clouds and mountains, tools; but every single one of Messenger’s pages is itself a work of art. Some of them might challenge you: it took me some while to appreciate his use of negative space in R; but once you see it you think, how come I didn’t see it immediately, especially as it’s obvious on the cover.

I’d love to share every single letter with you but rather, I urge you to get your own copy of this book if you have an interest in art, design, and / or language and its components,

An absolute treasure to behold, to pore over and to spark the imagination: I see it being enjoyed by individuals of all ages, used in art and design courses in schools and colleges, and much more.

Line, Shape, Form & Colour

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Do You See What I See?
Helen Borten
Flying Eye Books
Not so much a question, more an invitation to readers from Helen Borten, to look carefully at the world around them, to look at everything in terms of line, shape and form, and colour.
She also shows, through her poetic verbal imagery the way in which what and how we see influences how we feel: ‘Lines that bend in a zigzag way seem to crackle with excitement. They make me think of thunderstorms and jagged mountain peaks. I see huge jaws of a crocodile, wide open and bristling with jagged teeth, ready to snap shut.’

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There are also curves – swirls and twirls full of grace and beauty; and often adding texture …

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Lines are everywhere, in abundance – skinny or fat, timid or bold, wiggly or straight, hard or soft, shaggy or smooth, fast or slow – ‘Wherever I look I see lines making patterns of beauty. Can you see them too?’

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Moreover, lines can become shapes – circles, squares, rectangles, triangles and more; these too are all around us.


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Moving on to colours: are they hot like a fire, cold as a mountain stream, warm like the rays of the sun, or cool as a crispy lettuce leaf?

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What about this for wonderful visual/verbal evocation: ‘Colours can be pale and timid as a mouse – or dark and mysterious as the night.’


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Seeing and feeling are inextricably bound when it comes to art appreciation and understanding, and this book is an excellent starting point for discussion and then doing as the author urges, ‘… see the world as a great big painting, full of lines and shapes and colours to look at and enjoy.’
A modern classic in the 1960s, it’s great to see it back in print with Flying Eye: a real little treasure.

Line, shape and colour are also key elements of

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Apples and Robins
Lucie Félix
Chronicle Books
Here, every turn of the page changes one thing to another: circles to apples at summer’s end, out of reach apples that require a ladder for picking. For this rectangles are needed –short and long,
Triangles, ovals, parallelograms, squares both as blocks of colour or die-cuts are used to conjure up the robin,

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the elements, and much more as we move through this cleverly conceived book from autumn through winter to the coming of spring to a garden in which stands the apple tree.
With something to surprise and delight readers on every new spread encountered,

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this is definitely one to revisit time and again, to listen to the author’s commentary as she takes us through the changing seasons and shows us how the scenes are constructed.

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