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4.7 out of 5 stars49
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 March 2013
I'm a huge fan of Flora Bowley's painting style. I discovered her a year or so ago when I got an email about a workshop she was part of. I have thought for ages that I would absolutely love to take one of her workshops... but they don't come cheap. So, at the moment, it's something I just can't do. I was so excited when I heard she was bringing out a book. I couldn't wait - I thought it would be like a condensed version of one of her workshops.

There is A LOT of blether and waffle about yoga and dancing around with loaded paint brushes and singing and dancing some more... BUT. The technique bits were actually pretty OK... even if they didn't really start till page 40... but I found that I do most of them already.

I did like seeing how Flora paints, I did. There's a couple of pages at the back that I wish she had dedicated larger photos to and spread over more pages, where she goes from blank canvas to finished piece and I found that fascinating. The book is peppered with beautiful, beautiful art work. I have to disagree with other low star reviewers on that - it's a stunning looking book and there are some gorgeous large images of paintings I hadn't previously seen. Which I enjoyed poring over. I just found it really hard going with the flowery reading. Hence my late review - I kept putting it down and walking away.

Thing is - I think this probably IS a condensed version of what you might expect at a Flora Workshop. I think she specialises in teaching you to not just let go as an artist but also techniques to free yourself up better as well - you can expect yoga position tips and stretching exercises in the book. Unfortunately, that's all wasted on me. However in that respect I don't feel I wasted my money in spending just over a tenner on this book. It has stopped me from saving up the three figures for a workshop that I just don't think would be my cup of tea...

Still a huge fan of Flora Bowley's work... but I think my Being Bold, Letting Go and Unfolding... is just done a different way is all. The book has gone on to a friend for whom the teaching style very much fits and so will appreciate the book more.
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on 7 July 2012
What a fantastic book this is, encouraging, inspiring, beautiful and supportive. The paintings are so colourful and the prompts suggest trying lots of simple ideas which lead to richer thoughts. I'd also recommend Writing for Your Life by Deena Metzger, another deceptively deep book which will inspire writing and a creative life.
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on 3 January 2013
Although this book is about letting go and being free, the author is very sensitive to the anxieties and inhibitions which many people suffer when confronted with artmaking. So the book is very structured - there is no need to wonder where to start, having been inspired by the luscious photographs and insightful quotations - you simply start with the exercises she clearly lays out, and go on from there following the further steps she clearly lays out. It's really not so scary when broken down into baby steps in this way. At the same time she backs it all up with solid theories about colour, composition, and the art making process. It's a very spiritual book too - the author is a trained yoga teacher and encourages an intuitive, centred approach to life as well as to painting.
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on 13 July 2012
After great anticipation of the books arrival, I read it through quickly (as I couldn't put it down) and loved it. It is filled with beautiful photography of Flora's paintings and fun approaches and prompts to painting.
The format of the book allows you to develop your braveness, with Flora's techniques being a suggestion as starting points for your own abstract journey of discovery.
I have since reread the book many times, enjoying the philosophies of her free thinking to help loosen up my art. I think Flora has put her heart into this book, generously sharing her knowledge with others. If you want to find ways of putting your heart into your own art work then this is a beautiful book worth buying.
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You know you've got an unusual book when you turn over the title page to be greeted with a double-page spread of the author's backside... decorously clad, albeit...

Add to this that the author is a self-proclaimed, peripatetic, "lifetime seeker after joy", and you immediately get the book's flavour.

The cover - comprising a bit of a quirky painting, and two shots of parts of the author's anatomy - is an accurate reflection of the contents. Leafing through the pages, it seems there are almost as many illustrations of the latter as the former.

I'd say that, as far as artists are concerned, this book is aimed at a relatively small audience. It's patently not your average how-to-do-it book, and if anyone saw this 80-year-old following the advice on pp 26-27 to "dance like no-one is watching", which includes dancing with my eyes closed whilst clutching my brushes - one in each hand - and various areas of my body preparatory to painting, I might risk incarceration. Whilst I can fairly truthfully say that this painting procedure would not work for me, perhaps it might for you...

However, there IS true painterly advice in this book, and whilst the author's decorative, freely-expressed paintings aren't my style, her medium is. She paints in acrylic, and has much good advice to offer about it, with all of which I agree wholeheartedly; why anyone, especially leisure painters, bothers to paint in any other medium I can't think. It is, of course, ideal for the kind of free expression she advocates, and if the book does no more than encourage anyone to try this medium for the first time, it will have served a useful purpose for that reason alone.

The author seems a gay (in the old sense), extroverted sort of girl, and reading her book was good fun; it therefore gets five stars from me for that alone. The unkind might describe much of it as psycho-babble, but at least most of it is sensible and even cheerful psycho-babble, and it comes across as genuine rather than pretentious; being as much about having a thoroughly good time as it is about painting. It won't necessarily be YOUR idea of a good time, of course, but if, on the other hand, the notion of being a free spirit appeals to you, and you like leaping around during painting whilst some pleasing youth plays his guitar, you will identify with the delectable Miss Bowley.
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on 3 January 2013
Perfect balance of illustration and direction makes this book readworthy and interesting! Amazing colours, tips, advice, to paint freely and easily! This book has changed the way I want to paint!! Best painting book that I've bought! Love it and will re read it again and again - and NO...I will not lend it to ANYONE haha!! x
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on 24 December 2012
As an art teacher who struggles to get her elderly pupils to "free up" I found this book great, as it reinforces what I try and get across. The author encourages experimentation and gives lots of examples of different ways of working. I like the way she writes and her methods are inspirational.
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on 15 November 2012
I like this book and it does have some beautiful paintings in it and harmonic colours, however I had hoped and expected it to have a little more content (writing). A lot of the pages are taken up with images, and I feel that the book is all about painting like the artist - in an abstract floral manner.
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on 25 May 2012
A very inspiring book. Exactly what I was looking for to move my painting on to a new level. If you want to push the boundaries from the more traditional representational style to something exciting this is the book for you.
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on 5 June 2012
I have been aware of the work and teachings of Flora Bowley for a while from her website and as she is recommended by so many people on the internet sites I visit. This book was well worth waiting for. I will never be able to afford the chance to attend one of her workshops and even the online course is out of my reach financially so I was excited to find that she was writing a book. I plan to spend my summer exploring her ideas and cues and suggestions all of which seem to be clearly explained along with her inspirational encouraging suggestions to 'let go, be bold'. Thank you Flora, for making your methods and processes so accessible.
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