Book Review: Imaginary Animals (and a giveaway)

Book Winner: Carla Sonheim generously donated a book to the winner of today’s drawing so I could keep the book–I was so pleased! But there were so many comments, I decided to give away my copy, too, so there are TWO winners!   Joy Moore and  Leah Boulet–Congratulations!

This is Carla Sonheim’s second book. The first, Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists covered drawing many different subjects in both realistic and stylized ways. This one concentrates on Carla’s fun, stylized way of working–from her imagination and with humor. The giveaway is at the bottom of this blog.

Book cover

Title: Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop with Carla Sondheim.

Author: Carla Sonheim

Details: Quarry Books, softcover, 144 pages, $24.99


  • Just Messing Around (Blobs and Sidewalk Cracks, Photos and Life, Memory and Imagination.
  • Mixed-Media Projects (Oaxacan Dotted Elephant, Imaginary Animals, Junk Mail Creatures Book, Watercolor Transfer Animals, Doggone It!, Animals in Tape, Creatures on Wood, Go Fish!, Wrapped and Tied.
  • Artist’s Gallery of Inspiration with Featured Artists.

What I Like: I’ve taken classes from Carla and I like her casual, easy style. The book follows that non-anxiety-producing style. When you read the book, you can hear Carla talking to you. With 250 illustrations, you can follow what Carla does, step by step. You can also strike out on your own, if you prefer.

There are a number of international contributors and the examples make the book more interesting. There are also 3-D animals and instructions how to make them. There’s a lot going on in the book, all of it fun.

Not all the animals she draws are real. They may have real elements, but because they are imaginary they are easier to create, more mistake-proof, and more vivid.

The book shows you how to use a scanner/printer to make duplicates of beginning sketches on art paper, then turn them into a variety of different animals. You’ll learn  clever and interesting techniques that are achievable—big plus! You’ll be guided through a variety of shading, cleaning up and adding color to get artistic results.

What I Don’t Like: Not much. Again, the first lines of the chapter are in gray, not black, ink. The instructions are in sans-serif type, and when the tips are printed on a shaded block, I find it hard to read. If you don’t use glasses or just reading glasses, you’ll adjust. If, like me, you hold books a bit farther away to get them into focus, the type is a bit small. It’s a minor thing.

Disclosures: I received the book from a publicist for free. I enjoy Carla’s style and her classes.

Giveaway: I’m giving away the book. Leave a comment and I’ll have a random drawing on Thursday afternoon, September 27, 2012, at 5 p.m. Phoenix time. The book will ship October 6.

Quinn McDonald is a writer and a creativity coach. She reads a lot. She is working on her second book.

127 thoughts on “Book Review: Imaginary Animals (and a giveaway)

  1. I really just love the way she approaches drawing and painting- she takes the fear out of it and makes it fun-I enjoy using her methods when I paint with my four year old granddaughter.

  2. I have had Carla’s ‘Drawing Lab’ book for quite a while and love it – I don’t just read it, I enjoy the inspiration it gives me to work from it. My favourite challenge from the book was the 100 Faces, which really stretched me.
    So, yes please, I would love to win her book. The elephant is really cute and this morning I plan to get my own elephant resident in my scrapbook.

  3. I just stumbled on this as I finally am getting caught up on other reading. To think I might have missed a chance to win this book!!! I love the looks of it and would especially enjoy winning a copy. Thank you SO much for having the chance to!

  4. I can’t wait to read and use this book! I love “Drawing Lab” – it has been so helpful for me as a recovering perfectionist. Btw, Happy Birthday – I hope your name in the book (not Carla’s… see next entry) for many years to come.

  5. Sounds like an interesting book! I love your reviews as they really tell me whether or not a book would be something that I should look at and budget for. I’m a big fan of books that ease you into some new skills and this one would be perfect. My drawing skills need some attention and I’m hoping that I’ll work on them over the wintery months. What could be better than a cup of tea and some studio time?

  6. Carla, I have been impressed and inspired by all your books, but this one tops them all! What incredibly imaginative animals you are able to see in a mere stain or crack. Really awesome!! Whimsical!!! Delightful!!! Tickles my funny bone and touches my heart. It also reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci who saw images in water stains on walls and elsewhere. Sometimes I’ve been able to see them myself, and once sketched a “face” I saw in a water stain on my neighbor’s stucco wall. As a children’s book illustrator “in training,” your book reignites my passion to create such magical creatures, and more than that, inspires me to explore this fascinating world by pushing myself beyond the conventional into the fantastical realms of artistic expression. Your guidance would really help me to develop my imaginative and creative artistic skills, and open me up to new avenues of expression. I hope you’ll choose me as one of the winners of your exceptional book. Thank you for introducing this exciting technique to the art world!! I wish you much success.

      • Thank you, Quinn! I certainly will post my comment on Carla’s blog. And, YES, I DO want to be in the drawing for her new book. Thank you.

        And thanks to Carla for directing me to your site. I’m so excited about adding your Blog to my list of wonderfully creative people with “heart” who I want to follow in developing both my emotional and artistic self. WOW! I can’t believe I stumbled onto your site!!!

        About a week ago I discovered YOUR book, “Raw Art Journal,” on Amazon! I was totally blown away by how deeply your words resonated within me as I “thumbed” through its pages. It has certainly inspired me to begin my own ‘raw journal’ discoveries.

        Now I see you’ve got another book, “The Hero’s Art Journal”, soon to be published, which – without reading – I know I will also have to buy!!! I can’t wait until I can afford to buy either book from Amazon. BOTH are definitely at the top of my list!


        • Thanks for your kind words about my book. And I’m glad you came here. I have wonderful readers who leave thoughtful comments, and i get ideas from them every day. Carla and I have a lot in common, although we don’t know each other past the fact I’ve taken a few of her classes and own her books. But she has that same “start wherever you are” feeling, and I love it. So welcome!

  7. I love Carla and hope to take a class in person with her some day, but for now the books will have to do. Nice also to find your blog through hers. Thanks for the chance to win Carla’s book.

  8. I hand Carla’s first book and have taken several of her online classes – she is an awesome artist and teacher. I have a copy on preorder which is still too arrive but I would love to win one to give to my daughter to use in her classroom, I have already given her a copy of Carla’s first book. My daughter is a teacher at a school in a low socio-economic area, her pupils are very under privileged, to them Carla’s art is magical and they are very proud of what they can do when working through Carla’s lessons. They have a sense of worth when they see their wonderful art.

  9. Thanks so much for this opportunity to win Carla’s exciting new book. I too have taken a couple of classes from Carla and they are nothing but fun and full of creative ideas. I would absolutley LOVE to win a copy of Carla’s Imaginary Aniimals book. It looks like so much fun and her illustrations themselves are so inspirational.

  10. Like everyone else, I would love to win this book. I don’t have a sad story(pitiful maybe), I have no speech prepared, I am just gonna lay it on the line, I just really would like your to win your book. Whew…there I said it. I am a lover of art & books, this kills 2 birds with one stone. Maybe it will improve my stick figures. I’m trying, just can’t swing a formal class. I hope you pick me, if not then i will be pitiful won’t I??? J.K …on that last part, thanks for giving all of us a chance to win. It really is a nice thing to do. Hoping this ffinds you well.
    Many Blessings,
    Kimmie H<3

    • Like many things in life, the way I pick the winner is completely by random. I use a random number generator, and then count the comments, and award the book to the completely randomly chosen winner. I love the idea of a sunbeam hitting someone in the middle of the crowd.

  11. I would like to win Carla’s book. My daughter was an amateur artist. I lost her last October. Drawing these whimical animals would be honoring her talent

  12. That last picture makes me think of cloud watching in color. Finding animals in clouds has been a pursuit of mine since I was very little. Then of course there are marble patterned floors and wall paper in waiting rooms, gasoline and oil stains at the gas pump or garage. Just to mention a few other places to spot – Spotted Truffle Worts, and other wild things. I am so glad someone else has this pastime. Makes me feel like I am not looking alone.

  13. Karen I think this book is awesome and would love to learn some of its techniques. I am always trying to get my grand children to draw. This may be the book. Thank you for the chance to win . You are so talented. God Bless…

  14. i doubt that i will ever be lucky enough to take a class from Carla. this book would be a great substitute. thank you for the chance to win it.

  15. Maybe even I–who enjoys writing but who has never believed I could draw or paint anything–could use some of the techniques in this book to feel (and perhaps BE) artistic!! It opens some exciting possibilities…

  16. Your creatures are so similar to the ones that my son draws, and I love them. It would be great to share the book with him. He is still recovering from a traumatic head injury from a car accident when he was seventeen. Thanks, Linda R.

  17. Carla’s FACES 101 class jazzed me to the point of carrying a small sketch book everywhere. It’s obsessive. It’s addictive. And it’s all because her techniques are so darn fun. Can’t wait to see the book, whether I win one or buy it! Thanks, Quinn and Carla.

  18. This book looks like a fun, easy, creative way to create images of animals and for me, birds. What fun it would be to win a copy of the book.

  19. I really am enjoying Carla’s first book and am doing projects from her book with my 5 year old Granddaughter. The new book soundds great and thanks Carla for another good one.

    John Richards
    Aotearoa New Zealand

  20. HI…thank you for your review and the chance to win Carla’s new book…I would love to win the book as I would like to have some fresh and inviting ideas to work with in my art.

  21. I am a fan of Carla’s style too and loved working through her first book; so I would love to win a copy of this one too – thanks so much Quinn! I enjoy reading your blog posts, they are always interesting, thoughtful, inspiring…

  22. I have Carla’s first book and have taken two of her online classes. Plan to take them all and get her second book when I can. It’s that simple. I wish all art was taught her way as it would end up real, honest and whimsical – what the world is in short supply of. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book and looking forward to exploring your site in more detail.

  23. i think all people have an animal spirit guide. i want to do a series of work with peeps and their guides, showing their personalities and how they interact. i envision these works in vivid colors with swirls of magic as the person and his guide interact, overlap and become one.

  24. If I would have this book then, my library will be richer for one more Carla’s book, and I will admit I love, love, love her first book. But hey there is nobody in the world that doesn’t love her illustrations. They are just jumy and gorgeous and super fun all at the same time.

  25. I love Carla’s work and have also taken some of her online classes, as well as purchased her books for myself and gifts. This new book looks like one that would make a great gift for myself, but also for my grandchildren. Thanks for the review and giveaway opportunity.

  26. I have her first book and love it, so I’d would be really happy to add her new one to my shelf of useful books! Thanks for the review and for an inspiring blog.

  27. Pingback: Day #3 • Book Release Blog Celebration • Book Giveaway! «

  28. I love Carla and have taken her online class. I like her style and her books. I would love to win this book!!! Thank you for the review of her new book!

  29. It looks like a fun book I could share with my granddaughters who love to draw. I really appreciate the balanced book reviews you do. Gives a much better decision base for me.

  30. I have her book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists and I love dipping into and trying our her labs. It would be awesome to have another book by her on my shelf. Love you blog Quinn. I’ve only started looking at blogs this year and yours is one of my favorites!

  31. Oh! I have painted some of those little birds in a journal when you have showed her style before. I just loved them and they were so much fun! Would love to look into the rest of her charming ideas.

    Your blog post the other day, about spending so much time on blogs, etc. in the morning hit home with me – BUT I would never miss yours, Quinn. Always inspiring; always informative; always entertaining! Thank you!

  32. Thanks for another wonderfully written blog post. On more than one occasion, your thoughtful words hit the nail on the head for me. Your time and energy are greatly appreciated with this book review.

  33. Hmmm. I’ve definitely looked at Carla’s stuff and enjoyed her imaginative style, but have not yet added one of her books to my long shelf of drawing books.

    Maybe you’ll change that, Quinn.

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