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This clever series takes famous paintings and drawings of cats on one page, and then on the opposite, shows how to draw and color what the masters did. It helps illuminate what other painters and illustrators are doing, in a way which lends me confidence, and helps deepen my skills as well.

The text is limited, and to the point, which I welcome, and the drawings are often shown in various steps of completion which helps me to get to where they are at in their masters’ level works. And I have to say, the cats are adorable throughout. My favorites are the ancient Asian versions, which are both beautiful and hilarious. Wonderful book!

I really enjoy it when art history is combined with contemporary art instruction. It adds life to what can seem like a dry recitation of skills, and gives perspective on how different artists have attacked various problems over the past centuries. Here, on the left hand page, a master work in floral painting and illustration is shown. On the right, a brief explanation addresses various key elements of drawing (mostly) flowers and plants.

It is all very illuminating, inspiring — and so much fun. This is such a welcome addition to my library, and it is helping my own botanical drawings look less like a 2-d children’s drawing, and more a life-like rendering, and I think, helps me capture the fleeting beauty of nature’s most beautiful works.