Tole Painting Adventures in Alaska
by Judy Farnham

"I learned from all of the famous tole painters in the business."

Author/artist Farnham is a creator of tole painting, an art style that evolved from the home-based craft of decorating common household objects to a more versatile art form depicting patterns of simple beauty on almost any object. Twenty-six years ago, Farnham moved to Alaska where painting has become her primary activity along with flower gardening. Flowers play a large role in the paintings she produces. Sunflowers, wild Alaskan irises, Mexican poinsettias, and Cadmium Scarlet roses along with birds and other natural details comprise this pleasing collection. Farnham photographed her finished works, made line-drawing templates of the basic designs, and devised a list of all materials such as surfaces, brushes, paints and other equipment needed to reproduce the designs. The result is a thorough, highly organized instruction book for those who are beginners in the art of tole painting or who know the craft and would welcome new patterns to follow.

Farnham, who attributes some of her well-developed talents in decorative arts to her study of math as a young woman, strives to give her readers every possible pointer they need both to enjoy and replicate her motifs and also share her color schemes, utilizing very ordinary materials such as wood strips or a wooden plate. She describes her techniques in minute detail and offers a long, alphabetized list of tips that include many “saves” for possible mistakes—which, she admits, she too makes at times. But she also gives humorous advice. For example, if the artist gets discouraged by “closely looking at every square inch” of a project, set it aside for a few days while the “Tole Fairy” works her magic, and when the project is viewed again, all the errors will have disappeared. It is this relaxed and optimistic overview that infuses Farnham’s large, practical, photo-rich manual with undeniable charm.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home