Sketch!: The Non-Artist’s Guide to Inspiration, Technique, and Drawing Daily Life
by France Belleville-Van Stone
This is the next book from my “To Read” stack, graciously provided for free from Blogging for Books. The opinions below are my own, though , and always will be. (SMILE) — Douglas
The best that can be said for any book on creativity, writing or art, is that it moves you to be creative again. That is exactly what Sketch did for me. I was once an avid sketch and watercolor artist, but this hobby gradually faded away over time as life intruded more and more. I didn’t feel I had the time or energy to engage with my art anymore. Sketch nudged me, gently, to find one of my old sketchbooks on the shelf, sharpen up my pencils and place some marks on paper — something I hadn’t done quite a long time. I hope this book has this same effect on many people — both those new to artistic pursuits and those who have drifted away from their own creativity.
This is a very personal book. Sure, there are tips and hints on how to proceed with your sketching, recommendations of pencils, pens, watercolor paints and other materials, but at its heart is the author’s voice. It is almost as if you were sitting around sketching with the artist and chatting about her personal feelings and advice about art. This isn’t some comprehensive book on the methods of sketching, but rather a conversational exploration of the author’s unique thoughts on sketching, life and art in general.
One of the most useful sections for me was “Drawing When Resources and Time Are Limited.” I think we all struggle with fitting our hobbies and creative pursuits around the realities of life. We end up with a lot of “coulda, shoulda, woulda” complaining that leaves us feeling depressed instead of stealing those precious moments to engage with our art — whatever type of art that might be. Belleville-Van Stone provides some excellent methods — and more importantly — sound advice on how to see sketching as an end in itself. The art is in the doing, the sketching, the painting, not in some misunderstood concept of “finished.” Too often, we never start our creative projects because we fear (or known) that they will be interrupted before they are “complete”. It is far better, though, to do the work using the time available and understand there is enjoyment, contentment and completion to be found there, regardless of how many minutes we might have available.
Sketch contains an excellent section on “Going Digital”, too. It seems foolish to not use the tools that many of us carry with us every day to create art. The author gives detailed examples of the pros and cons of using a computer tablet to create art as well as sharing the tools — software, tablet and stylii she uses to create her own art. I think this is something that is lacking in many other art books. Yes, fundamentals of drawing, perspective, design and painting are greatly important, but making the best use of our current digital tools can help ignite amazing new levels of creativity. We shouldn’t discount that.
Sketch is a great book to curl up with your most comfy chair — perhaps with sketchbook in hand and a nice hot cup of tea. It can help you to put pen to paper or finger to tablet again in a very personal and conversational way.
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