Friday, July 27, 2012

Book Review: Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun [Kindle edition]

When it comes to art books - instructional, reference, etc. - I have an abundance of them but don't exactly like all of them all that much. The majority of them are even mediocre (to me) at best and I reserve them for cross-referencing things for lesson planning OR to bring them in for my students to look at. To date I have probably spent well over $500 on all of those books. What a waste! I am almost embarrassed at the hoard of books I have but don't really ever use.

Well, I'm learning from my mistakes. I have been looking at the book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun for a little while and I finally decided to get it (well, the Kindle version because for whatever reason digital books work better for me *shrug*) and I am LOVING it!!!! 

Because I am such a junkie for reviews of any sort, I pored through the amazon ones and now that I am halfway through the book (reading it only, I am going to use it to inform some creative exercises soon enough with my new iPad art apps), I am thoroughly convinced that I might even want to buy the physical version of the book and take it into school because it might actually be one that would do more than just take up space and collect dust!

The book is written very matter of factly (something that I LOVE so much) and it really points out not only very good instructional pointers and clarifications about certain techniques and creative processes but it also has a few personal anecdotes from the artist herself. 

The drawing and inspirational exercises are VERY approachable without being dumbed down to something that could/would bore a more advanced artist/illustrator (that which I am not!) and I especially like a number of the approaches that are suggested that really spin old ideas for lessons/projects in new ways. As an art teacher and working visual artist, my battle is always trying to figure out how to reinvent and refresh things to keep things interesting but it gets hard! I can't lie about that. 

One of my favorite things about the book is the insistence within each exercise to do repetitive exercises and to NOT erase things. The author fully encourages you to not be afraid to make little mistakes but if you do? There are suggestions of how to work it into the design/drawing itself. She also talks about different ways to do mastercopy and master inspired type works. I LOVE looking at masterworks! I honestly feel like it's an essential part of being able to become a successful visual artist. 

Something else that is so great about the book is that it definitely starts you from a good square one type place but builds and scaffolds to things that are definitely more challenging and complex within the design ideas themselves. In this way, it is really possible to look at your linear progression with every inspiration prompt to see that you are actually accomplishing things and the stuff looks pretty good! Seriously. I am convinced all of the creative prompts could inspire, instruct, and support most any level artist and even any age artist though there would definitely be some that would have to be modified for ability level in terms of fine motor skills/dexterity and abstract/non-objective understanding and vision. 

All in all though? If I were rating this book with the five star system of Amazon, I might even venture to give it 5.5 stars or even six stars. Seriously. I think it's a pretty solid book and like I said, I might seriously order the paper version of it.

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