Saturday, December 1, 2007

Book Review: Learning to Draw

Katherine Tyrrell (Making a Mark) recently reviewed Robert Kaupelis' book Experimental Drawing. You can find her book review here. Kaupelis has another book, Learning to Draw: A Creative Approach, which I love. Since this book doesn't seem to be well known, I thought I would do a book review.

As a self-taught artist, I am always looking for books that give the type of instruction that one would get in art school. This book seems to have been a text book and fits the bill. It has 10 chapters:
  1. Drawing Materials
  2. Contour Drawing
  3. Quick Contours
  4. Gesture Drawing
  5. Modeled Drawing
  6. Modeled Space
  7. Memory Drawing
  8. Automatic Drawing
  9. Drawing from Projected Images
  10. Search for Form

Kaupelis provides very clear explanations of each of the different drawing techniques. There are 134 black-and-white illustrations: 50 Master drawings plus numerous student drawings illustrate the techniques. There are 100 exercises, which I appreciate. The exercises are imaginative and use a variety of materials including pencil, graphite sticks, charcoal, ink (pen and brush), and paint.

This book stresses creativity, self-expression, and process. It does not address more mechanical fundamentals such as perspective or proportion. It is not a "how-to" book with recipes for achieving a certain type of drawing. The book favors process over results.

About two years ago, I did every single exercise in this book. Some of the exercises call for a model; I substituted statues. This is the type of book you never out grow. I want to repeat the exercises; I think I would get different value from them now, given that I now have a different level of expertise.

How does this book differ from Experimental Drawing? I would say Learning to Draw is an expanded version of Chapter 2 of Experimental Drawing. In the context of art education, Learning to Draw is a prerequisite for Experimental Drawing.

This book was first published in 1966. I have a second-hand copy printed in 1983. This book is now available from Dover Publications (ISBN 978-0486447865). It was published March 3, 2006. I have looked at the Dover version and it is exactly the same as my copy. It is a steal at $12.95.

I give this book 5 pencils: it addresses drawing fundamentals.


Katherine said...

Thanks for this Laurel - and excellent review. Also very interesting to know about Dover Publications copy which of itself has got to be a recommendation.

I'll be posting a link to this review in my weekly 'who's making a mark' reviw today.

Katherine said...

Laurel - This review is now included in my squidoo lens for the Big Drawing Book Review.


Shamus said...

This book was suggested to me by an art teacher. I wanted to find out a little more about it before I purchased it. Your review was very helpful in this decision. Thank you.