"I couldn't draw a straight line if I tried!" I hear this often from those who have seen my graphite/pencil crayon work in particular, and I'm reminded of what the author of So You Thought You Couldn't Draw, Sandra McFall Angelo states on the front of her book. She has heard many people lament that they were born with "two left hands" and that they have no talent when it comes to drawing. Like anything, 'practice makes perfect' and learning to draw is just one more of those things where how often you practice makes or breaks just how amazing the end result will really be.
In this book, Ms. Angelo takes the student from amateur to adept artist in 4 simple, easy to follow steps. The method she uses throughout her book is called the "grid" method. Using inexpensive materials, no additional expense for paper, a student can easily work their way through this book anywhere, anytime and without a great deal of fuss. Now, for the purists, gridding as a means of creating artwork is considered by some to be a form of cheating. It is thought that if you can't draw your images free hand, then you can't draw at all and should not consider yourself an artist. Despite the fact that I didn't utilize gridding until after I had finished my Masters in Fine Arts, I did have a bit of trouble using this system simply because I had bought into the purist claims. While working on a very intricate piece a few years ago that was causing me a good deal of frustration where perspective was concerned, I broke down and used the method for the small area in which I just didn't seem to be 'getting it.' The results were quick and accurate and I couldn't believe that because of my pride, I'd allowed myself to ignore a tool that is so simple to use, and produces such efficient solutions. Today, I never hesitate to implement the grid system in any of my work and although it's not used on a large scale, for those times when perspective bugs me, it's the end results that convince me that sometimes doing things the way the Old Masters did, is the best way to bring a piece together without all the added frustration and erasing!
Written in a humorous format, Ms Angelo takes you through the materials necessary to begin your quest which helps you understand those tools and prepares you in how to use them to your advantage. Next she explains in detail how the grid system works, how to achieve the best results using varying sized grids, and why grid size is important in relation to the piece you wish to work with, and to the end result you want to achieve. You progress through learning how to see shapes, lines, shading, value, texture by completing a series of exercises in each. Then you move into completing projects utilizing the lessons you've learned, all within the self contained book which includes practice paper for over a dozen different projects. Once you've completed these, you move on to working with reference photos again all self contained within the book and all with pre-made grids except for those lessons where learning to create your own is key to understanding how they work more clearly.
I purchased this book almost 2 years ago, but I'll still pull it and several other books from some of my favorite artists out and run through several of the exercises just for practice. From bunnies to landscapes, wild animals, florals and portraits, just about any subject matter is included for you to work with. An artist is always drawing, sketching, trying new techniques, but every so often it's important to bring yourself back to the basics and to practicing those key elements that help you to become and continue to be the best artist you can be. This book allows you to do that easily and conveniently.
So, if you still believe the Artistic Gene has passed you by I highly recommend this art instruction workbook because it will definitely help you to awaken the Artist that really does live within you.