Sunday, September 25, 2016

Perfect for the Young Artist: The Drawing Lesson

by Mark Crilley

My children love graphic novels. Last year, First Son and First Daughter both concentrated on drawing in their art lessons. First Son, loves drawing comics more than any other non-screen related activity, and is continuing his drawing focus this year. A graphic novel designed to teach drawing seemed a natural fit for our family.

Mr. Crilley has created a story showing David working with a mentor to learn drawing over the course of a few weeks. Each meeting is a lesson about a different aspect of drawing. My own artistic knowledge is nearly all based on high school freshman art class, so it's hard for me to judge how reliable the information is. After sketching a bit this summer in my nature notebook, however, I can say much of this information would have been useful and immediately applicable. If I ever learned about reflected light, I'd long forgotten it, but now I'll remember to notice it in the future.

The lessons address: drawing what you see, shading, beginning with a loose sketch, understanding light and shadow, using negative space, checking proportions, simplifying things, creating a composition, and bringing it all together. Each chapter ends with a suggested drawing assignment, many of which could be completed more than once with different subjects.

One of the aspects I like most about our current art curriculum is the introduction of art history in each chapter. This book lacks that kind of connection, but the lessons themselves seem solid and I think they are presented in a way that makes the reader feel invited to experiment with paper and pencil (and eraser).

Becky, David's art mentor, also provides valuable advice outside of the strictly artistic. For example, the very first time they meet, she says:
You don't get better at things by pretending that you never make mistakes.
Later, she says:
Art isn't a contest, David. I'm trying to teach you the pleasure of drawing well.
Trust me. When it comes to art, you will never know everything. I've been at this for years. Every day I learn something new.
I've been withholding this book from my children because I was afraid it would disappear before I had finished writing about it. They've seen it, though, and are anxious for their chance. I think it would make an excellent gift for a young artist, especially a boy interested in comics or graphic novels. (Is there a boy who isn't?)

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. The opinions above are my own. The links in this post are not affiliate links.

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