More Art-Related Books for a Reading Weekend

June 17, 2011

See the post for details on two great books.

If you're going to be rained in (even if you're lucky enough to be at a lake cabin, because it's summer and it's Minnesota) or you want a break from your computer (I know I had a great day Memorial Day not turning the computer on once!) you could check out these two art-related books. I found them both at the wonderful children's bookstore, Red Balloon, in St. Paul, when I was looking for birthday books for my niece. But they aren't just for kids!

Usborne Art Ideas: Big Book of Things To Draw
ISBN 978-0-7945-2842-3
I don't tend to like "project" books, or books which teach you how to do a style of something rather than how to see. This book is a bit of an exception. In the presentation of how to draw stylized faces there is some useful information on art materials, and they take things a step further with another section on shading for more realistic portraits. Is this a book that will teach you how to see and then how to draw? No. But it is a book that will get you moving your pencils and other art materials in a fun way. And I believe that might remove some of the intimidation and get you started on your longer path of seeing and drawing. So while you may be doing "techniques" which ultimately don't express your vision, there is enough information here on how to layer watercolors and what order to use to create certain effects that you'll come away with useful information you can use over and over. The book (which has no author that I can find) looks at making outlines; filling spaces with paint; layering color; diluting ink (I really thought this was a fun and useful approach to get people who were clueless about working in ink going); and using dry media like dry or oil pastels, pencils, etc. There are also tips on creating fur textures on animals, and the construction of animals using basic geometric shapes. I think this book will allow both kids and adults to have some success with their drawing ventures—and that will lead to other adventures in the visual arts.

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children About Their Art
ISBN 978-0-399-24600-5
I bought this book for myself because it has such wonderful illustrations and so many of my favorite children's book illustrators are included in the pages (Barry Moser, Chris Van Allsburg, Jerry Pinkney, Jane Dyer, Tomie dePaola, Maurice Sendak, to name just a few).

Each artist is represented with one page of text discussing his or her creative inspiration, background, and something about his or her life in art. Opposite this page is a full-page self-portrait by the artist. (The pop-up book team did their self-portrait as a pop-up!) The self-portrait page then folds out to reveal a double page of photos, concept sketches, and finished artwork by the artist.

OK, now you know why I love this book.

  1. Reply

    Great book ideas but I’m curious what is your idea of the best books that teach you how to see and then how to draw?

    Also I’m a little jealous of your rainy weekend – I’m in hot sun scorched Georgia.

  2. Reply

    Judy, I thought I had a post or page on drawing books, but I can’t find it. I guess it’s something that I just write about here and there, now and then.

    is a list of books on drawing faces. And on that list are two of my favorite drawing books—the one by Edwards and the one by Dodson. I’m also very fond of John Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing.

  3. Reply

    “The book (which has no author that I can find)”

    According to Amazon, the authors are Fiona Watt, Anna Milbourne and Rosie Dickens, and the illustrators are Non Figg and Jan McCafferty.

  4. Reply

    Roz – thank you for the list. Some of those are just classics!

    And I think the Fiona Watt book is “Usborne Art Ideas Big Book of Things to Draw”

  5. Reply

    Jenny, I didn’t look at Amazon, I was just looking at the cover of the book. No author on the cover and a ton of illustrators listed in side. But that’s the book!

  6. Reply

    Thanks for the book titles. Your enthusiastic piece of writing makes me eager to follow up these references.

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