“The Drawing Club”—Not Just Another Book On Drawing

August 24, 2014

Tdc-book-cover1-258x300Left: Cover of Bob Kato's new book.

Bob Kato is the founder of "The Drawing Club" in Los Angeles California. It's a Thursday night life-drawing group where the models are in costumes portraying characters and aided by a little bit of set design to set the mood.

I've been a fan of the Drawing Club since I found it on the internet back in 2008. (You can see sketches made by the artists posted at "The Drawing Club.") I've been a particular fan of Justin Limpus Parish's sketches. She's a fashion illustrator. She recently wrote to tell me that Bob Kato has written a book—The Drawing Club: Master the Art of Drawing Characters from Life.

So many books are on the market right now with instructions for how to start drawing. Some are good, some are bad, one or two are actually great. But for me there has always been a gap in the book market when it comes to dealing with the intentional choices we make as we draw, those conscious creative decisions that make a finished sketch sparkle with life and tell a story all at once. We strive for it all the time. Some of us may rarely achieve it, but we strive for it nevertheless. 

Kato writes about storytelling, character design, improvisation, and personal style as he writes about the act of drawing (and using line, mass, shape, negative space, materials, etc.). 

He uses great sketches from artists working at the top of their game in demanding fields of entertainment illustration to illustrate his points. 

He also writes about the way these artists constantly take risks and are willing to "fail" because they are looking for a visual solution to all the questions they are asking. 

Throughout the book he talks about the way materials will change the approach you use, and encourages you to change it up, always looking for those creative solutions. And of course he is honest about the hard work needed to improve, but he is encouraging:

"Mileage makes a difference over time. Allow yourself to make mistakes, and you will grow even faster, feeling more and more fluent in the language of drawing. Consistency really is key. Just like an exercise regimen, it takes commitment. All practice is good practice."

If you want to read a different type of drawing "how-to" book I encourage you to pick up "The Drawing Club," by Bob Kato. He is equal parts task master (with suggestions for exercises you might try in your own drawing practice) and coach (always ready with encouragement). He has collected examples that are sure to inspire you to new approaches, new failures, and a whole lot of experimentation. His book is bent on pushing you to exercise your creative muscles and not just draw what you see but to artistically and thoughtfully interpret what you see, to create the visual statement you want to make.

Think about stepping outside your comfort zone—be inspired. You might not be able to make it to LA and attend a seesion of the Drawing Club, you might even feel your skills aren't nearly ready, but if you read this book you can start asking yourself important questions about what you want to communicate with your drawing and it will give you new energy to move towards those goals.

You can look into this book and see the list of contributing artists here. (At that link scroll down and click on one of the images to scroll through a slide show.)

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