01/11/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Souvenir Press Ltd. 146 page enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 15.99 (U). ISBN: 978-0-285-63664-4).
check out website: www.souvenirpress.co.uk
Please do not confuse this book with ‘Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain’, the fourth edition of which is being released in April, 2012. In an odd quirk of fate, the Workbook is available through Souvenir Press in the UK first. Without seeing the source book, I would think that getting some hands on experience first here and then treat the original book as a refinement on what you’ve learnt rather than as suggested, as the supplement. After all, art is doing, not just looking at the pictures and thinking that it’s going to take a lot of effort to do.
Artist and author Betty Edwards sees the left side of your brain as to do with the written aspects of your life and the right side of your brain to do with artistic qualities. She wants to place emphasis on this and the forty lessons that you have to practice here should certainly work, mostly because many of them were things that I did and still occasionally do now in my own formative years. Those who know me are aware that I’m as good with a pencil and a paint brush as I am with writing and have a good hand-to-eye co-ordination. As it would take several weeks to go through all the lessons here, you’ll have to take my word for it that I did most of this kind of thing when young. Several of the lessons encourages neo-artists to treat everything as shapes and to change perspective and to draw upside down and other such things in relief. That’s something I can still do, which is rather handy to show other people how to draw the human figure their right way up.
Edwards’ techniques will show you everything from chiaroscuro – differentiating between dark and light –to perspective although she doesn’t use the technical terms to put them across. Although the book is designed for you to use some of its pages to do the illustrations, I hope the more industrious amongst you will use a sketch pad so you can do more than one picture for practicing in. She points out all the tools you will need and even includes a simple viewfinder that you can use when defining something for drawing.
If the examples from her students before and after doing self-portraits are anything to go by and you can diligently apply what she shows here, then you will have more than the basics at your disposal to make you a decent artist for the time when you want to go digital. Betty Edwards doesn’t bog you down with technical terms but only with what you need to get on with the important thing of actually drawing well. If you can look at a tree and see oblongs and triangles, then you will find it easier to draw it as such and easier to fill in the details. Drawing a human face will be a cinch in comparison and you will wonder why you thought it so hard in the first place.
The most important thing she will get you doing is drawing what is there and NOT what you think is there. If you learn nothing else from this book then this is perhaps the most valuable lesson.
With the winter nights drawing in, this is an ideal time of the year to start practicing your art, especially if you’re looking for a new hobby as relaxation from your computer. I’ve been a strong advocate of developing any reader’s art skills here at SFCrowsnest and this book should certainly be included in your books of choice. I would advise once you get this book that you make a note of the tools or the supplies you need, mostly pencils, erasers, crayons and charcoal and doesn’t cost much, and then start from the beginning and work through each lesson. I think you’ll be surprised how well you can draw by the end of the book.
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