Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review :: Sketch! by France Belleville-Van Stone

Sketch! is an inspiring book by France Belleville-Van Stone written with the non-artist in mind. This is not a how-to book or a step-by-step "learn how to draw" book, but is rather a book filled with inspiration, tips, and tricks about drawing daily life.

The author (France Belleville-Van Stone) does not dive into explanations of basic drawing techniques (perspective, form, etc.) in Sketch!, but she obviously has a grasp on these ideas. In fact - although the author claims that she has not "studied art past middle school", she goes on to mention joining a friend in a graphic design class that they were "both taking at the School of Visual Arts". (Doesn't sound like not studying art to me.) Either way, the author is very talented and the "fails" that she shares in her book are still more advanced than many (or all) of my best efforts. 
Overall, I appreciated the book's style - the page backgrounds have the appearance of sketchbook/watercolor paper and there are a variety of examples of the author's art shared throughout the book. The book is well-written (although I did find a few typos throughout the book) and the text kept my interest. 

Sketch! is probably best for a someone that is looking for inspiration but does have a previous grasp on basic art concepts. There is a "Basic Techniques" chapter, but, in my opinion, it is a minor part of the book. The book as a whole focuses on basic black and white (pen/pencil) drawings, with some having color added. (Most of the color added is from watercolor paints.) Chapter 5 does talk about "Going Digital" (including suggestions for 3 iPad apps), but the majority of the book focuses on non-digital sketching.

For me, the major draw (pun intended) of Sketch! is the motivation and inspiration. Chapter 1 ("Preliminaries") is great inspiration for just getting in to the process of drawing, not focusing so heavily on the end result that you miss the joy of the process. The major focus you will find throughout the book is working with what you have on hand, in the time you can find, with the inspiration in the everyday things around you. (The author is not a supply snob.) Chapter 6 ("Prompts") is a great chapter to reference when you just don't know what to draw. There is an A-Z list of a variety of items that are great for sketching, with a little explanation for the how/why of each item. 

All in all, I find Sketch! to be a good motivational book - for drawing anywhere, with anything, on anything.
(And, as a bonus, this is one drawing book I won't hesitate to share with my kids. The drawings are appropriate and family-friendly.)
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

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