Saturday, April 4, 2009

Complete Introduction to Drawing, The (Barber, Barrington)

Rating: 5/5
Year: 2007
Genre: Nonfiction/Art
Read again? Yes

I stumbled upon this at Barnes & Nobles' bargain bin. Ten bucks!

What sold me on it was something different from many of the beginning drawing books: Barber takes us through some basic line and shape exercises, things that are very important to overall technique, but don't seem to get much coverage. Or at least they didn't get covered in a way that turned on that little light bulb in my head.

This is a satisfyingly heavy paperback, about 300 pages, and well-illustrated with sample drawings.

The first forty pages are basics--lines and shapes, posture, materials, composition, shading, all the things I never quite "got" in that 10th-Grade Art class.

From there, we go to still life and object drawings, beginning with basic shapes and working up in complexity. Everyday items such as trees and binoculars, books and sneakers are shown first as very simple line drawings, then as completed illustrations--and it's done in such a way that you can see the process and the progress.

Each chapter builds upon the previous ones, of course, with chapters on lighting & perspective (including an eye-popping metal saucepan that almost looks real!); nature (waterfalls, trees, oyster shells, landscapes, and animals); human figures (basic shapes & proportions, poses, skeletal and muscular forms, shading of skin, and foreshortening); and composition.

The final third of the book has chapters on setting up landscapes, still life, portraits, and figure drawing; developing a style; and learning from all those old guys like Rembrandt, the cubists, abstracts, and more.

Given the depth of coverage, this should be a first pick for anyone interested in a do-it-yourself approach to drawing or a full-fledged art class.

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