Every art form has a grammar—poetry, film, even visual arts like sculpture and painting. In Drawing with Children Mona Brookes presents the grammar of drawing and shows how mastery of its fundamentals can lead to artistic ability and improvement. Ignoring the common theory that drawing should not be formally taught to children lest it interrupt their natural creativity, Brookes has taught children the elements of drawing for years, with seldom less than phenomenal results. Examples throughout demonstrate the vast improvements in students' abilities, often within a span of weeks or months.
The text can be taught to children, or used as a self-teaching guide for adults, teenagers and any kids who can read and understand the instructions. This should be most students—while they might not get all the philosophy behind Brookes' methods, they'll certainly be able to understand the straightforward guidance provided in each of the five (lengthy) lessons. At the outset, the author helps students assess their current drawing ability, dispels myths about artists, discusses work space and materials, and encourages readers to keep a positive outlook even when they aren't pleased with their own work.
There are five elements of contour shape which form the basis of all drawing (dots, circles, and straight, curved and angled lines). These are covered in the first lesson; subsequent lessons discuss drawing from graphics and still life paintings, volume drawing and "widening your horizons." Every concept is thoroughly explained and a number of exercises are provided to help students master the material at hand before moving on. This revised edition also includes extensive chapters for teachers to use drawing instruction to help special needs students, as well as integrating drawing instruction with other subjects.
Brookes' premise that drawing deserves a place in the curriculum and that it must be taught according to the rules and not simply as a free-form method of self-expression is as refreshing as the incredible full-color students' artwork (both children and adults) who've worked through Drawing with Children. The clarity of instruction and consistent encouragement she offers are enough to keep even the most unsure and frustrated artist drawing. For those who want to go further, Drawing for Older Children & Teens builds on the concepts taught here; both books also make excellent texts for beginning adult artists.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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