The Drawing Lesson
Author: Mark Crilley
Release Date: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Watson-Guptill Publications
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, How-To Guide, Art
Review Spoilers: Low
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Drawing can be one of the most enjoyable pastimes around. As kids we spend hours drawing and doodling in crayon without a care in the world. Unfortunately, a lot of us end up falling out of practice or getting discouraged as we get older. Drawing can be hard – and we are often our harshest critics. What was once fun quickly becomes trying as we struggle to meet our own expectations of our artistic talent.
Often we turn to art books to try and hone our craft. While there are a lot drawing books out there, none of them are quite like The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley. Instead of offering up just anther step-by-step instructional guide of various drawing techniques, Crilley decides to employ his own ability to help readers develop theirs.
The Drawing Lesson is a graphic novel that – as it’s tagline states – ‘Teaches You How to Draw.’ The book tells the story of a boy named David who likes to draw but wants to get better. He happens along a woman named Becky in the park and sees her drawing her surroundings. Impressed, David asks her to help him get better at drawing. Sure, he has ulterior motives (like being better at drawing than Ryan Pasternak who apparently draws a mean Lamborghini). But he’s enthusiastic and determined. Though Becky isn’t exactly looking to take on a pupil she begrudgingly begins giving David some basic drawing lessons.
So, instead of reading about techniques like you would in most books, you get a dialogue instead. David asks the sort of questions the reader would as Becky explains things like perspective, negative space, and shading. She then provides drawn examples or had David try things out.
One of the best things about this book is that David isn’t a master artist. He’s not trying to teach anyone anything. He’s just trying to learn. David keeps making mistakes and though he gets better over time (like the reader will, too) you get to see his mistakes. The book doesn’t just show you the right way to do things but also common, fixable mistakes. Then it shows you what to do in order to make things right.
At the end of every chapter there is then an exercise for you to try at home. For the most part they simply ask you to do whatever David and Becky did in the preceding chapter. Just be careful you don’t miss them! The exercises are fairly short and pretty simplistic. They are only a few lines long underneath the final panel in each chapter so if you’re not watching for them they could be overlooked.
Though the story is a bit predictable and focused primarily on preparing you for these exercises, the relationship between David and Becky is fun to watch develop. They are two very different people with very different directions in life but they come together because of their love for drawing. It adds a real, human touch to the book that other drawing guides tend to miss out on.
The Drawing Lesson isn’t a replacement for signing up for your on drawing lessons. And it’s not the only drawing book you’ll ever need. What it is, though, is a really fun way to get started. Its’ also a really great supplement to the mundane step-by-step guides you might otherwise find. I’m no artist by any means but I enjoyed it and I think that you will, too. If nothing else, it’d be a great gift for kids who want to get into drawing but who don’t necessarily learn well from step-by-step guides and for your more artistic friends who might enjoy the story and exercises!
And if you want to see more of what Mark Crilley has to offer, check out his YouTube videos!